|Jun 12, 2006||May 5, 2005|
|Apr 15, 2006||Apr 20, 2005|
|Mar 23, 2006||Apr 3, 2005|
|Feb 16, 2006||Mar 22, 2005|
|Jan 15, 2006||Mar 13, 2005|
|Nov 27, 2005||Mar 2, 2005|
|Oct 28, 2005||Feb 16, 2005|
|Sep. 27, 2005||Jan 21, 2005|
|Aug 31, 2005||Nov 29, 2004|
|Jul 31, 2005||Nov 15, 2004|
|Jun 5, 2005||Anu's alumni journal|
So this is the end. I can’t believe that two years back, this same month, I was getting ready to join MIT Sloan, and e-mailing my future classmates. And now I am emailing them my new contact information and writing goodbye letters.
But most unbelievable is the transformation that I have gone through in this time. I guess in some way I am the same person I was, but in other ways my thinking has gone through such a change. My life now can definitely be divided into “BS — before Sloan,” and “AS — after Sloan.” The people I met, the bonds I formed, the professors I learned from, the books I read, the CEOs I talked to, the trips I took, the nights I stayed awake, the days I slept, the homework that made me cry, the jokes that made me laugh ... the list of things I will miss is endless.
Graduation day was wonderful. The gods must be happy with MIT because it did not rain a single drop from the start of the ceremony until the end. It rained the day before and the day after but not on the day of the graduation. Ben Bernanke gave the keynote address and it was excellent, although he did not say interest rates were going down.
All the graduates assembled in the athletic center at 7:30 a.m., which seemed like the middle of the night for some of us who stayed out late the previous night at the MIT Sloan reception. As we stood in our lines, dressed in our gowns and hats, we laughed one last time about all the silly things we will probably never talk about again. One of my friends wore shorts under her gown, which for some reason had us laughing hysterically. Coming to think of it, that was the right dress given the rain the previous day. My parents came all the way from India for my graduation read every single line on my diploma!
Although graduation day was great, a lot of us were very sad that day. It felt like we had reached the end of an excellent book we were reading — while reaching the end was good, there was no more reading to do.
I met an applicant today and was so envious — he is at the start of a wonderful journey and the best part is he does not even know how wonderful the journey is going to be.This is my last entry as a student — unfortunately the real world calls. My next stop in life is Bank of America where I will be adding value to the Wealth and Investment Management group!
When I came to MIT Sloan I hoped that I would acquire the tools that would help me change the world and make it a better place. Now, I dream that some day I will use those tools and make a difference.
I would like to end my journal with these lines from one of my favorite poems, “Psalm of Life” by Longfellow, which constantly reminds me of my goals.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ...
Thanks to all of the readers who shared my wonderful journey through MIT Sloan for the last couple of years. It was your e-mails that kept me inspired to update the journal, sometimes well past midnight. Au revoir!
It has been two days since I returned from Korea and I am just getting settled once again. I feel like I just came back from India, South Africa and now Korea. The good news with taking all these trips is that the concept of jet lag does not exist. You return from wherever and you have to jump into school and be ready to be cold called in a class. The bad news is that for a week or so, even if you read the cases, your recall ability is not that great (as I found out for myself). But it gets better with each trip.
Korea was just a package of fun, exciting technology, sad realizations, late-night parties, early morning company meetings and tons of overeating. I watched open mouthed when we visited the companies and they showed us all the next generation products. Now I can accept that Star Trek could be a reality. The cell phones in Korea are just out of this world! I shrieked in delight when the cell phone I was given had a signal even in the subway. Just for kicks I called home while riding the subway and all I talked about on that international call was how clear the cell phone was.
The saddest but best part of our visit was the trip to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). Our guide on the bus gave us a brief history lesson on North and South Korea and the division. My heart was pounding with excitement when I spotted the first North Korean guard. We were asked not to point in the direction of North Korea because it could be considered a rude sign. As soon as we spotted the North Korean guard, a friend of mine, who shall remain unnamed, screamed and pointed to the guard. Of course he almost bit his finger off as soon as he realized what he had done. It was a very emotional moment to stand at the border of the “last divided country,” as my friend Doerte, who is from the socialist part of Germany, called it.
Every night was an early morning. We never went to bed before 2 a.m. We met students from a business school in Korea and in typical B-school style went out with them to show them how we Sloanies party. But I have to confess they beat us hands down. 3 a.m. and they were still going strong while we were all sleepwalking. Our theory was that they were all in their early 20s, unlike us oldies, so they had the advantage of age over us.
We visited several Korean homes, including the home of General Chung (ex-military head), ex-President Chun, and CEO Mr. Song. The home visits included excellent food and drinks, followed by karaoke, which seems to be the thing to do in Korea. The only problem is that Koreans seem to have a talent for it and it was nice to hear them sing, but when my fellow Sloanies took the floor, I have to admit that in spite of them being my close friends, I had to shut my ears.
We have our first Korea trip reunion coming up soon. Being vegetarian, I can’t say I am looking forward to the food, but I am certainly looking forward to a break from classes.
Where did the month of March go? Where was I and what did I do all of March? This is what happens when you jump into courses, homework, cases and $50K deadlines all at once — everything is a blur and remains a blur.
The semester is half done and I am getting ready to take off to Korea on the MIT Sloan Korea trek. I finished up my H1 courses and have shut my mind to exactly how I did on them. No point dwelling on things I cannot change now when there are 10 whole days of fun ahead of me.
This year is the first year that we have a full-fledged Korea trip. The organizers are all very well connected and have put together a great trip covering the entire gamut — from visiting companies like Samsung to setting foot in the DMZ (demilitarized zone).
Last night when I packed for my trip, it suddenly hit me that this is the last MIT Sloan trip for me. It was not the first time this semester I wondered why the MBA program is only two years long. There is so much to learn, so many places to visit and so many loans to postpone paying — how can we fit all this into just two years?
