Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Hello Reader-

This blog is practically dead for now, unless I resume it at a future point of time. But I still do answer questions (time permitting) so please feel free to email.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Winter break

To the few readers of this weblog - I wish you all a very happy and fun new year. I wish that terror attacks around the world stop and terrorists put their brains to better use. I wish I would read more books this year, and I get to play more often. I wish Chicago Booth and the talent here shines even more than it is today, and keeps making significant contributions. I wish I connect with more of my classmates in the six months I have here, and make a few more lasting relationships. I hope everyone looking for a job finds one, even if it is not the best one. And I wish winter in Chicago is mild this year.

That's so far as my hopes are for the days, weeks and months to come. But looking at the past month, I feel rather happy at my accomplishment of using the winter break very productively. Since I will be moving out of the US after the bschool education is over, I wanted to see more of the US. Therefore I ventured on a week long roadtrip which took me from Chicago to San Francisco, and I got to see the plains of Kansas, the mountains in Denver, the deserts of Utah and Arizona, and surreal Las Vegas, and the awesome mountainous drive alongside pacific on California-1.

Subsequently, I ventured into Brazil for a 10 day trip to get my first bite of what South American life is. And I was impressed. Spending time in hostels with backpackers from around the world made me realise how less I travel, and how much fun I am missing out on. The people of Brazil made me realize how much more there is to life than just earning lots of money that is sadly the goal of many bschoolers, and even the culture of many of the countries I have lived in. Visiting an island-town where there are no cars or other sophisticated modes of transport helped me understand that simplicity still works, as does walking from one beach to another through thick rain forest like vegetation. And one Caipirinha a day keeps me healthy all the way :) In short, I loved Brazil, and I wish to go back - but not just to that country alone, but a long backpacking trip across the continent.

I hope my fellow bschoolers had fun winter breaks. If you are still scouting for a job, stay strong and luck will strike. If you are an applicant reading this blog, keep faith in the process and put in your best, and leave the rest. A very happy new year to you all again.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I just came back from this awesome Thanksgiving dinner at my friends place, and realised that I met more than one person whom I had not met before. Some of them were classmate, and some were not. So back at home, I started reading this book by Suketu Mehta, the Maximum City. On page 38 of his book, it says
Bombay is built on envy: the married envy the single, the single long to be married, the middle class envy the truly rich, the rich envy those without tax problems.

For some reason these kind of observations in his book make me think about the random incidents that happen to me everyday. Like how I instantly liked a few people I met at the party today, and didn't quite connect with a few others. I question myself, why didnt I connect?

As I try to answer that question, I realize I might well try and break that problem using the consulting case interview methodology - after all, there has to be some use of all those million interviews I took. I realize the basic question can be answered by breaking the situation into 3 parts : a) my own understanding of my own self, likes and dislikes b) the assumptions I make about a person based on the few things are we talk about c) what else is on my mind that might influence my perceptions. Deep diving into (a) I remember that I believe I know myself very well by now. Although every once in a while, I get the opportunity to question that self-assertion. Do I really know myself that well ? I guess the quest's on. Analyzing (b) tells me that I occasionally make a quick opinion on people. I know that's being hasty (and making judgments based on a small sample dataset just isn't the Chicago way of looking into a problem), but I still act the same way. Maybe this is an innate behavioral flaw, I guess I have to work on that. Finally (c). I realize that there were other things on my mind. Moreover, I also feel that I was making a tonne of comparisons, between two different people, between many different people. I was obviously also evaluating the whole environment as a whole, you know the context. Makes me feel that was I even enjoying the party, but I know I was, because all these analytical thoughts were in the subconscious.

Anyways, the whole point is that in "my view", a lot of business school interactions are temporal (maybe a little more at Chicago because of ours being more of a commuter school). People meet at parties, social events, networking events, they chat a bit before they are finally drunk, they talk about some stuff they are interested in, some stuff which might not really interest anyone on the table but everyone thinks plays along for sake of others, and then we go off. We meet again at some other party, social event or networking event, and the case repeats. But this doesnt really help form a connection, at least not a real one. Real connections happen when you connect the first time, and like each other enough to meet more often than the occasional rendezvous ( duh!! ). The question I ask myself is, can I change something to make more connections and have less missed opportunities to know the great people I bump into. What work do I need to do in the (a), (b) or (c) or maybe the unidentified (d), (e) and (f) that can help me the swing the needle the other way ? And it's important to swing the needle - because these arent necessarily connections that will translate into an addition of my LinkedIn contacts list, but these are people whom I can get something from. Not a favor, but some smarts. As I realize now, the cost of missed networking opportunities in business school is very high.

Here's wishing me luck, and if I figure out a solution for myself, I will remember to share.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Being an international student in a US business school

My classmate MaybeMBA mentioned the challenges international students face in US business schools (even at top business schools like ours). I think it is worth elaborating that a little bit since I have been in those shoes for the last one and half years, and have close friends who also face the same challenge.

What's not a problem: If you want to do management consulting (or strategy consulting), or I-Banking, I dont see any problems being an international. Companies dont really care, and my guess is that they have enough clout in DC to get you a visa when the time comes. Having said that, it's important to realise that we are only talking about the big consulting firms, or the bulge bracket investment banks. Middle market IBs or the smaller niche consulting firms dont quite entertain us.

