MBA hummmmm....

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Term III done with..

Another one gone ! 3 out of 8 over!
Somehow I have a sense of deja vu. S'thing similar used to happen during engg days. Everybody would just wait for sem exams to get over & then heave a biggggg sigh of relief. Difference here being that a term is 1/4 the duration of a semester in engg college & workload is 4x times. But frankly, the end term exams just gone by made me feel very frustrated. 4 exams of 3 hrs each in 2 days. 3 days of holidays prior to the exams so that people could mug up the subjects & regurgigate in the papers. Thats what is bound to happen when there is a 'supposed' premium on grades & end terms carry upto 60-65% of weightage in some subjects. I think this kind of exam schedule screws the entire thing. Our terms are now beginning to be punctuated by mid terms & end terms rather than more meaningful activities. In hindsight, now I think what Prof Bubna did in term I with regular assessments in form of quizzes & assignments is a much better way of evaluation rather than the one we witnessed in term III. Note that I am not cribbing about this because I feel thats not my way of learning. In fact, like most engineers, I am also a last minute slogger. But thats not the idea here at MBA. I conciously try to learn something with the hope that some part of it will stick after I passout. & neither is this a vent against current stars. Good people will perform well under any evaluation method. I am talking about the learning experience of the batch at an average. Surely, slogging in your room for 3 days, cutoff from the world & praying that this ordeal get over asap doesnt help much. I think this system of evaluation is because in place because its easier for profs/TAs. More evaluation points mean more work for them. But, what the heck. The system is supposed to maximise the learning of students.

Anyways, time flies here. This term gone past was excruciating. Yes thats the word. But if there is any recurrent theme for last term (for me), its got to be leadership. Not because we had LDP. Mainly because we saw leadership from so many angles. LDP provided the theoritical inputs. Entrepreneurship cases also shed some light on it. PaEV guest speakers (who find mention in my earlier posts) also shared their leadership ideas. Vijay summarises some of the key takeaways here, here & here. Great posts all these. He has a very concise way of writing.

Looking back, Corporate Finance was bit of a disappointment for me this term. Had built up a lot of expectations from first finance core but somehow, something was missing. I do now know a coupla basic concepts but I feel my interest was never aroused enough in this. Not upto the level I was expecting. Maybe things would improve in Investments core in term IV.

The Ops & Manac courses were well designed & very aptly put in the same term. I screwed up in both of their end terms but I liked their content very much. Esp things like Toyota's famed production system, inventory management & cost accounting methods. Very tangible knowledge sets to takeaway.

One thing which deserves mention is the course design here at ISB. The core courses, course packs, content, cases, relevant articles, recommended readings are, imo, very thoughtfully done. We hardly need to refer to the so-called-bibles like Kotler or Brealey Myers. Everyone has them but class notes & cases serve the purpose much better I believe.

Anyhow, the grind continues. Yesterday, after coming out from exam (Entrepreneurship exam that too ! phew), our ELP team had a longish meeting to decide upon the project plan. The ELP also seems like another energy sapper. Expectations are pretty high & we better deliver.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Beware..

Beware of what you want, for you will actually get it... a wise man once said.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Diary 18th Aug ...

Been more than a week since I blogged. & its been busy as hell. Probably the busiest term thus far here. Mid terms, which happened last friday, now seem a distant memory. CorpFin was scrapped. Ops went okayish for me. The ops core this term is very well designed. I like the content. Transition from Prof Chopra in first 5 lectures to Prof Deshmukh in last 5 has also been seamless. But I dont feel the same in case of CorpFin. Some discontinuity there. Anyways.

Lot has happened, been done in past week - 10 days. Dunno how much has been achieved (by me) though :-).
Should never mistake motion for action.

Everybody in the batch submitted their indicative bids for Elective courses in terms 5-8. These will be used by Academics office to design the terms according to market demand. Pretty good system this. I plan to major in Marketing. Not sure about second concentration area. Plan to take good courses from all other areas. Maybe I will end up managing the second concentration as well. As of now, odds are split. Been talking to many people about their choice of electives/concentration areas. Various sorts of gyaan points have emerged. Some are:
# Take elective courses according to your background fit v/s No point in learning the stuff you did in your job again
# Specialise, take most courses in your concentration area v/s MBA is a place to get generalist knowledge, get a high level view of everything, take more strategy courses
# See ratings of Profs for electives given by earlier batches v/s Prof doesnt matter, course content does.

