Journey from Exploration to Chaos to Exploration

I would like to dedicate this blog to our late Prof. Eamonn Walsh. His energy was infectious! May his soul rest in peace.

“Life is short and the world is wide!”
I often ask myself:
‘What do you want to do in life?’,
‘What is one thing you are passionate about?’
Every time I ask these questions, I don’t get a reply.
I see an artist, a sportsman, a businessman live for their passion,
But who would tell me what I like?
One thing that needs to be kept in mind:
When life gives you an empty canvas,
Draw your own design!

A group of smiling young people in the UCD Smurfit School main hall
MBA Orientation: Day 1 of the new adventure!

‘Keep exploring new constructs’ has been the mantra of my life. After my under-graduation, I got a job as a Software Engineer. After a certain period when everything was settled, I felt stagnated and so I transitioned my career from a technical role to a business role in a start-up. This transition was huge as two changes happened simultaneously: role change and cultural change from an MNC to a start-up. Bitten by the proverbial ‘entrepreneurial bug’, I decided to start a business: Sababa Miteri, an e-commerce for maternity wear. As I lacked any experience in the apparel industry, the journey of starting a business was full of challenges and satisfaction. Trips to several cloth markets in India, negotiations lessons, team building, sleepless nights, happiness at every milestone achieved, and a lot more has been received during my entrepreneurial journey. I could not have traversed these if I had not decided to leave my stable job.

One thing I realized while running my business that I did not have enough tools in hand to grow my business. I required validation to the techniques I was using and needed a structured approach to strategize business growth. I took the GMAT and applied to a few top business schools that met my criteria. The whole process was frenetic along with the daily challenges in my business. And one fine day, I received an offer from UCD Smurfit for a full time MBA. 

No one knew that Covid-19 would bring chaos to everyone’s life, and I wasn’t spared. All the plans started falling apart. My business went down with a country-wide lockdown. I was not sure of how to get a visa for travelling to Ireland to pursue MBA as the offices were closed. It was a hustle to arrange all the documents required for visa formalities. Moreover, no one knew if international travel would be allowed. Apart from all this, I started to wonder if this is the right time to do my MBA. I got through this phase by keeping calm and making careful decisions.

Amidst all the chaos, there were two biggest learnings:

  1. Be agile! It is important to adapt according to changing situations. I appreciated seeing how the whole world adapted to the new ways of working.
  2. You can have multiple/alternative plans for the future, but none may work. And so you have to be prepared to think on your feet.
A man in a yellow shirt wearing two masks, glasses, and a face shield in his airplane seat.
The New Normal of traveling

The chaotic time ended, and I reached Dublin where I had to quarantine myself for 14 days. New country, new life, new people, but I had to wait for a few more days before I could experience that. There has been great support from the university throughout, especially in this challenging pandemic situation. 

A screenshot with four vertical Zoom squares.
The New Normal of MBA teamwork

The exploration phase began again. I roamed around the city, met new people, explored the UCD campus and the course commenced, with introductions, coffee sessions and realizing that this one year will be teaching me a lot of new things. It has been a wonderful journey so far and I am excited to discover what stores next. I would like to end it by a quote that really touched me:

“You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there is no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”


Shashwat Acharya, FTMBA Class of 2021

The MBA ‘X-Factor’

With the first half of my Smurfit Executive MBA now complete (where did that year go?), I’ve had a chance these past few weeks to pause, catch my breath and reflect on what I have learnt to date. The breadth, depth and pace of learning on the EMBA has been challenging, but immensely enjoyable. If someone had told me 12 months ago that I’d be spending most of my non-working and non-sleeping hours analysing fleet management models for power tools, brand relaunches for peanut companies, continuous improvement programs at Children’s hospitals or workplace psychology at sewage treatment facilities, I would have suggested they have their head examined. Today, I could give you chapter and verse on these and many other real-world case studies, as well as the theory that underlines it all – from Financial Management to Competitive Strategy – and I have enjoyed it all immensely.  