This semester I was a TA for the Global Markets course and that means I need to finish grading all the papers, so I better work on that or the Korea trip will not be as much fun as I want it to be. Spending 15 hours on the plane from New York to Seoul is definitely not my idea of fun! Making a lot of noise and discussing everything under the sun so no one on the plane gets any sleep — yes, that is definitely my idea of fun.
I'm back in cold Boston after three weeks of perfect weather in South Africa. Goodbye leopard, hello blizzard!
Even though the G-Lab project has formally ended, I still keep in touch with the entrepreneurs we worked with. Just three weeks of working with them on their business plan and we all somehow feel very invested in the whole idea and want to see it succeed. The day before we left, our entrepreneurs took us out to a really cool African place called Moyo for dinner. I feel like a real loser because I ate Indian food there. Being vegetarian can sometimes limit your culinary adventures. What was unique about Moyo was the ambience and the entertainment. We all got our faces painted while waiting for our dinner. The night did not end there — whenever I am involved, the activities extend beyond midnight! We checked out FTV (for Fashion TV), which was a nice night club. Why it was called FTV still beats me.
I can't believe how rapidly I transitioned into classes, cases, and homework. The semester is in full swing, and I have a full course load to deal with. One of my favorite courses this semester is Entrepreneurial Finance. The professor, Antoniette Schoar, is very articulate and makes even the dreaded finance course look easy. I never thought I would say this, but after just a few classes I feel like I have been unfair to the whole area of Private Equity. As I begin to understand the concepts, I am developing an appreciation for the subject. We learned how to evaluate start-up companies and I am just dying to try out my newfound skills. But that will have to wait, because I decided to accept an offer from Bank of America. The good news is that I will continue to live in Boston, the bad news is that Boston winters will continue to be a part of my life.
This semester I am taking Applied Macroeconomics with the renowned Lester Thurow. He is such a fount of knowledge that I leave class wondering how one man can hold so much in his head about everything under the sun. And he keeps throwing out trivia questions at us, mostly about world history, which I am ashamed to say totally stump me. I knew I should have paid attention to history in high school. But in my defense who knew that world history and macroeconomics are so closely related? Certainly not me at age 15.
Another class I really enjoy is Managing in Adversity — the CEO Perspective. In every class we are given an adverse situation faced by the CEO of a real company. We get to analyze the situation and come up with a solution before class. In class, one lucky(?) student is called upon to present to the whole class, which behaves like the company's board of directors. And the best part is that the real CEO also listens to the student present. This week I dropped coffee on my shirt, and sure enough I was called to present.
The class is taught by Professors Howard Anderson and Peter Kurzina, both veteran entrepreneurs and experts in the subject. The toughest questions always come from them. I enjoyed presenting, especially because the CEO told us she did what I had recommended! It immediately made me feel like the CEO I always dream I will be some day — needless to say the rest of the day was a washout.
In finance class we were taught how to evaluate a start-up but I convinced myself that if I was the CEO of a start-up I would have someone do the evaluation. So why bother? Reality hit when I realized a homework set was due — this means I better go now to the recitation and learn how evaluations are done.
When I decided to get an MBA from MIT Sloan, one of the things I did not expect was the level of exposure I would get to global business. Here I am in Johannesburg, as part of my G-Lab class, experiencing entrepreneurship in a developing country. Through the fall semester we studied entrepreneurship in different countries and learned about various frameworks that could be used to think about market-entry strategies. And now we are at the company we studied, our feet on the ground in the same environment as our host companies who are trying to build their businesses.
My team is working with a startup based in a suburb of Johannesburg. Our day starts with a heavy breakfast and then we drive to the office, open our laptops, and start working. On the way to work, we debate everything from how the hotel we are staying in is making money to what the man at the street corner is selling. We must seem a motley crowd to the locals — one Indian, one American, and two French people — I wonder if they are wondering about us or if I am giving us too much credit!
Because we are MIT Sloan students, of course the day does not end after work. Our host, the CEO of the company, introduces us to a new place every evening. We get to taste different cuisine, drink South African wine, get hopelessly lost on the streets of Johannesburg, and somehow find our way back to the hotel well past midnight, swearing that the next day we will come back early and get some sleep. But of course that never happens.
Yesterday, we went on a safari in the Pilanesberg game reserve. We were lucky enough to see quite a few of the “big five” (the five most sought after African animals: elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard).We saw an angry, roaring lion, which apparently is pretty rare. We also saw a hyena that stared at us and then ran behind a tree.
I have to admit I closed my eyes when the tour guide pointed to a long snake that was crossing the road. Although the reserve was very beautiful, a shiver ran up my spine when I imagined the open vehicle we were in breaking down. And as it got darker my imagination got worse!
We also visited the “Cradle of Mankind” which is a large network of caves with an underground river, where the earliest fossil was found. The caves were dark and mysterious with a lot of stalagmites, stalactites, and passages you could get lost in very easily if you didn’t keep with the group. We even had to crawl through narrow passages — some of them reminded me of the urgent need for me to go visit the gym.
When we emerged from the tour, I knew more about hominids than I could hold in my brain. If anyone thought an MBA from MIT Sloan involved learning only about management, they would be completely wrong. For instance, never did I imagine that during the course of the program I would learn about “Australopithecus Africanus” (our ancestor from over 2.5 million years back).
I cannot help but realize that the MIT Sloan MBA is not just an academic endeavor — all I can say is that it is a life-changing experience.
The last few weeks have really tested my ability to multi-task and parallel process. On one hand I had to complete homework assignments, turn in project papers, and read cases for class; on the other hand I had to prepare for my job interviews. And if I had a third hand it would have come in very useful because I would have used it to write up my business plan for the $1K competition, which is a warm up to the $50K challenge.
