Assumptions are the Devil!

The greatest leaders in the world stand on the shoulders of giants. To make true change happen we need to learn from the change makers, the thought leaders and those that have gone before us trying to break down barriers. When I learned we would have a Thought Leadership Society I immediately knew I would love to get involved, little did I know that I would end up helping to run the committee.

With no information left from last years committee members, I initially had no idea of how I would be able to get the society off the ground.  After a few brainstorming sessions with the other members of the team, we decided the only way to find out what was the best way to move forward was to reach out to our fellow students and see what they would be interested in learning. So our first event was created; the Thought Leadership Society Mixer. On a cold crisp evening after finishing one of our exams, we congregated outside the MBA Clubhouse for nibbles and drinks. We had set up little questionnaires for our fellow cohort, to learn who they would like to hear from and what subjects most interested them.


Ankita, pictured above, can be seen handing out the surveys. The most interesting part of the survey was that there was an interest in our class hearing from each other. It was nice to see the respect and reverence and I think this spoke to the quality of the students in our cohort. Also, there was an interest in debating topics within the college, rather than just being lectured to. This was an interesting idea that I for one would not have thought of, had we not opened this up to the wider group. It just shows that consumer research pays off!!

The first event was a great success and a lovely time to catch up with each other without the pressures of exams and college bearing down on us. There was a great turn out and hopefully this is be a good sign for future events. We look forward to scheduling many events for the following year and look forward to having a good debate and discussing far-reaching topics from the thought leaders in Ireland and beyond.


Following our mixer, some of the Society headed to Belfield to see the UCD Orchestra perform which was the cherry on the top of a fantastic day. I would highly recommend fellow students to check out some of the great events on the main UCD campus too.


Emma Farrell, FTMBA 2018/2019

More than Books and Numbers

As part of the Smurfit MBA application, each hopeful applicant is asked what his or her unique contribution to the MBA class would be. I remember thinking long and hard about this question, vacillating between thinking “of COURSE, I have something special to offer the class!” and feeling intimidated by my own imagination of the impressive feats and accomplishments about which the other applicants were surely writing.

From day one of the MBA, it became clear that I was right about both of the above.

What I did not consider was the purpose and outcome of this unique contribution “competition” for acceptance to the Smurfit MBA programme. Asking that the candidates prove themselves to be exceptional and inimitable ensures that throughout the year, we will learn as much from each other as we do from our first-rate professors and module coordinators. Seven months into my MBA experience, I still never cease to be amazed by my peers. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to collaborate with such incredible people.


Each MBA candidate in the Class of 2019 brings valuable and unique experiences to the class. Oh boy, are my classmates impressive.

I learn things each day from someone who has a black belt in karate, from someone who has climbed Kilimanjaro (twice!), from someone so well connected that he just may be the Godfather of Dublin. I learn from talented musicians, artists and poets, bloggers, travellers – all generous, kind and funny spirits who masquerade as stud managers, medical professionals, business owners, and orthopaedic racehorse surgeons (among other disguises) by day.


How about this – a PhD in Optical Engineering, specialised in the behaviour of photopolymer organic holographic material, with a killer GMAT score, a great sense of humour, compassion without limits, who is on the Board of Directors for a child trafficking charity in Nepal? That’s exactly the type of “unique contribution” that I feared competing against during the Smurfit MBA application process!

The Umbrella Foundation is a non-profit NGO and registered charity in Ireland, working to alleviate the impact of trafficking, poverty and war on children and their families in Nepal. It was established in 2005 in response to the growing number of illegal “orphanages” neglecting children’s most basic rights of food, education, safe shelter, healthcare and love. As a responsible and ethical organisation, The Umbrella Foundation works to prevent further trafficking and operation of corrupt children’s homes in Nepal.


Inspired by my extraordinary classmate who contributes so much to my life, our class and the greater community, I decided to make a unique contribution to my own MBA experience here in Dublin. This past winter, I have trained and raised money for the Brawl for Nepal 2019 – a charity boxing match in aid of The Umbrella Foundation.

For me, the Smurfit MBA is not just learning about corporate finance, organisational behaviour and supply chain management. This incredible experience is also learning how to ask for help, how to support those who need help, figuring out the best place to flag down a taxi home at 3:30am in town, being able to the differentiate an Irish bar from an English bar by name alone, how to throw a mean right hook and how to keep myself entertained in A&E!