Barry Dunning

An MBA is about far more than academic learning, however, and I have found clear, practical ways to integrate these diverse learnings into my work. Having spent the majority of my career in public policy, communications and nonprofit operations roles, applying a Managerial Accountant’s perspective (‘You get what you measure’) or the knowledge of  Supply Chain Operations and offers a different perspective from which to analyse a situation and implement a solution. 

Reflecting on this first year, I’ve come to the conclusion that an MBA is a bit like surfing, with continuous waves of knowledge replacing the waves of water. Each semester Executive MBA students take on four diverse subjects, with a deluge of readings, case studies and project work that grows week by week. This is combined with a full-time day job, making it even more challenging to maintain your balance atop the ‘board’ – and all too easy to ‘wipeout’, or in this case burnout. (As an aside, I am in awe of my course mates who combine an EMBA and full-time work with raising young children – I simply don’t know how they do it).  As the weeks progress, however, and the linkages between the subjects and what’s come before begin to click into place, it becomes that bit easier to maintain your balance and to surf the wave to the shore.

Visual representation of the first EMBA year
Photo by Anton Repponen on Unsplash

It is the different perspectives that I have been exposed to that I have found most rewarding from the MBA. The Executive MBA draws a diverse bunch of people, from a wide variety of sectors – from medicine to manufacturing, technology to finance – and it is from them that I have learned some of the most valuable insights this past year. Specifically, the different approaches which my classmates take to analysing and solving the same problem, as they bring their expertise, experience and insights from different fields to bear on an issue, have taught me as much, if not more, as I have learned from lecturers and module materials.

The approach that a Surgeon and an FMCG Category Sales manager take to solving a problem is often radically different to the way that I would have approached it (and to each other). No method is necessarily better than another: on the MBA as in real life, while in some cases there is a single right answer (e.g. Financial Reporting) more often than not, there are multiple potential responses depending on a weighting of different variables.

This has been particularly rewarding within the small project teams that we have been split into for each semester. These have enabled me to join unique cross-functional teams with expertise stretching from Actuary to Decision Science, Farm Machinery Sales to Telecoms Product Management. Sometimes my analysis to solve a project question was spot on from the get-go; many other times, however, a teammate suggested an approach that I had not even thought to consider, which unlocked a solution perfectly. By combining our diverse backgrounds and experiences on these project teams we have identified the strongest solutions. It is this blended approach where we learn from our peers,, as well as from the course, that I have found the most rewarding. This highlights the value of diverse cross-functional teams, where people with different backgrounds and experience can add real value to resolve an issue.  

So as I have time over the summer to synthesise my learnings, it is the perspectives from my EMBA teammates, as well as from the course materials, that I will be drawing on to solve problems in my work. And come September I look forward to joining a new team of classmates as we continue to surf the wave of knowledge into year 2.

Barry Dunning, Executive MBA Class of 2022

Figuring Out the Code

If you still have not figured out the text above it is all right but I can confirm that it is not a text error or a website glitch. It is rather like punching the right code to get into the MBA Suite (a room on UCD Smurfit campus that is reserved for MBA students’ use).

An Indian man stands next to a black marble fireplace, with an Irish flag and a poster saying 'Céad Míle Fáilte' ('One Hundred Thousand Welcomes') above the mantel
Shantanu in UCD Smurfit’s Main Hall

As I jumped from a cliff of unstructured start-ups into the structured world of the MBA, it felt like landing in the fifth dimension. My last education journey was nine years back, before I graduated as a computer engineer, and can be defined as the best days of the carefree life. I started the MBA program as a full cup, but soon realized that there will always be a subset of knowledge that I do not know. “Acceptance is a hard thing to accept” but once accepted it clears the head space and is self-motivating. This brought pivotal changes in my attitude and centered around the knowledge that was pragmatic and applicable in the real-world.