What is a problem: In my opinion, technology, general management, investment management, marketing (or brand management) are problem areas.

Technology sticks out of the lot because in the last few years, that is one sector which has brought in the most immigrants. But sadly, for whatever reasons, many tech companies dont really want to get into the US visa challenges. Examples include, Cisco, HP, Intel, IBM (not IBM Consulting though), NAVTEQ.

General management is a mixed bag, with some companies being open to internationals, but quite a few being not. If you are coming to business school just to do general management, think again and broaden your horizon. Another interesting phenomenon I noticed that for general management, a lot of companies didnt show up for internships, and quite a few were open to internationals : so the situation is better during full time recruiting.

Investment management: I am not even close to being an amateur in this sector, but seeing what I see, I realise why it might be hard for an international to get an IM gig. The basic problem in my mind is that most IM firms are pretty small, and they dont have the muscle or the interest to fight the visa juggernaut. Having said that, I would defer the final judgment to someone like MaybeMBA - you should ask her because she is surely the resident expert.

Finally, marketing or brand management: I have seen this through the eyes of a classmate who really really wanted to do brand management, but she found the going super hard. First, the list of firms she could apply to was meager, and second, the firms dont tend to hire more than 1 or 2 people (generally). This makes the situation pretty hard.

If all the above makes you feel that you cant get a job being an international, that would be wrong. The fact of the matter is internationals do reasonably well in their recruitment, year after year, and this is probably because we realise our constraints coming in and put in the additional effort to overcome and work around those constraints.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gravity of the economic downturn - as seen through the recruiting lens

I was in class yesterday evening (at our Gleacher center), and ran into some heated recruitment discussion. A couple of my colleagues, who I know are the among the smarter ones here, were really disappointed with the results of recruitment. They had done well in their first round interviews, gone on to second rounds, and now got rejects for seemingly not so palatable reasons. Take for example the story of one top 3 consulting firm's (let's leave it unnamed) San Francisco office. My friends I mentioned above had interviewed for that office, but they didnt get an offer. The interviewers had no complaints, but said that they didnt hire anyone out of the 25 people who showed up for second round. 0 out of 25 isnt good at all. As my friend said, "it was a colossal waste of their money and our time". I totally understand what he meant.

Take another big pharma company, seemingly they are hiring just one person across US for their Management Development Program. In another year, I would guess they surely hire many times more. Tech companies arent in the place where I would think they might have been. One of the biggest tech firms is telling people to sign their offers if they cant wait for a few more days for second round stuff to be coordinated (exact words - "sign up your offer given the current market situation"). This kinda talk isnt something tech companies are used to, infact the same firm didnt tell me to sign my offer when I was waiting for my internship second round logistics to work out (at that point they used to say "we are working very hard to get you to our offices as soon as we can for second round")

Finally, I am seeing many people accept their summer offers this week, since most on-campus recruiting is over at GSB (very few still going on). This is both good and bad, bad because they probably wanted something better (or different), and good because they can get back to living a normal life, and not the high stress recruiting life. Bottomline - the reality is grim, but I am sure most of us can fight our way through the process and get something we enjoy (even if it is not the best of best). After all, this year, for every person who gets a job at GSB, there are 5 equally capable people who would have got the same job in another good year.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hunting for a full-time gig

My colleague in business school, Iday aptly summed up the challenges many of us are facing when trying to find a job. It is indeed one of the toughest seasons to be out there in the job market. The sad part about the whole mess is that although everyone around me will end up with a job, many of them wont have the job they really wanted when bschool began. My experience interviewing with multiple firms (across multiple industries/functions) shows that more than anything else, it is a numbers game this time. More than one of us are fit for the job only one can get, and companies are giving random absurd reasons to reject people (which is understandable yet depressing).

Coming into this market, I realised that the best bet would be to look for jobs beyond my dream job (which if I havent mentioned before on this blog, is strategy consulting). I had many years of tech experience, and therefore applying to tech companies was obvious. Since I had done lot of leadership/project management work, I looked closely at many leadership, rotational programs. And then obviously there was consulting.

The thing about tech is that many of the exciting companies arent big enough (or willing enough) to sponsor visas for international students. I think it also hurts us a little bit because of the stereotype that exists in the market about GSB (that we are just a finance school). Having said that though, there is an increasing interest in tech, the HiTech group is doing some great work, and more and more companies are realising that not considering GSB talent is a big mistake. That's great news for incoming classes, but I dont know if any school can do anything about the visa problem.

Rotational programs (or leadership programs) are generally great places to be. Depending on how it is structured within the organization, and who's the sponsor of the program (this tells me the buy-in the program has within different business units of the organization), it can be a great place to restart your career. I found out that GSB was very popular for some great leadership or internal consulting programs, and I applied to most of them. I got some interviews with a few very great firms, and I felt diversified enough to be safe.

