The Global Reach of Irish Universities

What can you learn about the island of Ireland 3,000 miles away ? Quite a lot, as I found out when I travelled with 4 Irish postgraduate students to the HEC Montreal Business School’s International Graduate Competition.

Montreal, Canada may not be the first place one thinks to look at the US-Ireland Trans-Atlantic relationship. For me, competing alongside four Irish peers representing an Irish university at a Canadian Competition helped me better appreciate the realities of the US-Ireland connection. I got to hear how my Irish peers saw North America, see how they felt about the on-going emigration debates, and learn about their relationship to the Irish diaspora.  Montreal itself has a proud Irish heritage, even with a three-leaf clover on its city flag. We had the opportunity to meet with the Honorary Consul General of Ireland to Montreal, Dr. Michael Kenneally of Concordia University. We met with the Irish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Montreal and the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal. I got to be part of the conversation. Sitting across the table at this event in Montreal, we had folks from Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Donegal, Northern Ireland,  France, Canada, and the US each having some Craic. More than just a social experience, a trip to Montreal offered a chance to work collaboratively with my Irish university peers and cultivate relationships that I hope will last a lifetime.

The International Graduate Competition at HEC Business School Montreal is a global business competition for postgraduate students. The University College Cork (UCC) was one of only 8 universities in the world selected to compete in this prestigious competition. Our team was awarded 1st place overall and had the best written report. One of our teammates, was awarded an internship with a Canadian consultancy based on his contributions to the Competition.

(C) JPhotographie

Photo of the UCC Team at HEC IGC 2013, (C) JPhotographie

The heart of the Competition, held over the week of April 27 thru May 3, was a 48-hour case analysis. Teams were tasked with delivering a 15-minute presentation, a 30-minute presentation, and a written report for our client. The case was designed with the express intention of being difficult, according to the HEC’s main case writer for the Competition, Professor Mai Thai. Our client was a unique open-source network of producers and users of high-quality, innovative sensors.

The HEC Montreal created opportunities for collaboration and competition. This so-called ‘co-opertition’ split students along business functional groups, including Human Resources, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Finance. In analysing the real-world case, students worked with their functional colleagues from other universities to better understand their portion of the scenario. HEC Montreal provided access to professors in the relevant specialities as well as representatives from the organization under review.

We needed to work together as functional teams as well as within our own university. The case designers intentionally wrote the case to necessitate intra-team collaboration within this competitive environment. Case organizers gave business model information that one student participant needed to another student, whether the Marketing budget was hidden within the Entrepreneurship packet or Brand surveys was buried in the Finance materials.

As a Mitchell Scholar, the opportunity to learn and grow with and from my Irish university peers is something I will treasure. My week in Montreal taught me a great deal about global reach of Irish university education as well as the realities of the Irish diaspora.

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