Why I Applied for the IMAGE Scholarship

I graduated from Trinity College medical school in 2012, and since then have been working full time as a doctor in the Irish healthcare system. Over the last number of years, I completed a doctorate in gut health and nutrition and have published academic research papers in peer-reviewed medical journals on a broad range of topics from cardiovascular health to gut bacteria and methadone use. I have rotated through the Irish hospital system in diverse roles, from general surgery and psychiatry to general internal medicine and anaesthesia. Most recently, I worked as a registrar in anaesthesia, having completed my membership exams for the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland. I also have ongoing research commitments in the field of exercise physiology.

Since graduating from university, I have been continually looking for fulfilment in my career in such a way that I can improve the lives of others by facilitating them in being their most healthy and empowered selves. Having gained a wealth of experience from multiple medical specialities, the next step for me was to combine my medical knowledge with a new skill set that would give me the edge I need to promote my ideas. I wanted to gain a more universal view of the impact of health beyond the individual. The Smurfit MBA programme was on my radar and, with a natural break in my career, I decided to go for it. The IMAGE Scholarship has enabled me to be financially secure in achieving my goals. It is exciting, I feel honoured and thankful that I was the successful scholarship candidate this year. When word got out that I had been successful in my application, I received an endless stream of congratulations from those in the know, my friends and family. This was an immense boost to the journey I had embarked on.


Alumni weren’t exaggerating when they advised us that our management skills would improve exponentially during the first term. Since the introductory week in August, my juggling skills have been challenged to the extreme. I am hopeful they will eventually be finely polished and ready for action. With classes dominating Monday and Thursday evenings, both work and research commitments are confined to other weekdays and weekends. I have yet to master multitasking, but I’m getting there. You can also count on seeing me jogging, gymming or swimming to switch off and zone out when I need to.

Learning to balance work, study and life was very challenging at first. Luckily, my supportive friends have understood this and kept me in check by giving me both space and love when I needed them most. One of the most obvious parts of the curriculum I hadn’t given a huge amount of thought to before starting was the language of business itself. Coming to terms with how to articulate myself in terms of the world of business, marketing and finance has been tricky and a skill I hope to continue to improve on.

The introductory week in August was an inspiring start to my time in Smurfit; not least because we were given a taster of the path to come but also for meeting and connecting with my new classmates who were open and welcoming, normalising the whole process. There have been a great many networking events organised for us too. A few stand out, like the MBA welcome dinner in September, which gave me a chance to sit down with classmates and professors and gave me the sense that I was now part of a very large and well-connected family. I was also invited to the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2018, where I witnessed incredible Irish businesswomen being rewarded for having reached for the stars.

If you have an inkling that an MBA in Smurfit might be the ticket to expanding your horizons, building on your skillset and submerging yourself in the unknown world of business, take the plunge. While you initially have to be certain this is indeed the right path for you, clarity in the decision-making process doesn’t often come straightaway. Talk to people who have done it or are in the process of doing it – these will be invaluable in giving you an open, honest synopsis of what is expected of you. Also, while not a problem for some, timing was especially important for me. I was coming to a natural break in my career and, if this is the case for you, then your time is now.

Thinking of applying? Here’s what you need to know…
UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is delighted to partner with IMAGE Magazine in offering one candidate a 100% scholarship to join the full-time MBA or part-time Executive MBA in August 2019.

The value: One award of up to 100% MBA tuition fees.
Eligibility: Open to all successful MBA and Executive MBA female applicants, achieving the relevant minimum GMAT score or above (MBA full-time: min GMAT 600; EMBA: min GMAT 520 or Executive Assessment/EA 149 and above).
Please note the GMAT/EA deadline is April 12, 2019.

How to apply
There is no separate application process for this scholarship. All successful applicants for the full-time MBA or the Executive MBA who meet the eligibility criteria and have met the deadlines noted below will be considered for shortlisting for the assessment centre.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Early application is recommended.
For more details on how to apply, visit smurfitschool.ie/image.

