Global Network Immersion Week – Sauder Business School, Vancouver


As mentioned in previous posts, Smurfit is part of a global network of MBA schools, which offers you the opportunity to sit a course in another business school for a week. It’s a great experience and one worth taking if you get the chance. I chose to go to the Sauder Business School in the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The course was entitled ‘Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure – Innovation at the Nexus of Politics and Society’. With an MSc in Renewable Energy Development and having worked in the energy sector for 7 years prior to my MBA, I jumped at the chance. It also meant I had an excuse to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in years.


The course really struck at the heart of global economics in the context of global warming, and how greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be reduced or offset. Needless to say, the concepts are simple in principle but incredibly difficult in practice. They require buy in across the board and with many other societal pressures acting on governments around the World, the global warming issue is often pushed down the pecking order.

Carbon taxation, carbon offsetting and market-driven GHG reduction policies were explored. Examples of where these market-driven measures were working were contrasted against regions of the world were no such economic drivers existed. Furthermore it is the developed countries of world that are the largest emitters of GHGs and the developing countries that have the greatest carbon offsetting potential. As you might expect the offsetting concept is fraught with political tensions regarding economic development.

In 2012 China overtook the USA as the World’s largest emitter of GHGs. This is primarily as a result of its enormous fleet of coal fired power stations. The scary thing is that its rate of increase of GHG production is much higher than all other major contributors. In fact the other major contributors are flat lining with the exception of India. So what is the global solution to this global problem? British Columbia and western Canada may play a big role in this over the coming years and decades.


British Columbia and the neighbouring province of Alberta have enormous shale gas reserves and the potential for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia is very real – shortest distance to market. Per unit electricity produced LNG emits almost 50 per cent less GHGs than coal. With increasing international and national pressure (global warming and air quality), conversion of China’s coal fired power stations to gas fired power stations is one of the front running solutions to clean up China’s contribution to global warming while not impacting on its economic development. For a country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean to prove to be a major part of China’s power solution shows just how interlinked the economies of the World have become. With the Paris summit on climate change just around the corner, this subject is going to become very topical over the next weeks and months.

So that was just a snapshot of my week in Vancouver. A lot more went on that week but as they say ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour!’

Finbarr Coghlan ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network Immersion Week at Koç University, Istanbul


Last week we had our first international MBA travel opportunity – Global Network Immersion Week (GNIW). GNIW is an optional, one-week module in Semester 1 which allows students to take a mini course either at Smurfit or at another partner university. Each of the universities offer the opportunity to work with other international students, faculty, and companies. Three of us chose Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, where the topic of the week was From Local to Global: Developing an Effective Global Strategy. Other classmates traveled to Madrid (IE), New Haven (Yale), and Vancouver (UBC).

The classroom portion of our experience was engaging and provided frameworks that we can easily bring back and apply to our classes at Smurfit. After a brief background on the economic and political history of Turkey, lectures were primarily case based and included both local and international companies that have a presence in Istanbul. The three of us were already experts with Porter’s Five Forces (thanks, Brian!); however, we were also introduced to additional models that we can use going forward.


The latter half of the week was devoted to a business simulation with Unilever. We were divided into teams of six and had three rounds to build a global expansion strategy for products like personal care, food, and household cleaning. The simulation gave us the opportunity to apply what we learned throughout the week and to interact more with our international classmates (Chile, Spain, South Africa, Iran) as well as with management at Unilever.

Outside of the classroom, Koç provided additional networking events for us. These included company visits to Unilever and Turkcell (in case you were wondering where Ryan got that fancy hat). They also hosted an alumni networking evening at a restaurant with beautiful views of the Bosphorus. In addition to all of this, we still managed to fit in some free time for exploring the sights of Istanbul (please ask Carley about her favorite purchase from the Grand Bazaar). Overall, GNIW was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to future students.

Jessica Beloff ~ Full-Time MBA

UCD Smurfit MBA Participates in Yale Global Network Immersion Week 2015


This past week (Oct 19th – 23rd) saw students from the Full-Time MBA class participate in Global Network Immersion Week (GNIW). Global Network Immersion Week gives UCD Smurfit MBA students the opportunity to pursue intensive study at another network school, in a focused mini course that leverages the perspectives, programmes, and faculty expertise of that school. Alongside their counterparts from elsewhere in the network, students attend classes, tour local businesses, and meet with experts focused on current business problems.