We are more than just sales directors, model managers, engineers and communications specialists – we are marathon runners, painters, boxers and friends. This is the Smurfit MBA.


Carmela Reyes, FTMBA 2018/2019

Happy Days

December had dawned. Lectures had ended. Assignments were submitted. Our semester one was on the verge of being over. My MBA class was perfectly poised to start preparing for the exams and 24 hours per day felt too short.

The MBA Alumni Christmas Dinner in the first week of December gave us the perfect opportunity to relax from our preparations and enjoy a lovely evening over mulled wine networking with the UCD MBA alumni at The Merrion hotel. The evening was filled with inspiration by an enlightening speech from Mr. David McCourt. We were meeting alumni who had walked this MBA journey before and we listened to their successful stories. It was a memorable and magnificent experience, followed by a few, if not more than few pints of Guinness in the beautiful Dublin city after the Christmas Dinner.


MBA Alumni Christmas dinner
From left to right: Himanshu Kamat, Shubham Sahai, Gerard Finneran, Akhil Khare

As exams neared, the walls of the MBA Suite at UCD Smurfit began appearing colourful with Corporate Finance formulae and supply-demand graphs for Business Economics. Preparation was in full swing and soon, it was show-time. The exams were challenging and for someone like me who thrives on challenges, I loved every moment of it.


Semester One Celebrations at Nolita

With the exams finished Guinness would have been the most spoken word throughout the cohort. Celebrations were in order. Christmas songs were filling the hearts, and decorations were bringing smiles. Immediately after the exam we had plans to celebrate the end of Semester One at Nolita. As always, after dinner Guinness was a tradition.

Most of my MBA friends had made plans to go home, including me. I decided, however, to leave a little later as I wanted to relax and travel around this beautiful country. Some of us planned a trip to Galway, and I was particularly excited to visit places from Ed Sheeran’s music video Galway Girl. It was the perfect trip to unwind from the hectic routine and enjoy the Christmas markets and happy vibes on the streets.



I am now entering this Christmas break with mixed feelings. The MBA at Smurfit is like riding a thrilling rollercoaster that one never wants to get down from. But here I am, seatbelt unbuckled for a month until the next ride begins, and a chance to reflect on the MBA journey through Semester One and to travel home, carrying the excitement for the next ride – Semester Two.

On one hand, it is going to be fun to travel home to meet family and friends, but on the other hand, I am going to miss my MBA friends and the MBA momentum during this break. I am as excited to return to Semester Two as I am to relax during this break. I am seeing a huge personal transformation in myself in the last four months both from a personal and professional perspective. December certainly has been an oscillation of work and fun, and this is the perfect balance.


Akhil Khare, FTMBA 2018/2019

Put a Hat on it

We’ve finally graduated! Graduation was a surreal mixture of feelings. The delight of seeing all the class again, pride in myself and my classmates for achieving so much and most of all gratefulness for all the support I had throughout the past two and a half years. I wouldn’t be graduating were it not for my amazing friends and family who tolerated the crazy over the last two and a half years.

Starting in August 2016, I could never have foreseen the amount of work and commitment that I had signed myself up to – or more realistically that I had signed my family up to. I waved goodbye to my then 8-month-old and rocked up to Foundation Week. I was more than a little anxious and, as a new mum, I felt slightly vulnerable. I remember practising what to say about my current situation ‘I’m not currently working, I’m still on maternity leave’ and worrying that there would be an internal groan from classmates if they found out I was on their team. It seems ridiculous looking back because I couldn’t have asked for a sounder group of classmates and many of us were in the same boat. At last count, we had 12 MBA babies join the ranks from our weekend class alone.

‘Motherhood’ was never an issue. Even when I added to the family during the break between year 1 and year 2, and showed up to class looking and feeling like a reject extra of the Walking Dead, I never felt like a burden. The truth is everyone in the Executive Class is busy, really busy. Work, business travel, kids, starting a business, moving jobs, moving house, getting married – everyone was trying to balance the competing demands of work, family and study. Instead of feeling like an inconvenience, I felt my crazy schedule was right at home. It was refreshing.


It has been a transformative few years for me, becoming a mum of two while doing an MBA has been really tough at times but overall it has been incredibly worthwhile. I cherished the time I had with my kids as they began to sit, crawl and toddle through life. I equally treasured the time away from my little monsters where I could drink tea while still hot and converse regularly with adults.

