A Typical Accountant!

The 19th century philosopher, Elbert Hubbard, described the typical accountant as:

“A man past middle age, spare, wrinkled, intelligent, cold, passive, non-committal, with eyes like a cod-fish, polite in contact, but at the same time, unresponsive, cold, calm and damnably composed as a concrete post or plaster-of-paris cast; a human petrfication with a heart of feldspar and without charm of the friendly germ, minus bowels, passion, or a sense of humour.

Happily, they never reproduce and all of them finally go to hell”

(Source: Horngren, C.T., (1982) Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis, 5th Ed, Prentice Hall, p350.

Thanks to my colleague Tony O’Dea for bringing this to my attention)

Professor Niamh Brennan, Michael Mac Cormac Prof of Management, UCD

[Prof. Brennan currently lectures in Financial Reporting for the FT MBA Class)

The MBA Welcome Dinner 2011

This year’s MBA Welcome reception and dinner took place on Friday night last in the restaurant on the UCD Smurfit campus and was pronounced (by us) a great success with lots of positive feedback from those who attended.

For the MBA Office staff, this annual dinner traditionally marks the end of the busiest period of the year with all that goes into the beginning of a new academic year and the arrival on campus of fresh, new MBA participants to begin their MBA.  For incoming MBA particpants it marks the end of a significant period of preparation, change and in some cases moving across continents and it is a celebration of the achievement of each and every individual participant which recognises that they have worked very hard already to gain a place on the programme of their choice and that they have successfully made it through the Foundation module and the first full week of lectures, no mean achievement in themselves.

As partners are also invited to this event it is an opportunity to welcome them to Smurfit and to show them where their loved one is going to be spending a significant period of time over the next year or two -and to thank them in advance for their support.   The only danger noted by attendees was that the good food, company and ambience of the candlelight restaurant might give the wrong impression to their significant others who might think they were having too good a time and not really suffering for their MBA at all.

The Welcome Dinner was attended by 160 guests, including members of the Full-time MBA programme and Executive MBA year 1 classes and their partners.  The dinner was also attended by a large number of the academic staff and all the members of the MBA Office.  The official welcome was given by Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean of the UCD School of Business and Orla Nugent, MBA Director.

-Roisin O’Loughlin, MBA Programme Manager

Pictures courtesy of Bui Thi Hien Anh

Day 1-3 of the MBA Programme

Day 1 -Aug 29, 2011

As a former project manager I have an appreciation for a project plan. Specifically, I enjoyed the satisfaction of overseeing a project and achieving significant milestones. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t rival the thrill of hitting the game winning shot, riding a motorcycle, or participating in a fantasy football draft (all which I have experienced), but achieving milestones are always satisfying. This post launches the moment my wife Amy and I had been waiting for and what brought us to Ireland in the first place, the beginning of the MBA program orientation week.

It was a day of welcoming. After 8 hours my class had been officially welcomed into the school by the Dean, MBA Program Manager, Admissions Manager, Academic Director, and International Director. I learned that 55% of our class was international, that UCD Smurfit was a leading European and worldwide program, and that I had 39 other classmates in the full-time MBA students. Most importantly I learned that this was the right place for me to pursue my MBA.

The day ended with dinner and drinks at a nearby pub for international students. I still chuckle when thinking of myself as an international student as an American, but I happily joined 20+ other students from Vietnam, China, India, Canada, and Japan in the opportunity to enjoy our first pub date!

Day 2+3: Aug 30-31, 2011

What do you get when a Chinese, Indian, American, and two Irish guys get together? That would be my MBA study team for the semester! As you can imagine there may be some challenges working with individuals from different countries, religious beliefs, and professional backgrounds. The college’s solution to these potential issues was to provide a variety of team building exercises during the MBA orientation week. I will highlight the two days of team building below.

Day 1 Team Building

Imagine the following scenario:

  • You are in a group of five people and the goal is to make a hexagon shape with a rope…while blindfolded
  • You are then told that your team needs to work with two other teams
  • However the three ropes are all different lengths and you can’t touch them until everyone if blindfolded
  • Confused? Well don’t worry, 40 MBA students were too and looked like a clump of spaghetti noodles rather than an organized circle of shapes.

    Day 2 Team Building

    After learning the importance of leadership and communication it was time for more team building. We were split into eight teams and given the following instructions:

  • The goal is to get the Jeidi back home
  • To accomplish this you need a guide to build the ship and materials
  • Materials will require cash
  • Cash can only be earned by a variety of “earning games”
  • The “jedi” ended up being a golf ball and the end goal was to get the ball from start to finish into a bucket. Eager to show our new-found MBA leadership skills, our groups tried coming together in a more organized fashion. The end result was a full day of strategizing, earning Monopoly money, buying random materials, and finally successfully building a track for the golf ball to find its way home in the bucket! Team building can be exhausting but rewarding!