Scholarship deadlines:
MBA Application Deadline: Monday, April 12, 2019
GMAT/EA Deadline: Monday, April 12, 2019
Assessment Centre Date: Monday, April 29, 2019

Danielle Courtney, EMBA 2018/2019

My experience of GNAM week at IE Business School, Madrid

I was shown to my seat in the front row about an hour before the show was due to start. To my right were two hardy young English guys, covered in tattoos and determined to chase away the effects of the night before with some hair of the dog. To my left was a very pretty young lady sat with her mother and father. As the start grew nearer, they conversed several times with one of the young matadors below us. As we all would find out later, he was the most reckless or courageous of all the matadors working that evening.

Sitting so close to someone who was so connected to the man in the ring gave the proceedings a very hard and very human edge. Their young man in the ring was the only one that was caught by a bull that evening. The second time it got him, the man virtually disappeared beneath the head and chest of the black beast as it thrashed and tried to run him through with either of its horns. It seemed like he was going to be killed before my eyes as his sister stood screaming beside me about to witness it. Desperately beating the little tin roof below us to distract the bull. Just meters from us.

I’m a big Ernest Hemingway fan and his love of Bullfighting has given me a certain interest in it, so having checked into my Airbnb I walked to the bullring for the last one of the year. Whatever your view on it, it was a remarkable start to my GNAM week in wonderful Madrid.


IE Madrid is a real city center campus. It is made up of several impressive buildings along one of the many beautiful wide boulevards that run into the city. We had an 8 am start on Monday and after the initial nervous and giddy introductions we were straight into lectures. The topics on Monday were Brexit: implications for the UK, Europe and the world, followed by, Spain on the periphery: surviving the eurozone crisis. Both lectures today were given by Prof. Gayle Allard. An American lady who has lived in Madrid a long time. Lectures each day finished at 1 pm followed by lunch and then a little bit of group work in preparation for the final presentations to be given on Friday.

In the afternoon we were treated to a fantastic guided tour of the city with a couple of stops along the way. It then finished at the home of Real Madrid for some cocktails and tapas in the bar overlooking the pitch.


Tuesdays topic was “the euro is dead, long live the Euro”. We looked at the past and the progression of the Euro and what the future holds for Europe and the nations not in the Euro. Lectures today were by Fernando Fernandez. After lectures we were shown the W.O.W room. This is surely the future of on-line education. A totally interactive virtual classroom for 55 students from anywhere in the world. An amazing facility developed by IE but it sounds like several deals have been done with Ivy league universities in the States. After the W.O.W room I went to the Spanish equivalent of the Louvre, The Prado Museum. It’s a trip back in time through art. A huge museum that’s got to be seen but I seriously recommend booking in advance. Otherwise you’ll be in a queue three blocks long, literally.


Wednesday’s lecture was given by Fernando Garland and the topic was “a perspective of the world economy”. A very interesting lecture covering topics like population, demographic, age, trade and migration. This was followed by a brief fun lecture after lunch on the economics of wine around the world. We learnt a lot!

Then it was up to one of the other buildings for a wine tasting and to put into practice everything we had just learnt.  This was followed by a flamenco show, which was very enjoyable. Then I went to see Guernica at the Reina Sofia. It is spectacular and as startling as I had envisaged. I was also blown away by the Dali’s, much more then I thought I would be. You only really appreciate the detail when you see them up so close. They are quite extraordinary. After this I went for a walk to get lost in the city. I stumbled into a flamenco place called Villa Rosa for some tapas. I stayed for my second flamenco show of the day and this one was incredible. Amazing music and dance and wonderful to see it live. So dark and intense and dramatic.

First thing Thursday morning we had an economic decision-making simulation that was designed in IE called 10 Downing Street. In it, each team plays the British prime minister who must make economic decisions regarding the economy during times of crisis to avoid being ousted in the next general election!

After the simulation we had another lecture with Prof. Allard called “the road ahead”, analysing potential outcomes of Brexit and evaluating the outlook for Europe.

After lunch we visited Telefonica in their original old building in the centre of town. The most interesting aspect of this was seeing their WAWA facility downstairs. This has 30-40 semi mature start-ups working in the building with a further 40 outside and globally. We got to see a couple of very cool products and got a great presentation from the young guys behind two of the them.

