Assumptions are the Devil!

The greatest leaders in the world stand on the shoulders of giants. To make true change happen we need to learn from the change makers, the thought leaders and those that have gone before us trying to break down barriers. When I learned we would have a Thought Leadership Society I immediately knew I would love to get involved, little did I know that I would end up helping to run the committee.

With no information left from last years committee members, I initially had no idea of how I would be able to get the society off the ground.  After a few brainstorming sessions with the other members of the team, we decided the only way to find out what was the best way to move forward was to reach out to our fellow students and see what they would be interested in learning. So our first event was created; the Thought Leadership Society Mixer. On a cold crisp evening after finishing one of our exams, we congregated outside the MBA Clubhouse for nibbles and drinks. We had set up little questionnaires for our fellow cohort, to learn who they would like to hear from and what subjects most interested them.


Ankita, pictured above, can be seen handing out the surveys. The most interesting part of the survey was that there was an interest in our class hearing from each other. It was nice to see the respect and reverence and I think this spoke to the quality of the students in our cohort. Also, there was an interest in debating topics within the college, rather than just being lectured to. This was an interesting idea that I for one would not have thought of, had we not opened this up to the wider group. It just shows that consumer research pays off!!

The first event was a great success and a lovely time to catch up with each other without the pressures of exams and college bearing down on us. There was a great turn out and hopefully this is be a good sign for future events. We look forward to scheduling many events for the following year and look forward to having a good debate and discussing far-reaching topics from the thought leaders in Ireland and beyond.


Following our mixer, some of the Society headed to Belfield to see the UCD Orchestra perform which was the cherry on the top of a fantastic day. I would highly recommend fellow students to check out some of the great events on the main UCD campus too.


Emma Farrell, FTMBA 2018/2019

Inspirational Presentations in Chile

It was the second event of our second day in Chile, and having spent the last 6 months in Ireland none of us were conditioned for the Mediterranean climate we found in Santiago, especially leaving Dublin at a time when the Beast from the East was fresh in our memories! I would be the first to admit that staying focused is not my forte but when you have travelled the 11,460 km distance from Dublin to Santiago you need to make the effort. Fortunately for myself and my colleagues the calibre of the speakers lined up was fantastic and it made attending the presentations a privilege.

We arrived at Wayra just after lunch on our second day in Chile. Wayra are a start-up accelerator, founded by one of the biggest telecommunications provider in the world, Telefonica and are part their  Open Innovation Program. Soon after our arrival I was informed that to get to our presentation location I would need to climb 4 sets of stairs, as you know ladies don’t sweat we glow and I was glowing red hot 😉 On the way up the stairs to the presentation space I observed some of the people working in Wayra. They were from various start-ups, young, mostly male and sitting around at various locations on bean-bags. This scene brought back alot of nostalgic memories for me about the last start-up I was a part of. Even though our group of 30+something MBA candidates were dressed in business attire, one of the Wayra employees continued to sit amongst us, on a bean bag in true start-up tradition and spirit, absolutely unbothered by the presentation. There was a great atmosphere throughout the presentation and we all found it extremely interesting. Unfortunately, the entire presentation was in Spanish but thanks to the presenter Pepe Pascual, nothing was lost in translation.

What really captured my interest at the presentation was that even though Chile is a developing economy there is still a strong presence of startups venturing into technology industries in areas such as AI, machine learning, cloud computing etc. This  made me realize that these technologies are already highly in demand. Below is a sample set of the start-ups that Wayra are working with:

Smartbox – The team at Smartbox believe that they have taken OTT to the next level. Through their Nunchee platform, users could customize their personal video & audio playlists with many new and interactive features. Nunchee platform could also be easily integrated with any device, including laptop, tablet and mobile. Cool right! Let’s talk about the next one.

Wivo – Another name for retail analytics. The most challenging work done by the team to date is to understand  customer behaviour though algorithms which use data acquired by sensors and heat maps installed in the shops. To highlight their work here is a fun fact that I spotted on their web page.

‘Did you know that people who like dogs are more likely to purchase an iPhone by as much as 37%?’ Very intriguing!

