Haven’t written anything for a while, mainly because studies have been going as usual: lectures, assignments, cases, etc.
Last week, however, was different. Smurfit is a part of Global Network for Advanced Management, an alliance of 28 business schools, and twice a year students from those schools mingle across locations for a week long course. For my GNAM week I decided to go to Yale School of Management, because its course was the most relevant to my interests (Behavioural Marketing, Economics, and Finance). Also I was curious to have a sneak peek into business education at one of Ivy League’s institutions.
Two days in New York
We flew from Dublin to New York on Saturday morning. Since classes were starting only on Monday, it was a great opportunity to experience New York for two days. During these two days we walked in total 55km across Manhattan, saw most of the neighbourhoods, had fantastic Mexican food, some amazing desserts, and saw the sun rising over the city from Brooklyn Bridge. Overall, the city is incredibly hectic and fast-paced. I don’t think it resembles any other city on Earth. Not exactly the type of place I imagine myself in the long run, but at the same time there is something fascinating about the city’s vibe.
Anyway, off to New Haven!
The week started with welcome greetings from various professors, few words from the administration, and then the lectures begun. Overall, the quality of lectures was extremely high. Highlights for me were Professor Zoe Chance and her lecture on persuasion, and Professor Gal Zauberman on understanding consumer choices. Our teaching assistants told us that same lecturers teach MBA students, which made me feel quite envious…
Yale was one of the latest top ranked universities to establish its business school. The administration told us a long debate took place on whether SOM should be establish and what type of school should it be. In the end, they established a “School for Business and Society”, which means that the education is focused a lot on societal factors, social entrepreneurship, CSR, development, etc. drawing expertise from other schools at Yale. I must say this is a very interesting concept, and a big proportion of graduates end up in NGOs and public sector. Btw, for those considering MBA and a career in public sector, Yale SOM has one of the broadest loan forgiveness programmes.
Overall we were about 100 people in the course coming from business schools all over the World: Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, Philippines, China, Germany, Spain, etc. I probably shouldn’t tell you that this was great environment to get to know other cultures. I also liked that people were not focused on networking that much, but more on having fun together. In the end, we got to know each other, established contacts on Facebook and LinkedIn, but all this happened without the pressures of purposeful benefit-focused “networking”. It was great fun, and Karaoke (no videos here) was definitely the highlight.
One thing I think the course could have done differently is to have a case study discussion in such a diverse class. The range of our cultural and professional backgrounds, in my opinion, would have created a great discussion for learning about other cultures and business practices across countries.
Company visit in New York
On Wednesday we had a company visit day. I was looking forward to it a lot, because the last year they went to Goldman Sachs (not planning to work there, but would be fun to see). This year the company chosen was IBM, which, in my opinion, was a little bit too niche. Also, unfortunately, the company didn’t prepare for the visit well. We had to sit in a corridor, where they put chairs for us and two LCD screens. I got a place in the back row, and no matter how hard I tried to listen, I wasn’t able to hear anything, because of regular busy office noise. Also I wasn’t able to see anything on screens.
Luckily for me though, L’Oreal HR Director from the Baltics managed to arrange a visit to L’Oreal New York for me later that afternoon. Oh, what a fancy office they have! The cafeteria on 42nd floor has astonishing view over New Jersey from one side and Lower Manhattan (Wall Street) from the other! The discussions with people from HR and Sales were also very interesting and informative. Overall, thanks a lot for this opportunity!
Also later that evening we were invited to UCD Business New York alumni benefit dinner in Metropolitan Club, a building right in front of Central Park. Visiting an American benefit dinner and listening to the speakers: Marie O’Connor, Partner at PWC working there for 20+ years, Paul & Gary O'Donovan, Silver Olympic Medal Winners in rowing; was something new and exciting for me.
Overall this was a fun and beneficial trip. When going there, I was absolutely tired and sleep deprived, and even though I didn’t get much sleep, I came back rested and full of energy. I also think this initiative is a very good one. I give the week and the course solid 10 out of 10: the content of lectures, getting to know classmates, and getting US experience was definitely worth it.
I wish I could go to another GNAM week in Spring, but unfortunately we have only one …