Inspirational Presentations in The Thought Leadership Club

The 19th September 2017, the day we started the Thought Leadership Club. Before we started the club I decided to do some research and I googled “what makes a Thought Leadership club different from any other leadership club” and I found this blog; ‘Thought Leaders Are Made, Not Born. Here’s How to Become One

Interestingly, when I dug more I came across words like digital marketing, email marketing, content marketing and even networking and branding which quickly piqued my interest and I decided to take up the onus of running this club. My interest in digital marketing developed when I needed to promote my mom’s business on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to this, I have a few memories from my initial days as a web developer, developing a product which was the vision of the CEO of the startup company I was then working at. During the final phase of the product development, he used an SEO trick to find the most commonly searched keywords. Based on this he decided the name of the product and he also used it to promote the product. That was my first practical lesson in thought leadership.

As I started sailing across ideas for the club and discussing them with the club members I realized the importance of networking with leaders of different fields and getting out of our comfort zones. Personally, at the start of semester 1, I was struggling to find the right career path for myself and found it difficult to connect with people. In order to not doubt myself more than I already did, I realized I needed to start connecting with like-minded people. Somewhere around that time, our then career representative, Eoin, shot this idea across the  group to network using the apps meetup and Shapr, which he clarified was nothing like tinder :P. I forced myself to attend a few events and then found one on ‘ New trends in digital marketing and latest in SEO’. I booked myself onto it quickly and promised myself to not change my mind at the last minute. I was extremely glad  I stuck my initial promise and attended the event.  Karyn, the organizer,  had made the effort to prepare a presentation on current trends in SEO and talked us through it for good 40 minutes.

During the event, I realized that this presentation could help the club members to understand more about thought leadership. I met Karyn at the end of the session and invited her to come to Smurfit and give the same session again with a few more bits added to it. She said yes to the idea immediately. I  asked her why she organized events like this, in order to understand what was in for her, so that I could offer her the same if possible. I learnt that she did this for her own networking opportunities and to promote digital marketing. Well, to me it seemed  like a win-win situation and finally we had a successful session on 23rd Jan. She later revealed that she is an alumna of Smurfit and did her Master’s in Management. Surprise!

The event was great and Karyn was even better. The session covered the topics “Search Neutrality” and “The Latest in SEO” specifically, the topics voted for by the audience. The best part about the session was the Q&A round in which everyone had so many questions and Karyn did an amazing job in answering them all.  I remember thanking her later at Three tun’s ;)


My idea on  thought leadership has definitely changed since starting this club, I don’t think the same way  anymore. Like they say, the more you learn the more confused you get- just kidding! As per this article ” The Difference Between Content Marketing and Thought Leadership”

Thought leaders focus on crafting ideas, not audience reaction and reach.’

So, to all the future thought leaders, while you may know how to market yourself effectively,  it is most important that your work speaks volumes and that is where your focus should be.

This club couldn’t have been possible without all the club members and especially without James, whose efforts have been very sincere since the start. I hope that we all can learn from  great leaders, connect with them and be inspired by them,  and who knows perhaps become one through  our Thought Leadership Club and its events. ádh mór

Nadisha Garg, Full Time MBA 2017-2018


Digital Leadership Talk : Tête-à-tête with Industry Leaders

The Smurfit MBA Thought Leadership Club organised a Digital Leadership Talk to examine digital business strategies adopted by top companies. The event witnessed a stellar lineup of speakers – Mr. JP Donnelly, CEO at Ogilvy & Mather Group; Mr.Kevin McDonald, Country Manager at Zomato and Mr. Gearoid Buckley, Online Marketing Manager at LinkedIn who shared their experiences and valuable insights as industry leaders. The evening brought on endless conversations around how brands attract, interact and maintain engagement with their consumers in today’s technology-filled world.

(John O’Brien, EMBA candidate and moderator ; Gearoid Buckley, LinkedIn ;  Kevin McDonald, Zomato and JP Donnelly, Ogilvy & Mather Group) – Photo by Vince Cooney

JP Donnelly’s sleek presentation opened the evening with David Ogilvy’s quote ‘We sell or else.’ He discussed how brands today leverage digital tools to enrich the physical world and how digital transformation has triggered new opportunities for engagement by creating innovative touch points. The mantra is to decipher the customer journey and engage with him on a continuous basis.He also shared the advertising landscape in Ireland. In 2014 out of 30 top advertisers only 6 were indigenous. Out of the top 100 FTSE companies, only 50% of their websites are mobile responsive.

Gearoid Buckley from LinkedIn shared details on an interesting partnership with Mercedes Benz that is actively using LinkedIn to connect directly with customers and potential employees. He reiterated the power of LinkedIn and it’s tools e.g. Pulse – a publishing platform for brands, thought leaders, news peers that influences buyers decision. Gearoid also advised that while digital media is definitely hot however a company should dedicate time to understand demographics and which social media platforms are best fit to reach it’s target audience.

Kevin McDonald gave us a virtual tour of Zomato, one of the most successful food apps in Dublin and world over. He spoke on how the global company has embraced local needs through constant innovation. One such recent accomplishment is ‘Zomato Book’- a table management software. He emphasized that content due diligence is imperative to ensure credibility before users. Kevin also candidly shared how the company has exponentially grown despite initial challenges since its inception last year.

(The Thought Leadership team with speakers– L to R – Paul Murphy, Pooja Dey, JP Donnelly, Kevin McDonald, Gearoid Buckley, Vincent Cooney, John O’Brien, Sreekanth Nagabhushana) – Photo by Vince Cooney

The panelists engaged in an open dialogue and interactive session with the students. The event was moderated by our very own John O’Brien from the Executive MBA batch who never shied away from challenging yet topical questions such as if traditional media is going through a slow death. JP Donnelly shared his perspective that while traditional media is still the voice of brands, digital media provides a one on one interaction opportunity and brands are creating communities by optimizing on a suite of communication available. Kevin McDonald added that Zomato in India is currently heavily advertising in television to engage with the audience. He is also aware of other big online media companies that regularly participate in trade shows globally to connect with their users. Gearoid Buckley stressed that a media plan must also analyse in what ways does marketing in various platforms benefit the company’s business.

On behalf of the Thought Leadership Club and myself, I would like to thank our three speakers for taking out time for this event and sharing their opinions. Last but not the least, thanks to all of the students who made the event a success by joining us last Wednesday evening.

Pooja Dey ~ Full-Time MBA