At the start of the week each group was given a certain viewpoint on the Euro or the Euro zone to critique or defend in their 7/8-person group presentation. These 30-minute presentations were then presented throughout the course of Friday morning. Each discussion followed by plenty of lively debate. It was most interesting to hear such a diverse set of views and comments on Europe from people from all over the world. Everybody certainly sees things very differently.

We had nothing on Friday afternoon, so people scattered all over the city. It rained a lot that afternoon, so I enjoyed Madrid over a long lazy lunch in a very cool restaurant across the road called Honest Greens. Later in the afternoon I got organised for my early departure the following morning and sorted out the apartment. Then it was out for tapas and drinks with most of the class. We went to 3 or 4 more bars and saw plenty more of the city.

In common with the MBA, one of the big bonuses and great things about doing GNAM is the great people that you meet from all over the world. I met wonderful people from every corner, Guatemala. India, China, Mexico, Lebanon etc.  I look forward to calling these guys when I make it around to their part of the globe.


We are in a very lucky position to be able to do these great weeks and I very much look forward to getting back to this beautiful city and seeing and experiencing more of it.

Paul Deegan, FTMBA 2018/19


I am a poet and I didn’t know it

When we embarked on our MBA, there were a few books that were recommended to us to give us a flavour of what the journey would entail. One such book was “To Snapshots from Hell by Peter Robinson”, a tale of a previous presidential speechwriter’s journey on the Stanford MBA. He defined the non-mathematical students as poets, people like himself as well as marketing types, artists etc who were non-mathsy. He could do well to add Makeup Artists to that category too as I was also in the group that struggled with any of the math related subjects like Corporate Finance and Financial Reporting. To be fair I also own and run a Hair and Makeup Talent Agency, so thought I would have a grasp of these subjects, but they are on another level to what you would experience running a small business.


As I quickly got lost in the workload of the MBA and group work, I struggled to keep on top of the more technical subjects. Above is some of our team on the last day of working together, we decided to go for dinner to celebrate, we don’t look too bad! I would encourage any Poets thinking of persuing the MBA to try and do an introduction course on Maths & Accounting, in order to give you a starting chance. The first few months of the MBA is like taking part in the Bull Run in Pamplona. You signed up for it, so you can’t complain, but taking part is like running down a narrow cobbled street with other participants, trying to stay amongst the group, but not get mutilated by a giant herd of bulls(deadlines) as they come at you left, right and centre.


Just when you think you are getting somewhere, you have handed in your project, around the corner comes another deadline ready to decapitate you if you take your eye off the proverbial bull! Also, like the festival, once you get through the trauma of the event, you are filled with a sense of elation, pride and achievement that you have come out the other side, relatively unscathed.


It isn’t all doom and gloom though. There were plenty of highs, including getting to know some fantastic people and enjoy some down time. Here I am at the Image Business Awards with the lovely Shitandi, Suzanne and Ankita. It was so nice to get glammed up and be inspired by some fantastic women in business.


I also managed to bring Shitandi out of her digs in “Proby” to explore a bit of the countryside that Ireland has to offer. Here we are pictured on top of the Hell Fire Club with Dublin City in the background. The mix of people in the MBA is one of the truly best features of the course. With all the different cultures and perspectives, you learn so many alternative ways of thought. I am delighted that I took on the challenge of the MBA and feel like I am getting a well-rounded education that will serve me well into the future. The leadership development and career coaching are particularly good in Smurfit and something that I think really compliments the course well. We have done a lot of teamwork analysis including SDI training and 360 feedback which is invaluable in developing yourself as a leader.

As I look to the next semester with anticipation, I shout ¡Viva San Fermín! He is the Patron saint, who blesses and guides the runners of the bull run as they set out on their treacherous journey. If he can protect them from raging bulls then I am sure he can look out for me as I head out on the next stage of my journey!

Emma Farrell, FTMBA 2018/19

The perfect (Smur)fit!

On August 27th, 31 students from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia came together for the first time. Excited to embark on this crazy adventure called the Smurfit MBA – wondering what our classmates would be like, who we would be working with in study groups and who our new friends would be.

