Mastering life’s courses for running, wine, and business school

Life experiences and interests from abroad

Touch or Contact Rugby – Experiences at LBS Rugby Tournment February 20, 2008

Filed under: business school,Smurfit MBA — emccan2 @ 2:00 pm


With only 3 practices and an incredible amount of enthusiasm, the ladies Smurfit MBA Rugby team set out for London to participate in a competitive tournament of Touch Rugby with 6 other schools.   London Business School (LBS) hosted the event and other participating teams included Wharton, Columbia, Harvard, INSEAD, and IESE.  Unfortunately, our men’s team couldn’t make the event, but they plan to join the ladies when we head to Duke in April for the World MBA Rugby Tournament.   

Let me take a step back and explain how this rugby group got started.  For my friends and family in the States who are unfamiliar with Rugby, it is THE sport in Ireland and in Western Europe.  Smurfit’s MBA classes have been participating in Rugby tournaments over the past decade, including the LBS tournament in the winter and Duke’s tournament in the spring.  This year’s MBA class had just enough women to make up a team, so with much enthusiasm and some hesitation, we decided to form a team and compete this year.  My classmate Melissa’s fiance, Phillip, has been gracious enough to coach our team and is doing an excellent job.  We can’t wait to tell him about how well we did when we meet for practice again.

For just throwing together a team, we did pretty well.  We lost two matches and then won our next two, earning us a fifth place finish.  But more, we came out of the tournament with the will to improve and come out on top when we compete at Duke. 

The painful outcomes for me from the games include:  A Black Eye and the loss of my Two Big Toenails (which I had to perform surgery on when I got back to Dublin – ouch!) 

 In addition to the fun on the field, we had a great time out getting to know each other better and socializing with the other schools.  London is an amazing city, and LBS organized some great events to show us around the town.  Here are some pics from our evenings out.  I can’t wait for the next competition mid-April.  Those girls won’t even recognize us when we get there!

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Thanksgiving Party Success November 23, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA,Wine — emccan2 @ 1:59 pm
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I can’t think of a better word than success to describe last night’s festivities.  The food, beverages, dancing, singing, moustache contest and great company were a definite success.  I was reminded by many friends and family in the past few days that I have so much to be thankful for, and they’re absolutely right.  Emails, phone calls and the party last night reminded me of what great friends and family I am surrounded by and who care about me so much.  As for last night, here are some priceless photographs to show a rundown from start to finish.

PREPARATION:  Thanks to Wyllys (cutting the Turkey), we had Turkey, aka America’s dirty bird, as part of the meal.  One bird was cooked in the oven and the other was prepared in Wylly’s smoker.  Both turned out delicious!  To accompany the meal, Katharine and Lisa slaved in the kitchen for hours making mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, apple and pumpkin pie, salad, green beans, and several appetizers.  Our classmates brought over tasty appetizers, desserts and loads of wine.  So much wine, that we’ll have to have another party to try to put a dent in it.  I settled on getting Beaujolais Nouveau, Chenin Blanc, and Tuvel Rose.  All were delicious, I’m not ashamed to say.  And to complement dessert, we shared a Sauternes dessert wine from Rich.

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ROOMMATE PHOTOS: After we cleared everyone out of the kitchen, the roommates finally got some pictures together. (Back row: Elizabeth, TJ, John, Gordon, Robin; Front row: Lisa, Katy, Katharine)


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THE FEAST: It was difficult making room for all the food, but once we crammed it all on the kitchen table, we set up a queue from the living room to the kitchen and filtered people through the line.  We had so much food that people started getting second helpings – which is expected, of course at Thanksgiving. 

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ENTERTAINMENT:  This included a mustache contest, singing and dancing.  Over the past few weeks, the men in the class decided to compete with each other in growing ‘tashes.  Bala was the winner, Ciaran came in second and Hugh got third.  Jenny and Claire did a great job of giving out prizes for the winners.  Here are the contestant’s mugshots:


(Hugh, Vijay, Jim, Ciaran, Bala, Ken, Andrea)

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SINGING AND DANCING:  Aaron, Andrea and Mike brought their guitars and entertained the class with a medley of fun tunes.  John joined in showing off his talents as well.

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Following this up, Ciaran did an acapello rendition of You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling from Top gun and others got down to the music, including Robin with his slick moves and Rahul and his wife showing off their Indian dancing skills.