Inbenta – Now I believe this start-up will change the future of customer service or BPOs forever. Inbenta has created a chatbox which interacts with customer queries in the absence of a human customer service representative. This is done with the magic of machine learning and NLP as the underlying technologies. Through these technologies it is possible to predict what the customer is looking for and help precisely direct them to their desired products, vastly reducing search time. Sharp!

And as always I have kept the best till last!

Poliglota – This start up is by far the most original and innovative (in my humble opinion!). Have you ever wanted to learn a new language but didn’t like the mundane tutorials. Poliglota allows people to learn languages in places like pubs, cafes and learn face to face from people who are experts.

The company visit to Wayra really inspired the Thought Leadership Club members and as a result we have decided to bring these revolutionising technologies together on the same platform and help other students to learn more about them. It is my pleasure to present to you the Thought Leadership Club’s  keynote event ‘Digital Transformers’ that will take place on the 24th of April 2018 at UCD Smurfit. For more details, kindly follow the link.


Last but not the least, muchas gracias to the MBA programme managers for organising this amazing trip to Chile and Peru. We had the best experience of both culture and business together. Salut! :)

Nadisha Garg, Full Time MBA 2017-2018


Fuelling Ireland’s Future

On February 27th the MBA Thought Leadership Club held the event “Fuelling Ireland’s Future”, which examined the future of Ireland’s Energy sector. The event, organised at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, offered its participants the privileged opportunity to hear from key decision makers in the energy industry about how leadership and innovation are shaping the country’s energy future.

The speakers’ impressive backgrounds and eloquence inspired high-level discussions on Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, European targets, future projects and the country’s approach towards development and innovation. “Ireland’s fuel must be Sustainable, Secure and come from the right Sources (SSS) but also Affordable, Accessible and Available (AAA). Ireland’s future depends on multiple factors including political, economic, climate change, Brexit, technology and infrastructure,” declared the event’s master ceremony John Power, Director General of Engineers Ireland.


The panel at the event included a mix of personalities from the country’s energy industry. Starting with Jim Gannon, Chief Executive at Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI); Peter O’Shea, Head of Strategy and Regulation ESB and Michael Walsh, Managing Director European region at Smart Wires Inc.

One of the  biggest issues currently facing  Ireland is the high rate of carbon emissions. Peter O’Shea, in his presentation, identified the main contributors to this problem. He noted that approximately 20% of Ireland’s carbon emissions come from electricity generation, a further 20% from the heat sector, 20% from the transport sector and 32% from agriculture. It appears that decarbonising electricity and the electrification of transport and heat seems to be the way forward for Ireland if they want to achieve future emission targets.

The decarbonisation of electricity generation is being driven by various initiatives to increase renewable energy production, but despite good progress there is still a need for investment and quicker developments. Onshore wind farms are the preferred path for big scale production but they often face negative public opinion, and offshore wind developments are costly. There is also a need for a better mix of renewable sources such as solar panels, biomass and others if  renewable energy production is to be increased considerably.

Currently transport decarbonisation is happening at a very slow rate. To improve this, Ireland needs to invest in infrastructure which will encourage the use of electric vehicles, while also making a  more significant effort to change the mentality of the larger population towards an eco-friendly transportation industry. Finally, decarbonising heat for households is a must. This is easy to implement in new buildings, but a lot harder to implement in existing households. ESB is leading the way in trying to make these transitions successful.

Jim Gannon from SEAI emphasised that under the current trajectory it would be difficult for Ireland to reduce it’s emissions and achieve its year 2020 target. The target could be missed as Ireland may only be able to provide 13% of its energy through renewable resources. To incentivise companies to reduce carbon emissions, different initiatives are being led by the SEAI.  The focus of these initiatives has changed in recent years to a more consumer focused approach . “We want the consumer to want it,” said Jim Gannon.

The discussions at the event were not only about  energy production but also about  its efficient distribution. Ireland uses about 20% of its grid capacity and Smart Wires’ innovations aim to improve the use of the grid’s spare capacity. “Bringing intelligent technology to the grid is where we want to be,” stated Micheal Walsh. Smart networks link information technology to electricity networks in order to control fluctuations. The increase in sources of electricity, including solar parks and wind farms along with small generators in households, require a better management of the grids.

Data centres planned by Google, Amazon and Microsoft among others will transform Ireland into the data capital of the world. However, while this increase in electricity demand will be a significant challenge it could bring financing opportunities for renewable electricity production projects.