In addition to the MBA tasks, I was also very dedicated in deciding the best course of action: between working on the assignment for 48 hours or grabbing 4 pack of Guinness (always go for the latter). It was amazing playing futsal and going on random long walks. But, I have very few days when presentations, assignments and group meetings will not conflict with fun plans. In the midst of all the program commitments, it was important for me to keep myself engrossed with my passion. This provoked me to get a side gig associated with current projects in the technology majorly in the blockchain domain.

The United Nations estimates a global average life expectancy of 72.6 years, this one year at MBA is just 1.38% of an average life, but feels far more. Today is history & today will be remembered. It always excites me to meet new people and travel around new destinations, and the MBA journey has blessed me with both. The whole notion is to keep the excitement alive, be real, choose the key moments and maintain the balance between professional and passionate lifestyle.  

I never wanted to fit the MBA program on me, but rather to choose certain aspects from the program that can bring drastic change in my lens, the way I see the world. Soon, I will be entering a different world that hopefully brings in more spice in my life.

Shantanu Bamnavat, FTMBA Class of 2021

Diversity in the Workplace: SWIM Pride Month Webinar

Join us from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. on Friday 25 June for Smurfit Women, Inspiring More‘s Pride Month Webinar: “Diversity in the Workplace.” We are honoured to be joined by Sara R. Phillips, Chair of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and Aongus Hegarty, President of Dell Technologies for International Markets. Sara and Aongus will discuss their experiences around building greater inclusion and equality for the LGBTQI community in society and in the workplace.

You can register for the event here.

Sara R Phillips has been involved with trans activism for over 25 years. She is currently in her third 3-year term as Chair of the Board of Directors of Ireland’s national trans organisation, Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI). She is the founder, researcher and archivist of the Irish Trans Archive and was one of the lead negotiators to the Gender Recognition Act 2015, serving on the Governmental review of the act in 2018. In that same year, Sara was honoured as Dublin LGBTQ Pride Grand Marshall. She is also a board member of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Treasurer of both the International Trans Fund in New York and Transgender Europe in Berlin. Sara is currently the National Manager in Ireland for multinational construction materials manufacturer CPG-Europe.

Aongus Hegarty serves as President of Dell Technologies for International Markets, an organisation spanning 170 countries where he has responsibility for all revenue, customer relationships and strategy. A respected communicator on business, innovation, leadership, digital transformation, sustainability and diverse and inclusive workforces, he was recognised by The Economist Global Diversity List as one of the Top 10 Diversity Champions and was appointed by the Irish Government to join the Better Balance for Better Business (BB4BB) Review Group to help increase participation by women on boards in listed and private companies. At Dell, Aongus co-leads the Global Women’s Network, is a member of the Global Diversity Council, chaired by Michael Dell, and co-leads the company’s Customer Advisory Boards.

UCD kept me coming back!

December 8, 2017. I landed in Dublin for the first time with my husband and my then 5-months old son, Yahya. One year later I reached a point where I was sleepless, jobless and hopeless! 

I worked as an architect for more than seven years back in Egypt. I enjoyed my career to the fullest, and was excited to start elsewhere and broaden my experience. I knew that finding a job in Dublin wouldn’t be easy, but it turned out to be nearly impossible: I had no connections; my experience was unrecognized and I kept enduring one rejection after the other. I had so many reasons to leave and I kept saying, ‘Dublin, I like you, I want to stay, but something’s gotta give. You have to give me a reason to stay!

January 2019, I came across the MBA experience day at UCD on LinkedIn. And that was it! The moment I entered the campus, I had this gut feeling that this is where I want to be, and this is where I will be. A couple of months later, I had my first acceptance letter from UCD and although I couldn’t secure a scholarship at the time, I knew it was worth coming back for. In July of 2020 I finally made it. With a spot in the MBA program and a generous scholarship, I couldn’t be happier to say I’m a UCD Michael Smurfit Business School FTMBA candidate for class 2021.

Zoom Star Yahya!

