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Howard University and UCD Business Schools create new exchange to tackle global challenges

  • Date: Thu, Mar 2, 2023

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By Beth Gormley, UCD College of Business, PR and Communications Manager

  • First of its kind initiative brings together top students and faculty to focus on Diversity & Inclusion and Sustainability in business.
  • Industry visits included ICON plc and Microsoft.
  • Key sponsors include Bank of America, KPMG Ireland and the African American Irish Diaspora Network.

UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School welcomed 14 students and faculty from Howard University Business School, one of America’s top-ranked universities, to Dublin from 19-25 February for an academic and cultural exchange.

Howard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the US and one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country. The research-intensive University has a strong and long-established reputation for producing leaders across business, politics, medicine, arts and culture and more.

Exchange Week

The launch of the historic partnership featured an intensive, week-long exchange with events designed to create deep cultural understanding and engagement between students and faculty from both institutions. It celebrates the launch of three new scholarships for Howard University School of Business students to study at UCD Smurfit School in the 2023/2024 academic year. 

Students on the exchange had the opportunity to interact with international business and cultural leaders to enhance their knowledge of business in Ireland and opportunities for the future, as well as to develop their global networks with future, peer business leaders.

“We want to prepare our students to be outward looking and to understand different perspectives and views of the world as they prepare to join global organisations,” said Professor Gerardine Doyle, Associate Dean of the UCD College of Business and Director of UCD Smurfit School. “The initiative also supports the new UCD College of Business strategy to increase diversity amongst the student cohort, deepen engagement in the US market and increase international partnerships with top universities globally.”

Historical and Cultural Enhancement

Former CEO of IDA Ireland, Martin Shanahan, kicked off the week with a business history of Ireland explaining to a new audience how Ireland’s outward-looking economic strategy was designed to attract foreign direct investment, build and scale international Irish companies and focus on investing in research and development. Dr John Fanning continued with a heartfelt lecture describing how the history and culture of the country shaped ‘Brand Ireland’.

Next, consultant on the Global Panel for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Ngozi Elobuike, who is both a Howard and UCD alumna, led a discussion with UCD Proudly Made in Africa Fellow in Business and Development Dr David Nyaluke, Social Entrepreneur Tope Bodemosi and Dr Alice Feldman who is the academic lead for UCD’s Masters in Race, Migration and Decolonialism.

Over the course of the week, students were introduced to challenging discussions on what it means to be Black and Irish through a panel discussion with leaders including Leon Diop, co-founder and CEO of Black & Irish, Benita Murinda Social Media Coordinator for the organisation and UCD College of Business Assistant Professor of Marketing and Society  Penelope Muzanenhamo. Students also engaged with speakers including Specialist at Meta Happiness Omochere, Marketing Director at APNI Trina Dzidonu, Product Consultant at Kainos Daniel Agbobo and Leyla F Karaha, founder of KPesa and Lead Organiser of Techstars Startup Weekend, who were interviewed by Dr Vaneesha Dutra, Professor of Financial Markets & Real Estate, Behavioural Research at Howard University.

Students also attended a Bia! Magazine Studio Session at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and attended the Annual Proudly Made in Africa Conference at UCD Quinn School. In addition, Mark Redmond, Chief Executive at the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, shared the importance of the Transatlantic business relationship between the US and Ireland. 

Industry Experience

“This ground-breaking initiative not only focuses on advancing intercultural exchange and diversity of thought, it also provides students the opportunity to investigate and tackle global societal challenges set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals in addition to  diversity,  inclusion and belonging” continued Professor Doyle who is also the co-chair of the UCD university strategic theme ‘Building a Healthy World’.

Students were welcomed by industry partners including a visit to the European Headquarters of Microsoft to discuss operations, skills and sustainability. Following this, students visited the Flagship Office of ICON Plc for a day-long design thinking and UN SDG workshop to understand the company through the lens of their highly active ESG and Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategies, with the goal of proposing solutions to achieve greater diversity in clinical trials.

With this framework, students addressed that historically, clinical trials did not always recruit participants who represented the individuals most affected by a particular disease, condition or behaviour. Using design thinking, students proposed solutions to attract a more diverse population for clinical trials to the senior leadership team at ICON plc.

Anchor sponsors KPMG, led by Anna Scally, who is a UCD Business alumna and International Tax Partner and Head of Technology and Media at KPMG, delivered a powerful discussion on the impact of Ireland’s tax policy choices on FDI and the economy, followed by KPMG’s Associate Director of the Sustainable Futures Team, Anikó Kraft.

The week concluded with a Global Citizenship Seminar around Value Chain Analysis integrated into the classroom with the top-ranked UCD Masters in Management CEMS programme. The event welcomed Moyee Coffee— an African and European collaboration to reimagine the coffee industry by sharing more of the value from coffee with coffee growing countries in a model called Fair Chain.

Moving Forward

To set the stage for future collaborations, Howard Business School’s Dean Anthony Wilbon interviewed the US Embassy in Ireland’s Director for Public Affairs, Kellee Farmer, who highlighted the importance of international travel in becoming an informed global citizen.

“This trip exposed me to the Irish culture and a completely new way of life,” said Howard University student Ayanna Henry. “Most importantly, I learned more about myself and this trip strengthened my desire to live and study abroad.”

The interview with Kellee Farmer was followed by Stella O’Leary, UCD Alumna and US President Joe Biden’s appointed Observer for the International Fund for Ireland, who discussed the peace process on the island of Ireland, highlighting the importance of cross-cultural understanding.

Ms O’Leary, as well as the Ambassador of Ireland to the United States of America, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, will be part of the delegation that welcomes the 19 UCD students to Washington DC, when they represent the University during their visit to Howard University for a similar exchange programme in March 2023. Selected from a competitive application process, the students from UCD College of Business represent 10 graduate programmes, two undergraduate programmes and hail from six countries around the globe.

UCD Smurfit School student Martina Del Borrello continued, “One learning I’ll carry from this week is about how easy it can be to build connections, develop ideas and share moments with people you just met when there is communion of values and intent.”

“As Ireland’s leading business school, we would like to sincerely thank key sponsors Bank of America, KPMG Ireland and the African American Irish Diaspora Network for their vision and leadership in the areas of diversity, inclusion and belonging,” said Professor Doyle. “Together we are activating our mission to inspire and co-create a better future for our community and for business and society in Ireland and the world.”

The scholarship application window will open in March 2023 and students who meet the criteria are encouraged to apply. For more information about this exciting scholarship programme between the UCD Smurfit School and Howard University, contact the UCD Smurfit School Admissions team.




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