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GREAT FUN:  And finally, we ended the night finishing off the keg, drinking more beer – thanks to Dave, and goofing off.  This Thanksgiving will definitely go down as one of my favorites.

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Holiday in Ischia November 4, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA,Travel,Wine — emccan2 @ 11:45 am
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I’m back from a wonderful and much needed holiday to Italy.  I apologize in advance for being somewhat absent this week, for I was in a state of great relaxation and out of touch with the real world.  That’s what vacation is supposed to be like, right?  Katharine and I had a lovely time on the island of Ischia and also were able to enjoy an incredible day on the island of Capri.  


Here’s a run-down of the trip:

img_0789.jpgDay 1 – A taste of Rome.  We arrived late in Rome with just enough time to get settled in our hotel by the train station and grab our first Italian meal.  The problem with that is that we weren’t really in the mood for pasta, so we settled on an omelet and chicken.  Though this wasn’t ‘true Italian’, it was excellent and provided us with some protein after snacking on trains, planes and automobiles all day. 


img_0790.jpgDay 2 – Ischia.  After traveling via train and ferry (with a frightening stop in Naples), we finally made it to Ischia, where we stayed for the next 3 nights.  The day couldn’t have been better with blue skies and lots of sunshine.  Our hotel (Poggio Del Sol was quite a hike up the mountain, and our legs and glutes were feeling it by the end of the trip, but the view was well worth all the trips up and down the mountain.  The hotel staff were wonderful and at 60 euro a night, it was a great deal.

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Once we got settled, we set off to explore the island.  We wore ourselves out from all the walking and were disappointed to find that most of the restaurants don’t open until 7pm or 8pm.  Fortunately, we found a place that opened at 6:45pm and arrived with hunger-stricken faces.  I finally got a real Italian meal – linguine with muscles in a light tomato and wine sauce.  It was delicious.

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img_0804.jpgDay 3 – Thermal Bath at ‘Tropical’ in Sant’ Angelo (  I know Katharine is killing me right now for posting this picture, but I think it’s hilarious that they made us wear shower caps in the thermal baths.  The thermal bath we settled on is called Tropical, and despite the fact that the day was all but tropical, we made the most of the experience.  Fortunately, most of the baths were really warm, so we didn’t mind a little drizzle.  The spa sat up high of the cliff in Sant’ Angelo, on the south side of the island and the views were magnificent.  Our favorite part of the trip was going from the 20 degree pool to the 40 degree pool (Celsius).  The shock of the cold to hot was exhilarating, and I needed much convincing from Katharine before shocking my body into those extremes. 

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We managed to clean ourselves up and get in a nap before having a fantastic dinner at our hotel’s restaurant.  The mom and dad who own the place are the cooks and made the incredible dishes.  Katharine had gnocchi with fresh basil and pesto from their garden and I had a whole piece of sea bass.  We were in heaven and in complete relaxation….the wine probably helped as well.  1/2 carafe’s of vino at 4 euro is one deal we didn’t pass up.


 img_0817.jpgDay 4 – Capri.  The translation of Capri is the plural version for goat (I previously thought it was boar, but thanks to Mary K, I have incorporated the correct meaning) but it should be ‘unforgettable’.  The weather couldn’t have been better for our day trip to Capri – the island of money, spectacular views and shopping.  The narrow streets were lined with Gucci, Prada and all the top designer labels.  Our student budgets kept us from venturing into these places, but we did spoil ourselves on manicures.  Just seeing the breathtaking views made the 1.5 hour trip worthwhile.  I’d highly recommend putting Capri on your list of must-see vacation spots.


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Now, vacation time is over and it’s back to my studies.  Term 2 starts tomorrow and I already have loads of reading to catch up on.  However, I think I’ll be going into this term a lot more relaxed thanks to a wonderful holiday with Katharine on the islands of Ischia and Capri. 



Overconfidence Bias October 24, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA — emccan2 @ 6:35 am

I am just about to head into my second final – Decision making and Data Analysis.  It’s about 7:15am and the exam is in just over an hour.  There is no possible way that I can cram any more additional information into this overstretched brain of mine, so I am moving on to more important things, like blogging.  My average sleeping hours/night over the past few days have been about 5-6, and I’m starting to wonder how that will contribute to my exam performance. 

