The Business of Women’s Sport in Ireland

“Women’s sport in Ireland presents a green field site for commercial partners where they have great opportunity to shape the kind of programmes that will deliver for them in terms of consumer marketing, business to business development and staff motivation.”

That was one of a number of clear messages to emerge from yesterday’s inaugural “The Business of Women’s Sport Conference” according to organiser, Rob Hartnett from Sport for Business (that includes UCD Smurfit as a founding member).  The attendance of 100 leaders in sport and business participated in panel discussions and innovative round table sessions that included current MBA participants, UCD Ad Astra athletes and UCD’s own Dr. Ann Bourke who counts sport management as one of her fields of research.

The conference, kindly hosted by UCD Smurfit, heard from Annette Ní Dhathlaoi, Head of Marketing with Liberty Insurance on the ground breaking sponsorship of both the All Ireland Hurling and Camogie Championships; from Simon McBeth of eFlow and from Liz Ferris of the Women in Business Alliance.  They also heard from panels including Malachy Logan, Sports Editor of the Irish Times, as well as from Sue Ronan and Gemma Crowley, managers of the Irish national soccer and rugby teams, 200 Cap Hockey international Nikki Symmons, 12 time All Ireland Camogie Medal winner Mary O’Connor.

More information available in the media – Irish TimesThe Irish Examiner and Wednesday’s The Last Word(min 39).

– Michael McDonnell, MBA Programme Manager

Original source and photos courtesy of Sport for Business

MBA Golf Society event

The second outing of the newly created UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society took place on 24th May 2013 in Druids Heath Golf Club. With the popularity of the society increasing four fold from the previous excursion in Carton House, competition was reaching fever pitch. New players of note included David Joyce, our resident MBA scratch golfer extraordinaire, Eamon Ambrose, the first lecturer to take on the mighty students, and Emma Fagan, our first (and hopefully not last) female competitor.

The relaxed atmosphere was evident as the players approached the first tee. With the sun shining, and a majestic view of the Irish Sea, almost all tee shots were a joy to watch. The course had been well groomed, although Cormac Dunne had specifically asked the Green keepers to keep the rough “healthy and challenging” (It has since been estimated that the course swallowed in the region of 120 balls over the course of the day, thanks Cormac).

Golf has been described as a great walk, ruined. However, by the 3rd Hole, Andrew Bacon was already using his charm to attract birds. With a near perfect approach to the Par 3, his ball landed beside a swan, who chose to adopt the ball as her egg. Mr Bacon’s reputation must have preceded him, as the swan reared up and hissed, preventing his advances. The rules of golf are manifold. Angry fowl must be hidden in the small print.

David Flynn, Kieran Hynes and Emma Fagan were all experiencing moments of brilliance around the course, possibly inspired by David Joyce’s course management genius and inspirational tips. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two Andrews (both Bacon and Bourke) was developing against the might of Jim Gannon and Cormac Dunne, who sought to avenge their embarrassing defeat to the pair during the previous outing (need they be reminded; 7&6). A newly engaged and beaming Ronan Sheridan, a sun cream double coated Declan Griffin and an ever enthusiastic Eamon Ambrose were spending a little more time than expected ball searching, and at times, soul searching. And finally Steve Kelly, a relative golf virgin, Gareth McCloskey, one of more intelligent golfers and the always laughing John … continued to battle the ever increasing wind that was ensuring pars remained a premium and birdies became an object of legend.

It was agreed by all that the back 9 presented a more difficult challenge than deciphering Brian McGrath’s assessment criteria, with scores remaining low and scratches filling many a scorecard. With the wind circling and gusting, only one person managed to leave a ball on the green on nearest the pin, while the longest drive left many wondering how much money they had wasted on golf lessons for that “perfect swing”. Steve Kelly managed a solid 273 yards (although I’m positive that the next outing will produce longer… the challenge has been extended, are you strong enough?).

As the day reached a sunny climax, and with 5 hours of golf behind all players, a quick drink beckoned. Discussions turned to the course and it was noted that in spite of the conditions defeating the majority of players, with a modest 28 points claiming first place, everyone had a very enjoyable time.

The big winners on the day were as follows:

1st Place: David Joyce – 28 points

2nd Place: Steve Kelly – 26 points (his first ever golf prize)

3rd Place: Jim Gannon – 25 points

Best Female: Emma Fagan

Longest Drive: Steve Kelly

Nearest the Pin: David Joyce

The next outing is located at the K Club on the aptly named “Smurfit Course“.

