The new semester is in full swing now. Our new groups have been assigned and my group has already made our first presentation. We had our first night out as a group last week and enjoyed Mediterranean cuisine in Keshk, a restaurant in town. Deniz, my teammate from Turkey selected our dishes and did not put a foot wrong. It was really good to have some fun with the team and get to know each other better.
This semester is not going quite as expected however. Last semester we heard about the promised land of semester two – we would no longer be working around the clock, we would get to meet up with the friends we had neglected in semester one, Semester two is going to be easier they told us….I am pretty sure they lied. I seem to be busier than ever.
Partly this is as a result of some of the clubs I am involved in – specifically the rugby club. As Jim has already blogged, we had a great dinner in aid of the rugby club in the Pillar Room in the Rotunda Hospital. The Smurfit School has an impressive academic tradition but it also has a proud rugby tradition and we hope to continue this tradition of excellence by winning our 12th title this year! The MBA world cup will give us an opportunity to represent the Smurfit School, Ireland, Irish business, and the companies that partner with us on the world stage.
The dinner was part of a wider fundraising campaign which includes producing a match-day programme that is showcased in the Smurfit School before we head off to the world cup and also distributed widely during the world cup amongst the other teams. Many teams have fundraising challenges, so the organisers of the competition focus heavily on distributing the match-day programme as widely as possible amongst participating teams. This means that advertisers get really good value for money. As I was less involved in organising the dinner as other members of the committee (one of us is a chef!), I put my hand up to project manage the match-day programme. No pressure! If any of you out there are involved in successful organisations that want excellent exposure to the Smurfit School or to students from 25 of the top MBA schools in the world, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I am starting to realise that fundraising is a much tougher gig than I had expected! And I was expecting it to be tough. Any contributions to the team would be much appreciated! Seriously – you can donate from our home page.
A highlight of the semester so far was an informal networking event I attended this week. I was really fortunate to be awarded an Aspire scholarship and we had our first ‘Aspire burger night’ on Monday in the Waterloo, a bar in town. It was fantastic. The current and past Aspire students now number in excess of 40 and well over half of us were able to make the event. The premise was for us to have an opportunity to meet each other informally and to have a Q&A session with some Irish business leaders.
Brian Hogan of KSG chatted to us and offered insights from his long and distinguished career. He was inspirational and I could not believe he had not done this type of thing before. He is a natural public speaker. We then had a further chance to pose questions to a wider set of business leaders present. It was great to hear that these titans of industry had made mistakes, it was great to hear that they had doubts. There is hope for us all.
The best thing about the evening was the positive attitude in the room. Everyone was hopeful about their future and about Ireland’s future. I left the Waterloo inspired and ready to take on the world. I am really looking forward to the next event. If any of you are interested in finding out more about the scholarship you can click on the link below. I am incredibly grateful to have been awarded such a scholarship and would urge any of you thinking about attending the Smurfit School to consider applying for it.
We are well into the UCD Smurfit MBA now and we have settled into a good routine. Our team work has improved and we often walk out of team meetings feeling that they were really productive. This puts a spring in our step as we try to work on the seemingly never ending stream of assignments! I would like to think that this improvement is due, in part, to the bonding work of our “Commitments” video night last month. The guys did not need subtitles in the end and enjoyed an insight into the real Dublin.
In reality, the improvement in our ability to work together is due to the work we do in our Leadership Development Programme (LDP)workshops and practice. Lots and lots of practice. The practice is just due to the workload, as we have a constant stream of meetings and assignments to hand up. The LDP helps us in a number of ways but much of it is focused on identifying our characteristics and the characteristics of our team mates. This gives us a better understanding of how we work together as a team. I found some of the results surprising, for myself but also for my team mates. Without giving it much thought, I had made assumptions about people’s reactions based on my own, which I realise now might have been a little naive.
On an academic front, it is full steam ahead for the end of the semester, deadlines that seemed so far away are now looming. But it is still great fun. The class interaction is still great, the insights from lecturers, but also my fellow colleagues, is fantastic. I am often astounded at just how smart some of the people in the room are.
Outside of the academic workload, we need to start to think about our careers, i.e. what we want to do when we grow up and leave the cocoon of the MBA. Most of us are investigating a number of industries and roles and this has been facilitated by the great work of Brian Marrinan in the careers office.
It is just hard to tear ourselves away from the books!
Well, it is week 3 and things have started to get “interesting”. The main issue I face is time management and I know that this is a major issue for the whole class. I am lucky in some respects as I am an accountant and so the financial reporting module is not as tricky for me as it is for some of the others. However, I have a wife and daughter that I would like to see at least once a day so managing my study time around that is a bit of a challenge for me.
This week has been the most “interesting” or more accurately – challenging to date. In previous weeks, I had used either Saturday or Sunday to try to catch up on any readings or work I could not complete during the week but it was my daughter’s first birthday party on Sunday and my wife and I spent most of the weekend preparing for it. I got less study done than I would have liked and we have a number of assignments to hand in either at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. As I said – “interesting”.
In reality it is all about teamwork, and trying to be as efficient during team meetings and in allocating team tasks as possible. It is a learning experience and we have a bit to go in our team before we are running smoothly. The important thing to remember is that we are all here to do the best we can and if we can keep this at the forefront of our minds at meetings, hopefully we will still be able to talk to each other before the semester is out!
I am curious about how the team dynamic will evolve as more and more work is piled on us, will we knit at a team and see the efficiencies that we gain from good teamwork or is there a risk of fragmentation? Hopefully, we will all knit and gel together. In order to try to engineer some team morale and build stronger bonds the team is going to have a “video night” in my house in the next week or so. We are going to watch The Commitments so that the foreign members of our team get an introduction to the real Dublin! I will let you know if they needed a translator and how it went in my next post.