Since Yahya has been starring in most of the lectures, breakout rooms and meetings, I might as well reveal the surreal life of pursuing an MBA with a 3-year-old on the loose. After a pretty messy start in the first couple of weeks, I realized that I need to get myself together if I wanted this to work. There has been a learning curve to everything on the MBA, and managing family obligations was no exception. I had to adapt my mindset that I would do my best, bearing in mind that there will be few compromises here and there. I had to plan ahead, and when planning wasn’t enough, I had to micro-plan. I thought I had it all under control, but things got more complicated. By the beginning of the second trimester and with the new measures of lockdown, schools were closed for more than 6 weeks. Being flexible to unpleasant surprises was yet another skill I had to embrace. Nothing about parenting is easy, just as nothing about a full-time MBA is easy, but it’s doable and it’s definitely worth it. Going back in time, I’d do it all over again.

After all the planning, hard work and pressure; finding that one thing that gets you up in the morning is key. I’m thankful for UCD Business Alumni for setting a 30-day walking challenge. Getting-through a long day of lectures, deliverables, cook, laundry, dishes and finally putting the little one in bed, those 10kms in the evening were the highlight of the day.

Joining the MBA has been the most strategic, rational and emotional decision I have ever made. 

Yahya Elkordy, UCD MBA Candidate Class 2045

To me, UCD is a little bit more than just an MBA. It gave me all the knowledge, confidence and relationships I was looking for. But most importantly, it kept me coming back.

Noreen Mahmoud, FTMBA Class of 2021

On the Importance of Resilience for an MBA – Life, Matters…

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Maya Angelou

I would like to consider myself a reasonably resilient person. On the Resilience Assessment Questionnaire (RAQ), I scored a 147 (/175), which should be a significant number to those of you who like snooker. That doesn’t for a second mean that I haven’t at least considered throwing in the towel on a number of occasions. Sometimes, things seem insurmountable, and I’ve had to take a step back, gather my thoughts, remembered why I was trying to achieve something, and who I was doing it for. 

Here’s the thing. How do you speak about resilience without almost wishing that you had Baz Luhrmann’s “Wear Sunscreen” reassuringly playing in the background? Most of us think of it along the lines of the ability to bounce back, to bend but not break, and perhaps even to demonstrate personal growth in the presence of adversity. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress…” These reactive analogies are useful, but they don’t reflect our own unique, complex, innate biology, nor do they explain the social, culture, and psychological determinants which influence our responses. Truth be told, resilience is an incredibly personal experience, and dynamic, and something you can’t really contemplate until you face these challenges.

Business attempts to distil resilience into actionable points. Companies use these then to develop long-lasting systems using terms such as redundancy, diversity, modularity, adaptability, prudence and embeddedness. They talk about investing in procurement as a protective factor. The Global Workplace Study (2020) of resilience against COVID-19 illustrated a couple of unexpected, but important findings:

  1. Resilience is a reactive state of mind created by exposure to suffering
  2. The more tangible the threat, the more resilient we become

From an industry perspective it all boils down to three things: Routines, Simple Rules, and Improvisation. One cannot predict geosocial or economic, or even pandemic-related upheavals. However, through simulation, altering routines, using heuristics, and improvisation, leaders can build organisational resilience, much like hospitals simulating trauma/infectious disease outbreak protocols, or military personnel preparing for missions. 

I’m used to being told “no”. That’s generally what happens in the health service. I’m used to models of poor behaviour and leadership which set things up for failure, and I had always taken the approach to barriers as I would have on a rugby pitch: at top speed. However, the closest I had ever gotten to not being able to find a solution was in the first couple of weeks in Canada after bringing the entire family over for my fellowship. We were in a strange country famous for its bureaucracy, on our own and floundering, looking for some normality, and something to go right. It may seem strange, but a surgical fellowship is not arranged, it’s facilitated. You bear the full cost and hassle of moving, visas, accommodation, schooling, licensing, social security, insurance etc., of which only a tiny amount can actually be carried out before you emigrate. It was outside yet another unconstructive government office appointment, soaking in a thunderstorm with 3 crying kids, that I looked at my wife Sonia, and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore.’ The consequences were enormous, but she looked at me and smiled and said she’d support me no matter what. That we were a team. 

