MBA Gala Ball in Aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland



Smurfit MBAs are cordially invited to this year’s MBA Gala Ball in aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland

Excitement is building among this years’ UCD Smurfit MBA graduating class for the Gala Ball in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin on Saturday 10th December 2016. This year the conventional graduation ball will double as a Black Tie charity event in aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland. The organising committee also wishes to extend an invite to the current Smurfit MBA classes and Smurfit MBA alumni.

The committee have been busy in recent weeks organising everything behind the scenes! Guests will be treated to a four course meal followed by entertainment from in-demand 80’s tribute act, Spring Break. There will also be a raffle and spot prizes on the night. Prizes include overnight stays in four and five star hotels, signed rugby memorabilia, tickets to sports events, and vouchers.


Imagine your life changing irrevocably in a split second. Over 1,800 people in Ireland live with a spinal injury. The majority are aged between 18–35 and 70% never return to work. Spinal Injuries Ireland is the only support service for people who have sustained such injuries.  Just 40% of funding is provided by the HSE, the rest is through fundraising and donations. Spinal Injuries Ireland has been trading at a loss for the past two years and therefore is in urgent need of support.


This is a one-time special event and the MBA Class of 2016 would greatly appreciate all the support they can get. This is a fantastic opportunity to network with fellow MBAs, so why not get together and organise a table?  Please join us on 10th December to raise vital funds for Spinal Injuries Ireland and have a great night in the process! Tickets are €100 each. For details on how to purchase your ticket(s), please email


If you can’t be there on the night, donations are also greatly appreciated. These can be made via PayPal to Simply include a note that identifies it as a donation. Alternatively, please email us at the above address if you would like to donate using a different payment method.


Finally exclusively for gents:  There is a 10% discount on tuxedo hire from Tangos. If 20 people hire a tux from Tangos they will donate 10% of the cost of hire to Spinal Injuries Ireland. Check out Tangos Tuxedo Rental for all information on fittings, location and opening times. To get the code, please email

We look forward to seeing you there!

2016 MBA Graduation Ball Committee ~ Dorothy Chestnutt, Barbara Gilleran, Ciarán Reilly, and John Ryan

AMBA Student of The Year Awards

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Lindsey Nguyen Full-Time MBA 2015, Highly Commended Nominee

As one of the six finalists for the Independent MBA Student of the Year Award, I was invited to attend a face-to-face interview with the Judges on 28 January 2016 at the Association of MBAs (AMBA) offices in London. I was already honoured by the nomination from UCD Smurfit, but it was so exciting to be a finalist as well!

Seriously, after a year on the Full-Time MBA and six months diving head first into the Irish start-ups scene, I never stopped to think about the year! Last week was a great opportunity for me to reflect on everything that I was able to accomplish with my cohort. From re-establishing the Social Outreach Society’s mission and vision, creating and fostering a more collaborative experience, and translating our learning into action that adds value it was a hectic and crazy year that I’d happily do all over again.

So after the intense 30 minutes of interviews, we then attended the MBA Gala & Awards 2015 at The Langham Hotel the following evening. We all had a lovely dinner and great speeches preceded the highly anticipated awards: The Independent MBA Student of the Year Award, MBA Innovation Award, and MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award.

As a quick recap – the purpose of the Gala Dinner is “to recognise the talents and contributions made by accredited schools and their students to the MBA arena and the wider community, AMBA presents three annual awards to outstanding business schools, start-ups with MBA founders and MBA students who represent the true value of accredited MBA programmes.”

It all happened so fast as I was pretty nervous standing there with my fellow nominees who are equally amazing and impressive! Thank you to the Judges, AMBA, and The Independent for their consideration as well as Orla, Michael, and the Smurfit MBA Programme Office for their support! I am very pleased for the recognition as ‘Highly Commended Nominee’ with my fellow runner-ups! Congratulations to ALL finalists!

