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Leadership Lessons Series - 2020 MBAs hear firsthand from the UCD Smurfit School community of business leaders

  • Date: Wed, Jul 22, 2020

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As the MBA programme comes close to conclusion, and with possibly the most challenging business and social environment to be experienced by our generation, the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Advisory Board members and Management Team are engaging with the MBA class of 2020 and the incoming MBA cohort via a series of virtual Leadership Lessons.

“The Covid-19 Crisis gave good reason to reflect and capture critical life lessons and leadership learnings that will stand to our MBA students during this time of critical change,” commented JP Donnelly, adjunct lecturer at UCD Smurfit School. “All of us are learning new ways of operating and leading organisations through immense change and we are very grateful to our Advisory Board members and Alumni Community for sharing their experiences as leaders in business.”

Graduating Executive MBA student Aisling Murphy said, “This first leadership lesson session offered a strong foundation in organisational behaviour, leadership and strategic approaches in the context of this new world that we find ourselves working and living in. Elements of change management, uncertainty shrouded in ambiguity, and an exploration of the winners and losers in this environment were explored.”

The full series will encompass four lunchtime sessions with members of the UCD Smurfit School Advisory Boards and prominent members of the UCD Smurfit School community in the month of July and will be moderated by JP Donnelly, Irish Emeritus Board member and Assistant Professor Ashley Hughes:

Academic Context: Assistant Professor Ashley Hughes and Patrick Gibbons, Jefferson Smurfit Professor of Strategic Management

The Greatest Test of All Time: Michael Dowling, President & CEO of Northwell Health Co. and member of Smurfit's North American Advisory Board

Leading the Revolution: David McCourt, Chairman & CEO, Granahan McCourt Capital; Chairman, National Broadband Ireland

Strategic Leadership: Liam Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Irish Advisory Board of UCD Smurfit School with concluding thoughts on the series from Assistant Professor Ashley Hughes

In addition to the Leadership Lessons Series and to give focus on key topics from the academic year, the students had an opportunity to hear from Jim Power for a second installment of his Covid-19: The Further Economic Impacts as we enter a crucial re-opening of economies around the globe.

Brian Duffner, Head of Marketing, Propositions & Product Management at Vodafone Business, Ireland said,

“I found the insights and learnings from UCD Smurfit School's Leadership Lessons series invaluable, despite being delivered virtually during Covid-19. It also meant we continued to get access and value from the wider MBA Alumni Network which I hadn't expected across the summer months. Highly recommended!”

At the introductory event on July 2, Assistant Professor Ashley Hughes provided academic context to the current business challenges and spoke to Change Management, the role of communication and the critical need for clarity of messaging to create alignment, and the out-going Irish government’s handling of Covid-19 communications as an example of best practice. Patrick Gibbons, Jefferson Smurfit Professor of Strategic Management, spoke about dealing with business uncertainty and the practical application of strategic planning skills taught at the MBA. He discussed how students must anticipate scenarios and acknowledge that ‘Unknown Unknowns’ is where strategy becomes most difficult and complex, and requires a company to be considerably flexible and adaptable.

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