After 12 transformative months and a year like no other, I found myself walking through the tranquil gardens of Blackrock’s Michael Smurfit Business School with the MBA cohort of 2020. We had just returned back at the gates of Smurfit from our end of year MBA trip in Galway City and the nostalgia levels were running high.
On the back of strong advice from past MBAs, we decided to end the year with a trip away together. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, international travels were all off the cards. Fortunately, restrictions set by the newly formed Irish government did permit us to safely take a two-day trip to Galway. The activities had something for everyone, whether you were interested in go-karting or falconry, or simply taking advantage of the excellent food and sites the city has to offer. However, heed my advice: take caution when introducing any activity that has a winner when you’re working with an MBA class, as we do love our share of healthy competition!
We were lucky enough to have had weather that allowed us to take a long walk to the famed diving board in Salthill. Many braved the cold Atlantic waters on the sunny August afternoon. I opted for a more frivolous approach. I enjoyed ice-cream as I engaged in commentary with fellow ‘remainers,’ judging those who took the immediate plunge… and those who took a little longer.
I had found myself back in Galway City, where I finished my undergrad 6 years prior. I never imagined that one day I’d be returning with an MBA class made up of over 7 different nationalities and numerous professional backgrounds – engineers, lawyers, doctors, bankers, pharmacists, and the list goes on. A group of motivated, intriguing individuals, many like myself, who have found themselves at a crossroads in their careers. Equally, there are those whose next step is a foregone conclusion.
The title of the New Radicals 1998 hit, “you get what you give” often comes to mind as I reflect on the past year. As much as I sometimes find myself disagreeing with the phrase, it’s quite appropriate when approaching an MBA in Smurfit Business School. The ingredients for success, growth and development are laid out for you. However, it is up to you to engage and utilise them. The facilities and staff at Smurfit are world class from start to finish, but to have a truly brilliant MBA you need one final ingredient: great students. The college also does a great job in recruiting candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds which truly makes the experience so remarkable.
Trips to the U.S., Argentina, and Lisbon, early Monday morning classes with Professor Niamh Brennan, late Friday afternoon classes with Prof Eamonn Walsh, and everything in-between will ensure there is never a dull moment.
If you are someone joining or thinking of joining this program, here is my advice: engage with the course, connect with the people around you, and always strive to control the controllable in the sometimes turbulent but highly enjoyable experience that is an MBA at Smurfit Business School.
To borrow a line from a recent mentor of mine, “it’s not a meal ticket but a licence to fish.”
—Daniel Duignan, FTMBA Class of 2020