Last week the Indian Business Club at MIT Sloan hosted a C-function. A very talented first year woman, Anjali, created a work of art, which we printed on T-shirts and sold to raise money for the club. The T-shirts were a major hit. A bunch of us sold them and hot samosas at lunchtime through the week. (Of course, we ate more samosas than we sold). I was all set to take part in the Indian fashion show, and even practiced all my steps for the Bollywood dance, but finally had to miss the C-function.
This is one of the problems when there is so much stuff going on. I had interviewed with McKinsey earlier that week, and the good news was that I made it to the final round. The bad news was that I had to go to Washington, D.C., on the exact night of the C-function. I guess one of the goals of business school is to land a good job, so I bid farewell to the Bollywood dance and stepped on the plane to have dinner with all the final round applicants for the McKinsey D.C. office.
The next week started off with bad news, as I heard that I did not get an offer from McKinsey, but that's life — you win some, you lose some. One needs to be mature and accept this — the only problem is that both the maturity and acceptance are easier to talk about than to practice. In spite of the outcome, I am really happy I got the chance to meet and interview with the folks in the D.C. office. They were way beyond smart and I really enjoyed doing the cases they gave me.
I turned in my entry to the $1K competition and am waiting to see what the judges thought of my plan. Not too long a wait now, results will be announced on Dec. 1. And not too long before my advertising class project paper and my assignment for the Social Entrepreneurship class are due. So instead of wishing for a third hand, an extra day of the week, and easy cases in my next interview, I'd better get my act together.
Midsemester already! I love this time of the semester; not because half the semester is over but because midsemester is time for SIP (Sloan Innovation Period). MIT Sloan is the only B-School where we take a one week break from classes and get to participate in workshops and seminars that focus on the research work of the professors at the School. We also have some sessions run by experts from the industry. This is my third SIP at MIT Sloan and each time my experience has been different and better than the previous one.
This year I was in a class by Professor Pindyck on “Economic Analysis of Antitrust.” I never realized how much economics is involved in an antitrust case. Whoever said economics was all about supply and demand was completely wrong.
The last two days have been exciting, draining, stimulating, and challenging. I was in the Bosnia Peacekeeping Simulation exercise with about 50 other Sloanies — both first- and second-years. We were divided up into different groups with each group responsible for a certain function. Our task was to get a group of people to a new safe camp which had water and agriculture land within 500 meters. We were given maps and radios and communicated back and forth between various groups. We encountered several roadblocks. Some of our folks were captured and we had to negotiate the release of a reporter, but finally we made it within the six hours. We had people from the U.S. military observe and give us feedback on our performance. It was definitely the best learning in strategy and leadership I have ever experienced.
This week, we were very excited to hear that an MIT alum was nominated to replace Alan Greenspan. Ben Bernanke received his PhD from the MIT Economics Department, which for some reason makes me proud of the economics I learned here. Hey, if it is good enough for the biggest economy in the world, it is great for me!
Friday was used to catch up on club activities and plan club events, in addition to practicing for interviews. The practice sessions are great fun because they somehow start and end with coffee. In between, there is some serious practice time but most of the time it is just fun time. And I don't feel guilty about it at all!
Almost a month since school started and I still can't remember my schedule. The company presentations have started, so time is once again a scarce resource at MIT Sloan. But we second-years are now pros at handling problem sets, case analyses, class discussions, coffee chats with recruiters during the day, and wining and dining at company presentations in the evenings. The first-years are still getting a hang of the whole thing but I have to admit they certainly seem very adept at handling all that wine!
After my last class today, I went to Starbucks to meet an MIT Sloan alum who had interviewed me for my summer job. It was great to sit and chat with her about everything from Seattle, where she works now, to the latest in technology, all over some nice, hot chai. She gave me a lot of tips on how I should decide between the different career options, how it is always useful to write down one's strengths and weaknesses, etc. I have to say my thinking is much clearer now. Not that I know exactly what I want in life but at least I know what I don't want.
Last week I got a chance to hear Muhammed Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, speak at MIT. His talk was so inspiring that even after I came back home, I could not forget what he said. The next day I went to the library,borrowed the book he wrote, and started reading it. It was so good that I sat up 'til the wee hours of the morning to finish it. Needless to say I barely made it to my favorite class the next morning, but of course it was nothing a strong cup of coffee could not fix. My favorite class this semester is Industrial Economics, taught by Professor Pindyck. Almost in every class I have this feeling that a light bulb is going onin my head. At the end of the class I don't know whether to feel good about getting a new concept, or feel bad that for so many years of my life I had either not known it, or had understood it completely wrong! My classmates make fun of me because apparently after every class, I declare that was the best class I ever had.
Another great class I have this semester is Developmental Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. I thought this would be an easy class because there are no homework sets, no cases to read, etc., but this class has the toughest assignment ever. Every team in the class needs to come up with an entrepreneurial idea for a product/service that uses technology to enable development. As a team, we have been talking about nothing else other than brainstorming ideas, and it is really difficult. I can't wait for the class this Friday, when we get to present all our ideas to the professor.
Boston is beautiful this time of the year. I sat in school today, looking out at the river, and could not help but wonder where I would be this time next year. I envy the first-years who know they are coming back to the warm comfort of MIT Sloan! But no more excuses to day-dream, I think it is time to tackle the Economics homework now.
This is definitely a very exciting week at MIT Sloan. For us second-year students, classes have not started but we get to relive our first week at MIT Sloan through the Class of 2007. I returned from India on Friday evening, tired and jetlagged, but nothing was going to stop me from attending “pilot training” at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday. A bunch of us second-years serve as pilots, or mentors, for the first-year students. In order for us to be the best pilots we can, we are all trained for an entire day on Thompson Island. It was great to meet my teammates and other close friends from MIT Sloan after the long break. On the boat we exchanged stories about our internships, our vacations, our future plans, and what courses we were taking this semester.