The final piece of my recruiting jigsaw was the consulting firms. I applied to almost all consulting firms, and had a fair bit of success getting first round interviews (my internship brand definitely helped I think). I did reasonably well to convert a few good ones into second rounds. The great thing about second round interviews is that they are mostly with Partners (or Principals at the very least). This is great because for most firms, partners are the relaxed people (as against consultants/managers), and if you can relax, you should do well (definitely preparation matters). I realised that I did a better job relaxing this time than I did last time when recruiting for internship (which was a horrible experience - but great learning in retrospect). I guess I just figured that I had nothing to loose (which wasnt quite true) and therefore walked in with a smile and a head held high. Another interesting part about Partner cases are not atypical, so you cant just apply frameworks (this is true for many firms, not all firms). For some reason, that worked well for me, because I was never good with knowing everything about every element of business question, or the perfect framework. So much so, that by now, I have started enjoying interviews, specifically the case interviews. I will hopefully be able to write some detailed posts on how I approached consulting interviews.

As the situation stands now, I have 3 second rounds pending (incidentally one each with the three different industries/functions I mentioned about). Thankfully though, I have an offer as well to consider, which is honestly a sweet spot to be in. The coming weeks will help me understand and gauge where I might end up after bschool, and I am hoping that I will be able to write about it here.

It's 4:45 am here in Chicago, I guess I should probably sleep.

Monday, June 30, 2008

this part of my life is called...Internship

so i started work last tuesday in this company that people rave about, and rightfully so. so i think, at least as of today. although finding this job was by no means easy, transitioning back into the job life hasnt been too hard. all credit for that goes to people i am working with right now, and i realize that it is probably one of the most important aspects of most great companies.

without disclosing the name of the company, it is hard to talk much, lest i give away the name to smart readers;) but i do have some interesting observations on how the company functions.

like for example, consensual decision making. seemingly people dont like to give or take orders. bosses dont order you, and you dont expect to be ordered. two things happen as a result - you are expected to be more independent and proactive, and decision making is potentially long drawn. surprisingly, and thankfully, it seems it isnt long drawn - probably because people are of the smart category. that might speak something good about me, or if you believe the old saying "there are exceptions everywhere" - you would wonder how the smart guys made a hiring mistake. you can take your pick.

people listen. doesnt matter who they are, what rank they hold. if you have something interesting and smart to say, they will listen. often times you will find them engaged, and they will also engage back in conversation. not very many companies can support that culture. you guessed it right - i love it.

access and transparency. there's tonnes of both. of course as interns we arent allowed to snoop in their bedrooms, but the living room is open 24/7. it is true for people as well. they will tell you their stories, they will give you information they think can be valuable, and they will be open to questions. mind you, this can both be enriching and challenging. but it sure isnt bad in any way - at least i cant think of any.

i hope to keep writing about this internship thingie in the coming days. and if you were confused, i am not stating an opinion about the company, yet. i realise that 5 days is a short period to judge anything - so i wont do that. but my hunch is - this experience should turn out to be valuable one, and lots of fun.

ps: i didnt even dare mention the old slogan of "i dont know when i wrote last, and i promise to write more". i have realised that i break that promise without breaking a sweat.

pps: credit for blog post title goes to Mark Yardas (I think?)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Handling Business school waitlists.

Congratulations is due to all who got the call from Chicago GSB. I remember the feeling, a sweet mix of surreal and joy. For others who couldn't make it, I am sorry for ya because I remember that feeling as well, it wasnt nice at all. Just remember that this is not the end of road.

The third segment of the population, people on the WL. What can I say - you probably dont know if you should be happy or sad, right? Take my word, dont be sad because you still have an opportunity in hand. Yes, it might need some more work, but you still got a chance. Dont give up just yet. Let me share some quick thoughts on what I would do if I were on the WL

1) Read the instructions given by the school. Do as they say. You might here one off stories where people disobeyed the instructions, did what they wanted to do, and still got an admit. Do not take that as a rule, because in high probability you would not be able to imitate that one off case. Be safe, follow the instructions.

2) Be creative. Within the realms of what you are allowed to do - try and be creative. See if you can grab attention by bringing in a new way of approaching the same problem. For example, if the school accepts additional material, do you want to send once every fortnight or just once in three months ?

3) Keep in touch. With members of the adcom. But realise that they are going to be really busy people over the next few months (till R2 decisions) - so appreciate the value of their time. If you had the opportunity to connect to them before this decision, leverage that. If you can visit the school and make some new connection, you can do that too. My hunch says that just sending an email or calling wont quite cut it at this juncture if you havent done something before - so focus your energy elsewhere. Another way to gain visibility is to use the schools admission forums - just make sure your handle(or nick) can tie back to your name, and dont ask straight forward questions, please!

4) The trick about extra essays. Make sure there's as much substance in there as was in your essays, maybe even more. Are there any recent developments (career or outside accomplishments) you want to let the adcom know about. Dont send shallow essays just to show interest, it wont add value and can make the adcom question your judgment. Very important - your new essay shouldnt repeat anything you have mentioned in the essay or the application already. Make sure it adds on to what you have, otherwise your judgment might be questioned again.

5) Make essays personal. And I think this applies to the normal essays as well, not just the WL ones. Did you talk to any alums, any current students, or any staff members? Did they or the opportunities in the school strike a chord in you like never before. If yes, mention that (remember : dont repeat stuff though). The usual essay advice of being terse, showing school love, etc all still applies.