Less than seven weeks later, it was time for us to be exposed to a whole new set of MBA students from schools across the world. Who would we meet? What would our classmates be like? Who would our new friends be? Some members of our Smurfit class set off to locations such as Vancouver, New Haven and Madrid, and some stayed in Dublin to warmly welcome students from other MBA programs to our home in Dublin. As a Canadian who spent the last decade living in Western Europe, I chose to attend the module offered at Fudan University of Management in Shanghai, China.

Enthusiastic about the opportunity to experience a new culture, eat dumplings and meet more inspiring MBA students, I bade goodbye to Dublin for the week and set off for Shanghai alone.


Navigating a big city in China proved to be harder than I had anticipated, which was the general consensus among the other GNAM students in Shanghai – and became a great source of entertainment for my friends back home and in Dublin. I honed my skills in pointing and gesturing, as I learned more about the evolving Chinese business culture and took in the sights, history and dumplings.

While there were no local Fudan students in the course with us, I met students of all ages and backgrounds from top business schools such as ESMT, IE, EGADE, UBC Sauder, Yale and IIM. I learned about these people, I learned about the MBA degrees that they were pursuing, and I learned that MBAs are not all created equal even across the top programmes in the world. Not every school has a Leadership Development Programme that includes a personal coach, career counseling and events in full swing within the first two months and a Programme Manager who genuinely cares about the students she is minding. (Hi Aga! We appreciate you!)

I heard about programmes that had hundreds of students each year, and I had a newfound appreciation for the close-knit nature of the Smurfit programme. We arrived at Smurfit strangers, and only seven short weeks later, I found myself missing the cheerful Irish accent, my Indian, Kenyan, South African and Japanese MBA family in Proby House, my brilliant and funny study group and all 30 faces that I had come to know so well in such a short time.


Now another seven weeks have elapsed since that alternate universe MBA experience in Shanghai and I can say that I’ve come to appreciate the UCD Smurfit community and Dublin even more with time.

In Switzerland, we say “daheim si isch ke Ort…sondern äs Gfüeu” (home is not a place, rather a feeling). I am thankful for the “Céad Míle Fáilte” (hundred thousand welcomes) I have received daheim at Smurfit and look forward to continuing this adventure.


Carmela Reyes, FTMBA 2018/19

The Tempest

“Our revels have endeth.”

We have reached the end of a challenging yet very rewarding semester one. But the storm clouds have arrived. And (if I may quickly jump between plays) Shylock’s pound of flesh has come due. It’s exam time. And unlike Antonio, who managed to find a legal loophole, we must lift our shirts and pay what’s due.

“Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.”

Our first exam is Corporate Finance, which may explain why my brain has turned to Shakespeare to escape from all the WACC’ing it has been receiving. The Merchant of Venice does cover a lot of the core principles of finance. Bonds and repayments are key actors in the drama. OCC is a central theme. And if Antonio had carefully considered his capital budgeting, taking proper account of the risks associated with 16th century shipping to establish his risk matched discount rate, he may not have had to use as much of his equity (ie shares in his body parts) as leverage for the debt. Better capital structuring would have saved him from a potentially painful divestment. You could say it is a perfect example of Modigliani and Miller second proposition, where the return or cost of equity increases as the percentage of debt increases.

But the bigger question is, why does exam-time encourage one’s mind to wander? I have now pondered the principles of finance contained within Shakespeare’s works, but I’m pretty sure this will be of zero benefit for my exam. I will draw some solace from John Coates’ “The Hour Between Dog And Wolf”, where he notes that switching tasks or thought processes can offset mental fatigue. But I will also humbly ask our professors to consider Portia’s closing argument on behalf of Antonio…

“The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

Once more unto the breach, dear MBA candidates, once more.


Christopher Upton, FTMBA, 2018/19

An Evening with the Most Inspiring Ladies

Whilst pursuing my MBA from Smurfit, I got an opportunity to attend the “IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards, 2018”. Sounds like some academy award function? Well it was no less! In all of its glitz, glamour and dazzle, women from all across Ireland were celebrated for their dedication towards their work and their entrepreneurial skills in every field from social to digital media. Ironically the event was hosted on 19 November, “International Men’s day”, in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington.


