World in Union…

We started the MBA journey a few weeks ago and ever since day one I’ve been intrigued with the diversity of our class. With 55% of our students hailing from 10 different countries outside Ireland, you’re guaranteed to get a different perspective during lectures, workshops or bootcamps, whether the subject is Financial Reporting, Competitive Strategy or Strategic IS. This is especially true when you consider the large range of professional backgrounds also present. You’re always going to get a lightning bolt from somewhere when you throw Vets, Barristers, TV Producers, Professional Gamblers, Bankers, Traders, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, IT and Telecoms Professionals, Digital Journalists, Marketing Executives and a former Tank Commander into a room!

What’s fascinated me most during the last 19 days however, is the outrageously diverse range of perspectives that my new class have on life outside of the classroom. I already have countless examples which have opened my eyes to how different many of my new colleagues are in terms of outlook on life and life experiences. This is true on numerous levels. I’ve learned how sometimes Reiki is preferred to traditional medicine, reading tarot cards is favoured over blind fate and reading a persons’ energy as a means of judgingtheir personality is chosen over, well… the more old school ‘getting to know them’ technique.  It was apparent to me that this year was going to be interesting for a whole rainbow of reasons.

The incident which intrigued me most however occurred last week in the MBA room (our new home, in fact I’m sitting there now!).  The rugby world cup has just started and unsurprisingly, many, in fact the majority, of the class don’t know anything about rugby. Some people weren’t even aware of its existence! In an effort to get some of these non-believers more involved in the lunchtime chat, I attempted to explain why this sport was so great and what exactly the laws of the game were. About 30 seconds into my mini ‘love rugby’ pitch I was outlining some of the basic laws of the game by comparing them to those of Soccer. The reply I got was somewhat surprising “well, I don’t really know many of the rules of soccer either”! I was amazed, could it be that even soccer, the so called ‘world game’, was not completely familiarto everyone in the class. Incredibly, I’d have to find another way to explain the laws and qualities of my sport.

I decided to use Ireland’s opening world cup match versus USA as round 2 of my pro rugby pitch. I invited the class over to my apartment to watch and learn (offering a full Irish breakfast as bate, in the knowledge that not all of them would be compelled to get up at 6.30am for another lesson). Surely Ireland’s demonstration of silky skills and creative play, combined with abundant tries would be enough to convince them that this sport deserves to take over our 10.30am break. How wrong was I? About 11 of us (including four Americans) sat down and watched a demonstration of how NOT to play rugby.

Save getting to know each other a bit better this entire experience only served to impose a culture shock on them in the form of George Hook. The Americans in the group, who were used to the all smiling, enthusiastically supportive and unreservedly positive American pundits, sat there open mouthed listening to the negative bombastic rhetoric of Ireland’s most boisterous rugby pundit. At the end of this rant one of my new classmates turned to me confused and almost embarrassed to ask “but, you guys won right?”.  Any plans for a round 3 of the love rugby experiment went out the window. Let’s hope the ‘Gaelic Soccer-Ball’ experiment and All Ireland Final go a little better. Watch this space…

– Donnchadh Casey, FT MBA 2011-2012

An international Smurfit MBA group getting ready to watch the Rugby World