sábado, octubre 28, 2006

busy weekend

It is true that the pace of the MBA is in fast-forward mode right now. Even though it's saturday, I have a lot of readings, a bit of studying for the upcoming Econ midterm, and a few assignments still to be finished (among them a very enlightening Finance assignment on the financial performance of Airbus' A380 project).

Of course, it's worse said than done. In reality, the assignments are not that difficult (at least for me, but I've heard that around quite a bit). And they don't really take that long to do. The readings are not (all) mandatory. And the exam is a 20-question multiple choice test, done in half an hour.

So, since we have a guest this weekend, I'll probably join Esther and her in their London sightseeing, and go to Notting Hill for dinner.

I love London....

martes, octubre 24, 2006

great events

If thinking about going to Business School, there are other things to consider apart from the academics. Location and Reputation is important, since it will attract great speakers and provide for great events where to get fantastic insights from real-world businessmen.

Monday, I had the luxury of attending the laund of the Institute of Technology at the School. It is a joint venture together with UCL (University College London), and the highlight of the event (apart from the presence of the Dean, the Provost of UCL, many professors from both institutions and a lot of CEOs of hi-tech companies) was a conference by Rajiv Dutta. CFO of eBay during some 5-6 years, later on was assigned as CEO of Skype when it was acquired by the Bay area auctions behemoth, and for the last month or so has returned to the States as President of Paypal. The topic was the influence of technology and innovation in business
, and his views were pretty interesting. The rate of change is increasing exponentially, so we should see many more advances in the next 10 years, almost as many as there were in the whole 20th century. A bit scary as well....he claimed he is being paid to think every day about the consequences of all this for his business.

Of course, the networking opportunities afterwards were very good, and I tried my best to master what people say is the best one gets out of business school: a network.

On the same page, but on a different topic, yesterday we had a panel including Niall Fitzgerald, former Chairman and CEO of Unilever. He shared his views on Corporate Social Responsibility, the Role of Business in Society, and Ethics in general. More great insights, and great networking opportunity on the reception afterwards.

Unfortunately, i had to run out of both cocktails because I had to meet my group for a Case Competition we are engaged in. But the speeches, and the people I talked to, were amazing.

tired of bad service

One of the things that one sets up a blog for is whining. So, please allow me to rant a bit about my latest bad experience with a customer-disoriented organization: a bank.

I had to transfer funds from Spain to my UK account in order to satisfy the London Business School's fees. It is a hefty sum, not a small transaction. Well, even after ordering it more than 3 weeks ago, this transaction has never been executed. I am transferring funds between subsidiaries of the same "global bank" in Spain and the UK. And not only they don't execute the transfer (hey, isn't it about "pressing a button" somewhere??? I thought all this day-to-day processes are automated even in regional savings banks!!!!). What is worse, I keep calling their phone banking service and they keep telling me they don't know what went wrong, but that there's nothing they can do. They have not even called me once to tell me there's a problem, it was me who had to call and ask....

Bottomline: the funds haven't arrived yet and I will probably have to pay an extra fee to the School because of the delay.

My takeaways, then: don't believe the myth, there is no such thing as a global bank! And second, it is hard to deal with an organization when one has such little bargaining power (Porter dixit). Next time I'll pretend I'm a business to see if they get preferential service...

Epilogue: Had to file a complaint, and am still waiting for their reply

Question: anybody can guess which bank lacks the most elemental customer service???

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miércoles, octubre 18, 2006

a really long day....

yesterday was a great day, albeit a bit long....here goes my schedule, for you (still) willing to apply to an MBA!!!!

6:30 alarm goes off. I try to stop it frenetically. However, I remember that I gotta get up.

7:00 after getting on my sport shorts and shoes, I get out of the appartment trying not to wake Esther up.

7:15 meet at Regent's Park for Rugby training.

8:25 exhausted, dirty and having been bit by all kind of morning bugs, I head to the gym's showers.

9:00 Finance class. Our Italian professor tries to explain our slow minds how to value bonds. Believe it or not, this takes 3 hours. But it's very interesting...

12:00 run to the cafeteria grab a sandwich, devore it, and head to the library to try to finish my presentation for the afternoon "communication skills" class.

14:00 Global Leadership Development Programme: Skills Development class. We have to practice our presentation skills. Our trainer will record us and give us feedback on pace, body language, eye contact, structure, etc. My Rugby Club presentation is funny and I manage to make people laugh at it.

17:00 class is over for the day. I run home to rest a bit and try to catch up on readings.

18:00 after a short nap, I finish the Managerial Economics case analysis and lay down my strategy for the Strategy case (how redundant can I be?).

20:00 cook dinner for me and Esther. Prepare a Spanish tortilla de patatas for the week.

22:00 make coffee and rush again to the School. The rest of the Spanish gang is there, we are meeting to prepare for the AT Kearney case competition. We analyze the case given to us, and prepare a set of questions to interview the consultants playing the role of the company's management team.

01:00 finish the case and go home. I still check e-mails and go again through the Econ case.

02:00 go to bed and fall almost imediately asleep.

jealous, anyone? I reckon that after this, I was destroyed....and still haven't recovered!

sábado, octubre 14, 2006

2nd week is over...

And it's time for reflection about the MBA. Here it goes:


The courses are fine. The level of difficulty is not too high, at least not yet. Some professors are very good, others are not so good. But in all cases, the lectures are very interactive, with a lot of real-life cases, and mentions to applications in business life.

