Last week, a group of MBA students went on an epic trip to Brazil, as part of our International Study Programme. It started in Sao Paulo with visits to Walmart and Natura, amongst others. Then we all headed to Rio de Janeiro, hoping to catch some sun and fun! The days passed so quickly; we had so much to see, so much to do! The one day, which really made the trip, was Friday, 18 March 2011. After a very impressive session with Deloitte, we all got on the bus to go to Vigário Geral favela (slum).
Eve, our guide for this part of the trip briefed us about the place we were going to visit. It was a slum area, known to be a very violent place and a hub for drug dealing. In the past, there have been horrifying instances of gang wars and young children becoming a part of the circuit. With all that at the back of our heads, (and instructions not to click pictures without permission!) we reached the favela.
There we were greeted by a hundred kisses from a woman, who owns a restaurant based in the middle of the favela, cooks all the food herself, is more than 50 year old and still has a dummy pacifier in her mouth, most of the times! The food was delicious! The variety was commendable. Good food and warm hugs from the lady herself made us happy, but none of us knew what to expect ahead!
It’s the Friday of the fifth week of term 3 and as I wind up catching some sleep, the thoughts of the months gone by flash through my head. From my first day at Smurfit until today, there is a significant difference at the way I look at a situation in work scenario. Earlier, it was just limited to my team, my project and to my personal excellence. MBA has helped me develop a holistic view of the business arena. The curriculum design at Smurfit helped us in slowly but steadily developing this view.
The first term was focussed on building the foundation. It focussed on understanding the firm, introduction to general management, Financial Reporting and Operations. All this was very beneficial in bringing everyone from diverse backgrounds, to the same page. As mentioned in my previous blogs, the range of experience in the class is very impressive and term 1 gave us a chance to get familiar with it. Being the first term on the course, it all seemed like a mad rush and I was left wondering will I ever get to know people around! But the group assignments, class discussions and get-togethers all helped in binding us all together.
Then came term 2! I thought I was better prepared to handle this term, with my experience of term 1 to support me, but I was wrong. This term had a different approach. It focussed on looking into the market. Modules like business economics, marketing, financial markets and valuations broadened our perspective to look at the industry and how the firm fits in the industry. Not to mention the unending submissions and presentations!
After the speedy semester 1 (though I think the entire MBA course is pretty fast paced!), came the welcome winter break. Having known each other very well, spending time together was always much fun. The day exams ended, we all went out to celebrate. We exchanged Christmas presents, courtesy the Secret Santa game! It was a much needed break and we all made the most of the opportunity.
Semester 2 began in January and this time the focus of the modules was on building strategies. We also had a range of options to choose from, depending on our personal areas of interest. Corporate Finance, Negotiation Dynamics, Global Strategic Management, Strategy for Human Resources, all these modules take us a step further. We are not only learning the strategies but now are expected to apply them to situations.
Later in the course we shall be a part of a company project which will test our acquired skills in the real world scenario. I am hoping that will be a very enriching experience, especially for people wanting to switch industries. This is the last week of formal lectures for Semester 2 before we face the exams! The thought of the upcoming study trip to Brazil keeps coming to my head but I know I need to focus on studies for the next 2 weeks! And the Leitrim weekend trip after the spring break. Ok, I better focus! ;)
It seems like the MBA has just started and it’s the middle of term 3 already! Time just flies in this course. Readings, assignments, research and group meetings take away all your time. Sometimes when I look back at the week gone by, I wonder how is it possible to cover what we covered in that week. But nonetheless, we did! What makes this possible is not the classes, but the preparation for the classes that we are expected to do. Before we enter the class, we already have an opinion on what will be discussed in class. The class is more of a 2 hour debate and learning, rather than just sitting and attending it. That makes all the background reading so essential or else one will just sit in the class, completely lost!
The case based courses are my personal favourites. The class brings out so many angles and aspects of a case which I am sure a single person wouldn’t be able to think off. There is that definite 180º divide in opinions but the interesting part is all the middle degrees. When something countering your opinion seems so right, you can’t help but get boggled. Continue reading Mind-boggling how time flies
Walking into a class full of 47 people and walking in a week late (thanks to the Visa process!), I was excited and nervous at the same time. More than anything else, I was curious to know if my class was as diverse as the school claimed! As I entered the class, a positive vibe welcomed me into the room full of smiling faces. Looking around and after talking to a few people, I was so enthralled by the range of nationalities and experiences we had in a batch of 47. From Irish engineers to American sales managers, from Vietnamese bankers to a Canadian telecommunications expert, there was so many to learn from in the coming year.
Walking into a room to meet a complete stranger, I was unsure what to expect and how much to reveal myself. I was greeted with a noisy door but a very warm “Good morning”. It was my scheduled meeting with my coach at the MBA program at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. The coaching sessions are designed to help the students chalk out a plan for their future, under expert guidance from trained coaches. Armed with experience, the coaches help you identify your strengths, prioritize your goals and guide you in the best possible manner.
My coach was a wonderful lady (thankfully!). She made me comfortable so I could share my aspirations, future plans, as well as, apprehensions with her. She was a very considerate listener. She gave me time to settle down before she asked me what my future plans were. It helped to share with another lady as she could fully understand me. I told her how the course was shaping, how I was getting along in the course and how demanding and draining it was, both physically and mentally. She asked me about where I wanted to see myself in the future and what I am doing in the course towards achieving that dream. She then asked me what my long term and short term goals were, and we discussed how I could work on myself to become fully equipped to achieve them.
One thing that really impressed me was that there were no strings attached to the session. I could openly discuss anything, professional, as well as, personal. This helped me discuss all parameters that will help form the perfect equation of life for me. My coach, because of her experience and knowledge, could relate to a lot of things I mentioned and advised me accordingly. She helped me envision my future more clearly as she had examples to share from her own life and from the lives of the people she knew. I learnt from her experience. Real life examples helped me gauge the pros on cons of all my plans.
All in all, I think the coaching is a very useful part of the MBA program at Smurfit. It really gives you an insight into what you “really” want in life and what is best suited to your strengths. I expected my first session to be another one of those add-on features that Business schools talk about in their advertisements but I am glad they proved me wrong. The invaluable guidance I received has made me more focussed on my end goal. I am already looking forward to meeting my coach again next month!