6) The trick with recommendations. If the school allows recommendations, use that opportunity. Send some meaningful recos, some heavyweight recos if you can. Pick a recommender who can highlight some new qualities, something you might have ignored(or not have the space) to show before. The trick is to bring in a new shade of yourself.

7) For GSB, you will have from now till some date in March when you can send additional material. Make sure you space out your material (= essays + recommendations) over these three months so that you are regular touch.

8) That's all for the ideas, but before you do all that, take some time off, just relax. Come back and take a few days to read your applications, ask friends in the respective school to read it as well to find what might not have worked. Then start from point 1 above and plan out a roadmap.

If you have questions on the above, feel free to email me or just leave a comment and I can share my thoughts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Taming bschool interviews

My experience of business school interviews is limited, but I believe I have a few ideas which can be helpful to some of you. Here's my list of key points which you should be aware of before you shake hands with your business school interviewer.


As cliched as might sound, I have known people to falter just because they were not prepared enough. Preparation to me would mean
a) having a list of probable questions and their answers
b) a handful of stories which you know inside-out
c) structure the story enough to have the ability to articulate coherently the challenge you were facing, the actions YOU took, and the impact your actions had.
d) practise with friends/family/anyone else to ensure that what seems coherent and meaningful to you means the same to them.


There are two parts to this
a) developing the confidence to handle any unexpected curve ball question
b) having a repertoire of stories which you can use for an unexpected question (and being thorough with those stories)

For me, the confidence comes from practicing and reminding myself that no business school interview (or any other interview/exam for that matter) defines what I am gonna be in life. There will be some interviews I will ace, some I will not - but if I am persistent, I know I will reach my goal.


Applicants always wonder, how important is an interview to get an admit ? Can I get an admit if I dont do well ? I had similar questions when I was an applicant, but now when I look back, I realise that those are questions best left aside. Because no one knows the answers, and I am sure if there is one right answer it surely would vary by each school. So relax. And look at the interview as another opportunity to present your best foot forward. I remember an admissions director of a top school telling us that the biggest mistake applicants do is to just focus on essays. Essays are very important, but that doesnt mean we neglect other parts of the application. One doesnt loose out if he does well in every department, right ? Bottomline - interviews are important - make sure you practice enough to do well.


Adcom interviews are known to be structured and predictable. Alum interviews are less structured and many times random. The trick to ace either kind of interview is to look back at points 1 and 2 above. Practice, and be prepared for the unexpected.


Knowing yourself would boil down to knowing your resume, your essays, and other stories very well. The worst an interviewee can do is to be shaky on points on his or her resume or essays. Knowing yourself would also mean having a clear understanding where you want to be, and what path you are going to take to reach there. Knowing the school would mean how the particular school would help you reach your goals, what facilities it provides, what level of alumni access would you have, what are the courses you would want to take, what are the services the staff and student body provides. But that's not all - you should also know why you would fit with the people at the school, the culture of the school (and I now realize that cultures are different between different school despite some obvious similarities - like we all think in millions :-)), the good and bad of the community and how all that fits with the person that is you. Dont neglect these subtle parts, they are important.


Relax! Very important. Stressing out generally does not work for most people. Grab a cup of coffee (you need to be awake and alive), a chocolate or protein bar (you need to be enegetic), and dont stop reading your notes just 5 minutes before the interview.


Relax. Treat the interview as a conversation, it generally is that way. Treat the interviewer as a person, not someone who holds your future in his or her hands.

Smile. A pleasant demeanor cant hurt you, and mostly ends up helping your case. It also makes the interviewer feel that you arent stressing it, an important quality in any wannabe top corporate exec.

Listen and think. Take the time to assimilate the question and formulate a structure for your response. But dont take too long as if you are dreaming. A coherent story which comes a few seconds late is much better than a rambling that begins instantaneously.

Be energetic and enthusiastic. Not overly so though. Energy and enthusiasm is always infectious in the positive way.

Have questions to ask. Intelligent ones. Unique if possible. Remember, each part of the application is an opportunity to differentiate yourself, so go grab that chance you have.

Do not forget to thank the interviewer, irrespective of whether he has been nasty, cold, or lovable.

That's enough advice I think. Time for you to go put advice to action. Now!

Payback time!

It's been a long time since my last post, and I have missed the fun of writing. I know that through my absence I have disappointed a few of those friends who were connected to me through this blog. And to all my fellow bschool-ers who still have me on their blogroll, I plan to do better going forward.

Given that I havent written for so long, I believe it's payback time, and I will hopefully be able to give a summary(through my next few posts) of what's been happening over the last 2 months. And a quick gist of what I liked about being at Chicago GSB. But I will begin with a quick post on my advice on how to prepare for business school interviews - because I had a few folks approach me with that question over the last few weeks.

So let me get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Managing Busy-Ness

The last few days have left me with a feeling of left behind. I haven't been able to manage time well enough! Classes started Thursday the 20th, and ever since then life just got a little busier than it originally was. And more so since I opted to take four courses this quarter instead of 3 (which is what a larger percentage of the class takes). Time has been so short that I am having a difficulty keeping up with friends, I see them here and there, but we are not getting the time to talk at leisure. People are getting busy, and we are being told that the curve is just going to go further north. Business school I guess is about busy-ness.

