Our journey began in Dublin, where beer and whiskey flowed like water and diversity was in no shortage. You could be at a crosswalk and hear five different accents and languages. This was vastly different than the second part of our journey in Galway, which was a quaint country town with beautiful scenery, locals everywhere you look, and a peacefulness that brings people together from all over the country of Ireland. Overall, it was a rewarding experience to immerse ourselves in the Irish culture while learning of the business nuances, both societal and international, that are distinct from those in the United States. We had the fortune to go see some great companies and hear some incredibly insightful speakers. Throughout this week, we met with high-ranking companies such as Bank of Ireland, TPi, N3, Connacht Rugby, Ingersoll Rand, Doyle Shipping Group, and Teeling Whiskey. What follows will be a summary of our daily cultural adventures, written from a different students’ perspective to add a sense of diversity to a trip that showed us that life is lived and seen through many lenses.

Group of full-time MBA students from the MSU Broad College of Business stand on stairs holding banner

Day 1: Bank of Ireland & Doyle Shipping Group

Our first corporate visit took us to the Bank of Ireland where we met with Colin Wallace, Manager of Investor Relations. Wallace shared with us the current state of the bank, how they are adapting to change and focusing on diversity in the workplace, and their plan to become the “Netflix of Banking” by potentially increasing their online product offers. The underlying theme during the meeting with Wallace was the importance of building up and creating confidence with their customers.

Later that day, we headed east to Dublin Port where we met with the Operations Director of Doyle Shipping Group, Max Doyle. As a student at the top ranked supply chain school in the country, this visit was particularly applicable and brought to life topics we have learned about in the classroom, particularly in logistics (thanks Dr. B.!). As a family-owned company, DSG is unassuming and emphasizes the importance of investing in the future of the company and in doing so, supporting the growth and prosperity of Ireland.

-Ayla Olvera

Day 2: N3 & Teeling Whiskey

N3, a marketing and sales firm, emphasized their motto of “Real. Revenue. Results.” They provide consulting, revenue services, and more for several companies to increase overall success. We met with Paul Cassidy, the Managing Director of N3, who discussed their companies’ challenges, successes, and current partnerships. While touring the office, we were able to witness the relaxed culture of the company that also encourages teamwork. As a previous digital marketing specialist, I worked in a similar style office, so I enjoyed all of the amenities. I was also able to relate to the challenges and tasks discussed with the N3 team. It was insightful to learn about how they were able to establish successful partnerships and how they uphold their culture through all business ventures.

Teeling Whiskey, opened in 2015, becoming the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years. We toured the distillery, participated in a tasting, and met with the founder, Jack Teeling. Jack discussed the history of the company, the challenges of differentiating themselves among their competitors, and how they are working to effectively communicate their first mover positioning. Through a strategy challenge, we worked in teams to develop recommendations to increase brand awareness and to position Teeling Whiskey to compete in the U.S. market. Jack gave us great insight and feedback throughout the strategy challenge. It was an impactful experience to use some of the strategies we have learned to help develop solutions for real business challenges, and to learn from Jack’s experiences and insights.

-MaTisha Steele

Day 3: TPi

TPi (The Printed Image), a one stop shop for all design, print and install needs. A widely successful company that has multiple companies underneath it and together make TPi incredibly diverse and well rounded. During our visit, we met with Colin Cuilton, the CEO of TPi. Out of all the company visits this was my favorite by far. Colin spoke with great energy, confidence, and gave us the time to talk about our experiences as well to learn from us. It was fantastic learning about his failures, successes, how his company operates and he even gave us 11 great tips that I’ll share below:

  1. Make your own luck.
  2. Never stay still.
  3. Be careful when and how you use praise, but use it lots when it’s really due.
  4. HR is your problem and your gold mine.
  5. Leaders do both the work and the talk.
  6. Great ambition is achieved with small steps.
  7. Marketing can be cheap.
  8. Don’t forget that s*** happens to the best of us.
  9. Pay attention to the people. They matter.
  10. The client can tell people you are great or terrible. Which will it be?

-Clayton Gelfand

Day 4: Ingersoll Rand & Connacht Rugby

On the fourth day of our trip and our first full day in Galway, we found ourselves touring the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that is Ingersoll Rand’s Galway plant. Prior to starting our tour, the VP of Strategic Initiatives, Dermott Crombie, stressed the importance of secrecy and that no phones were allowed in the plant. While touring the plant, our guide discussed the factors that determined which processes were automated and the importance of keeping their workers safe through innovation. After the tour, Dr. Crombie discussed the potential fallout from Brexit and how Ingersoll Rand is able to see a recession coming based on sales.

The business portion of our trip concluded with a visit to Connacht Rugby. As a former collegiate athlete, this visit was more pleasure than business. Similar to the sport of football, rugby is more than physical rough-housing or violence; it teaches teamwork and resilience through strategy and agility. These themes were apparent as we learned about one of the players who went from watching the team as a child to helping the team win a national title. While visiting Connacht Rugby, we participated in a strategy challenge that allowed us to consult on major issues facing the club. The visit to Connacht Rugby wrapped up a life-changing week in Ireland, but we knew the ensuing weekend adventures would be just as enriching.

-Charles Fobbes

A global business experience like this would not be complete without cultural immersion as a key component during our time in Ireland. We made the best of it by visiting the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, eating hearty foods, taking in the live music, and driving through the countryside while we made our way toward Galway. Being able to explore Galway was an amazing sensory experience, from the aroma of fresh bakeries to the most breathtaking views. On Saturday, we took a ferry ride to the Aran Islands, which was arguably the most beautiful place we explored in Ireland. On Sunday, we concluded our adventure with a group dinner celebrating the end of a successful trip and enjoyed the local cuisine. In the end, we realized that traveling abroad taught us more than we could imagine, helped us grow as individuals and also brought us together, which represents what this MBA program is all about.