    – Justin Thomas, FT MBA

    The Art of Communication: (The First Week MBA Perspective)

    Communication (to give it’s dictionary translation) means the act or process of communicating, fact of being communicated, the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions or information by speech, writing or signs.  Communication is something imparted, interchanged or transmitted.

    I work in Communications, my undergraduate degree was in Communications, I am a fully qualified Communicator.  On certain days I would even go so far as to call myself a Communication Expert.

    However my downfall is that I often discover that my Communications haven’t been Understood.  This is Understandable as I have no training in Understanding.  I didn’t study it in school or college and I can wholeheartedly say that I have received no on the job training in the area of Understanding.  Understanding for the uninitiated is the area of expertise where you learn how to ensure your Communication is Understood.

    This year I decided to study for an MBA at the wonderful Smurfit School of Business.  One of the reasons I chose this programme is to improve my Understanding of the Communication of my message. Where better to be Understood than in University right?  I regret to inform you that my first week was a disaster on the Understanding front.  And I sincerely hope this is not a harbinger of doom for the year ahead.  And to confuse matters doing an MBA is not just about being Understood in an Irish setting, it is also about being Understood by the cohort of international students.  In today’s world being Understood globally is vital if you want to be successful.

    So picture this, week one, our class of 40 is split into 8 teams.  In my team there is an Irish Marine Engineer, an English Trader, a Vietnamese Tax Consultant and an Indian Electronic Engineer while I am an Irish TV Producer.  Our first meeting as a team is to write our team charter, our rules of engagement as it were.  Five minutes in there’s already a problem of Understanding.  I am in the middle of addressing a critical area of team work when I spot my Indian colleague Aditya, shaking his head in disagreement.  Already we are facing our first conflict.  And as a Communicator I like to confront conflict.  It turns out that when Aditya shakes his head it actually means he is agreeing with something.  Baffling for an Irish person, I know, but common in Hyderabad!  My first glimmer of Understanding.  Men and women Understand things in different ways, as do different generations, and as for different cultures where do you start?  I’ve made progress though.  Feeling positively euphoric after week one.  I’ve made that critical first step on the road to Understanding how to Communicate myself so that I am Understood.  I might, in fact, choose to actually Understand something myself by the time I leave here. At least I’m in the right place to learn some more about Understanding.

    – Stephen Smith, FT MBA 2012

    The MBA journey begins!

    I am Vishal Vignesh, a proud member of the FT MBA Class of 2012! The diversity of my batch is quite incredible. There are students from India, Vietnam, Russia, Germany, Japan, Canada, US, UK, and of course Ireland. There are engineers, bankers, consultants, entrepreneurs and professionals from many other walks of life. It has only been a week and I am already a bit overwhelmed with information on a wide variety of topics ranging from Personal Development Plan Framework and Teamwork to Financial Reporting. Not to forget – it has also been a lot of fun! I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks hold in store for me.

    Just to give you a brief background – I was born and brought up in Coimbatore, known as the Manchester of South India. Coming from a business family background, after school I took up a three-year bachelor’s degree in commerce.  I had a brief stint with Google before joining OnMobile Global, a leading mobile services firm. After spending a little over two years in the corporate world, I co-founded the company Swadhist Foods as a specialty food retailer. I am also a Freelance Online Media Consultant.

    In the year ahead, I hope to share plenty about the challenges of business school, the perspective of being an international student and more.

    – Vishal Vignesh  Balasubramaniam

    It was not ‘just another day in my Life’…

    Today is the beginning of my wonderful MBA journey; from the inception of the thought of doing an MBA till the first day of the class at Smurfit, it was all very decisive. I met many people, contacted many more over emails and over phone, did all of this just to make sure that this one step I take should make me a better person both personally and professionally. The decision to join Smurfit Business School was very strongly influenced by two factors; the first one being the reputation and strength of the course and the second being the city that made many a people fall in its love by its sheer charm, Dublin.

    Before I landed in Dublin, I had many apprehensions written all over my face; Cold weather, new people, heavy work load, no Indian food and no native language were the important ones. But the moment I was greeted by an Indian friend at the airport I felt like home. The very day I went around the streets of Dublin city centre and it gave me a good insight into the culture of Ireland. With all its diversity, amicable people and rich culture, Dublin reminded me of my own country. I could find people from different countries especially India spread across the city and it was no wonder because Ireland as a country has so much to offer.