UCD Smurfit School welcomed students from Koç University (Istanbul, Turkey), Yale SOM (Connecticut, USA), Fudan (Shanghai, China), Egade (Santa Fe, Mexico) and Sauder School of Business UBC (Vancouver, Canada). The theme of the UCD Smurfit GNIW was ‘Executive Decision Making’ and sessions included Executive Decision Making: Art or Science?, Corporate Decision Making: Respective Roles of Boards and Management and Individual and Social Psychological Effects on Decision Making.

Along with contemplating some Decision Making conundrums in the classroom, students went on a Company Visit to Accenture where the Director of the Centre for Innovation, Dublin  discussed the decision making process around locating the new innovation centre in Dublin.


To balance the class-based learning the students took part in activities such as a Networking Event, a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, a Literary Pub Crawl and a wrap up lunch in Blackrock.

The class are just past the mid-way point in Semester 1 and having spoken to students who participated in the GNIW they viewed the week as a valuable opportunity to take stock and reflect on what has passed since the programme commenced in September and provided an opportunity through learning and social activities to energise for the remainder of the Semester.


Yvonne Harding ~ Full-Time MBA Programme Manager

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

Every Little Helps


Barilla pasta and a large Coke, delivered on a Honda while reading Stephen King, before deciding between Nintendo Wii or PlayStation! Who knew the EMBA would be so much fun? On the other side of life, no more Netflix, Champion’s League, weekly five aside or Saturday morning lie in. Although the benefits of the experience curve should see weekly 5 aside reintroduced before long. After 6 weeks now, a good routine and an addiction to Costa coffee have taken hold. I think the secret lies in getting a good start to the week and taking advantage of whatever few free moments arise in the day to think through the weekly case work. Like Tesco, every little helps. Although Financial Reporting class suggests Tesco used a little extra help.

I begin to wonder what I actually did with my free time before September, probably not as much as I should! Joking aside, I have been impressed not just by the quality of the class learning experience but also by the balance in module delivery. Personally, I look forward to CS on a Friday afternoon, the class has changed how I look at the most basic everyday products and now I look around at cans of coke and 7 Up and wonder who really extracts the value from their existence. Life was so simple before!

The first few weeks are a shock to the system but slowly you find your feet. The team based nature of assignments helps you to realise everyone is in the same boat and before long you establish some momentum. It’s hard to believe we’re just at the half way point of Semester 1 or as I like to think of it as one eighth of the way through the entire program. Week 7 sees delivery of two of the main group assignments and I’m looking forward to our well-deserved break week. Unfortunately, I am still awaiting that Satori moment but I have had a few others, regret, fear and dreaming about IFRS but all that has dissipated now. Overall, the experience is different to what I expected but I am very, very happy with it so far. The focus on team work adds a lot of value, before beginning, I naively thought I’d mastered time management, I know now I hadn’t. Hopefully with some of the big assignments out of the way, we’ll get some time to think about the exams, that long Christmas break and maybe even a holiday in January.

So far so good.

Terence Dunne ~ Executive MBA Year 1

Smurfit School’s MBA Climbs Global Rankings

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UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School today welcomed validation of its international standing confirmed in two separate highly respected international rankings for 2015 – the Financial Times Executive MBA Rankings and The Economist Full-Time MBA Rankings.

The School’s programmes achieved 18th place in the European rankings (56th place in the world and a jump from  21st) in The Economist’s Full-Time MBA study and 23rd in Europe (82nd globally and a jump from 34th) in the Financial Times Executive MBA report. 2015 is the 51st anniversary of the Smurfit MBA with UCD being one of the pioneers in the delivery of MBA programmes when they were first delivered in Europe in the 1960s.

UCD College of Business has also been formally admitted to join the PIM network – an invitation only exclusive Business School network; with Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean, UCD Business attending the 42nd annual PIM Conference, hosted by FGV-EAESP, 14th-16th October, in São Paulo to accept the honour . The Partnership in International Management, or PIM, is a consortium of top business schools from around the world that exchanges select graduate students for one academic term. UCD Smurfit School is now one of 63 business schools worldwide sharing a reputation for upholding the highest degree of academic excellence both regionally and globally and driving cooperation among its students, faculty and administrations. PIM member institutions including Duke; NYU; LSE; HEC; Warwick and Chicago Booth, have exchanged several thousands of students through the years.