The MBA allowed me the space to review my career goals and to ensure I was on the right path. It has given me the leadership skills and confidence to meet new challenges head on. Most importantly it has provided a renewed gratefulness for my existing friends and family and a whole bunch of new friends too.

I look back at our time with great fondness and I look forward to what the future holds for me and my classmates.

Elaine Broderick, EMBA 2016/2018

GNAM Week in Dublin

Everyone loves to go away on holidays and meet new friends! But what about when staying at home, and meeting lots of new, exciting international friends, becomes the new holiday?

That’s exactly what GNAM week in Dublin was for me; an exciting fun-filled week at Smurfit in UCD, my home town, and where many international students from across the globe came to take the course on offer. The students came from the United States, Canada, Israel, China, Vietnam, Brazil, and Mexico to name just a few of the exotic destinations they flew in from.

The topic of the GNAM course was Digital Business Leadership. During the course we learned how some very traditional companies have incorporated digital technology into their strategy and the benefits that these companies are reaping from the integration.

The week focused on some main industry areas, media, financial services, healthcare and communications.

We had several speakers from each sector come to tell us their story of how they incorporated digital transformation into their business. These included CEO’s of the Irish Times, creator of the successful website and the CMO of AIB.

This was an excellent line-up of speakers. Each one detailed to us their experiences of incorporating digital technologies into their sector, the challenges they faced and the successes they have earned based on the hard work.

We also had company visits, on a daily basis, to companies such as Google, Intel, Facebook and IBM. Each company warmly welcomed our group and talked us through their ever changing environments and how they adapt and keep ahead of the game in their sector.


GNAM Group Company Visit to Google: Names in Lights

No holiday would be complete without good food, and at UCD they provided beautiful breakfasts and lunches every single day. We also were lucky enough to take a trip for dinner to the Wicklow mountains, to Johnny Fox’s pub for dinner, a traditional Irish experience. Another traditional Irish experience, was the pub crawl tour, where we were guided through landmark sites in the historic city.

We ended the week with an afternoon at the historic Abbey Theatre in Dublin’s city centre, where we undertook an improvisation class, aimed at business people in the workplace. It encouraged us to use our creative side and to pull together to create scenes on the stage, blended from stories we envisioned on the day. The true highlight of the day, was to be privileged enough to act out our scenes on the historic stage itself, a real honour.


Scenes from improvisation, standing on the stage at The Abbey Theatre

We finished the week in the wonderful city, with a visit to Beshoff’s for fish and chips followed by a visit to some of the historic pubs dotted around the streets. All in all, it was one of the best ‘holidays’ I have experienced in my own home city!

Sinead Sullivan, FTMBA 2018/19


Stay Engaged

It has been two days since our last final exam for the first semester- the competitive strategy case study, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about what the semester at the Smurfit Business School has been.

Coming to Ireland was a big decision. As an international student, for me, it represented leaving behind my country, my family and friends. But my curiosity to Ireland, or to Shannon, helped me to make up my mind. The first free trade zone in the world, Shannon Free Zone, has also greatly influenced the economic growth of a Chinese mega-city- Shenzhen. And, more and more free trade zones have been established in China under the Shannon inspiration.


In the orientation week at the Smurfit Business School, we were given a six-hour financial reporting pre-module lecture in one day, and I told myself the coming MBA year at the Smurfit Business School would be intensive and we would be straight down to business. The Admission Manager, Carole Deering also highlighted to me that “the year at the UCD Michael Smurfit  Graduate Business School would pass so quickly and you will be flying,” and I knew she wasn’t exaggerating.

As well as the very intensive course, there is numerous leadership coaching sessions, career consulting and various events which fill most of your spare time in the Smurfit Business School. I also found this particularly challenging for a non-native English speaking student. It was hard, or even painful at the beginning. However, the hectic schedule can even put a time management guru’s multi-tasking skills to the test. However with the help from the whole faculty, our Programme Manager Aga, and most importantly, my study team members, I had a good transition to the all-new environment and I now am on track to the coming new challenges.

I would like to encourage myself and those students who struggled with language or cultural differences, don’t panic, and stay engaged!

Chaoyue Chen 陈超越, FTMBA 2018/19

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

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