    The long wait was over; 29th of August, the day after which my perspective towards things around me would never be the same, had come. I entered the campus all excited to meet my family for the next one year; I was delighted to see a well represented group of 40 people, all of them were carrying their dreams and aspirations into the class room. After meeting everyone in the class, I was directed into a lecture hall where the entire class was cordially welcomed into the MBA program. All along the day, the class was provided with loads of information required to survive the year and come out with flying colours.

    That night I retired to my bed with a completely relaxed mind as all my fears were addressed; then I realised it was just not another day in my life, but it was the first day of my new journey, MBA.

    – Aditya Koppula, FT MBA

    And so it begins….

    Day one of the MBA in Smurfit Business School is done and dusted and what a whirlind of a day it has been!

    This morning, as I stepped into the entrance hall which was brimming with almost one hundred new MBA candidates, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.

    It began with a brief introduction from the MBA faculty who gave us a comprehensive overview of the School, the support available to us and the workload that lay ahead.

    While I expected a heavy volume of academic work, I was impressed by the commitment of the MBA team to develop the potential of each MBA candidate. We were told about the extensive Personal Development Programme (PDP) available to us throughout the year which includes personal coaching, leadership and other personal development tools.  It seems to me that the Smurfit Business School has struck a good balance between academic riguour and the leadership/personal development requirements of the next generation of MBA’s.

    Networking is a crucial part of the MBA, and business in general, and so the first coffee break provided us with an ideal opportunity to hone our skills. In the end, it wasn’t very difficult. Everyone was very friendly and within a nano-second, people from all backgrounds – engineering, non-profits, business, technology and finance, were engaged in deep discussion. One of the benefits of the MBA is the diversity of the group which helps you see business challenges  through the eyes of someone with a different perspective than you, which can be invaluable.

    One of the sessions today was entitled ‘Getting Things Done’ and we were given an insight into best practice in terms of becoming more effective managers of our time and of ourselves. While I had always sworn by a daily ‘to do’ list, what I took away from the session was the importance of deciding on what was really important and what was less so, and of taking immediate action on the important tasks. It seems simple but how often do we get caught up in the small stuff?

    After lunch, Prof. Niamh Brennan brought her no-nonsense approach to the class in her report writing session. We had been asked to prepare a five page report in advance of the first day and to critique each other’s work. Critiquing the report of someone you had just met was a little daunting. However, it soon became clear that there was much to learn. While I waxed a little lyrical in my report, my colleague provided an engineer’s perspective and proposed key structural alterations that vastly improved my work. I was able to make some good suggestions for his report too.The key take-away’s for me were the importance of preparation, of clear and concise communication and of continually critiquing your work and seeking to  improve it on a continuous basis. I think the Japanese call it Kaizen.

    In the afternoon, Emma Ledden of MTV fame and now a highly regarded communications consultant, along with her business partner gave us an overview of the Communications Bootcamp. For some of us, it meant the unexpected news that we would have to deliver a presentation at 7.45am the following morning with our new groups. We were told about this at 3.30pm and also that the full presentations had to be submitted by 5.30pm that evening…. They don’t call it bootcamp for nothing!

    – Conor O’Donovan, EMBA City Centre Yr 1

    Foundation Module 2011: The UCD Smurfit MBA kicks off a new season.

    Friday 02 September was the final day of the MBA Foundation Module and for those involved it has been quite an experience.  Lengthy and complex preparations have been set in place for the new Fulltime and Executive MBA classes who have been onsite here in UCD Smurfit all week.

    Likewise, countless hours have been spent by the Marketing Office, Admissions, Interviewing Panels, MBA Career Manager,  and MBA Director to have everyone signed up and ready to go by Monday 29th August last: D-Day.

    The MBA Foundation Module itself is designed to be a tough and an intense intro week and despite all of the information available to participants in advance through websites, interviews, the Incoming MBA Student Portal and regular updates, the full impact of the week’s workshops, activities and networking will not really hit them until they come out the other side Friday evening.

    As much as possible is squeezed in; Team Building, Communication Bootcamp, Time Management & Effectiveness, IT, Study Skills, Case Study Analysis, Report Writing and MBA Club launches to name only a few.  All of these sessions launch both the Academic Programme and also the Personal & Professional Development Programme and equip all new UCD Smurfit MBAs as much as possible for the semesters ahead.

    It is no wonder that the mantra for those who have been involved this week has become: ‘Start as you mean to go on’.

    Stay tuned to hear from the new Smurfit MBA students…

    – Michael McDonnell, MBA Programme Manager