& more like these. Am not sure which is the correct way. Time will tell. (obviously!)

Along with indicative biddings, there was lot of other stuff to do. Submitting ELP applications. I have submitted a single app. Am particularly interested in one company so applied for its project. Lets see how it pans out. They say taking an ELP alongwith PaEV (another elective) could prove to be pretty tough.

Apart from all the usual jingles, this term is rocking with guest speakers. Last Tuesday, Manish Sabharwal of TeamLease came down to talk about Entrepreneurship. One of the best presenters I have heard. Such distilled gyaan. In a hard hitting fashion. His anecdotes were great too. See this post by Bharani to read some of em. Some which he hasnt mentioned but I remember:
Anyone who know exactly where they are going is incapable of going too far...
The easier a change is to make, the less it usually matters...
You are ready to do something when you can visualize yourself doing it clearly...
Hang out with smart people who dream big...
Life is not a fixed income security but a call option. Maximise value by increasing volatility Same pain whether you fall from 50th floor or the 100th floor...

These random, unconnected sentences may not convey the impact of his talk but he really did set people thinking. Excellent talk overall. He was the first in series of guest speakers who will be called for the PaEV course. Arjun Malhotra was also on campus yesterday to give a talk to students on similar issues. He spoke about his experiences in setting up HCL & Techspan. Spoke about issues in M&A as well.

PaEV stands for Planning an Entrepreneurial Venture. An offbeat sorta course which will be spread over 3 terms. We get into teams of 2 or 3 & work on an idea to come out with a business plan at the end. Promises to be interesting. Lets see how it goes.

Brooks Entwistle, MD - Goldman Sachs was also on campus last wednesday. He spoke about emerging markets, private equity & a bit about life at Goldman.

Weekend was usurped by a 2 day workshop on Business presentation skills. The usual stuff - get gyaan, give presentations, see video recordings, get feedback, iterate, improve. First day was kinda useful but second day was an anti climax. The instructor, for reasons known to him, chose to become very cynical. I personally feel that he was mocking at people, not giving constructive feedback. Came out with a bad taste. That was not the way one handles a bunch of 12 matured people & that too when session is supposed to be enhancing your 'leadership' skills. Wasnt worth 2 days time. One of the very few occasions, something has disappointed me out here. We did give proper feedback to the academic services.

The president of Northwestern Univ - Prof Henry Bienen & dean of Kellogg - Prof Dipak Jain were here last weekend. Prof Dipak Jain gave a session on 'The future of marketing'. People who attended told that he is an awesome guy. One who has risen from humble backgrounds in India to be the dean of Kellogg. He is extreeeeemly down-to-earth. Very passionate guy. He was supposed to be our first dean but for Kellogg. He is so attached to this college that he used to come down every month when ISB was being built. I hope he comes back to ISB as the dean someday. That will be some coup!

But damn, I missed his session. That presentations workshop was the culprit - again!

Elsewhere, the spouse & family assoc (SFA) organised a 'Sawan Mela' this tuesday. Catch its pics here from Ram's blog.

This term has made most of us numb. People these days sound pretty comfortable with a 16-18 hr work schedule. I guess the idea - 'Am here for the learning not grades' as kicked in big time.

Read somewhere - Grades are nominal, knowledge is real. Quite profound :-)

The coming 3 days are packed as well.

Folks from Lehman Bros will be on campus on Friday to talk about work culture there, what do they expect in prospective employees, etc.

Further in the evening, ex strategy head of a fashion consulting house - who has been behind brands like DKNY, CK, etc is gonna talk about his experiences. Sounds interesting.

Still further in the evening, Boston Consulting Group guys will be present for a workshop on Consulting skills. Some alum is coming down for this.

On Sunday, Pramath Sinha, Prinicipal, Mckinsey & former dean of ISB and a few other consultants from Mckinsey will be on campus to talk about consulting.

Sounds like a promising weekend. But for as many assignments.

