Grades Don’t Tell The Whole Story

WordcloudI still vividly remember my first week at Smurfit, how nervous I was about this new chapter in my life, thinking about what I will need to be a success here, and good grades were number one on that list of requirements.

However, after almost two months on the programme, I have somehow arrived at the conclusion that grades are only a footnote in the MBA story. I did not suddenly have an epiphany about this one fine day, rather I gradually realised that our experiences and learnings are far more valuable than any grade that we get, and I am not just talking about my new found ability to read balance sheets and carry out industry analysis. In just seven short weeks this programme has helped me understand the meaning of teamwork, transformed the way I approach asks and taught me how to prioritise and manage my time. I have learnt more outside the classroom than inside. The sheer amount of work that has been dumped on us made me realise that it would have been impossible for us to complete all of it, if we did not have the help of our teams.


The competitive nature of the programme would make it very easy for us to develop a blinkered view of our goals. But the holistic approach of the programme has prevented the development of such views. Although I am not overly fond of being called either an owl or a peacock, I have learnt to put my qualities into perspective and understand their role in the larger scheme of things. I have learnt not to take myself too seriously and realised that I cared more about what I got out of a task rather than what grade I would be securing.

Mind you, given the competitive bunch of people we have here in the programme, grades are important to us and adds to our sense of achievement, but hopefully, all of us have realised that there is more to the MBA than grades, there is a lot of learning, self discovery, relationship building and fun involved along the way which cannot be graded. Hopefully in the years to come, when I look back to my time here, I will be able to give the Smurfit experience an A+.

Arka Banerjee ~ Full-Time MBA

Teamwork – The Importance of Resolution


I’m one month into the Full-Time MBA experience and my mindset has shifted drastically from what I thought going into this experience. I came in thinking about the grades I wanted to get and courses I wanted to take. I knew that team work would be important but I didn’t give much consideration as to how important it would be and the drastic impact it is having on my overall experience.We spend time in our groups talking about recent classes, discussing cases, talking about the news, project work and brainstorming. Now that is a lot of different types of discussions and takes place for each of our six classes; we spend an astronomical amount of time together. A large part of this programme is teamwork: deliveries you have as a group and learning from your team members sometimes more so from the textbooks and classes you have.onemonth

The Smurfit MBA Programme is structured in such a way that allows you to form deep bonds quicker than you normally would with a work colleague or new friend. This is particularly true with your specific work team (5-6 people) which you deliver each group project with in each of your courses. In addition to the deeper connections, this environment also allows for hard discussions and conflict to arise rapidly; the challenge is to work through and resolve these issues. Resolution is necessary not just because you have multiple deliverables to still get together to try to sweep issues under the rug, it is because these relationships are important for this year, after this year is over and for the rest of your life and career.

The MBA Programme Office Team do a tremendous job in providing tools to facilitate team work, better understanding yourself and others. We are learning more about ourselves through programmes which give information on: your personality, strengths, work outlook, communication style, coaching and opportunity for reflection. We are also learning more about how to work in a team: team dynamics, personal and work sharing opportunities and dedicated time devoted to team development.


Yesterday, my group was submitting a second strategy paper (hard to believe we have already delivered two assignments!) and reflecting on how much we have learned in this short time from our first paper to our second paper. One of the best experiences so far is the opportunity to work with a great group of people, learn from each other, challenge each other and ultimately grow together and separately. I am happy to say my main focus is no longer on the grades but on the learning and developing I’m getting as I go through this programme, which I’ll take with me long after this year is over.

Carley Wasechek ~ Full-Time MBA