The pilot training was a lot of fun even though I ended up with sore muscles the next day! I also realized that I had eaten a little too much food in India — walking around the island turned out to be a challenge I had not anticipated! But what could I do? My mother took one look at me and declared the MBA was very hard work and that I had lost a lot of weight. She even said I had dark circles under my eyes from too much studying!! I decided not to tell her about the late night parties and just enjoy all the food she was cooking for me.
We finally met the Class of 2007 as they wrapped up their pre-term week. It was great to chat with them and hear about why they came to MIT Sloan and what their future plans were. Also, now that I survived the first year, I could tell them how the first semester was not really that tough and how it goes by so fast, and one really needed to be disciplined to be able to do it all. I have been assigned as a pilot to a team of seven very bright and energetic students. As is typical of a team at MIT Sloan, the members arevery diverse, with each person bringing different skills to the group.
I am really looking forward to the long weekend to stretch my limbs, catch up on lost sleep and not worry about homework. I am sure this time next week I will be sitting at my desk surrounded by open books and unread cases, trying to figure out which one I should tackle next, and what would be the least time consuming task of all. But before the rest comes the partying. Funny how when it is party time I can get ready in five minutes and be anywhere on time. But when it is study time or buying textbooks time or getting organized time, it just takes so long to get going!
My summer internship is almost done! One last week here at Siebel and then back to school. While it has been a lot of fun, I really miss MIT Sloan and all my friends there. We do keep in touch through e-mail but my core team members and other close friends are literally scattered all over the globe. Lauro is in Brazil, Jason is in Greece, Ian is traveling back and forth between Boston and London, Steve is in Boston and headed to Mexico... I have been exchanging long e-mails with another Sloanie who is doing her summer internship in Bombay, India. She has talked about the monsoon, the heat, the mangoes and of course her job, and in exchange I've told her about Half Moon Bay, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe and Product Strategy. I've saved all the e-mails; some day when we both are out there working in the real world, I'm sure it will be great to read about what we did during our summer internships.
The Sloanies in the Bay Area have been very active all summer. A couple of weeks back they went whitewater rafting — that was the weekend that I chose to go to Boston, so I missed a very exciting trip. We often have lunches and dinners with MIT Sloan alums who give us a glimpse into what our lives will be like after graduation.
Next week will be busy. I have my final presentation to Siebel on Wednesday, a farewell dinner with the other interns on Thursday, dinner with my cousins on Friday, a red eye back to Boston on Friday night and then off to India to visit my family on Saturday. And then when I return from India a bunch of us will head to Thompson Island to prepare for the arrival of the Class of 2007. I can't believe I am now a second-year and get to dole out advice to a fresh batch of enthusiastic, young students.
It has certainly been an interesting summer. I can't help feeling sad whenever I realize that this is the perhaps the last time I will work as an intern. By this time next year I will be getting ready to start a full-time job and there will be no coming back to MIT Sloan. But I shouldn't really be sad — I am about to start another year of great fun and learning... but only if I can finish my slides for the final Siebel presentation.
Out in the real world at last! My summer internship at Siebel started on June 1 and here I am in sunny California enjoying 70 degree weather, fun trips with fellow Sloanies, and of course working. My project involves coming up with a product strategy, and I am thrilled to be working on a real-life strategy project. The only problem is that I have no idea where to start — should I try a 5 forces framework or a PIE + 4 Slices framework? Given my manager is from HBS, maybe I should stick to the Porter model. Well, one thing is already clear to me — those great comments you make in school where everything is crystal clear from the case — those don't come to you easily in the real world. I have to admit that what was blindingly obvious in the case is not so obvious on the job! But I have 10 weeks to figure it out and a great team to help me out. The group I work with is comprised of people with MBAs from HBS, Stanford, and of course MIT Sloan. I even have an MIT Sloan alum as a mentor, and I get to have lunch with her and chat about all things ranging from the cafeteria in E-52 to the latest in the Media Lab (which she knows all about!).
There are four Sloanies here and we share our experiences with each other on a daily basis. There are also a bunch of us at Apple, and this weekend all eight of us got together and drove to Napa Valley. One car followed another, we lost each other and we followed the wrong car for a while, but we finally arrived, ready to try out all the great wines. For me the trip was an education in itself. I realized how much I did not know about wines, or even grapes for that matter. It was strange being in a completely new place but surrounded by completely familiar faces and talking about the same things.
After three wineries and a lot of wine, we decided we were done. Our designated drivers took us to our next destination — the home of our classmate Maria's aunt — right in Napa Valley. Maria is an intern at Apple and had mentioned to her aunt that we were touring the wineries, and her aunt invited us for dinner. We showed up at their beautiful house and sat at a table outdoors and sipping (yes more) wine as we watched the sun over the mountains in the distance. We were talking about mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and other delightful things; I don't know if it was the wine or the conversation, but I screamed and jumped when the house cat appeared from the bushes to say hello to us! Maria's aunt whipped up a great meal for us, and we ate until we could not move — but there was more food coming. We got back home, tired but happy, and I swore I would just sleep in on Sunday, but come Sunday I realized sleep was overrated. I was in California with so many things to do,and there was no way I could stay in.
I decided on Sunday to meet up with some old friends of mine from India who lived in the Bay Area. They took me to Fremont, where we ate some Indian fast food. Boston is great but I have to say in terms of Indian food Fremont wins hands down. After the food we went to watch a Bollywood movie in the theater. It has been so long since I saw an Indian movie in the theater that I forgot how long they could get. After two hours of non-stop fun, I found the seat to be uncomfortable and the sound system a little too loud, but we made it to the happy ending after another long hour.
I returned home at 10 p.m., ready to turn in for the night and my fellow MIT Sloan/Siebel interns were not even in yet. True to B-school style I am sure they will show up sometime around midnight.