Brexit is another obstacle which must be faced and the outcome does not look good as Ireland’s electricity interconnector is linked to the UK.  Any changes to the trading regulation could put the country at risk.

Energy from fossil sources will still play an important role in the country’s energy mix but it will require the adoption of a low carbon emission approach. If all the industries work toward the same target, then Ireland will have a successful transition.


I was delighted to lead the event’s organisation and listen to the leaders who will ensure a bright future for Ireland. “Fuelling Ireland’s Future” was definitely an event worth attending.

Sauyith Cueva, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

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


Thought Leadership Club

On 23rd November, towards the end of our first semester, the Thought Leadership club organized its first event. We couldn’t have expected a better student organized event to start with. The club was really keen to organize the first event in the first semester itself. At the same time, with all the case studies, exams and assignments it was a really huge task.  Firstly to reach out to prospective speakers and then to organize the event and get others to attend the event. However, James Kelly (Full-time MBA) from our club actively reached out to Stephen Somers, co-founder of Marketplace SuperHeroes, an information product that teaches you how to start an international eCommerce business selling on Amazon, to share his experience as an entrepreneur with us. There was a lot of excitement in the full time MBA class, especially in the Thought Leadership Club, to organize and attend the event.

Stephen Somers is a 30-year-old serial entrepreneur, who has developed multiple businesses in different industries. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he worked as a data processor with a government agency by day and a musician by night. However, having studied Business in college he also had an urge to start a business of his own. Therefore, when he was introduced by his aunt to Robert Rickey who owned an e-commerce business, he found a way to achieve his dream of starting a business.

With the philosophy of “The best way to start a business is to be in business” he worked in Robert’s warehouse for 9 months without pay so that he could learn and understand the nuances of an e-commerce business. This conviction, which I guess is one of the traits of a thought leader, helped him to take risks and believe in himself. Working in the warehouse he identified inefficiencies in the existing system and observed that there was a lack of well-defined process. He also observed that the products such as TV mounts that were sold by the business had a saturated market therefore a minimal growth prospect. Consequently, he removed inefficiencies, defined appropriate processes and looked for products with unsaturated demands. After working on all these improvements he decided to start online sales on e-commerce websites. Once the online sales business started doing well, he realized that a lot of other people were trying to do the same however without proper guidance they would inevitable either fail or give up. Furthermore, he noticed that numerous “How to make money online” courses in the market were scams. This motivated him to become a THOUGHT LEADER and share his knowledge of how to start a successful online sales business with other people through Marketplace Superheroes.

With Marketplace Superheroes, they teach people how to build a 5-7 figure global online selling business through eCommerce websites by selling simple, low-competition, high profit physical products without “risking it all”. Listening to Stephen, I found a practical implementation of a lot of theoretical concepts of marketing that I had learned in the class. He used direct marketing, through Facebook, for customer acquisition. Coincidentally two days prior, in our marketing class we discussed the importance of marketing channels in any business. He let us in on his secret to successfully selling on an ecommerce website which is “don’t create demand, instead fulfil the existing demand”.  Having had a business degree and having read loads of books about business he introduced us to some business concepts such as customer conversion and value proposition.

He told us how important it is to differentiate your products in an online selling business. He started selling products with a very unorthodox method i.e. by reaching out to people and selling products that did not exist. He reasoned that most businesses first put in 6 months to develop a product and then find out that there is no demand for that product, whereas he tries to identify demand and then address that demand through his products. He also stressed the importance of focusing on a limited number of products instead of too many products to keep the business simple and efficient.

Stephen Somers has demonstrated that being a thought leader in your business differentiates you from your competitors. While others in the business were just selling basic information on how to start an online business selling on e-commerce websites. Marketplace Superheroes was sharing information how to be successful at selling online on e-commerce websites, by proper market research and inventory management. Stephen Somers spoke about his journey and his business for about 50 minutes, however he took us through a very descriptive narration about how he came into business, how he struggled,  and then how he made it successful, and currently how he is utilizing his success and knowledge to help others become successful through his startup Marketplace SuperHeroes.


