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University of Colorado Denver

Study Abroad/Global Education

Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland

Maymester 2015

What will it take to put the US and Europe back on track? The unique circumstances that created the Celtic Tiger of the 1990’s, with the challenges of the 2000’s Great Recession, provides a tremendous opportunity for students to study leadership and entrepreneurship at the hub of global expansion. Students will be immersed in the culture of the Republic of Ireland in Dublin with excursions to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Students will gain key insights on cultural differences; what they mean, where they come from, and understanding one’s own cultural characteristics. Students will work in teams on a specific project in either Dublin or Belfast. 

Through real projects, students will gain a first-hand overview of key leadership principles for creating strategy and managing teams in new and international ventures. We will also introduce leadership concepts critical to gaining true organizational commitment, and focus on case studies relevant to international business and entrepreneurial issues. With a project-based exploration of international entrepreneurial opportunities, students will examine the principles of strategic planning, and how visionary leadership is required to develop an organization that executes a global strategy through measurable goals and objectives. 

Student Testimonials: 

“Ireland was a fantastic experience. There is no other opportunity to experience the people, the culture and learn the views of a different land than to meet them, work with them and learn from them. This class was by far the most​​​ valuable and memorable course in my MBA career and se​​t a different and exciting course for my career goals for the type of leader I want to become.” 
- Kerry Jones, MS, Quality Engineer at Terumo BCT 


“Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Ireland” hardly speaks to the experience gained and lessons learned during our time in Ireland. The exposure to various leaders, the application in a real-world setting, and the benefits of collaboration with your teammates all provided invaluable experience. This course is the perfect blend of graduate-level coursework, combined with the majesty of the Green Isle. I treasure the connections I made throughout the trip, and highly recommend the opportunity!” 
- Lia Schoepke, Program Manager of Weigh and Win at incentaHEALTH 


“Our trip to Ireland was a learning experience I will never forget and reference often. I learned how to be a better leader and truly understand what it means to lead a team. The speakers, atmosphere and learning experience in Ireland was certainly the best class I took in the CU Denver MBA program.”
- Bradd Williams, Director of Business Development at DaVita 


“The Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Ireland program was an ideal way to experience business abroad first-hand. The mix of panel discussions with business leaders, coupled with the ability to work on a real-world projects with local entrepreneurs, made this a unique and impactful experience. Jan’s connections in Ireland are second to none, and his comprehensive knowledge of culture and business provided insight that has helped me excel in my career.”
- Jill Lohmiller, Owner/Business Consultant, Figure 8 Marketing & Media 


“When I reflect on my MBA, the experiences studying in Ireland and China are at the top of the list. The Ireland study abroad course is life changing and a golden opportunity to learn, grow, and meet some amazing people. The value of the connections you make, alone, is worth the price of admission. Expect to interact with Irish people of the highest pedigree with entertaining and inspiring stories that you can draw on for a lifetime.” 
Jason Bowers, Principle Data Engineer at Verizon Wireless ​


"The Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Ireland course was the highlight of my MBA experience! Meeting and learning from high level international government and business leaders, completing a team project for an Irish start-up company, and interviewing a highly successful leadership team developed business skills and expanded my professional network - both in the U.S. and abroad - far beyond what I expected. Even more valuable than these things though, was what I learned about myself. Leading others requires getting to know oneself, and this course provided the framework and focus to do exactly that. My experience in Ireland made me a better leader, a better teammate, and a better all-around person. And as a bonus, it was a blast! The leaders, people, places, experiences...I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. My advice - prepare to suck every last drop out of the trip, and go - definitely go!"
Kristi (Garber) Thompson, Strategic project management and marketing leader​​



Jan Rutherford 

Faculty Spotlight:

Jan Rutherford, 

CCO, 3t Systems & Adjunct Faculty at University of Colorado Denver – Bard Center for Entrepreneurship


 Q & A with Professor Rutherford


 Did you study abroad as a student?

Unfortunately, no. But I did travel to Germany as an Army Special Forces reserve officer when I was an undergrad. It was my first trip abroad, and it was an eye-opener with regard to my lack of language skills!


 Why should students from your discipline go abroad?