May 5, 2005
Just a couple of weeks until the semester ends. Amidst all the rush to complete term papers, read cases, attend C-functions, and prepare for finals, there is the additional task of getting ready for my summer job. I decided to accept an offer from Siebel — I will be working in the Product Marketing group with three other Sloanies to keep me company. The job is in California, so we are looking for an apartment close to Siebel.
Last night, for the first time, I got eight hours of sleep — it felt so good to go through the day without feeling sleep deprived that I decided I have to do this more often. Yesterday marked the end of my e-labs (Entrepreneurship Labs) course. This is a practical, hands-on course where we are assigned a very early stage company and given the entire semester to figure out a market-entry strategy for the company. We have three professors for the course, all well known for their work on entrepreneurship. My team was given a two-person company that used nanotechnology (sounds so high tech!) to build membranes that could filter small particles — and by small I mean even viruses. Each team had a scientist in it so we management students don't get too carried away with 2X2 matrices or 5-forces frameworks. The scientist on our team, Amy, was from the MIT Media Lab and knew a lot about these tiny particles. Through the semester Jon, Tim, Amy, and I researched the technology, came up with potential market segments, spoke to prospective customers, threw away the market segments, created new segments... and yesterday marked the culmination of all our efforts. With a PowerPoint presentation built to impress, we delivered our one-hour report on how this company should enter the market. I thought we had anticipated all possible questions, but boy was I wrong! After a grueling session of totally unanticipated questions, our project was declared not just complete but good! We debated whether we should go out for a drink to celebrate, but it was 7.30 p.m. and we were all tired and terribly sleep deprived. The adrenalin rush and the caffeine high were beginning to wear away, so we decided to wait for the grade before rushing off to celebrate.
Today, I was well rested and ready for the heated discussion in the Global Markets class. The case was on Nike and the professor divided the class into two groups: One group defended Nike and another group, the activists, questioned Nike's practices. As luck would have it, I was in the “defend Nike” group and almost ran to the other side of class so I could be in the other group. It was tough to defend Nike especially because I threw out my Nike shoes in the '90s and swore never to buy anything from Nike till I was convinced they had corrected their wrongs.
Since I am most productive at midnight and it is that time now, I better go and start work on the next presentation, which is due on Monday.
April 20, 2005
Last week we had one of the most prominent speakers ever to speak at MIT Sloan — Jack Welch. Wong Auditorium was full — and when I say full, I mean there was no standing room left. Two overflow rooms were literally overflowing. I have never seen any speaker draw this kind of crowd, and when Jack (yes, I feel like using his first name because I shook his hand!) started talking, I knew exactly why. Instead of giving us a speech on his background or accomplishments, he suggested a new format where the entire hour was dedicated to answering questions we had. This was great because now all the content was tailored to our questions.
My claim to fame is that I was first in line to get Jack's autograph on my copy of his new book. Since I was first in line, he spent a lot of time chatting with me — okay, not a lot, but like 30 seconds. But everything is relative, because as he went down the line this time decreased exponentially.
The long weekend was a relief more than anything else — it is just that time of the semester when you need a break. For me it was not really that long a weekend because I was getting ready for a conference to be held on April 19. The conference was called “Make your career make a difference” and was cohosted by MIT Sloan and Babson. I was the moderator for one of the panels, “Global Development.” We had four excellent panelists from diverse backgrounds and got to hear how they got to where they are.
In spite of having four days to get ready for the next week, I read my cases on Tuesday night. There is something to be said for reading the cases the night before the class — you remember everything better and somehow make that one point in class — NOT! For instance, last night when I read about the patent laws in India and how it affected the drug companies worldwide, I made a mental note to myself to talk about something I heard from the CEO of the biotech firm we visited in India. I wish I had made a physical (as opposed to mental) note, because in class I completely forgot to say it. We had a very spirited argument in class today. Some of us feel that medical discoveries should benefit everyone and should not really be geared towards profit making, and some feel that all patents have to be respected. And as always, I know that for the next week everyone I meet will hear about this from me — but the good news is that next week when another case takes over my life, unless provoked, I will not start a debate on this!
I can't wait to be let loose into the real world with all the insights I have right now. But the world is a safe place for another year till I graduate — after June 2006 there are no more guarantees.
Our last stop was in Bombay, which was packed with company visits, fun trips, street shopping, a lot of clubbing, and practically no sleeping! We stayed at a really nice hotel along the water and spent a lot of time in the lobby admiring the bay. Bombay is a city of contradictions. The ICICI Bank building is comparable to a good office building here in the U.S., with fountains and waterfalls inside. But right opposite the building was Bombay's largest slum, where people lived in aluminum sheds. I can only imagine how they felt in summer; probably more like furnaces than houses. We wined and dined at the house of one of the best-known families in India, and then walked out to our bus through a narrow road. Near the bus we saw beggars huddled together on the street. The bus ride back to the hotel was pretty quiet with several of us very affected by the divide between the rich and the poor. We are still talking about ways in which we think the gap can be narrowed.
We did go to Bollywood, but much to the disappointment of the group we did not get to see any actresses dancing around bushes.
On the flight back to Boston, we had mixed feelings. Several students obviously were happy to be coming back home, but to many of them India proved to be very thought provoking. We laughed at the pictures we took, recalled funny incidents that had happened in India, and craved the good food we got to eat. But behind all this also was a sense of responsibility. My friend Steve was very disturbed by a lot of the sights in India and we had endless conversations as to what we could do to help the situation. What I tried to tell them was even though the situation looked hopeless, I was very hopeful because I was seeing India not in absolute terms but by how far it had progressed from where it had been just a few years ago. The growth in GDP was not just another academic indicator — I truly felt that I could see it in every city. And it is just a matter of time before it trickles down to those living in poverty now. But I also recognize that India is not all about the thriving companies that we visited. The good news is that all these companies are also very motivated to improve the lot of the underprivileged — if not for social good, definitely for the profits they could make by selling their products to the large volumes of potential consumers at this level.