Long story short, we didn’t go home, and we made things work. Coming home to Ireland in 2020 from Toronto in the middle of COVID-19,  we faced 8 cancelled sets of flights, having nowhere to live (our house still had tenants in it), and not even being sure if I had a job as I hadn’t formally signed a contract, and yet we knew that together through perseverance, grit, or just blind faith, something would just work itself out. Routines (Continue with work, and homeschooling. Keep looking for flights and animal transport. Keep in touch with friends, family and hospital back home). Simple Rules (Keep talking and communicating. Accept frustration . Don’t over-finance for potential flights. Don’t worry the kids. Don’t give up). Improvisation  (Be willing to travel through any airport. Don’t need to necessarily travel with the dog. Might have to stay in Canada. Could potentially go to the US. Might need to split flights. May need to work in a random locum job as a non-consultant doctor if necessary).

I’d like to think that I’ve become more resilient as time has gone by, and I fervently believe resilience is something that you can learn. Only a couple of week ago, my middle son had to be rushed back to the operating room for a bleed 5 days following removal of his tonsils and adenoids. We were  in the middle of the end of year exams during this unpredictable situation, and yet my experience, and knowledge of similar situations, allowed me to acknowledge the crisis, and a plan of how to work around it.

I would study and write in the hospital room, and do shift changes with my better half. I understood that emotion and concentration would both compete for my time, and that each would have to be (metaphorically) fed in order to allow me to function. Furthermore, I knew that I could afford to work at 70-80% and still be reasonably productive. Routines (Continue with non-movable items like the school run, kids’ dinner, bedtimes, work commitments). Simple Rules (Allow for emotion, understand and accept that productivity will temporarily decline, eat, spend time with the kids, respect deadlines). Improvisation (Work in the hospital rather than at home, relay shifts between home and hospital, have friends and family on standby [COVID-permitting], move non-urgent work meetings and clinics).

A wide-angle view of a pediatric hospital room. Foreground: a small table with laptop, notebook, ID, and a teddy bear wearing red pyjamas. Background: a small boy in a hospital bed playing on a tablet on the left; nurses' station in the centre; brightly-coloured curtain with a jungle motif on the right.

There have been many other moments, but again, it’s personal. How can I compare my experiences to others? For some resilience is based on chronic low levels of adversity and stress, for others it may be based on single life-altering events. I think I’ve had it easy compared to some of my friends–or is that just the resilience speaking?

At an individual level, resilience has been shown to positively influence workplace satisfaction and engagement, improve overall well-being, and reduce levels of depression. Importantly however, it is also positively affected through strong relationships and networks within our own lives. These can modulate our perception of the demands placed on us, and help us see a path forward to persist: much like my wife did in that stormy day in Ottawa. 

Conflict, adversity, and failure are inevitable. They can appear to the unrehearsed mind like raging infernos. The crux is therefore how to manipulate those fires to ignite you, rather than consume you. You don’t need to carry that burden alone.

Fardod O’Kelly, MD, EMBA Class of 2022

UCD Smurfit School MBA Information Evening

Mark your diaries for 20 May, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Irish Summer Time, for an MBA Information Evening. One of a series of events introducing various aspects of the UCD Smurfit MBA to prospective students, next Thursday’s event will focus on leadership and careers.

Dr Ailish Lynch will give an overview of UCD Smurfit School’s Leadership Development Programme, after which Training Consultant Fintan Ryan will deliver a ‘taster’ LDP session: ‘The relevance of teamwork to your individual MBA journey’.

Our MBA Careers Manager Mark Davies will be lead an Alumni Panel discussion of Career Services with Ger Perdisatt EMBA ’11, Director, Technology Strategy, Microsoft, John Keegan MBA ’18, Manager Business Consulting at EY, Marjorie Barrios Boland EMBA ’10, Head of Global Real Estate Transactions, Americas, EMEA & APAC, and Sree Koonath MBA ’20, Commercialisation Manager at CeADAR Ireland. 