It was my first opportunity to go to such even. I was excited about meeting women who had excelled at their respective domains. I was stumped by the grandeur of the venue, with the decorated pink and gold colours for the event. Every woman was dressed to the nines, beaming with pride due to being nominated for an award or due to being there to support their colleagues in their nomination or some where there like me to be inspired. Every table in the ballroom was finely decorated with feathers, candles and pearls and a beautiful gift was provided in the form of a bracelet with “success” monogrammed on it.

Sitting there listening to their stories, we could feel the fire in their heart, their determination and passion which has got them this far. Their stories exuberated that age is just a number, you can start anytime in your life and glory comes when every setback is dealt with through perseverance and most importantly by keeping your head high when things get tough.

One of the most profound messages I took away from the night was when Anne Harris said on stage: “anger dies, love doesn’t, in the professional and the personal, and respect and more respect is the way to bridge that gap.”

This event was one of the many of the milestones in my MBA journey, teaching and inspiring me to the core. It was not a celebration of just a few successful women, but the celebration of every woman’s perseverance, the battles they have fought and the support they have received in fighting these battles in the business world


I hope to return to such an event, not only to make my mark my time on the MBA at Smurfit, but also as a mark of my imprint on the Irish business world upon graduation.

Ankita Aggarwal, FTMBA 2018/19


Weathering the Storm

My MBA journey began by running into school panting for breath, just in time for Economics class. The first thing I noticed – apart from the beautiful campus and the amazing cohort of students I was with – was that I was shivering despite wearing four layers of clothing. I realized then that I was going to get colder weather than I had bargained for. Not one to be put off by a few spells of rain and a breeze, I plunged into my modules.


This would soon change however, as the year progressed, and the temperature dropped in Dublin. Term one spanned over 4 months – fall and the advent of winter. Leaves morphed from green to beautiful shades of tan, auburn and orange. Trees soon shed these leaves, strewing the ground with gold medallions of crackle that the dogs loved playing in. Bare branches and sprightly conifers greeted me each morning as I made my way to class, determination in my stride and a cup of hot chocolate in hand.

And then, just like that, winter was here. For a girl from the tropics, this is bad news. Very few hours of feeble sunlight and piling assignments and group work were not a good combination. I grew so frustrated at not being able to wake up to dark mornings and feeling hungry and sleepy at odd times because of my disrupted body clock that I did what any MBA student would do – I analyzed the data and wrote a report.


The point of inflection on the graph is the ideal space to be – you’re motivated enough to do your work; the weather is just perfect, and the workload is something you can easily handle. The shaded area is a zone you really don’t want to get into – low motivation, terrible weather and skyrocketing workload. The red dot represents where I am at the moment.

The MBA program is however, ideal for learning how to deal with the shaded zone. I have picked up great interpersonal skills, time management skills and an enhanced ability to deal gracefully with stress. The coaching sessions and wonderful vibe of my flat-mates have ensured that I don’t fall victim to the immense workload and unpredictable weather.

All in all, this experience will make me a well-rounded individual, capable of meeting challenges head-on and working with people to surmount impossible tasks. And to think it’s only been four months!

I eagerly await the coming months for more things to learn. Almost as eagerly as I await spring.

Swathi Shenoy, FTMBA 2018/2019



Digital is dead, FinTech is Next!!!

On 7th November, UCD Smurfit FinTech Society organized its first event “Blockchain: Beyond Cryptocurrency” at the UCD Smurfit School. We had an exciting panel from Deloitte Blockchain lab and ConsenSys, Ireland to talk us through the innovations happening in Fintech and the role of Blockchain in industries such as finance, supply chain and food. The session started with the basics of Blockchain, but participation and inquisitiveness of society members drove discussion towards more complex topics on ethereum development and use of technology across sectors. To our surprise, many MBA students turned up for the event although it was happening on the day before Economics mid-term exam (Dear Jim, I wish this can be used as an excuse for my not so good performance in the economics mid-term exam). The part that was most fun around organizing the event and running Smurfit FinTech society has been meeting like-minded people who want to use or are using the Blockchain technology to power their own ventures and the aim of our Society is to bring together those people.


Also, the support that we got from Smurfit LDP and Careers office has been tremendous. Ailish Lynch, our MBA Leadership Development Manager, supported us from the very start when we pitched our idea to start a new club aimed at FinTech innovations. Mark Davies, UCD Smurfit Careers Manager also helped us to reach out to companies to help us with eminent guest speakers. There is a lot to explore in Blockchain technologies, and UCD Smurfit’s strong alumni network is of huge benefit for people who have desire to reach out to people from the field of their interest.