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Speaking about the rankings and the PIM membership, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean, UCD Business said:

These consistently high rankings help us to attract high calibre students and faculty and to partner with other leading business schools internationally – as signalled by  our new membership of PIM which we are delighted to have been invited to join this year.  This creates a first-class learning environment in the service of our students and of Ireland as a considerable player in business education internationally. We remain dedicated to delivering education and research programmes to the highest standard to those who study at UCD Smurfit and Quinn Schools, so that we can develop their capacities for life in a highly competitive environment where our society and our economy depends on high standards and an openness to the world.”

Earlier this year UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School rose 18 places to 73rd in the world in the 2015 Financial Times Top 100 Global Full-time MBA Rankings. The analysis, which also ranks UCD Smurfit School as 22nd in Europe (a climb of three places on 2015), is considered the most respected of business school rankings along with those published by The Economist and Businessweek.

The consistent high rankings are reinforced by the fact that UCD Business School remains the only business school in Ireland (and one of less than 60 worldwide) to hold the triple crown of accreditation from three centres of business and academic excellence; EQUIS (Europe); AACSB (US); and AMBA (UK).

Student group walking through front door banner

This month UCD College of Business launched its second annual report for the 2013/2014 academic year, which confirms its position as Ireland’s leading business educator and amongst the top 100 business schools in the world. The annual report, a voluntary disclosure, highlighted the schools’ increased student intake, its continued status as the leading Irish business educator across each of the respected international rankings and international accreditations, underpinned by a strong financial performance.

During the academic year 2013/14 the college had a turnover of €48 million, with 70% of revenues at the College of Business derived from non-exchequer sources. As a leading international business school, UCD College of Business continues its focus on providing a transformational learning experience which develops graduates who are skilled, engaged and reflective and who are prepared to make a significant contribution to the world of business, both nationally and internationally.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Marketing & Events

Prof. Prabhu Guptara talks Business Ethics at Smurfit

Prof. Prabhu Guptara (Source - Wiki)
Prof. Prabhu Guptara (Source – Wiki)


Six weeks into the MBA Programme, students have discussed and deliberated the malfeasance, fraud and buck-passing policies adopted by companies such as Enron, Arthur Andersen, HealthSouth, FreddieMac, Lehman Brother etc. As future business leaders, we have occasionally questioned if we are at the brink of ‘ethical business crisis’?

Last week, many of our questions were answered. The Smurfit MBA Thought Leadership Club couldn’t have timed its next speaker session more aptly.

Prof. Prabhu Guptara, Executive Director, Relational Analytics Ltd (Cambridge), came as a respite!

He discussed Business Ethics and the importance of maintaining high-integrity for leaders. He explained the dynamics of democracy and capitalism that influence decision making for various CEOs. He emphasized that as future leaders we should keep true to original values. High integrity CEOs had a multi year return of 9.4%, while low integrity CEOs had a yield of just 1.9%.

Prof. Guptara referred to reform movements that united ordinary people to fight the atrocities of corrupt rulers. He strongly believes that in this dynamic society as people get more aware of social, environmental consequences and whistle-blower protection rights a positive wave of change will come.

Pooja Dey ~ Full Time MBA

Time Management – The “Hidden” MBA Module


Well, OK, maybe it’s not so hidden, six weeks (yes, six!!) into our first semester but its presence and importance weren’t as clear to me at the start of the semester as perhaps they should have been!

Navigating the mix of group and individual assignments, which differ in content, nature and proportion of overall grade, is a challenge that needs to be met head-on. Add to this the volume of required reading, the need to devote sufficient time to group communications and, let’s not forget, the need to actually maintain a life outside the EMBA (i.e., family and job!) and we now have the framework for a hands-on module in advanced Time Management!

We may not get credits for it but I seriously doubt that success in the other four will be achieved without achieving a pass (at the very least) in this one. Thankfully, we’re all in the same boat and the class is very open about sharing the various tools that are being developed to get us through this challenging element of the course. For me, it’s important that I use this to ensure that the non-EMBA elements of my life don’t dwindle too much, so, while I find myself using all elements of the four core modules at work, Time Management is currently the only one I’m using at home. I’m particularly focused on getting enough time with three young kids who still think it’s hilarious that their Daddy is back in “school” and has to do “homework” – perspective is everything!

Conor Burke ~ Executive MBA