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Lindsey Nguyen ~ Full-Time MBA Class of 2015

UCD Spin-Out Company ‘Equinome’ Acquired By Plusvital

L-R - Donal Ryan MD Equinome, Mike Shelly CEO Plusvital, Dr Emmeline Hill Co-Founder Equinome
L-R – Donal Ryan MD Equinome, Mike Shelly CEO Plusvital, Dr Emmeline Hill Co-Founder Equinome

Plusvital, the Irish equine nutrition company, has acquired the leading bloodstock genomic testing company, Equinome.

Eqinome’s Managing Director is Donal Ryan (Smurfit MBA 2009) and Plusvital’s Chief Executive is Mike Shelly (Smurfit MBA 2008).

The newly expanded Plusvital will substantially invest in the development of novel equine genomic tests, innovative nutraceuticals and other equine performance and health products.

With the acquisition, Equinome’s existing research team, led by co-founder Dr Emmeline Hill, will be strengthened by the recruitment of additional highly-qualified researchers and sales and marketing staff. The combined business will employ over 35 highly qualified scientists and professionals by the end of 2017.

Plusvital was established in 1975. It provides nutrition and care products to the global equine industry. Equinome is a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company. It was co-founded in 2009 by Dr Emmeline Hill from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, and Jim Bolger, the renowned Irish horse trainer and breeder.


The company is headquartered at NovaUCD, University College Dublin’s Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs. It works with many of the world’s leading thoroughbred training and breeding operations to provide genomic information to maximise the potential success of individual racehorses.

Equinome’s researchers have published more scientific papers on thoroughbred exercise genomics than any other research group in the world. The company has an active research programme aimed at identifying and characterising the molecular genetic variants underlying key performance and health traits in the thoroughbred.

“The acquisition of Equinome will enable the business to leverage its global sales and marketing network,” said Mike Shelly, CEO of Plusvital. “The business will expand through the research, development and launch of unique product offerings in addition to our current range of supplements and genetic tests.”

“We are delighted that Equinome is becoming part of Plusvital at this exciting stage in the growth of both companies. We have a suite of novel products and services that we will bring to market in 2016 and we will continue to invest heavily in our research and development pipeline,” he added.

“The merger of Plusvital and Equinome represents a transformative step forward in the development of a world-leading equine sciences company that will deliver ground-breaking new services in equine performance and health management, including the exciting emerging field of nutrigenomics,” said Dr Emmeline Hill, the new Chief Science Officer of Plusvital.

“Equinome, which we have supported over many years through our technology transfer and enterprise development teams, is an excellent example of a UCD spin-out company commercialising world-class UCD research outputs,” said Brendan Cremen, director of enterprise and commercialisation at University College Dublin.

“While only established in 2009, Equinome has already achieved global impact, reach and sales and significantly changed breeding techniques in the international, multi-billion euro thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry.”

“I wish the expanded Plusvital team continuing success and growth for the future and I look forward to the development of mutually beneficial partnerships between the company and UCD,” he added. 

Plusvital grew out of Ireland’s world-famous racing and sport horse tradition and has been a leading provider of equine nutrition products since its formation in 1975. The company’s scientifically formulated supplements are used by successful breeders, trainers and riders in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Equinome, an Irish biotechnology company, was launched in 2010 as a result of ground breaking research led by Dr Emmeline Hill of University College Dublin, and currently offers comprehensive athletic performance genomic tests to the Thoroughbred market including the Equinome Speed Gene Test and the Equinome Elite Performance Test v2.0.

Equinome’s ongoing research and development activities continue to support collaborations between world-class science and elite racehorse breeding and training. Through this research Equinome is continuing to drive the cutting-edge of equine performance genomics. Equinome is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

At NovaUCD, the hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, we nurture and support new high-tech and knowledge-intensive companies as part of UCD’s mission. At NovaUCD we provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art incubation facilities alongside a comprehensive business support programme for client companies such as Equinome.