I have had one class each for each course I am taking, and I find the professors pretty good. My Microecon professor is a really smart young chap and a completely no-hassle guy. Regression Analysis is being taught by an Italian, who proclaims to be a fundamentally nice person. Marketing Strategy and Financial Accounting are subjects I think I will have to work the most on, since the professors clearly mentioned that that is what they expect. In other words, lots of pre-reading, pre homework and group work. This weekend is going busy with me trying to catch up, and hopefully I will.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

TNDC, Student Clubs

A quick wrap-up of the week thus far.

Industry immersion was sure a highlight of the week for many of us. It essentially is composed to multiple presentations (or panels) running parallely to give us students a real-life and deeper insight into various different careers and industries. It also gives us an opportunity to mingle with alumni from the school who are working in those industries, and want to share all they know. Presentations generally involve one person sharing a broad overview of the industry, and then explaining the few important details to help you give the necessary direction to dig deeper. Panels had more than one person sharing their thoughts on various questions asked by our career advisors and the student body. Most of the sessions exceeded the expectations of the crowd, but some surely could do with some improvement.

Thursday night brought the first TNDC(loosely translates to Thursday night drinking club), a Thursday night drinking event where the drinks are made cheaper for GSB people, and a large number of both first years and second years turn up. Since this was the first TNDC, first years were surely excited and turned up in big numbers, but there were a large second year population as well. Most of the second years were coming back from a successful internship (by which I mean they already had full time offers), so they sure were in the mood to catch up with old friends and party till the wee hours of the morning.

Thursday was also the first day of class for many of us. I had my first taste of Microeconomics, and considering that GSB and UChicago are the powerhouse of Econ, I was surely not disappointed by our professor. His teaching style is very friendly, and over that, he is just super cool. Very very few hassles with the way he operates.

Thursday led on to Friday, as it usually does, and we got the to meet officials from the various student clubs for the first time(officially). Stalls were set-up in the winter garden (which I think was designed to be big enough to accommodate almost all kinds of events), and we talked to whichever groups we were interested in. Of course there were good snacks outside in the summer garden and a side table were people tried their skills at beer pong. Add to that the special European beer (courtesy the European Club) and samosa and syrupy jalebi (courtesy the SABG group), and you know we all had a treat.

Saturday was shopping day, and Sunday is for us to go back to school, since we have the various student clubs giving presentations all day today. It's optional, and we can choose which ones to go to. Box lunches are provided, so if you are in the vicinity, sneak in.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Aftermath of Madness

My fellow blogger GanjaTurtle had done well to describe the madness of the crowds when it came to bidding for courses. As everyone of us had thought, the bidding process was indeed over hyped, and most of us overbid just to get our courses. In the end though, mathematics played its part and we lost a lot of points just trying to outbid each other. Infact, there have been cases where people went out and bid all they have, but still not get the one star professor they wanted. Such is the way free markets operate.

My guess is that people who got courses but spent a lot of points would get wiser in the next quarter, and sanity would come back to town. Till then, our fellow brethren who were denied even one course because they didnt play well with the options the system had, will have to slog it out in our Drop-Add-Swap (DAS) round and find courses they need.

Thankfully, I got all the courses I had bid for. Due to some stroke of good luck, I didnt end up paying as much as the courses were priced, which helped me save some points that will carryover to the next quarter. When classes start on the 20th, I will be studying : Financial Accounting , Microeconomics, Applied Regression (although I dont remember anything about Basic Stats which is a pre-requisite to this course) and Marketing Strategy. I will try and elaborate a little on what this subjects aim to achieve in my next post (but that info will primarily be drawn out of the curriculum guide I think).

The LEAD program is going well, and we head out today to enact a case involving a mobile phone company. The programs so far has taught us something and entertained at the same time. I am confident that this combo will live the life of the LEAD program. It is also admirable to see that our LEAD facilitators (a group of 40 second years) are extremely well prepared to handle the training and the challenges that come along with that. It seems that they went through 400 hours of training just to get to train us.

This morning, we have a Career Service session coming up, so I gotta run now and get ready. Till next time - Sayonara !!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Of tapas, Mckinsey and Leadership!

Bidding for courses officially ended this morning at 8 am. We all spent a lot of time strategising what courses to take, and how many bid points to allocate. At the end of it though, I think most of us felt incompetent to an extent that we knew our best bids can also get messed up. At the end of it though, I think most of us will get classes we want, and with professors we want since in most cases we have enough supply - let's see if my prediction comes true, just half a day to go before we find out.