Date:                     19th July
Tee Times:          13:30 – 14:02
Green Fee:         €50

To secure your place please click and book outing place via PayPal on our website.

Greens and Fairways

UCD MBA Golf Society

MBA Experience Day 15 June 2013

On Saturday 15 June, UCD Smurfit School played host to the MBA Experience Day 2013.

MBA Director Orla Nugent summed up the sentiment of the day, “This was the first MBA Experience Day and the day was very exciting for us. It is also encouraging for us to meet new candidates and to share with them a flavour of our MBA programme”

A nice sunny morning welcomed 120 prospective MBA students to the Smurfit Campus for a busy morning of lecture, workshop, mingling and networking with the aim of giving those who might be considering an MBA the  chance to get some real insight into what it would be like.

After the welcome address by MBA Director Orla Nugent , Prof. Niamh Brennan delivered a ‘Taste’ lecture entitled Greek Chorus, Posse or Lynch Mob? The Role of Accountants in Corporate Governance. In true MBA fashion, participants were called upon to share their views -I am not sure they were expecting that!

Facilitator Fintan Ryan gave a taste of the Leadership Development Programme and soon got everybody in the room talking about dolphins, owls, panthers and peacocks! MBA Careers Manager Brian Marrinan talked about the Careers Programme and some of the activities scheduled over the course of the MBA, referencing “The Bachelor”.

On a more serious note, Prof. Pat Gibbons and Prof. Damien McLoughlin both shared their insights to the Smurfit MBA programme and the MBA Admissions Manager of course gave some tips and tricks as to how to submit the best MBA application.

Finishing off the day was a networking lunch where MBA Experience Day participants got a chance to network with and ask questions to the MBA team, current MBA students, MBA Alumni and faculty. The fact that the networking lunch ran until 4pm that sunny afternoon makes the MBA Experience Day a great day in my books and I am hoping to see many of the people I spoke to that day back on Campus whether this August or next!


– Rikke Budolfsen, MBA Programme Manager

At the end of the final class – was it worth it?

At the end of my final formal class for the MBA, I am reflecting back on my experience this year at Smurfit. Despite the humongous workload, frustrations and occasional tears, the experience at Smurfit has totally exceeded my expectations.

I am a big dreamer. In my MBA applications, I decided to only apply for the top schools. I applied for Said Business School and Harvard Business School. I got wonderful replies from them – you have a great application, but we’re not able to offer you a place at this time. Said Business school even sent me the same email twice, either because they like me so much or because they wanted to remind me that I should try for another business school :-) .

I am very happy, thanks and praises to God for putting the best plans in order, with the way that things have turned out by coming to UCD. I have benefitted greatly from the program (you can read some of this on my personal blog, my son went to a wonderful Muslim National School in Clonskeagh, and is now fluent in English while doing extremely well in Gaelic (better than English!) in his class. My husband and I learnt a lot about ourselves amidst the challenges of his NGO work, my MBA assignments and the kids running up and down between us. My little girl has had a lot of nurturing from being at home with dad and me (when I don’t have classes and meetings). And I have met so many wonderful people here – both from the school and through the volunteer work I am doing with the Malaysians studying and working in Ireland.

The first day of class, I remember trying really hard to understand some of my classmates who had really strong Irish accents (those from Cork, Limerick, you know you who are!). Today, I understand them perfectly well and the Irish-English accent just comes naturally to my ears. I’ve even caught myself inadvertently using the Irish ‘ya’. That’s lasting proof that I spent a year in the beautiful Irish land of Dublin :-D . And to answer the question in the subject line – was it worth it? Totally yes!

Nur Zahirah M Sukran

– Nur Zahirah M Sukran, FT MBA 2012-13

Let’s Get Real!

I write this blog with 2/3’s of the MBA program behind me and the academic portion effectively complete. The first 2 semesters have been a flood of information and knowledge that has been enriching and stimulating, albeit saturating at times. In this 8-9 month period we have completed 16 separate academic modules, written countless assignments, given innumerable presentations and generally been immersed in the spectrum of business related subjects, day and night.

For the final 2-3 months of the program, this outline changes tack completely. The academic learning is done and we are now expected to put it all into practise. The program’s vehicle for this exercise is the market place. As MBA participants we now move from being students, to in essence cheap labour, as we are offered out to companies to perform consulting projects. The value gained from businesses in the past means that the program is oversubscribed from companies looking to make use of this opportunity, which provides us with a broad choice of projects to work on.

