So near and yet so far!

And so we’ve made it through the first three months with only a few scrapes and bruises, and one major surgery. Nobody’s been killed thank God. Well, not yet anyway.

We’ve the first term done and mostly forgotten and we’re now fully immersed in term 2. The Christmas break is only a week away and it will be our first real holiday of the year. Hanging over us rather ominously before we can relax for a few weeks, are umpteen assignments and, of course, the end of term exams. So near and yet so far…

For some reason this term seems to be more manageable than the first, even though I’m working just as hard. I don’t seem to be as snowed under -no pun intended given the recent weather! Officially, it’s because we’ve had fewer group presentations to prepare. The real reason is that you learn to be a little more cunning in selecting what needs to be done and manage your time accordingly. The Time Management gurus call it ‘prioritising’.

I spoke to an alumnus about this. He said in the first term you try to do everything, in the second you try to do most things and in the third you just do what’s required. As the year progresses your grades improve!

But I think this is part of the MBA learning experience – it’s as much about the process as much as it involves the module material. You learn to prioritise, juggle and even say no. You learn to pick your battles as well; which assignments to concentrate on; where a good mark is possible and which ones to do an adequate job on because of the Law of Diminishing Returns. That’s something from an Economics module that I picked up during the first term.

– Donal

Meet the Class of 2011

Hello! I’m Christopher and I’m on the Full Time MBA programme at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. I’m 27 and come from a farming background in Sligo (in the west of Ireland).

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In subsequent blogs, I hope to discuss in more detail both why I decided to do the MBA at Smurfit and what my application experience was. For the moment, I’ll just give you a quick background of where I’m coming from.

I finished my undergraduate degree in engineering in Trinity College Dublin (UCD’s arch rival here in Ireland!). Having become somewhat bored with the excesses of ‘Celtic Tiger Dublin’, I took a year out and headed to Australia for a year, and then to Scotland for four years. When the Irish economy went downhill, I figured it was time to spend some time in Dublin again!

My previous jobs have involved working in hierarchical companies where older colleagues tend to be in more senior positions and treated with more reverence. It took me a while to get used to this idea and I have some classmates now that are old enough to be my parents!

The following will hopefully give you an insight into our class diversity, while at the same time winding my group up. We have been doing quite an amount of data interpretation on the course, and I’m getting a reputation with my group for being chart-mad.

Smurfit MBA Class 2011 Chart

It’s been a big transition coming to Dublin and jumping straight into the middle of such a demanding programme as the MBA – some days I’m just not sure where on earth I am or what I’m doing. However, I can say that my class has been very good at helping each other out and giving direction freely.

When we all arrived on August 30th, seeing 44 strange faces was a little daunting but we spent about a week ‘bonding’ doing Team Building exercises, etc. Now I know that sounds pretty corny, and many of us were skeptical and reluctant at first, but it was a great way to break down initial barriers between classmates.

Check out some Team Building photos here.

-Christopher Kitchin

The MBA is a wonderful course

The MBA is a wonderful course. The sheer amount of learning done in such a small space of time really opens the world for you. There’s so much learning that you want to share it with those around you – even if they’re not that interested!

An example of this comes from when we were studying the Elan case for our Financial Reporting class last term. I was lying in bed with my girlfriend…

“What are you reading?”
“It’s an interesting case study about a certain company and their accounting practices.”
“Oh, like what?”

She regretted asking that question as I launched into a description about joint ventures, Bermuda and the questionable ethics in management. I was fascinated with how they managed to make all of their R&D costs into either assets or income. I tried to explain it, but just got a blank look in return. The look was supposed to convey the idea of “I don’t care…” but I took it to be one of confusion and, therefore, assumed that I hadn’t explained it properly. It didn’t cross my mind that anyone would be less than enthralled by this story, even at midnight.

It was only as I reached for the pen and paper and offered to explain with the aid of diagrams that she finally snapped, told me that she was only being polite, and that I should now shut up and go to sleep.

What one learns on an MBA is indeed fascinating…for some!


It’s snowing and I’m having fun!

Although picking the right business school, writing those endless numbers of essays, getting an admission, a scholarship and finally, a student visa were all extremely overwhelming and tiring, life became so much simpler after getting here on campus. Smurfit Business School Snow Day

As someone who has never lived abroad for more than a month, I was excited and scared at the same time. Being a student from India I did expect to have my share of bad experiences due to cultural indifferences in the foreign land. Adding to my anxiety, my visa arrived later than expected, due to which I had to arrive a week late in Dublin, by which time, the orientation, the team building activities and a few financial reporting lectures were already done with. All of these made me more and more nervous.

I started college on September 6, 2010, a week later than all my classmates. I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride, with no time for bonding, making friends and settling in. Truly, a roller coaster ride it was. Classes were on in full swing. We had meetings with our group members almost every day after class.

To my surprise, however, these group meetings, unlike what I had initially imagined, were times for real bonding to happen. There was so much to catch up on that we ended up spending a lot of time with each other. To be fair, I definitely have to mention how helpful my group members were. A couple of days into the course, I was updated on all things that I had missed out. The programme office was very helpful too, right from settling me into the course to fixing issues with my in-campus accommodation.

So here’s what I have learned so far:

  1. Ireland is beautiful and the Irish are extremely warm and friendly people. They will go out of their way to help you. You can find a great cultural mix here.
  2. You need to be prepared for a roller coaster ride if you want to do an MBA. Your classmates and group members, however, will help you get along rather smoothly.
  3. Group meetings are fun. They’re a great time for bonding and making friends.
  4. Once you’ve started your course, what you learn each day is what matters the most, not your marks.

Smurfit Business School Snow Car ParkFinally, it’s snowing, and I’m having a great time here. It’s unimaginable, how time flies so quickly once you start the programme! I’m now looking forward to spending Christmas with my family back in India.

– Diana

Welcome to the world of the UCD Smurfit MBA!

MBA Class

We’re often asked about the MBA programme at UCD Smurfit School: ‘What it is it really like?’, ‘What will I learn?’, and ‘What can I do afterwards?’

Although the questions are simple enough, the answers are not.

NO two days are ever the same at UCD Smurfit School MBA programme. It’s always changing. Every day on the UCD Smurfit MBA has a strong focus on the whole learning experience, whether academic, professional or personal, that you will share with your classmates.

One morning you might be participating in a strategic management class while during the afternoon, you could be meeting with your study group to prepare a case study presentation or attending an event where you will have the opportunity to meet with senior managers from a range of both global and small entrepreneurial companies.

Another morning you could be taking part in interactive and unique leadership classes where you learn group dynamics, self-awareness and successful influencing behaviours. Then in the afternoon, you could be involved in one of the MBA Clubs’ activities or meeting with your mentor to learn from their experiences.

To give you true insights into the MBA Programme, we have asked our current MBA students and alumni to share their experiences on the Smurfit MBA Blog. Happy reading!