As detailed in a previous post, Conor Hyland returned to Ireland to start the UCD Smurfit MBA in summer of 2020. We’re delighted he’s agreed to answer three questions to kick off our occasional Student Profiles series! -Editor
What was your job/career prior to applying for the MBA?
The last company I worked for was LinkedIn MENA, based in Dubai. My role was to help organisations design, build and execute a strategy to attract top candidates to their organisation by elevating their employer brand and empowering their team to find the right talent, for the right role, at the right time. My clients had operations that span the globe and range from start-ups in hypergrowth to large enterprises that want to keep flourishing. I worked with an amazing cross-functional team of analysts, media consultants and customer success managers, to help tackle our clients’ biggest business challenges through insights that drive impact and results. I was also proudly a board member of the Irish Business Network in Dubai who helped Irish or people with an affiliation with Ireland to facilitate connections between individuals and companies and improve individual and collective capabilities and grow Irish led and supported businesses.
What skills have you learned in the programme so far that you’re most excited to take to work?
As Nassim Taleb says; “You will never truly convince someone they are wrong, only reality will.” What I have enjoyed the most about the MBA is that a lot of the real lessons are in the doing, not the theory. Throughout the programme I have had many learnings and I’m only half way through the programme, so I will surely have many more to add by the end of the year. Some of the learnings i have recently reflected on are the below:
- You generally don’t need more time; you need more focus.
- Knowledge without application is simply knowledge.
- Rather than evaluate people’s ideas, be curious about people’s thought processes.
- Not everything fits into a framework, you require integrated thinking to see the bigger picture.
- If you cannot write it down, you probably haven’t thought it through enough.
- The devil’s in the detail and sometimes in lack thereof.
How would you spend your ideal day off?
I was recently listening to a podcast with Matthew McConaughey where he discussed the importance of choosing the right mindset. He said as a child, whenever he would enter into the kitchen in a negative mindset, his mother would say: “Don’t come back until you can see the Rose in the vase rather than the dust on the table.” That message really resonated with me. It’s been a tough time for everyone this year and sometimes all we can see is the dust on the table. Yet we always have a choice, a choice to see the positives. That’s not to say we should be Pollyanna-ish but understanding where our focus goes our energy will flow is important when deciding.
So with that in mind my ideal day has changed to focus much more on the little details and to focus on the positives, smells, feelings, visuals and expanding those moments. Covid-19 has compelled me to be grateful for the little things that one can experience. A perfect day off for me is waking up early and having a hot coffee which I have prepared the night before, so I wake up to smell of coffee brewing. Then head out for a walk along Dun Laoghaire pier, taking in the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks and the smell of the fresh morning air before dipping in for a refreshing swim. There’s something quite magical about the Irish sea that you can’t quite explain but only experience. On the walk back home the Italian bakery buzzing with people queuing outside like bees shut out from their nest, always tempts me in for a coffee and freshly cooked bomboloni. In the evening-time, it’s time to unwind, meditate and read a book.
If you asked me to describe my perfect day a year ago it probably wouldn’t have looked or sounded anything like that. But the times that we live in require us to see things differently, to change our perspective and to experience and enjoy the little things that are within our control. I hope I don’t forget these lessons when this all comes to an end.
—Conor Hyland, FTMBA Class Rep, Class of 2021