At the end of the event, I realized how much these 3 months in the MBA have changed my perspective: I have developed a new way of looking at businesses. In the past 3 months I have been through numerous case studies, which have changed the way I absorb information about businesses and organizations. This change has been so significant that all through the presentation I was just relating information from Stephan Somers, about his businesses, to the concepts I had previously learned in class. Therefore, I am looking forward to finding out how the rest of the course will guide my thinking. Thank You!

Devinder Sharma, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

Rosheen McGuckian Presentation: “Changing NTR Through Adversity”

I have earned my MBA one month after the start of the first semester. No really, I have… In my mind at least!

The “masterclass” delivered by Rosheen McGuckian, CEO of NTR, was all eight modules rolled into one. (Ok, an MBA requires you to do more than 8 modules, but what do I know, this is only my first semester!) She was all eight modules compacted into a single glass, drank up in one gulp that delivered an immediate kick to the centre of my brain. It was corporate governance, strategy, financial reporting, business ethics and more wrapped up in one honest, authentic, thought-provoking one-hour session.

In those 60 minutes, a good number of case studies and countless class hours came together in my mind like numerous puzzle pieces joining into one big picture as she recounted her business management journey.  How what started as a seemingly great strategy, gave way to a very difficult ride. Then dealing with the opposition that arose from that. The passage to adaptation, the investment in change, making hard decisions, the place for personal reflection and ultimately, turnaround and business success.  I was surprised, incensed, inspired, provoked, appeased, disappointed, hopeful, fearful and educated. She muddied my mind and then offered clarity and wisdom in such a simple, practical and real way. She was nothing short of everything and anything that the real business world is.

I took this MBA course because I am looking to enter the competitive business world and Rosheen McGuckian was my MBA experience personified. So indeed, after meeting her, I do feel like I earned my MBA. In the very least, a good part of it! I simply cannot wait to see which speaker I get to engage with next.


Elizabeth Kiathe, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

Disruptive Innovation Talk: When not playing by the rules is a good thing!

L-R: Ciaran O'Shea, Fintan McGovern, Aileen Butler, Bryan Hickson, Vincent Cooney, Kieran Harte, Pooja Dey, Sreekanth Nagabhushana
L-R: Ciaran O’Shea, Fintan McGovern, Aileen Butler, Bryan Hickson, Vincent Cooney, Kieran Harte, Pooja Dey, Sreekanth Nagabhushana

On Wednesday 17th of February the Smurfit MBA Thought Leadership Club hosted a talk on Disruptive Innovation to provide students a better view of current disruptive trends and how they shape the fourth industrial revolution that is arguably well underway. Three distinguished industry leaders addressed the audience: Bryan Hickson, Senior Manager, IT Advisory at EY, Kieran Harte, General Manager, Marketing at Uber, and Fintan McGovern, CEO, Firmwave (Smurfit Exec.MBA, 2012). They provided valuable insight on how they felt the industry was shaping up to the changing economic landscape, what they were doing to ensure their firms remained at the leading edge of the innovation curve, and what the future has in store. Two current students, Ciarán O’Shea (Exec.MBA 2017), and Sreekanth Nagabhushana (Full-time MBA 2016) welcomed speakers, hosted the evening, and facilitated a lively panel discussion and Q&A.

Bryan Hickson from EY kicked things off by talking about cloud computing initiatives in his organisation and how the cloud was creating lean and agile software architecture, and compressing solution delivery lead-times from months to weeks. As a techie myself, I had expected Bryan to extol the virtues of cloud computing and how it is going to be the way of the future, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him provide a reasoned argument about how the cloud computing needs vary based on system and security requirements, and I wasn’t aware of the regulatory challenges associated with going ‘cloud only’. It is not often that I hear consultants provide such a balanced view without championing the current trend ruling the industry; Bryan’s impartiality really increased his credibility and the effectiveness of his talk.

Kieran Harte told us the story about how two friends were able to turn a language barrier in a foreign city into a $60 billion business. His savvy and eloquent presentation about the origin of Uber in Paris, and the true purpose of Uber—to increase car utilisation from an average of 4%, and to ultimately make personal vehicles obsolete had the audience enthralled. Kieran claimed that Uber were not disrupting the taxi market, they were creating a more flexible public transport system, especially in markets with unreliable or undeveloped public transport services. He also pointed out that the shared economy business model will change the way people work and think about business, which was definitely a point to ponder for future executives and budding entrepreneurs in the audience.

