martes, marzo 04, 2008

differences between home and exchange schools

It has taken a bit long for me to write, because I wanted to post a long, researched article on the differences between home and exchange schools during an MBA. I am enjoying every moment of my time here in New York (who wouldn't!), and I strongly recommend the experience to anybody who is doing an MBA with an international profile. Here is how being abroad compared with my home London Business School:

- since I've accepted a job offer, I can focus on my academics, extra-academics, and the city itself!! This clears your mind from worries, and your schedule from the time-consuming job search. Coming on exchange is a decision that should be meditated (since it's to be taken around march of your 1st year), but if you think you'll get a job offer from your internship, or from the october milkround, go ahead!

- if you take a look at the euro-dollar exchange rate (and bearing in mind that my future salary is in euros!), you'll see why every time Bernanke goes out there and cuts interest rates, I smile...

- New York's weather is different than London's. It doesn't rain so much (although we've had some snow). It's also colder here (but you can easily solve that by wearing another layer, or turning on the heating).

Now, the US MBA experience is a bit different from the European MBA experience. US schools, in general (and God knows I should not generalize, but you can look at the BusinessWeek's rankings to contrast this). For starters, my impression is that students are much younger (maybe it's me who is feeling older in my 2nd year?). Also, they have less business experience, which makes class discussions less rich (still, American students tend to compensate this by being more outspoken). Also, even though there are a few Spaniards, Italians, and French among the students, there tends to be less diversity than at LBS.

Professors, on the other hand, are very good. I'm taking 4 full credit and 1 half credit courses, and I'm very happy with both the topics and the instructors:

- Valuation with Aswath Damodaran. A real valuation, and finance in general, guru. Doesn't get any better.
- Real Estate Operations with Harry Chernoff. An insightful professor and entrepreneur who has made a fortune in NY real estate, trying to share his knowledge.
- Venture Capital Financing with Roy Smith. Professor Smith has been Managing Partner of Goldman Sachs, and has been involved in a great deal of transactions involving start-up firms.
- Advanced Strategy Analysis, with Prof. Gonçalo Pacheco de Almeida, is a great course on some cool strategic concepts (disruption, critical mass, industry convergence, etc)
- Finally, my favorite is Competitive Strategies in the Marketplace, by Prof. john Cziepel. This course considers strategy from a military standpoint (who is attacking, who is defending?), is very applied and implies working on a case and presenting it to the class at the end of the term.

As during the rest of my MBA, you can see a combination of both Finance as well as Strategy courses.

Apart from the academics, the exchange is also an opportunity to do some more networking. The group of exchange students here in NY is very nice, and we do quite a few things together (among them , of course, going out for drinks and dining out!). And there are some interesting conferences and events at NYU, just like the ones at LBS, which allow you to interact with the broader business community of New York.

So, as you can see, there are some differences, as could be expected, but in general, I am very happy with the experience of coming here and living again in the US. And this city is great, I am actually starting to wonder what could I do to come back work here....;)

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