Day before yesterday, Ian Davis(Managing Director, McKinsey) came to the deliver a short speech at GSB's Winter Garden. I must say that I liked the content of the speech, and his candid and honest answers the student questions. It was surprising for me how he accepted the problems some countries had and how hopeless their situation was, just like he discussed how certain economies are doing well but still have a long way to go. The shoebox lunch was kinda ok, the Snapple Lemon Ice Tea served alongwith lunch was much better :)

Yesterday we did something for which I can steal the Emirates Airlines punchline "when was the last time you did something for the first time". As part of our legendary LEAD program, 7 of us (from a sub group of our cohort) were given a group assignment which was videotaped. Then we had to watch ourselves on videotape, and analyse our strengths and our faults. It was followed by a short evaluation of our behavior by the LEAD facilitators. It was indeed a revealing and enriching experience, and I am sure this will add a lot to our improvement on how we behave, talk, present and conduct ourselves.

Later in the day, we had 2 more sessions, one which didnt rhyme with me, and another which did. The day finished by we heading to a popular Spanish Tapas bar in downtown Chicago, where our cohort and a sister cohort was ready to mingle. I ate lot of stuff which I still dont know much about, drank a bit, talked a lot, and had good fun. Came back very late in night, put in my bid for courses, and then crashed on my bed. Thankfully, today is our day off, so we are just relaxing. There are some more parties in the night (and it seems that this GSB class has a knack for parties, outings, etc) - so who knows where I will end up today.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The first week at GSB and beyond

After a long Labor Day weekend, Core began at GSB on September 4th at the Rockfeller Chapel with Dean Snyder's address. His address highlighted the expectations GSB has from its students, and the expectations we can have from GSB. The crux of that was an understanding that although we can expect GSB to provide top notch career support, the onus of where we land after two years is on us. Needless to say, my shoulders felt heavy with responsibility. Asst Dean Stacey Cole followed with a slightly light hearted speech, and then came the introductions from a few other officials, mostly the Directors of the LEAD program.

They briefed us on what lay ahead as far as LEAD was concerned. We also were given a few instructions on how to prepare for our trip to Lake Lawn Resort in Wisconsin. That was all for that day, I think (am a little fuzzy with so many things going around me).

LOE began with we packing our bags and the bus drivers packing us in the Coach USA buses. Once that was done, we headed to a land of "Nice to meet you" people. See, the point of LOE is get to know as many people as you can, in a non classroom setting. There are opportunities to bond during sessions like Breaking Boundaries where you work in teams to play games. Or just chill out with a glass of beer during one of the many social events in the evening. If you are of the meeting-type, you are bound to bump into many many people, some of them you will remember, some you wont. But each time - you say "Nice to meet you", with a smile on your face. After a while, I felt tired, as many others from my class did. We also entered a phase called the Name-Overload-Phase, where we were getting confused with names, or just couldnt remember them. In true MBA style, we had pushed ourselves a little too much. All said and done, there is a very good flip side to this, you really meet some people who will end up working or hanging out with in the next 2 years. Maybe they will give you a big break sometime in your career (as the Dean said). I think that is the greatest take away.

LOE finished on Friday last week, and we were back late in the afternoon. Most of us just hit the bed to compensate for the loss of sleep generated by excessive partying during those two nights in Wisconsin. Saturday was a White Sox Vs Minnesota Twins baseball game which GSB had given free tickets for, so many of us went there. I have trying to remember what we did Sunday, but I have no clue. And it's just Tuesday today. This is probably what MBA is all about.

The current buzz in school is about courses. GSB has what I think an overly complicated bidding process where you bid for a schedule to enroll in the classes you want. The process should get simpler from next year, so that is great news for the incoming class. I have more of less decided which 4 courses I will bid for, but there is still a long way to go. I still need figure out the professors, the timings I want to take my class, the points I will bid for each schedule I make, and worry about what the others in my class are doing.

That apart, Ian Davis, Managing Director of The Firm will be there to give us some lecture and have lunch this afternoon, so that's the bright part. Free food is a luxury and a need these days, and to share that time with Ian Davis is an added bonus.

That's all I have for now. More later (hopefully, if I dont get overwhelmed).

Sunday, September 02, 2007

58 days

yeah, that's long it has been since i last blogged. needless to say, this gap has been due to a mix of initially nothingness, then laziness and now busy-ness. so a short recap of what happened for y'all. here goes.

my days at home with my family and other relatives was awesome. as i mentioned before, it just feels good to hang out with people whom you havent met in years and get to know their stories. some interesting, some not so - but definitely worth an ear. besides those discussions, i also did a lot of shopping, and somewhere down the line i figured that i had shopped more in this one month than in all my years of working combined. luckily though, the shopping didnt amount to excess baggage, and a week back, i was on board the British Airways flight to Chicago.