Perhaps it would have been wiser of me to run an analytical decision model to understand the incremental increase or decrease in exam performance as a result of an increase in sleeping hours per night.  I’m sure I could come up with a decision tree for that.  Or, maybe I should apply Hindsight Bias for my future exam performance and anticipate that since I’ve managed to do well on exams back in my undergraduate days, I will therefor do well on exams for my masters program. You can probably tell by now that I have spent more than 50% of the past 24 hours studying for this exam on Decision Making and am deliriously applying the styles and techniques to everything concerning my daily decisions.  Hopefully, once I regurgitate my knowledge on the exam, all will be lost from my brain and I can go back to everyday illogical thought processes. 

After today, I will have just two more exams and then a wonderful week-long break.  I’m heading to Italy (Rome, Ischia and Capri) for some well-deserved R&R. 


Finally, a break from studies October 14, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA — emccan2 @ 7:34 am

The stress of preparing for Term 1 exams has set in, as we are now only 2 weeks away from our first exams of the course.  Before settling in to a week of cramming, the group decided to have a night out together at a pub just south of the city centre called Searsons.  Even though we are together all day and sometimes throughout the evening, many of us didn’t pass up the opportunity for social interaction outside college. 

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Before hitting the town, my roommate Lisa and I enjoyed a fantastic home-cooked meal thanks to our lovely friends Maureen and Kevin.  You can read more about this lovely couple at  I was a bit tacky and brought over a 2005 Robert Mondavi Merlot that I’d open the previous evening, but had to share the remainder with my American friends because I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to share some fantastic Californian wine.  

Lisa and I decided to head into the city after going to Searsons and had a night of exploration as we stopped at Anseo and then Davy Byrnes  (picture below).  index_05.jpg I much prefer the latter establishment, as Anseo gives me the feeling that I have just stepped into a high school party at someones overly-cramped basement. 

 The rest of the weekend has been devoted to schoolwork, but I’m glad to have had one night out before settling into study mode.  


REAL SCHOOL LIFE October 3, 2007

Filed under: business school,Smurfit MBA — emccan2 @ 9:54 pm

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Some people have read my posts on the hand dryers and wondered, how hard are you actually working?  Well, to refute that question, I have outlined below what life has really been like as an MBA student.

  • Last week’s average sleep rate per night was 4 hours;
  • Completed two assignments for Decision Making and Data Analysis, each taking over 20 hours to complete;
  • Developed and delivered a presentation on managing service in the service industry, highlighting the Ritz Carlton case for their 7-day launch strategy;
  •  Read over a thousand pages in print from textbooks, articles and case studies centered on the topics of strategic human resource management, general management and corporate strategy and operations management;
  • Learned the equivalent of 1.5 years of undergraduate accounting teachings over the course of 5 weeks;
  •  Sat through 5 macroeconomics lectures, with information flowing in one ear and out the other;

Don’t worry, I have managed to have a night or two out in the city, often enjoy a glass of wine to cap off the night, and have gotten back into running since my back injury.



Filed under: business school,Personal,Smurfit MBA — emccan2 @ 8:54 pm

The purpose of a good network is the source for many things, such as career management, a resource for information and valuable friendships.  Here are some examples of what my networks have done for me:

  • Prior work experiences: 
    • Taught me to not be too eager for the next opportunity because the current one may be better than you realize. (previous boss, Hallmark Cards)
  • Alumni.      
    • Connected me to C-level executives; provided sound career advice; entertained me with business semantics; became a true and trusted lifelong friend. (Gregg – you’re one of a kind!)
  • Personal:
    • Showed me how to live with a “glass is half full” mentality and to embrace spontaneity (my guardian angel)
    • Advised me not take on too much and to focus on the real joys in life (ex-boyfriend)
    • Taught me how to be a better listener (dear Chicagoan friend)
    • Helped me stay mentally focused in a competitive environment (tennis coach)
    • Showed me that giving provides more personal satisfaction than taking (parents)

It’s hard to reflect on all the wonderful people in my network without being saddened by the physical distance I am from all of them.  This particular transition has been hard.  I’m following an uncertain path, trying to determine what the next move will be, without an idea where I will find the answer.  Is there a future for me in Ireland, somewhere else in Europe, in Australia or in the US?  Will I go into the wine business, stay in healthcare, pursue pension consulting, focus more on finance or go into sales? 

The answer is and continues to be…I don’t know.  But that is where I value you, my network, because I can trust you to help me with this question. I gratefully welcome your sugygestions, contacts and antidotes on this subject because I know it will spark a new interest I haven’t explored 

You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your friends.