So far, I find most interesting my Strategy course. Not only the contents, analyzing different cases and trying to fit the managers' behaviour into some kind of framework. I really loved the materials used!! It's so great to be explained Porter's 5 forces through a video by Dr. Porter himself!! I already experienced this during our "UGM - Understanding General Management" course in the introduction term. We had a case about Apple, and were discussing what would we have done if we were John Scully, the CEO from 1986-1993. After bringing out many ideas, pointing out what Apple had done right and wrong, the professor just said "Ok, let's ask him in person!" and started playing a tape where Scully reflected in a Harvard classrom about his own mistakes, and the things that ickhe should have done differently!! Amazing...

About the other courses: Finance is also very interesting (applied and with lots of numbers, very engineery!). Accounting is a bit slow and boring, but I guess it will get more complicated as the weeks go. Ethics and Economics are necessary, but I must admit I need to gather motivation to attend both in a participative way.


This one is a tricky one. So far, it hasn't been very high. Only an all-nighter before the Stats assignment was due last Thursday. And I'm more or less keeping up with all the readings. This is a bit strange, because everybody was warning me that I wouldn't be able to do just everything. So I hope that the workload will go up in the future.


Most amazing part of the MBA. The classmates. From all possible backgrounds, countries, cultures, nationalities. Great class discussions! The professors, having worked in top universities, with top researchers. The alumni that I've met, working in top consultancies and banks, creating their own companies, managing non-profit projects. I've started believing the mantra that 'networking' is the most important part of your MBA.

Social activities

More than you can think of. We've had a few housewarming parties (hey, how did they get such huge apartments?), some class dinner outings (amazing food in London! last time to a great Turkish restaurant), of course all the sports (I've signed up for rugby and plan to join them on as many trips as possible). Some highlights: the Thames River Boat party last weekend, and Tattoo last night. The former, a night cruiso on the river with a bar full of beers and other drinks. The latter, a celebration of the London Business School's diversity. On campus party, free drinks, food from around the world, a samba batucada, an Indian dance festivall and much, much more. In two words: im-pressing!!

jueves, octubre 05, 2006

those poor MBA applicants...

I just came to think that it was only about one year ago, that I started actually working on my application to the London Business School. Around one year ago I went for a long weekend to Paris, where I attended one of topMBA World MBA Tour forums. Apart from taking home a suitcase full of brochures, we rollerbladed by the Seine, had great French food and walked around le Marée, le Quartier Latin and many other great Parisian neighborhoods. Unforgettable weekend! But I digress...

I always had had in mind the idea of pursuing an MBA. Before the summer, I had discussed it with a few friends. But it was only at the beginning of october that I took a real step in the direction of the MBA. Now, let me join the hordes of current students who blog about the MBA application process and try to give some tips.

First, and most important: do your research and preparation. Mine included:
  • buying Montauk's book along with some GMAT preparation books.
  • following current students and other applicant's blogs. Some advanced schools have official blogs, like the one here at London Business School.
  • Reading the BusinessWeek MBA forums. Some schools give access to their forums, like Wharton.
  • diving deep on all the schools' websites and downloading programme brochures
This allows for understanding of both the application process (which is very similar for all schools) and for pre-screening the schools that interest you the most. It is also good for motivation, and to get a sense of aim.

Second, start thinking of the typical essay questions. Make sketches. Brainstorm. Meditate. Most schools ask about:

  • leadership and teamwork experiences. When were you in charge. When did you persuade, convince, advice, counsel, etc.
  • short-term and long-term goals, both professional and personal
  • things that you are proud of, and occasions when you failed
  • hobbies, voluntary activities, commuunity service. How you are and what you do when you're not working
After jotting down some ideas on this questions, answering a 'why an MBA is suitable for you now?' kind of essay should not be a problem.

Third, work early on the administrative paperwork: Recommendations, Transcripts, Official diplomas. It all takes time, and we want to focus on the parts of the application where we can have a bigger impact, so try to get them done as soon as possible.

Fourth, gather a group of reviewers around you. Friends who want to enter into an MBA programme. Your boyfriend/girlfriend. Your family. Colleagues (if you have told them already). They'll be there when you are tired of writing essays, and believe me, you'll need some moral support some time. The human factor is fundamental in the process. Your morale as well. There will be highs and downs. I can't be thankful enough to my girlfriend...

Fifth, take your time. Don't be stingy with it. If you have to give up a leisure weekend away because you have to work on your essays, do so. You are sure you want to join the MBA world, aren't you? It is not impossible to get into any top school. But you need to make sure that inspiration arrives when you are working.

Since I am so bad at time management, I will not comment on suitable dates for GMAT, TOEFL, recommendations, essays and the like. Just remember to focus on a few schools where you see yourself attending, and try to apply early. In my case, I worked by batches. Application to London Business School done, then move on to the application for INSEAD, and so on. Maybe other approaches are better, but this one worked for me and kept me busy while waiting for the results of the different stages.

Bottomline: you need to be focused and constant towards the next goal. As if it was just another work project!

So, I hope I didn't repeat that much what other resources say, and that it was useful for you. Don't hesitate to leave me a comment if you have further questions!!

lunes, octubre 02, 2006

Something looks... different

The School is full of new faces. I have received some 15 invitations to attend kick off meetings of the different clubs this week. London is not sunny anymore. People are tired and hungover after the wild weekend. And my weekly schedule and to-do list looks pretty packed already...

Yes, dear friends! It's day 1 at the "real" MBA 2008 at the London Business School! We had a very insightful class with a very rich discussion on Ethics: how the pressure can push people to do the 'not right' thing, and all the consequences (cf. Enron, WorldCom et. al. in different penitentiary centres).

Still, morale is high. I hope it will help me to cope with what looks as a very demanding term...gotta run to finish a presentation now!