UCD’s technology transfer team, which is responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from research and other knowledge-intensive activity at UCD, is also based at NovaUCD. NovaUCD has been funded through a unique public-private partnership that includes AIB Bank, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, UCD and Xilinx.

Well done to our MBA Alumni Mike and Donal on this fantastic achievement!

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Marketing & Events 

Choosing the right MBA

Undertaking an MBA programme is a significant decision to make. So when you understand that it is your real desire, try to research your choice of programme and business school as thoroughly as possible. In this post I will outline some of the facts which require attention, such as the international accreditation, continuous presence in both prestigious top 100 rankings, and national leadership. These facts may certainly influence your final decision, but they are not crucial. That is why I want to describe to you a couple of things which helped me to form my preference of MBA programme.

The first one happened when I visited Smurfit Business School last year. The only thing I knew was that somewhere in Blackrock there was a university which offered a top MBA programme. There I met one member of admission team. During our conversation and a little excursion through the university building I got quite a distinct picture of the programme and of the School itself. There I could really feel the spirit of the School and was seriously impressed with their professional approach, which I could see in every little detail. So my first advice to individuals interested in an MBA programme is to go and see the campus, speak with people and ask questions.

The second piece of advice I would offer relates to alumni of UCD MBA programme. In order to explore the School more deeply, I wrote to some graduates of last years class and asked them to express their opinions. They didn’t want to advertise UCD MBA programme, but they wanted to provide me with their knowledge and help me to make the right decision. The key is to find and write to current alumni, speak with them, and again, ask questions. Facebook and Linkedin are quite helpful in this case and I found alumni more than willing to assist..

In conclusion, I can say that these things really work and that I am reassured and absolutely happy with my programme choice. If some readers of this blog are curious about UCD Full-Time MBA programme, please, feel free to write to me and ask your questions!

Daniil Matcoian

Full-Time MBA 2014-2015

Congratulations to Grainne Barron winner of MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award 2014

Word has reached us from London that Grainne Barron who graduated from the EMBA programme in 2007 has been awarded the prestigious MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award from the UK based Association of MBAs.

Andrew Main Wilson, AMBA Chief Executive: ‘This is the 2nd time in three years that UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School has won our MBA Entreprenurial Venture Award, which clearly indicates the quality of their MBA programme and its focus on creativity and entrepreneurship. This year’s winner, Grainne Barron, CEO and Founder of Viddyad, has demonstrated just how successful women in technology can be.

Grainne is CEO and Founder of Viddyad and is responsible for commercial product development internationally. She is a recognized expert in video advertising technology and has been interviewed on Bloomberg TV, TechCrunch, USA Today been quoted in the WSJ where Viddyad was listed as ‘One to Watch!’

Further information on Grainne can find it at – Profile of Grainne from Smurfit Alumni

Further information on the AMBA AWARDS event, click here.

UCD Smurfit MBA50 Celebrating Entrepreneurship

On Tuesday 2nd of September, the MBA Programme Office were delighted to host a Celebrating Entrepreneurship Event in the Hibernian Club on St. Stephens Green in Dublin.

After a brief introduction by Prof. Pat Gibbons, MBA alumni and current students were treated to some rare insights from Claire Lee, head of Corporate Venture at Silicon Valley Bank.

This was followed by a soap-box challenge which involved a number of MBA alumni and students show-casing their start-up companies within a two minute time-frame.

List of participating start-ups:

Brendan Cunniffe, Apica Cardiovascular

Dave Byrne,  Buzzoo

Mick O’Dwyer,  Envirotech

Donal Ryan,  Equinome

Ian Nolan,  Legalshine

David Larkin,  LogoGrab

Paul Manning, Novo Grid

Eamonn Sayers,  World Sports Team

Steve Kelly,  young Horizons

After a thoroughly enjoyable series of presentations, all present got the chance to mingle over a glass of wine.

Below is a short synopsis of this showcase of innovation and something for our budding entrepreneurs to reflect on.

