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

The Biggest Surprise on the MBA…

When you begin your MBA journey you are facing into the world of the unknown. You may anticipate some of the challenges and benefits that are to come but many will present themselves from the blind spot of your consciousness throughout the program. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld,

There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

I have encountered many unknown unknowns during my MBA journey. One such example is the reality that everyone in your peer group has something important to offer and nobody is even close to being the definitive article. This was exactly the sort of fluffy MBA speak that I turned my nose up at before I drank the Kool-Aid myself.

I previously held the view that relatively few people in this world have something truly great to offer and the rest would make great employees. I also engaged in a very black and white mental grouping of the two demographics. I, like many other incumbent MBA participants reviewed the LinkedIn profiles of my classmates before the first day of the program. I made a mental note of the winners and losers and set off to be proven right. The fact that having that sort of outlook put me in the loser category early on was entirely lost on me. Over the next six months or so I was proved wrong on a daily basis. I began to realise that there was significant talent in everyone and everyone was a potential superstar given the right context.

I now firmly believe that you could give me any two of my classmates at random, be they engineer or marketer, red or green, extrovert or introvert and I could easily give you a scenario where one could deliver more value to a project than another. I’m not saying that there aren’t stronger and weaker candidates in the MBA world, of course there are. But every student can outshine everyone else some of the time and there is certainly no one who can outshine everybody else all the time. After you realise this you become more comfortable in your own flaws. You also realise that there may be one small area of expertise that you are truly great at, and you start trying to figure out how to make it a career.

If a company chairman had asked me one month into the program if there was anyone in my class I would recommend as a CEO for his company. I would have said, “yes, x y and z would do a great job for you” before even asking what his company did. Now the first thing out of my mouth would be, “Well what do you need? I have someone for every situation.”

Trevor Whelan

Full-time MBA 2014