PS: Hey anonymous (who asked me for more pics of campus), I have taken a few pics clicked by others & uploaded em on yahoo. Mainly architecture. Not many people in them.
You can see them here - http://photos.yahoo.com/capreal26

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Markets as a source of information.

A well functioning market does a great job of extraction information about prices, likelihood of events occuring in the future, etc. Predictions of future commodity prices is based on crude futures directly. Most traders (of assets) value predictions about financial numbers (like Fed funds rate, wholesale inventory levels or monthly retail sales,etc). However, other information such as who will be next Fed chairman is also valuable to the financial community in some way. But there are no future contracts which could be bought in favour of one candidate over the other.
Enter intrade.com/tradesports.com.
Intrade is an interesting company. It allows indviduals to trade contracts for politics, current events, financial indicators, weather & even entertainment. Price of a contract is directly related to the probability of occurance an unambiguous event in future. For example, it had bets on outcome of the american presidential elections, bets on whether or not NYSE (ex-) chief Grasso will be ousted or when will Saddam Hussien be captured. I dont exactly know how dissimilar is this from a betting operation (which is legal in many countries) but if there is enough liquidity in such a marketplace (in terms of number of buyers & sellers of contracts), pretty useful info can be culled out. Maybe that info can be used for hedging. Infact, mercantile exchanges like Chicago's do offer weather futures which, say, an insurance company can buy to hedge.

Interesting aside: the intrade market places a price of 12.6 on a contract future of 'Osama being captured by dec 31, 2005'. i.e. this market feels that there is only a 12.6% prob of this event happening. Lets wait & watch how efficient the market is in churning out such information.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A few ISB snaps.

Link to Chandra's blogpost. Here.

Am thinking of starting a photoblog containing regular foto updates from ISB life. Lets see.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Diary 3rd Aug...

We have been having our elective infosessions on all concentration areas these days. Y'day, Prof Bhagwan Chaudhary, while talking about finance electives available this year, said something which kinda shook some of us. He said that- we should consider our formal MBA over after 4 core terms. All that was there to learn essentially is covered upto Term IV. Thereafter, it is totally application oriented. This statement really left, atleast me, quite nervous. In real terms, its been just about 3.5 months here. & To hear that time is flying past us so fast is kinda scary. I dont even realise that.
In a few days, we need to take a call on the choice of electives. Which, if done consciously, should align with one's larger career objective. Which in turn means that one should have clearly chalked out his post MBA goals. I have been hearing this - Focus, focus, focus on what you wanna do.., dont go with the herd.., be clear.., etc etc etc since the day I landed here. The LDP has been bombarding us with all sorts of tools & stuff like MBTI, EQ, Psycho-Biological make up of humans & what not .. which are supposed to take us on a journey to 'the land of self awareness'. Personally, I agree with them only to an extent. Maybe because I am yet to meet a person who has used them & has come out a better person. Duh, loser me!
Anyways, the LDP course (euphemistically called as 'Leadership Development Program') is an interesting one. The prof Rajeshwar is good. He is extremely well read & a great speaker. Some find him a little over aggressive. I like the idea of the course viz basically making us more aware psychologically. Usual gripe is - too timepressed to mull over it & practice it. Maybe I shouldnt be blogging now but introspecting. But somebody said writing has a catharatic effect. Am waiting for it to appear. :-)

Elsewhere, there is a deluge of speakers at ISB these days. If I recall the speakers/visitors who came in term III only (viz in last 2 weeks only), list grows pretty impressive. Starting with the TiE-ISB event in which lots of VCs & entrepreneurs descended, CEO of KPIT Infosystems, CEO of RaboIndia Finance, CEO of Induslogic, BV Jagdeesh of Exodus, Arijit Ghosh - the country head of Unilever Vietnam. In the pipeline this week is a talk by Swaminathan Aiyer of Swaminomics fame. Add to all this regular seminars, workshops by different Centers. Like the TGIF every first friday of the month. Or the upcoming Indian Capital Markets Symposium by CAF. Add to this the regular internal speaker series that various clubs keep on arranging.
Am not even half way through the list of activities but it already appears maddening. Plus beyond a certain point, the returns from attending all such events start following the 'diminshing returns to scale priniciple'. But life here is well & truly happeneing. & making choices is pretty tough & important too.