The Disruptors Business Conference – 5th September 2014

On Friday September 5th, a number of MBA students, both past and present, attended Disruptors in The Marker Hotel. The one-day conference led with the tagline “Your industry is being disrupted. Are you ready?” With disruption seemingly inevitable, the conference aimed to highlight ways in which companies can be the disruptor instead of the disrupted. Thought leaders from around the world were brought together to share their unique and varied insights.

Disruption is brought about through innovation, and it is the ability to innovate that was much debated throughout the MBA. As businesses become larger and more established, they tend to become less responsive to change, and therefore are at risk of disruption from more agile young companies.

The speakers proposed many ways to stay ahead, including for example, the trend of creating startup incubation centres within large corporates to allow them stay close to the leading disruptive thinking in their industry.

While the tips and thoughts throughout the day were helpful, the value of the conference was wrapped up in its core message. Either disrupt, or be disrupted.

A special word of thanks to the organiser, John O’Loughlin (MBA 2012) for the opportunity to attend this conference.

Mark Good

Full-time MBA 2014

MBA Alumnus Awarded ‘Business Woman of the Year 2014’ at Network Ireland Dublin Awards

MBA graduate Mouna Kenazoui, the CEO and Founder of leading Irish recruitment agency Martinsen Mayer, has received this year’s ‘Business Woman of the Year (New Business)’ award, at the Network Ireland, Dublin Awards which were held on June 27th. Mouna graduated from the full-time MBA programme in 2010.

Mouna, who established Martinsen Mayer just last year, secured the win against strong competition from a host of entrants in the category. In a ceremony that took place in Dublin’s Marker Hotel, judges pointed out that Mouna was “an entrepreneur to watch with a strong vision for her company, she has a growth plan and isn’t putting up any barriers to corporate and personal success.”

Continue reading MBA Alumnus Awarded ‘Business Woman of the Year 2014’ at Network Ireland Dublin Awards

Well done to Ian Nolan on his success at LaunchPad

Recent EMBA graduate, Ian Nolan (2013), has won the NDRC’s LaunchPad 9 with his start-up, Legalshine.  Legalshine was one of 10 start-ups selected to take part last February.  It concluded last week at the pitching event called Lift-Off.  Ian’s pitch beat off all other contenders on the evening to win the overall prize of €30,000 in follow-on investment for future growth and development.

Legalshine has developed software for large organisations to control their legal costs. It takes data from legal bills around the organisation, understands the text, and uses benchmarking and analytics to eliminate waste.  Governments, Banks, Insurance Companies and Multinationals are the target market and Legalshine has already won new business.

Ian is the second major entrepreneurial winner this year joining current EMBA participant, Ciara O’Brien, who won the inaugural UCD Student Innovation Fund for 2014.

A report from the golf battlefront

Andrew Bourke playing in the sand

Luttrellstown, the venue for Becks’ wedding, graciously hosted the second event of UCD’s MoneyBAGS (the new name for the UCD MBA Golf Society). A 24 strong field (our second largest turnout ever) took to the course fully inspired by Jordan Speith’s unexpected lead in the third round of the Masters. Expectations were high in spite of the low course temperatures and the talk in the clubhouse was all about one person, that’s right, Liam Doyle. Who would have thought the Golf Society would become so big that it would attract one of Ireland’s finest rugby players away from going to Danville for the MBA World Cup!!!

There was also a welcome return for Charlie Weijer after his glorious front nine at the Captain’s Day in Powerscourt last August. He joined the first group on the tee box which also consisted of Pamela Fay (still traumatised after her counselling session with Andrew Bacon), Gerard Murphy (the man renowned for his steely resolve) and James Sammon (our resident Casanova). Charlie, yet again, commenced his round in exemplary fashion, with crisp clean drives and instinctive pitches, which spurred on his competitors. Rumour has it James was a little forlorn considering his usual playing partner had been moved to Group 6… We’ll make sure Jessica plays with you next time James ;0).

Continue reading A report from the golf battlefront