Attendees will also learn about our MBA Programme options, including the new Modular Executive MBA. Representatives from our Admissions and MBA Programme teams will be on hand to provide an overview of the programme delivery options, talk you through the application process, and answer any questions you might have. If you are considering an MBA, then this is an opportunity not to be missed. You can learn more and register for the event here.


Anyone will tell you, I am a meticulous planner. When I left my undergrad in 2013, I outlined goals for the next 5 years and strove to achieve every one of them. In 2019 I decided I would do an MBA starting in 2021, which would leave enough time to save and buy a house (very ambitious). I had everything mapped out short of what I was going to eat for breakfast in the morning.

For almost everyone globally, our lives were turned upside down when governments announced lockdowns in March 2020. My future plans had a spanner thrown in the works. I was supposed to get married in September 2020, enjoy a year of marriage, and then start my MBA course in Smurfit in 2021 (pending successful application of course). After a couple of months of baking banana bread and being bored, I sat down in my garden and realized that this was not going to happen. All plans were being pushed out, including the big day.

A sliced loaf of banana bread on a wooden cutting board
I can’t claim credit for this – all my wife’s doing!

I made the decision then and there to fast forward my application and then work out how I would adapt to the situation if I got accepted. I had worked for the same organization since I left my undergrad degree, and was absolutely terrified of leaving the safety of a steady job to become a full time student again. However this was exactly why I chose to the MBA: to push myself out of my comfort zone, to challenge my pre-conceived notion of what my “place” in the world is, and to have those difficult & awkward conversations on what impact do I want to have on my environment.

A group of MBA students in the garden outside a pub
Semester 1 Study Group 5 enjoying Christmas pints outdoors between lockdowns

Doing the MBA was an opportunity to change career direction into Fintech, an area I am genuinely passionate about. Despite the remote-learning situation, I spearheaded the revival of the Fintech society and made a point to build an environment where students could share their perspectives on Fintech or similar. We arranged industry-leading speakers to talk about Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Ethical Banking, and Sustainable Finance; we have more speakers scheduled for the summer months. If I were to give any advice to people considering doing an MBA, it would be to get involved in societies: it’s an excellent way to broaden your network, both internally and externally.

In retrospect, changing my plans to fast-forward my MBA was the best thing I could have done. At the time of writing, my wife and I (we got married despite COVID, who needs a big wedding!) have just had our first trimester scan of our first child, who is due to arrive in early November – just in time to finish up the MBA!

Baby Mathews coming 7th November!

Although my classmates & I have missed out on international travel this year, I believe that we have developed the additional communication skills required to remotely influence that will be so prevalent in our future professions. In this sense, adaptability has been the soft skill that we as an MBA cohort will have in abundance and be able to apply to our chosen careers. I can truly say the MBA experience this year has been transformational and would recommend it to anyone that is seeking to develop both personally and professionally.

Kevin Mathews, FTMBA Class of 2021

Unlearn with Naman

‘Do we know each other?’ read the title of the survey that I rolled out to the Full-Time MBA Class of 2021 at UCD Smurfit Business School. Surprisingly, ~80% of those who responded agreed that they have never had a conversation (at least once) with each one of their classmates! Blame it on COVID, due to which the cohort faced radical changes to the new way of education. With this came layers of challenges, one of which was the reduced depth in conversations. 

In an effort to lower the ~80% gap and increase engagement among colleagues, I decided to start ‘Unlearn with Naman’ video podcasts. Unlearn with Naman is a series of candid conversations with people from various backgrounds. In each episode, I unravel stories and interests to learn from people’s diverse experiences. It is a small initiative to help people from my class to get to know each other better.