Shubham Sahai, FTMBA 2018/2019

Towards becoming better leaders

It’s been more than three months since I arrived in Dublin to pursue my MBA at Smurfit. The year at the business school is supposed to be nothing short of transformational, as countless others have testified before. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t take a year – I can already tell you that I have transformed holistically from the person I was three months back.photo-two

The MBA is a degree in business leadership. It has two important points of growth – educational (the theoretical aspects of business) and personal (the daily aspect of leadership). For me, that meant a solid grounding in core finance and accounting aspects that I was particularly uncomfortable with and an understanding of the practicalities surrounding marketing and strategy. Perhaps more importantly, it also meant a good hard look at myself and understanding how my particular personality can shine through and become a better leader. Smurfit provides a lot of tools and resources to help us look at ourselves and illustrates how we can become phenomenal leaders while keeping most of our personalities intact. Largely this is down to the LDP programme, the diversity of the cohort and the excellent strategy of putting students in diverse study groups.


During this “transformation”, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that you need to have fun. Our intake embody the spirit of work hard, party harder (perhaps this is obvious seeing that the course is in Dublin). The MBA is an intense course, and you would soon be running on reserves if you do not let loose regularly. In addition, a lot of the learnings and “team-building activities” happen with friends at the pubs.

I knew that the MBA was going to be a transformational journey, but I am pleasantly surprised daily at the changes I have undergone. Few of the takeaways until date – a better understanding of myself, higher confidence, better presentation skills and a healthier lifestyle. And you know what? There are still nine more months to go!

Saket Jain, FTMBA 2018/2019

1/3rd of the way through already? Surely not?

A common theme one tends to hear a lot in relation to pursuing an MBA is that of time management. Not to push a cliché too much, but it’s in disbelief I find that we are in our last week of lectures of semester one. Our midterms are complete and we’re certainly in the thick of the last of the assignments and preparation for the upcoming end of semester exams. Even whilst trying to be cognizant of the time with everything that’s been expected of us over the last 3 months, I find myself asking “where did that time go”?

A huge amount in that time has happened and in my view that is the reason behind the sentiment of the whirlwind of the Smufit MBA experience. In the last 3 months I’ve lost track of the amount of new people I’ve met – possibly the most in my life in such a short space of time. After having travelled extensively by myself when I was younger, I can say that is no mean feat! With networking being such an important component of the Smurfit MBA there is no shortage of promotion of those values I can say with certainty!

Whilst we have been incredibly busy with our core modules, in tandem with these we have been attending Leadership Development Program sessions on team and individual dynamics. These sessions have focused on our individual and team styles of contribution that have certainly given me food for thought about where people fit in in teams, how we work in teams and even showing us parts of our personalities that we might not have been aware of. All this has assisted in the various teams we have been a part of and how we fit in to perform at our best.

Another highly worthwhile mention of the activities of the last few months is the GNAM (Global Network of Advanced Management) week here in Dublin which focused on Digital Business transformation. This was expertly organised by Nicola Dunnion and JP Donnelly, CEO of Ogilvy. So much was packed into the 5 days including guest speakers such as the Liam Kavanagh, CEO of the Irish Times, Tom Kinsella, CMO of AIB, and company visits to Facebook, Google and the Abbey to name only a few! The content, presentations, visits and organisation were second to none. We had some fantastic conversations and us Smurfiteers did our best to impart some local knowledge and wisdom to make our many guests from FGV São Paulo, ESMT Berlin, Koç University, UBC Sauder, EGADE, Yale, IIMB, Fudan, IE Business School and Pontificia Universidad Catolica De Chile feel welcome during their stay.


As time creeps up on us and we advance through our workload, I look forward to our Christmas break to catch up with family and friends. Equally though, I feel that having recharged the batteries I will be looking forward to the next chapter of the Smurfit MBA Journey if it’s as eventful, challenging and enjoyable as this instalment which I’ve no doubt it will be.

Mark Blake, MBA 2018/19