I added on a few half-semester courses that start after spring break. One of them is a class on “India and China: A comparative analysis.” Many of the students in this class were on the India trek, which makes the discussions in the class more interesting. What also makes the class interesting is the fact that it is very interactive. And that means it is time for me to sit down and read the case, just in case I am cold called!
March 22, 2005
Writing from Bangalore, IndiaI am in India with 28 other Sloanies and we are having a great time. It's funny — I have been to India so many, many times, but I can honestly say I have never had as much fun as with this group of over-enthusiastic, thoroughly sleep deprived Sloanies. Even on the long plane ride from Boston to New Delhi, no one wanted to sleep. To the dismay of the other passengers, the 29 of us just took over the main cabin. We had heated debates about India's foreign policy, the merits and evils of privatization, whether or not Aiswarya Rai was the most beautiful woman on earth, whether Bollywood was all about song and dance, etc., until the stewardess, not so subtly, let us know that there were other passengers who were sleeping.
We arrived in New Delhi at 11 p.m., excited and eager to take in the Indian sights, although all we saw in the airport at that hour were international passengers who had just arrived. Our group consisted of students from all over the world, including China, Panama, Brazil, Britain and the US, so we had many different reactions to India. Once we got to the hotel, a bunch of us got together and ate a hearty meal at 2 a.m. This group, of which I was a proud member, always got hungry first, ate the most, and gained the nickname of “refugees.”
The last time I visited Delhi I was wheezing and needed medication because of the pollution, and this is what I expected again. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Delhi had improved by leaps and bounds. All public transport now runs on natural gas, as opposed to diesel, and this means there are no more fumes on the street.
Our first business visit was to a telecom company. The CEO gave us an excellent overview of the phenomenal economic growth that India is experiencing and then went on to give us details on the telecom industry. The economic momentum in India is so palpable one can see it everywhere. Once the visit was done we trooped back onto the bus and promptly started a discussion on the growth in GDP in India vs. China, whether it is sustainable and if it is largely due to foreign investments, etc. The discussion ended when I realized that I was the only one talking — the others were busy clicking pictures of cows on the streets.
While the snake charmers and cows were exciting to my friends, to me the fact that there were fewer of them told a different story, an economic growth story which I was eager to share with them. I can't believe that even my best friends chose the cows over my lecture. And the highlight of Delhi was “Dublin,” a fine, fine bar we went to. I even recognized some movie stars — I felt thrilled to be dancing on the same floor as them. After a few drinks my friends found it thrilling too.
The Taj Mahal took everyone's breath away as expected. And the journey to the Taj Mahal made several people sick, as expected again. Given the way we were eating, it was no surprise.
The company visits in Bangalore proved, beyond a doubt, that there was an economic revolution going on in India, and men and women were both part of it. To me, the fact that more than a couple of the CEOs we spoke to were women was a huge deal. I was ecstatic to hear the women CEOs speak. Okay, maybe a part of me was imagining me in that position a few years down the road and that's why I was ecstatic!
It is 3 a.m. and I am leaving for Madras tomorrow morning to see my parents, so I am debating whether I should even sleep now. But since I am running out on the Internet connection time I bought at the hotel, I will end now. I wonder if I will see Madras, the city where I grew up, with new economic lenses too!
Another weekend that just flew by before I could even make plans for it! This past week I had my first out-of-town interview — in the Bay Area. After my last midterm on Thursday I rushed to the airport to catch the plane, sat in my seat, and then for the next few hours tried to figure out if my answers to the strategy questions were right or not. Sleep finally saved me from deciding my fate on the exam. I guess the four hours of sleep I had the previous night were not enough!
When I woke up, I was in warm California. I could not believe the 70 degree temperature. There were a few more Sloanies on the plane, so we all got into a cab and shared notes and tips on the company we were interviewing for. All of Friday was spent interviewing and then the company hosted a dinner where we got to meet a lot of MIT Sloan alumni. It was great to sit at a table with ex-Sloanies who were eager to know what was going on at MIT Sloan. We exchanged stories about professors, spring treks, clubs, problem sets, etc., and I have to say people at other tables were looking at us Sloanies enviously. We definitely had the most fun at our table, with politically incorrect jokes about how the average IQ at our table was much higher than any other table. I never felt as proud to be a Sloanie as when a student from another B-school came by and said, “You Sloanies have such a close network.” I took the red eye back after the dinner. I have no idea how the flight was because I literally went to sleep as we took off and woke up when we landed in freezing Boston.
The spring treks start this week and I am going to India with 25 other Sloanies. It was so much fun preparing for the trek. As part of preparing for the trip we had to attend classes on India, which were a great distraction during the week of midterms. In one class the instructor showed us some Bollywood movies, and now all the guys think that Indian streets are full of beautiful women like Aiswarya Rai. I can't wait for reality to hit them when we walk through the crowded streets of Bombay — 'til then, I am letting them enjoy the thought! In one of the lectures, the instructor showed us some pictures of Indian women with henna on their hands — I wish she hadn't because now I have the delightful task of taking all the MIT Sloan women with me for henna painting in Delhi. I am particularly concerned because we are meeting the finance minister the next day. I wonder what he will think of MIT Sloan women? Well, I'm sure he will think MIT Sloan produces truly global leaders. As a step towards getting acclimated to India, my teammates have invited themselves to dinner and an Indian movie at my home tomorrow.
This is SIP week — we get a week off from regular classes and get to take some short three-hour courses and hear MIT Sloan professors talk about their research areas. Now it's time for me to start packing for India — yippee!
Can't believe it is the middle of the semester already! And that means midterms are just around the corner, not even around the corner — next week. But a week is a long time here at MIT Sloan, plenty of time to go over all the material, know it well, and ace the exam. YEAH RIGHT!! More like panic time, time to start pulling those all-nighters again. But like always, I'm sure the midterms will be OK.