My personal take-aways from the trip in May 2011: Every single leader we met focused exclusively on passion – not money. The leaders we met certainly appreciate a solid education, and support a lifelong approach to learning. However, the leaders urged our students to use experience as the best teacher at this point in their careers. You can’t do it alone. Every leader needs a support network for different purposes – i.e., emotional, knowledge, financial, etc. And those relationships need to be reciprocal in nature. Not a single leader said that keeping work-life balance is easy. It takes a lot of work, but work is never more important than family. If you lose out on key events with your family, you can’t get them back. You must know when to delegate, how to delegate, and how to follow-up without micro-managing. Almost every leader said that in hindsight, they would have taken more risks, and bigger risks earlier rather than later. The entrepreneurs cautioned against giving away too much ownership too soon. Leaders must stay focused, and say No to a lot of opportunities brought forth by subordinates. Part of focus is growing organically versus through acquisitions and mergers. Most of the firms we met had a core set of values that were remarkably similar – e.g., do your best, do what’s right, and treat others right. The key is to provide unique examples of behavior expectations for each value in a way that support the desired culture. And these behaviors need to be creatively repeated often, and can never be assumed to exist without reinforcement. Every leader was highly competitive with themselves, and many of them were most motivated when someone said, “You can’t.” Hiring the right sales people is absolutely essential, and very, very difficult. The organization needs to know that everyone is in sales, and that everyone is in sales support. In the beginning, middle and end, it is all about people. Period. The points above are a summary of many pages of notes based on over 35 people that addressed our class. In the end, I would have to say the past two weeks served as a significant learning boost for me. In addition, I was reminded that the successful leaders by any measure were those that have a balance of determination and humility. I think every person we heard speak said that a requirement of their organization was that egos get checked at the door.


 What inspires you about Ireland?

The Irish are some of the friendliest people anywhere on earth! We learned a great deal about Irish culture, politics, business, and economics. In the end, there are more similarities than differences between us, and we’re similarly motivated to make a positive difference in the lives of others. My hope is that the students learn as much about themselves as they will the leaders we'll meet, and it will help in the future to lead, create, innovate, and develop others that come after them. I know we're also creating a bridge between Ireland and the great state of Colorado so that students and business people alike!


 What was the most interesting thing that happened to you Ireland?

The Queen of England made a historic visit, President Obama visited, the wind speed on day set an Irish record, and the volcano in Iceland threatened to delay flights. Honestly, we couldn't have been in Ireland during a more historic two-week period in decades!


 What was the weirdest thing that happened to you in Ireland?

When visiting the Dail (Irish Parliament), we were amazed at how American culture, and particularly Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton were so revered!


 What is your favorite Irish food?

The students would say Guinness, but I'd have to say the tea! You should know that you don't travel to Ireland for the food or the weather. You travel to Ireland for some of the best conversations you'll ever have!


 What is one thing Americans should know about the Irish?

Friendliest people on the planet, period!


 Why do you get excited about the subject matter of Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland?

Reasons why you’d do business in Ireland: Nice people! It’s all about relationships here in Ireland. English spoken – no language barrier (except the slang!). Economic growth opportunities. Ireland is on the rebound. Ireland is a gateway to continental Europe. Scalability and “trialability.” As a small country of 4,000,000 people, it’s a great test market for exports and pilot projects. Stable climate – not known for natural disasters, and no nuclear power facilities. Favorable tax climate. Favorable employer laws and high employee satisfaction ratings. Educated and talented work force. Guinness.


 What do you expect students to learn from your course?

This course provides the student with an overview of key leadership principles for creating strategy and managing teams in a new venture. It introduces leadership concepts critical to gaining true organizational commitment, and focuses on case studies relevant to common business issues. By exploring what entrepreneurial leaders actually do, and how they do it, the student will examine the principles of strategic planning, and how visionary leadership is required to develop an organization that is able to execute the strategy through measurable goals and objectives. Understand cultural differences; what they mean, where they come from, and understanding one’s own cultural characteristics. Develop a real ability to become more self-reflective, assess yourself, and create your own feedback loop.


 Final words?

Our favorite guest speaker was Bryan Keating in Belfast. Bryan has an absolutely extraordinary story, as his life really didn’t start until he was 30. He’s had a brilliant career, and currently sits on 5 boards, and is an angel investor, and mentor-extraordinaire. You don’t become a holder of the Queen’s lifetime award for enterprise promotion by not being productive and proliferative! Bryan gave a talk on risk taking in life in general, and I know he made us really think about our station in life. His bottom-line – “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” His definition of leadership: Confident Motivated Realistic Tenacious Courageous And have a bias towards action (with analysis) while taking calculated risks.


Quick Facts

  • Faculty Jan Rutherford​
  • Dates May 22 (arrive) - June 5, 2015 (depart)
  • Cost $4,340
  • Deadline March 1, 2015
  • Course INTB 4028/6028 or ENTP 4028/6028 
  • Program Advisor    Jessica Tharp​

Costs and dates tentative and subject to change.

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