Our final speaker for the evening, Fintan McGovern is yet another success story from the Smurfit MBA. Having completed his MBA in 2012,  Fintan spoke about globe-hopping post-MBA, including stops in Mozambique and St.Lucia before starting his own venture in Dublin. Today Firmwave is going strong and is growing from strength to strength in the ‘Internet of things’ space and shortening development by enabling rapid prototyping. Fintan spoke at length about his company’s vision and mission, and how by ‘sitting on the edge of cloud’ and engaging in ‘edge analytics’ they are helping clients increase their competitiveness. The talk was inspiring for students who want to beat their own path after completing their degrees.

After the presentations guests engaged in a lively and interactive panel discussion and Q&A with an engaged audience. The impact of regulation was a recurring theme. Kieran spoke further about Uber’s plans for the future and regulatory challenges Uber has faced in Ireland, and about the looming threat posed to its service by copycats and driverless cars. Bryan spoke further about how organisations could leverage cloud computing technology to make software development a much faster and agile process. Ultimately, all speakers highlighted how strategies employed always placed the customer at the centre of solution development and delivery.

We would like to thank all the speakers for taking out time and sharing their knowledge and opinions with us, and we hope the audience can apply some of the inspiring and motivating ideas in the future.

Arka Banerjee & Vincent Cooney ~ Full-Time MBA

Joe Schmidt inspires Smurfit MBA candidates with Leadership Talk on ‘Managing High Performing Teams’

Joe Schmidt - Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Joe Schmidt – Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

Last Thursday, Joe Schmidt, the double Six Nations winning Irish rugby coach, talked to Smurfit MBA candidates on ‘Managing High Performing Teams’ at the St. Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club.

He chip-kicked the event by praising his team for being natural athletes who work hard and give their everything to the sport. As a coach, he believes in giving players the freedom to evolve and self-lead themselves. In a team, individuals need to do their job right to win the team’s trust.

Joe Schmidt & David Cashman. Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Joe Schmidt & David Cashman. Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

Executive MBA candidate and MC for the evening David Cashman steered the talk by discussing Schmidt’s extensive experience in leadership as a coach and strategies for glorious back-to-back Six Nations wins.

Schmidt emphasized the importance of investing in the people that these players are by the route of giving constant feedback. Team members feel assured that they are being noticed and that the leader is invested in them that yields better dividend.

He also spoke about his recruitment style; Besides observing a player’s game, Schmidt studies the player’s attitude too. He said that a player’s game can be improved by the right training but a player’s attitude or DNA cannot be changed. It is not about provinces, it is not about red or white jerseys – he says his foremost task is to pick the 15 best Irishmen who should represent ‘the green jersey’.

Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

He highlighted that a player can lead his team by being emotionally intelligent and unselfish enough to drive younger players – qualities that Paul O’Connell possessed which is why it will be difficult to find his replacement.

Schmidt anecdotally mentioned that many young coaches seek tips from him to be professional coaches. He chuckled and said that they don’t know how tough his job is. And on a serious note, he added that it all depends on the way we invest in our people.

Schmidt delivered an inspiring talk on leadership that had the audience on its feet, clapping most of the time, whistling and roaring in approval.  His address was candid and replete with humour making this event one of the most popular leadership talks of the year.

Joe Schmidt and Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh with MBA Thought Leadership Club committee members – Vincent Cooney, Pooja Dey, David Cashman, John O’Brien, Paul Murphy & Aileen Butler. Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Joe Schmidt and Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh with MBA Thought Leadership Club committee members – Vincent Cooney, Pooja Dey, David Cashman, John O’Brien, Paul Murphy & Aileen Butler. Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

The event was curated by the MBA Thought Leadership Club, Smurfit School, UCD. There are a few people we would like to thank without whom this event would not have been of this magnitude – Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh for supporting the event, Yvonne Harding from the MBA office for providing guidance and advice, Executive MBA candidate Conor Drudy for helping to set up Joe Schmidt for this leadership talk.

We wish the Irish Rugby Team the very best in chasing the three in a row!

Pooja Dey ~ Full-Time MBA

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

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