I spent this past weekend in Chicago at the CEO Challenge conducted by Booz Allen. I had a great time, made some good friends, created some social networks, and ate some excellent food. The most significant part of the weekend was the huge amount of knowledge I gained. The CEO Challenge was similar to a strategy case. We were divided up into four teams with each team made up of MBA students from different schools. Each team behaved like a particular company in the telecom industry and had to come up with a strategy to improve market share. A real living, breathing marketing team of another four students rated our performance like real consumers and gave us feedback for the next round.
We closeted ourselves in the room given to us and started working on our strategy. Soon, every wall in the room was covered with paper, post-it notes and tape. We worked late into the night and protested that we were exhausted, but every time we presented our next move we were all rejuvenated and excited and did not realize the time passing by. The Booz Allen coaches stayed up with us and helped us all the way with valuable tips, steering us back to the right path when we got lost. I had a great team and a great coach, which made the whole challenge even more fun.
On Saturday night we were treated to dinner on a 70th floor restaurant overlooking the water. But being B-School students we could not let the night end at 11 p.m. — one would think after an intense two days the only thing we would have liked to do is go straight to bed, but then how would the bars in Chicago benefit from all of us visiting the city? The students from Kellogg and U. Chicago came to our rescue and took us to their favorite bar, where we stood outside in the bitter cold for 15 minutes before being allowed in. But of course it was worth the wait! I got a chance to get to know students from other teams. We all returned home on Sunday evening to unfinished problem sets, unread cases, and unwritten papers! But then what are Sunday nights for?
The weekend would have been more fun if I did not have to figure out things like zero coupon bonds and premiums and discounts. But if I don't figure that out now how will I be able to contribute to real-life strategy cases, where people are always saying things like - 'what is the ROI, invest in bonds with high YTM's, and make sure you make all decisions based on NPV's.'
Photo: Anu Chitrapu and her teammates hard at work during the CEO Challenge.
I am really enjoying my classes this semester. One reason I am so into my classes is because I hand picked each one of them — I have no one to blame but myself! The class I love the most is Strategy. The professor is very good and keeps the class engaged. Every time I am in a strategy class I truly look at the clock only when the professor says we are out of time.
Even though we don't need to work with our core teams this semester I still hang out a lot with mine. Having spent so much time in the fall semester together I guess it's become a habit. One of my teammates had his 30th birthday last week and I couldn't go to the party. My cell phone rang promptly at 11 p.m. with my entire team at the other end demanding I get ready, jump into the car, and drive to the party right away because I was missed. I have to say I was really tempted to do so and would have done it had I believed that I was really being missed. The truth was that they were all having a lot of fun and just needed to yell and shout a bit at someone at 11 p.m. and I was the chosen one!
This semester we are required to take part in the First Year Challenge. All the teams, across all oceans, are given a business problem that a real company is facing and we have half a semester to figure out a good solution to the problem. This year's teams have to come up with a recommended strategy to help the featured company expand into new international markets. I am the team leader for my team and have the unenviable task of figuring out who is going to do what and scheduling meetings, etc. But I have to admit this is turning out to be fun. India is one of the markets that we are required to study and I am really enjoying reading all these facts about Indian consumers that I didn't know about. Five teams will be selected as finalists and these teams will get to present their recommendations to company's CEO. Last night my team met to do some brainstorming and in spite of complaining that I made them come to school in the cold at 6 p.m., within ten minutes everyone was totally into the brainstorming.
A couple of weeks back I had turned in an application to the CEO Challenge competition run by Booz Allen Hamilton. Basically, all applicants had to write four essays on topics related to being a CEO. I was very thrilled to receive an e-mail today saying I have been selected to go to the actual CEO Challenge event being held at HBS and at Kellogg. Since the timing works better for me, I decided to go to the one at Kellogg in Chicago. It sounds like great fun. All selected students are flown to Chicago, put up in a hotel, and get to go sight-seeing and eat at fancy restaurants. And of course there is the actual event. Students are assigned to teams and each team is given a CEO problem that they need to come up with a solution for. The event is held over a weekend. The only bad thing is that it is the same weekend as the Admit Weekend at MIT Sloan, which I was hoping to be part of. But I guess Admit Weekend II is always there.
This week is also the week when all clubs are transitioning over responsibilities for running the clubs to us first years. So now I have some editorial duties for the Student Life section of the MIT Sloan newspaper. I am also part of the Social Entrepreneurship club and am working on coming up with goals and a mission outline for the club.
As usual, it is way past midnight and I have to read two cases for tomorrow, one on Airborne Express for strategy and one on Starbucks. The cases are really interesting by themselves, but what always amuses me is how we MBA students tend to use all the stuff we read in the cases outside of classes. For instance, last week I was at a non-MIT Sloan gathering and was amongst a group of people talking about how Coke and Pepsi tasted alike and I couldn't resist saying, “We had this case on Coke and Pepsi wars and it is so interesting that the two still compete on differentiation and have stayed away from price wars.” At this point, I lost my audience and made a mental note to myself not to talk about cases at non-MIT Sloan parties.
I can't believe I am all done with the core. This week was interview preparation week and all my friends at school appeared very stressed. The ones interviewing for positions at the investment banking firms were the ones who seemed to be running around the most. One of my ocean mates had just had an interview with Goldman Sachs and was telling me how terribly he had done and how he did not expect to be called for a second round of interviews, when his cell phone rang. It was the recruiter from Goldman calling to invite him for the second round! My friend was so excited he insisted on buying me a drink because I brought him luck — I have no idea how, but I was happy that I was present at that memorable moment when he got the call.