The flight to Chicago was just about OK. Not so much because of the quality of the airline, but probably because of the long distance i had to traverse. my flight was on time, and i reached my apartment safe. the pre-processing with the apartment people had already been done, and i checked into a apartment very soon. then came the funny part. there were no lights in the bedrooms. it seems one has to buy lamps and put them yourself (i was learning the american way of life). thankfully my room had a closet which opens up into the room, so i managed with the light that came out of that. add to that the fact the room was completely bare - that's how it is, but this is something i knew before checking in.

all this meant that we had lots of stuff to buy, which kept me busy over the next day or two, and i was soon able to bring the furniture i wanted. the bigger part though, is still pending - i.e. the furniture still needs to be assembled. i guess i will get to that after this huge continuous list of parties end. which is what is keeping most of us occupied these days.

these parties and meet-ups have completely shattered the few gsb stereotypes that were lurking in some corner of my brain. over the last few days, our classmates have put in all the effort to get to know one another, and what better way to do that than over a mug of beer. at this point of time, i can surely say that we have a enthusiastic and energetic set of classmates.

another interesting thing is the high percentage of internationals in the class this time. i had complained sometime back about not staying at IHouse and missing out on the international scene at GSB and UChicago. But thankfully, hardly anyone went to live at ihouse (as predicted), and most of them landed at the condo i am staying at (or close by). this meant that we get to meet a new face very often, and that new face is from a different country. till now, i have had the opportunity to talk to people from thailand, singapore, japan, england, poland, latvia, ivory coast, columbia, argentina, brazil, mexico, peru, russia and of course, the indians and the chinese. these interactions, i think will probably be one of the highlights of my gsb experience.

school officially starts tomorrow, the 4th. needless to say, i am very eager to see how it all shapes up. there are undercurrents in the community about bidding for courses, and getting an internship. all that needs to be taken care of, but i will handle all that when it comes and as it comes. for now, i am just soaking in the summer sun, and having fun imagining what's it going to be like in the coming days.

Friday, July 06, 2007

mundane yet interesting.

after being holed up in one corner of the city, in a guest house which was comfortable, cozy and lonely, i found it refreshing to move back into the city with a friend a few days back. from then on, it has been one helluva ride.

first the tedious part. it amazes me that how often we can make simple things difficult so easily. take for example the money transfer i wanted to do from one bank to another. it took me around 2 hours and good amount of running around to accomplish a task which by end of it, felt like a feat. expectedly, i was very happy yesterday. but going that i am to a management school, to learn porter's five forces and the ubiquitous 4 P's, i am forced to wonder what happened to the dictum that customer is the king. i know i am painful because i compare, to a few places where i have seen things happen faster.

these experiences have a bright side as well. they force me to think if one can improve customer experience, and in turn grab a lot more customers. i know all companies try this, but how many really succeed. they win on the relative count(as in when they are better than another), but i wonder how they would rate on a absolute scale(if at all we can come up with one). bringing this change would be kinda grassroot work, and as i head to school, i wonder if i will have the courage to opt for something like this or will i get defeated by the seducing powers of thee goldman sachs and the kkrs and the mckinseys. i also wonder why i get philosophical at times.

back to reality, the resignation process at work has been relatively simple. i did chase a few people to get it started, but then on, it is just me making calls to a few people begging them for my various clearances, which aint any hard work at all. given that i am writing this post from my office pc, one can understand that there isnt much to be done outside of getting those last minutes sign offs.

the best part of my stay here is the fun i get to have when i am back home in the evening. i usually meet up with many of my old gang members, and it is great to hear so many stories which i missed out on because i was away. the change in my friends is also palpable, we all have moved on from our old days. some have become parents, some still struggling to find the right guy/girl, some braving the challenges at work, some just growing old and happy at being so. it all shows, and it is all very interesting.

the weekend is right by the corner, and i cant wait. there is some work do be done, some fun to be had, and some much needed sleep to be recovered. till next time - you guys be good.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Random email advice

A email I answered about feedback sessions and choosing what school to apply to.

let me answer your questions:

1) feedback sessions are generally a facewash, meaning they dont tell you much about what the real reason is for rejecting. it is simply because when candidates get too many in number, it is really difficult to tell somebody why they rejected one and picked the others [edit 1 : feedback sessions are probably a facewash in cases like the one i described. i was wrong in the email to generalise that all feedback sessions are a facewash]. for me, this was the case with the Kellogg feedback. Luckily though, my GSB feedback was better, the adcom asked me to apply early. they also asked me illustrate more of my professional experience, which I seemingly hadnt done very well in my essays. i dont remember anything else which was important. the problem with me, as per my own evaluation, was that i belong to an oversubscribed pool of applicants, and i always knew that my challenge would be to differentiate. which is what i concentrated on this year. i would say that i probably didnt do the best job, but i guess i got lucky in the end. thankfully :)

2) my reasons of choosing GSB were simple. first of all, i only applied to schools which give full loans without the need for a cosigner - this is a constraint i have being an international. that left me with a small list of schools to apply to. i evaluated the schools i had in the bag, see which ones i liked (in regards to my future career goals), and where i will get a top notch education. i was primarily interested in consulting, and GSB does very well there. i wanted to apply to a program where i get a top notch education, and GSB has that as well (as did my other schools Kellogg and Wharton). GSB's career services i hear is awesome, and i met a couple of gsb alums who were really helpful to me through the process - which really really sold me to the school. another thing which intrigues me is the "challenge everything" philosophy of the school. i am sure there is good and bad to it - but i guess i will enjoy that kind of culture which throws you off guard and forces you to think. apart from that - i liked chicago as a city when i visited it briefly. i should also admit that i only applied to schools where i thought i had a chance of getting an admit from.

i think the crux here is to choose the school which you like based on your personal traits, and which fit with your career ambitions. dont apply to a place where you think you wont enjoy yourself to the "maximum". after all, you will be spending a good amount of money, so why not get as much fun out of the deal as well.

i may not be very good at explaining "why this school" kind of questions, probably because i was not so stringent myself, and had less to choose from. i would urge you to browse the other blogs (from the clear admit top 10 list) and see what they have written about choosing schools. i remember there were some good posts on this topic.

another email i got.

