Getting out and about

Last Friday was one of those days: the sun was shining, people were smiling and wearing shades for the first time in a long time.  Several of us met up at the Dublin Convention Centre to attend a US Embassy event on the topic of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – a proposal to reduce trade barriers between the US and EU.  The breakfast meeting was chaired by Margaret E. Ward of the Irish Times and speakers included Minster Lucinda Creighton; US Ambassador to the EU, William Kennard; head of the US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue; and the inimitable Michael O’Leary of Ryanair.  Having as it does one of the strongest relationships with the US of all EU countries, it was appropriate that this was being worked on during Ireland’s EU presidency.  As the global economic axis takes a distinct turn to the east, it is of huge importance to us in Europe and indeed in Ireland that trade with the US is facilitated and supported at every step.

I left the Convention Centre to join my classmates across the river at Google’s headquarters for a site visit.  The whole area around Barrow St and the docks is testament to the strong relationship we have with corporate America and the mutual benefits that can accrue from this relationship.  Looking around the famous Google canteen (where the food is delicious by the way), I was reminded how important our relationship with the US is and how we need to nurture that relationship and never take it for granted.  The tech hub that is being created in Dublin, mainly by US companies, could offer this country a sustainable competitive advantage for decades to come.  As young Irish people delve into the technology of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Hubspot, Dropbox et al. the potential is there for an incredible upsurge in Irish tech companies who will sustain and grow our ailing economy in the digital world we now inhabit.  If the recent Dubstarts jobs fair is anything to go by, there’s plenty of burgeoning Irish talent with great ideas already out there and ready to take on the world.

Google itself was a fascinating place to visit.  They have all the stuff you hear about, the foosball tables, bean bags etc, but what’s most impressive is the passion in the voices of their staff when they talk about their work.  They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and Google certainly proved this when our site leader, Jane, told us we were going to undertake a project.  Cool, I thought, only in the door and already I’m working for Google.  Each of our six teams was given forty minutes to see how we could help a business drive traffic towards its product using Google’s products and services.  Each team would present its case and a winner would be selected.  There’s nothing like a bit of competition to get an MBA class going and the next forty minutes were hell-for-leather.  Eventually my team was lucky enough to be chosen as the winners and we received some great Google goodies!  I think we won because our team had a great blend of thinkers – some creative, some logical.  By combining these talents we got a great concept and built solid steps around achieving that concept.  It was certainly gratifying to be selected by the Google staff as having offered the best solutions to their business problem from a very talented group of MBA students.

Unfortunately, like all good things, it came to an end, and some of us headed back to Blackrock for Friday afternoon classes, but certainly with an eye to the future and a great degree of optimism.

Morgan Mangan

– Morgan Mangan, FT MBA 2012-13