I had a first round of interviews with BCG yesterday. I really enjoyed the interviews, which were case based. A second-year student who had worked at McKinsey for his summer internship was kind enough to run a two-hour training session for the first years. It was very helpful, particularly because he was a TA for the communications course and had excellent communication skills. After that, a bunch of us got together and practiced a case. Of course we spent more time laughing about how we were all so desperate to get into consulting, drank coffee for an hour in Au Bon Pain, and then practiced a case for all of 30 minutes. I don't know how much we got out of the case, but the few hours we spent together put us all in a great mood and helped ease the stress away.
Outside of school I am part of a music group that performs at most Indian functions in the Boston area. I have been spending a lot of time with the group practicing my songs. While there are no other Sloanies in the group, a lot of my friends from MIT Sloan are planning on attending the event (which makes me really nervous). My friend Steve is threatening to bring a whole bunch of his friends, not to hear me sing but to taste the Indian food.
I finally figured out all the classes for this semester. I am taking the dreaded finance but am really looking forward to it. I can't wait to be able to talk intelligibly about bonds, options, and derivatives — words that currently really scare me.
Some of us are getting ready for the India trek, which is scheduled for spring break. I am the designated “local guardian” for the students on the trek since I speak Hindi and am familiar with the places we will be visiting. My friend Elizabeth already booked one hour of my time in Delhi to take her street shopping and bargain with the local vendors on her behalf. I can't wait for the trip. Even though I grew up in India, I never got exposed to the business world on my own merit because I had never worked in India, so this trip would really be my first exposure to Indian business. I am also excited because we are meeting the president of India — my parents are even more thrilled about this than I am!
My friend Yanina, a second-year student, organized a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro — the group left last week and will be back early next week. I keep wondering what's going on there and if the group made it safely to the top. If I were in better shape, I would have loved to go on the trek too.
Now it's time for me to get over this holiday laziness and get into action. First stop will be the MIT Coop to pick up my textbooks. The intention is that I can start getting organized once I have the text books in hand, although I will not open them till classes start so I have no idea why the textbooks are on the critical path to getting organized ...
Nov. 29, 2004
Back to school after what seems like a short break. I don't know if I am imagining it or if it is true, but a lot of my classmates look a little heavier and are moving slower! All that turkey inside them I guess. I never really realized it, but I missed my teammates during the break. It also struck me that I spent most of the last three months with my team.
At our team meeting today all we talked about was the Thanksgiving break. I think this break came at the right time. We were all exhausted after the midterms and never really got a break to sit back and relax. It was also particularly nice for all the students who got to go home and hang out with their families.
Since Thanksgiving is not an Indian holiday to celebrate, a bunch of Indian students decided to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, during the Thanksgiving break. We got together on Thursday evening at my place. I don't know how it happened but I ended up cooking the whole day, but it was well worth it. One of the students who came to MIT Sloan directly from India, used this opportunity to let all of us know how much he missed Indian food and how he had lost more than 10 pounds in the last 3 months, how his mom was in tears thinking about his condition of starvation, etc., etc. When the news of the Indian festivities over the weekend spread through my ocean, several of my ocean mates got on my case over how I never cooked Indian food for them.
Today, a few of us from my team turned in our application for the $1K Entrepreneurship Competition. A warming up to the $50K Competition, this is on a smaller scale and gives people like us a chance to test out our initial ideas and carry them to the next stage if they show promise. The application is submitted and now we just have to wait till Dec 1 for the results to be announced.
In spite of all the food over the weekend, we all seemed more alert today. We even prodded though our accounting homework cheerily, without the usual complaints of what the point of accounting was. I have definitely come to a point where I am appreciating all the wisdom that I am accumulating from accounting class. The Wall Street Journal had an article today on all the accounting flexibility that was allowed in the U.S. and I have to say, for the first time in my life, I actually understood what the article was talking about. I feel sheepish saying this, after all my ranting and raving about accounting, but this is one subject that not only has to be part of the curriculum but has to be part of the core.
It is close to 11 p.m. and I still have to read the case for tomorrow's econ class. Looks interesting, or rather looks good mainly because it is only three pages in length.
Nov. 15, 2004
It's always fun to meet new applicants. One big reason is that finally I am in a position to give advice about the entire admission process. The other reason is their enthusiasm and energy is rejuvenating. Today I took three applicants, all from India, to Professor Simester's marketing class. It was a case discussion on a company that manufactured boats. As always, the class was great, with my classmates making some very astute observations. This is the only class where we are with students from other cohorts, including some second years. One of the applicants asked me if all our cases are HBS cases and I told her that all our cases in marketing were indeed HBS cases, but for other subjects like OP (organizational processes) and DMD (data, models, decisions), we used cases from several schools. For DMD in particular we had several cases of our own. After class I took the applicants for lunch and they got to experience the Tang lobby in all its glory. We sat down at one of the tables, surrounded by first-year and second-year students talking about everything from politics to a case they had just discussed in class. The applicants loved being in the middle of everything and said it felt like they were already students here and judging by their reactions they loved the feeling!
I was having so much fun chatting with these applicants that I forgot I had accounting recitation at 1 p.m. I hurriedly said goodbye and gave them some of my MIT Sloan business cards, which never fail to impress, and then ran down the hallway for my recitation. Accounting is one subject, where I know there is a lot I don't know, so I always make it to recitation, no matter what.
Our team meeting today was more fun than productive. One of my teammates bought us all a Nike Livestrong band to wear around our wrists. The bands were particularly popular at MIT Sloan because the marketing students had just attended a talk on “Advertising at Nike” by Nike's head of advertising and she had mentioned the bands. Instead of talking about accounting, we started talking about whether Nike should have put the Nike swoosh on the band. These are the moments I enjoy most at MIT Sloan. I love discussions where there are no right or wrong answers, and it is another way to prolong working on an accounting assignment.
Tomorrow is going to be another busy day but before that, tonight is going to be a long night — two homework assignments are due tomorrow!