Hello Forrestump - if I may address you like that :)

I am another Indian IT engineer wanting to get into the management stream.
I have a 4 year IT exp, GMAT 710, GPA 3.5, decent extra currs like -

Playing a key role in establishing a startup IT consultancy and a product development firm. My role includes/included strategies for set up, startegies for expansion, recruitment, product delivery.

Networking with a research initiative of a top US University and incorporating the initiative in a rural education development program.

organizing and heading a committe that awards scholarships to students of my alma mater etc.

I am targeting Startegy Management (consulting) in business and have tentatively shortlisted the following schools -
Duke, USC, Emory, McCombs, Krannert, Fisher in US.because

Please let me know your frank thoughts on this -

1. Please advice if my school selection is OK or should I have a go at schools that are better ranked. These schools that I have selected fit my character, aspirations, needs and profile.

However a few schools in the top 15 did suit me as well, but I abstained from choosing them just because I have just 4 years of work exp in the most intensively competitive Indian IT male 24 pool. Also I do not have an exceptional career progression to show apart from my entrepreneurial initiative. I am particularly in love with Chicago GSB for its curriculum, focus, cultural spread etc.. But my dilemma is restraining me from applying.. some advice please

My Answer :

Thanks for your kind words for my blog. I am glad that you found it helpful.

Coming to your question, I would urge you to visit the school websites and check how they place in strategy consulting companies. That way, you would be able to rate your chances if you were to attend that school. From what I know, Duke and McCombs are "ok", but I hardly know anything about the other schools to tell you anything. If you are dead on going to a top consulting firm like Mck/B/B - you should aim to get into a higher ranked school. It helps a bit, since the consulting firms have more slots for top schools than they have for schools slightly lower in rank. Again, validate what I just said, since this is my perception based on whatever research I have done - I may be wrong.

From what I see of your profile (which is very little to be honest) - I think you can aim higher. At this point of time, I would suggest you read the Montauk book(if you already havent), and do the introspection required to write some good essays and articulate your story well. The more clarity you have about your goals, and about yourself, the better you will be able to tell why a certain school works for you (you also need solid school research).

I think I mentioned it in one of my posts that an applicant needs to show different sides of his/her personality. Most of us have the many stories to write about, but the trick lies in picking up the best fit stories and sewing them up together to present a case which tells me most about you, and the best things about you, in a tone which is readable and enjoyable - and makes me feel that I would like to know you more.

I think you should check out all the top 20 schools and see where you can fit and then choose a couple of them to apply to (the general rule, they say, is the 2-2-2 split. 2 stretch schools, 2 probable schools, 2 safe schools). I think Montauk describes the crafting-a-strategy thing better, so go read that.

Regarding your question about age and career progression : I am currently seeing that many of my classmates are in the same work experience bracket as you are in. Also, I have heard that ad com looks for leadership potential, and there is no one way only for showing that. Further, even if you dont have exceptional progression to show, you should be able to identify some stories which will help demonstrate the potential, and some of the qualities which future leaders are supposed to have.

Lastly, if you love a school a lot, make sure you apply - because you wont know what could have happened until you apply.

All the best, I hope I answered some of your questions.

simply because, these days, i have nothing much to do than wait for emails, and read emails (ok, i browse through some useless websites as well). sitting there in my office, i have resticted access to the internet. no gmail. no yahoomail. no meebo. feels likes no-nothing. thankfully, gmail has the forward-your-email option. now all my emails come to my office id. i.e. all spams, all forwards, all reminders from gsb to complete this and that.

which means, quite some bit of work, when you consider that i am also sitting here in my office, trying to sort out stuff with my managers so that i can run away asap. i did part of that here-and-there-tasks last week, when i signed what i thought was a million times to ensure that the part of the cash the company owes me is delivered. more stuff like that still remains to be dealt with. i am prepared, at least mentally.

that apart, days have been great fun. i have had the opportunity to talk to many of my old friends in this city which was once home. i met up with some cool bloggers as well, it was good to associate faces to mnemonics. dinner parties have been going on, and there are more in the offing. all in all - a worthwhile few days. i will report back with what happens next. till then - sayonara!

[ps : i am getting a feeling that my posts are getting completely random. excuse me for that. hopefully things will be better when i hit the gsb]

Monday, June 25, 2007

Network, Excel, and Be Kind

A platter of links for you :


The focus of this article is to tell interns to network, and end up with full time offers. This is one thing I need to be better with, because I keep hearing the word networking from all bschool students, irrespective of the bschool. The article is well written for beginners like me, and has some good links to other articles. Go have a look.


No, I wasnt referring to the verb Excel. Just to this good set of links to learn Excel. I havent gone through them all, but they do seem to be intended to give a good overview, but again for beginners I guess.

Be Kind

Some photos which really make you think, shakes your core, and makes you ask a question - can we all be kinder ?