I have made the selection to work on a project for a multinational looking for a feasibility analysis of a new line of business and a related roll out plan. This project struck a cord with me as it aligned my entrepreneurial tendencies with an opportunity to implement much of my learning’s from the program. Specifically, I look forward to implementing the theoretical strategy elements of analyzing the opportunity and industry attractiveness, the firm’s value chain and relative competitive advantage, and the best avenues for entry.

The project also facilitates implementation of our marketing theory in performing a market segmentation and analysis, identifying the target market, and determining the product positioning and best marketing mix. Our financial learnings should also add value in the financial modelling and analysis that will be required. I am thus looking forward to the challenge of performing a value adding assignment in tight timelines and hopefully gaining much practical learnings in feasibility analysis and the roll out of a new business venture.

Neil Krige

All in all, this practical element of the program has come at the right time as most program participants are itching to put all our learnings into practice and get out of the class room and back into the real world of business.

– Neil Krige, FT MBA 2012/13

Some people just amaze me

One such person is FT MBA 2010 Alumni and social entrepreneur John McInroy. Always in good spirits and with a ton of energy and enthusiasm, he launched I Wear Red Sock on Fridays during the FT MBA (and blogged about it here).

At the moment, John is now halfway on a 1600+ km cycle trip and a marathon, his most recent initiative…

” This 10 day cycle from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg to run the Comrades Marathon on day 11 is a journey of the heart inspired by the life of Phil Masterton-Smith who in 1933 couldn’t afford the train fare from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg so he cycled up instead and finished 10th in the race. He died in World War Two in 1942. His nickname was “Unogwaja” meaning hare in Zulu and his legacy lives on in the Unogwaja Challenge. Wherever you go, go with your heart “

To follow John and the team on their journey go to

– Rikke Budolfsen, FT MBA Programme Manager

MBA Thought Leadership Forum and CV Book Launch

Earlier this week, the first MBA Thought Leadership Forum took place in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The event, jointly organised by the Smurfit MBA and the MBA Association of Ireland, featured a panel discussion on the topic of ‘Stop, Start, Continue’  and an opportunity for our next generation of leaders to discuss what can be done to avoid the mistakes of the past and what we can do to build for the future, hence the topic theme “Start, Stop, Continue”.

Each panelist gave their thoughts and insights on what the Irish people need to start doing, stop doing and continue doing to deliver future success for Ireland in a global context.

Professor Niamh Brennan kindly chaired the event, with Hugo McNeill, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs; John Moran, Secretary General of the Department of Finance and Anne Nolan, Chief Executive of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association on the panel.

The event also marked the launch of the UCD Smurfit MBA CV Book – Class of 2013!

– Rikke Budolfsen, MBA Programme Manager

A few highlights,

Afraid of Networking?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages.

When I was in the middle of my MBA last year in Smurfit, there were some fellow students who viewed networking as a dirty word, something that makes you uncomfortable, an activity that is all about using other people to get what you want or to get ahead in some way. This is not networking. Yes, networking is about self-promotion and trying to get ahead but it is about so much more. Networking is meeting new people, hearing their stories, exchanging information and ideas. When you are a student this exchange is somewhat unbalanced because as a student you do not have as much to exchange. But guess what, the people you are talking to were also in your shoes at the start of their careers. And another truth is most that people want to help, to pay forward the help and advice they received at the start of their journeys.

Personally I love networking. The reason is simple, I love talking, telling stories and I love meeting new people. I also happen to be trying to sell the MBA World Trophy to everyone who will listen. There’s nothing wrong with finding out who is going to be attending a function and thinking about what you would like to talk to them about. Doing this is showing that you respect other people’s time and understand that their time is valuable and they probably don’t want to be stuck talking to me for any length of time. Fundamentally networking is just an extension of selling. One of our speakers at the MBA World Trophy, Vivek Wadhwa wrote a fantastic article about the importance of networking that is well worth reading. If you are a student you should remember that no matter what job or situation you find yourself in you need to put forward the best version of you at all times.

In another life I was a TV producer and my first boss in TV gave me great advice, when you arrive in someone’s house with a film crew you have a responsibility to ensure that you are remembered for the right reasons. Having a TV crew in your house is a highlight for the vast majority of ordinary people. So no matter what is going on in your own life, no matter how terrible you feel, you have to make sure you leave a positive impression. This has stuck with me and is something I try to achieve no matter where I go. I’m not always successful at it. The same thing applies to networking. Another important thing to mention is the power of LinkedIn. This is an awesome networking tool. Personally I believe you should always include a personal message when sending someone an invitation to join your network.