Why did I decide to call it ‘Unlearn with Naman’? We all know the importance of learning but I firmly believe that unlearning plays an even bigger role in the life of an individual. Unlearning requires one to first question everything that they have assumed was ‘true’, in order to learn a new way of thinking and behaving.

Coupled with the decision to pursue an MBA, COVID-19 brought one of the biggest changes for people enrolled in a B-School. To embrace the new ways of viewing the world and to re-shape life, most of us had to adapt to new beliefs and welcome the change. To understand my classmates’ motivations to take on this challenge, I felt that the podcast should centre around ‘unlearning’.

Since the launch of my initiative, I have interviewed five profiles within the class. Below are the video features to date:

Conor Hyland: Young man with dark hair & beard, wearing headphones, smiling

Conor Hyland has over 10 years of work experience, most of which has been spent working in the Middle East (Dubai). He has worked with companies such as LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Enterprise Ireland, amongst many others.

Jasmine Westbrooks: Young woman with glasses and collarbone-length curly dark hair, smiling into the camera

Jasmine Westbrooks hails from Chicago and is currently pursuing an MBA at UCD Smurfit. She has over 7 years of experience working in Finance and has been associated with Fortune 500 companies such as Abbott Laboratories and Constellation Brands–which, by the way, is the largest beer import company in the US.

Sashwat Acharya: Young man with short dark hair, glasses, and close-cropped full beard, smiling at camera

Shashwat Acharya has over 7 years of experience during which he has worn many hats. He has worked at Mindtree Ltd, India’s leading IT and outsourcing company, and at ABInbev, the multinational drink and brewing giant. Shashwat also gone on to start his own company, Sababa Miteri, which is an eCommerce platform for maternity wear in India.

Nathan Jones: Young man with fluffy short hair, a full beard, and headphones smiles widely into the camera

Nathan Jones has 6 years of experience working in the US during which he was associated with the American Psychological Association at Capitol Hill. He has also worked with two fast-paced startups including a project management education company and a benefits administration company which has been recently acquired by CVS Health, the largest pharmacy services provider in the US. In addition to this, Nate is a licensed cosmetologist. When he is not occupied with the burdensome MBA, he can be found writing songs on Budgets!

Noreen Mahmoud: a young woman wearing a headscarf and necklace smiles into the camera

Noreen Mahmoud has over 7 years of experience in Architecture and Interior design. In her last role, she worked as a Senior Interior Architect with ECG Consultants, a legacy engineering consultancy firm in Egypt. Noreen’s work has been featured in an exhibition in Venice, Italy and she has also volunteered to help build a primary school in Kampala, Uganda.

It has been just under a month since I started interviewing my classmates. I had my fair share of scepticisms before starting the series. Why wouldn’t I? I had never been remotely associated with video podcasting. Four weeks later, my channel has garnered 600+ impressions and a watch time of over 28 hours. Not only has the experience been rewarding, but also it has given me the chance to bridge cultural gaps by getting to understand people’s experiences better.

Perhaps the biggest learning is that you will always be unsure – today or tomorrow. The best time to take a leap is now! So… what’s stopping you?

Naman Kumar, FTMBA Class of 2021

UCD Aspire Scholarship: Deadline 7 May

Now more than ever, Ireland needs creative business leaders. If you’re considering an MBA (or a Business Masters) but feel held back by your financial circumstances, one of the Aspire scholarships–which cover up to 50% of the cost of a master’s degree at Smurfit–could be right for you.

A door with the sign 'Lecture Theatre' and an arrow pointing down a long, well-lit hallway
Right this way to the next step in your career!

Since 2010, the impact of the Aspire Programme has been tremendous. Thanks to the donor’s generosity, many students have benefitted from financial support towards the cost of their tuition fees. Our Aspire graduates have excelled in their fields, and many have gone on to establish their own business ventures or are employed in leading companies such as Google, McKinsey, Citi, KPMG, PwC, Accenture, AIB, Paddy Power Betfair, Avolon, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Facebook, among others.

You can find more information on the benefits of the scholarship in this video, and learn about application procedures here.