Finally, and I’m not biased when I tell you that this year’s MBA World Trophy and StartUp Dublin will be like networking heaven. So if you are interested in the lineup please join us. We would love to meet you.

Here’s a list of my networking do’s and don’ts

  • Be approachable.
  • Be polite.
  • Be yourself.
  • Don’t immediately head for the corner after scoffing some free food/drink. It’s ok to be nervous/uncomfortable, 90% of the people in the room are feeling the same way.
  • Try to find out who is attending in advance and find two people you would like to talk to about you.
  • Don’t overcook talking to your targets. Get in and out quickly. You can always talk to them later that evening. Remember they more than likely have other people that they want to talk to.
  • Always follow up with everyone you meet.
  • Don’t take no for an answer, I’m not saying to be pushy, just get creative. And finally, my favourite.
  • Every single person in the world will meet you for a coffee (except TV celebrities).

– Stephen Smith, MBA World Trophy team and FT MBA 2012

Red: the MBA World Trophy Competition and the StartUp Dublin Innovation Conference takes place in Dublin 16-18 May 2013.

John O'Loughlin, MBA World Trophy team member and FT MBA 2012 alumn, Enda Kenny and Stephen Smith

They don’t make them like that anymore (continued)

Read part 1 here

It was John Joshua who at the beginning of 19th century sold off the lower portion of the Stillorgan estate for building development and at this time Carysfort Avenue was laid out.  Part of the estate, including the grounds of our campus, Lord Carysfort then sold to Attorney General Mark Anthony Saurin. Then the ownership transferred to another highly prominent figure, Right Hon. Rickard Deasy, whose involvement in the historically important Landlord and Tenant Law Amendment Act 1860 resulted in the Act being widely known as Deasy’s Act.

Finally, Carysfort House and the surrounding estate were offered for sale in 1890, and the Sisters of Mercy, represented by Mother Superior Liguori Keenan, decided that these grounds, away from the busy, industrial and bustling city of Dublin, would be a perfectly suited home for education provided on a grand scale. This lady has been described as a very strong-minded, all-action woman who happened to be a sister of Sir Patrick Keenan, Head Commissioner of Education in Ireland. Mother Keenan led the process of transferring the School from Baggot Street and developing the Blackrock site to expand the facilities, including the main (red brick) building of the current Smurfit School. In 1901, Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, laid the foundation stone for a teacher training college, the chapel, an industrial school, a primary school and a secondary school. The main building of the current Smurfit School served as the reputable teacher training college, assuming the name of Carysfort College. At its peak in the early 1980s, the college produced more than 400 primary school teachers per year. It enjoyed the reputation of producing highly-trained and highly-competent teachers.

In February 1986, Gemma Hussey, Fine Gael Minister of Education, announced that the Department of Education was no longer prepared to subsidise the college. The decline in birth rate, and thus the decrease in the number of teachers required, was cited as the primary reason for this.

Among those who participated in the education process at Carysfort were Eamonn de Valera, first Taoiseach and first President of the Republic of Ireland, who was a professor of maths there; recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature poet Seamus Heaney, who served as head of the English Department; and Dr. Vincent O’Brien, a professor of music, among whose pupils were Count John McCormack and James Joyce. An interesting account by Christine Coady (later Sister Pascal), who studied there in 1910, details unusual aspects of Eamonn de Valera’s  teaching: “Looking back one can see that many of the problems he set up were based on his study of arms and ammunition – the principle of the torpedo took up one session”.

Natasha Ibanez

– Natasha Ibanez, FT MBA 2013

Smurfit MBA Ad Competition

Thursday, May 2nd, marked the first inaugural full-time MBA video ad competition.  The idea was for teams of three to make a 3 min video concept with the theme of “the MBA experience”.  There were no other rules and it was a real unknown as to what to expect.

We assembled at the Hibernian Club on St. Stephen’s Green for the premiere of the nine video submissions and were delighted to have Professor Pat Gibbons in attendance to adjudicate on concept and entertainment value.

Inevitably, hilarity ensued and the videos demonstrated a huge amount of creativity that exists within the class.  No two videos were alike and there were some interesting insights and perspectives that might never have been aired if not for the unorthodox format.  It’s reassuring to know that careers in acting, music and voiceovers are now a viable BATNA for many.

David Kelly

Thanks to the MBA office for supporting the event [MBA Office: Thanks David and Deborah for organising it]. The light hearted winning entry can be viewed here: MBA Ad Comp (not available on mobile devices)

Three exams down, four more to go…

-David Kelly, FT MBA 2012/13