Friday, May 27, 2005

The 3 "Ps"

I’ve finally sorted out my work leaving do… It was actually quite a nuisance . Finding a suitable date at the most agreeable restaurant with the best menu options for a decent price.. Settled for this pub called the Chough (pronounced “Choff”). It’s a lovely English pub under new management, and is supposedly haunted! Nothing like having a little character at your party venue. I compiled and sent out the list of invites, it comprised of the graduate group, the Everest & Kilimanjaro Expedition groups and the different work areas I had been through. I am expecting about 15 people whilst a good proportion to settle just come by for drinks, some people are on leave as it is half-term over that period, so many of the managers cannot attend. There will be more parties to come yet, things won't dry up after this one, I'm especially looking forward to returning to Bristol where I did my undergrad, it's an amazing place to party and have fun and there are some key friends still there. In the meantime this bank holiday weekend, I'm going to take a deserved break and stay put in Salisbury before the celebrations resume again next week.

Churning through some bureaucracy for leaving my company, I stumbled across my company managed pension- what should I do about it? It's value is not that large and ofcourse I can't touch it until I'm 60- although 3-4 months ago I could have withdrawn it and after tax it would be more than sufficient to balance most of my payments this summer! I think I'll try and claim that since I'm leaving the country I'm entitled to my contributions, otherwise I might try and move it to be administered elsewhere- but where?. I also finally gave my notice to leave employment, a very easy task- check this website out!

Potentially one the most emotional presentations I’ll ever have to make. The final presentation on behalf of my charity detailing last year’s Fundraising Expedition up Kilimanjaro. Nothing like the society board of directors, young members, and students at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) for an audience! It should be interesting, I've got quite a bit of time to prepare since it is not until the 17th June. I hope to have a leaving party out in London straight after- I'll certainly need the drink after presenting for almost an hour!

Monday, May 23, 2005

First contact with future Stanford classmates- Accomplished & diverse

After spending 3 straight weekends away this month, I was reluctant to spend a 4th weekend away, especially for yet another trip to London. But I could not miss the chance to meet up with future Stanford classmates based in the UK especially at a BBQ setting. So on Saturday morning I resisted the temptation for my first quiet weekend this month, after all, the weather outlook by late afternoon was not bad- an improvement to the intermittent rain and sunshine we’ve been having. After taking some time to help my musical friend with designing a CD cover and website, I headed down to south London for the BBQ. I’d already briefly coincidentally met Vernon, who works at Barclays Capital on my first attempt of the GMAT back in late September, but was eager to meet the others. So to cut to the chase, what were they all like? Apart from being predictably accomplished they were such a diverse bunch! At a gathering of no more than 8 future Stanford MBA students it was just amazing to find the diversity of background and career. A doctor, an international development worker,a teacher plus a consultant and 3 bankers. There were 4 women, all very bright, accomplished and nice. The conversation was flowing and when things started to slow, a charades type game was just what we needed to liven things up and get things back on track. One noticeable aspect was the competitive spirit of the Americans during the game, all harmless fun of course, but warning signs of the competitive mentally to come in business school. In the end Vernon and myself ended up at the local nightclub, which was cool, as we got a chance to really chat, while the others called it an early night.
My perception of what they all thought of me? Hard to tell. Aside from the usual questions probing into my background etc, they were probably more impressed if anything with how I’d managed to perfect my English accent despite my very strong connections with Tanzania. I was glad to hear that the accent will be a big hit with the girls(that’s coming from one of the American women!). One last thing, the energy and excitement in looking forward to the next two years in California, Stanford was deeply present in everyone, we all felt extremely lucky- it’s going to be amazing!
I think this initial gathering was important, especially since I had not been to Admit Weekend. Of those at the BBQ who had gone to Admit Weekend, they confirmed that majority who were there were deciding between different schools. I’m going to keep in touch with this lot and our bond will strengthen over the next month with more get togethers in planning, although I’m not a big fan of cliques, it seems from the Stanford message boards, these sort of gatherings are happening in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities. So geographic cliques are inevitably being formed.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Summer academic preparation, to exempt or not exempt?

I have reviewed the material from Stanford GSB regarding summer preparation and exemptions examinations. I initially thought I'd be able to exempt from the data and decisions (D&D) sections and especially some of the information management section, but I think not! Especially after reviewing some of the sample exams! There's considerable amount of statistics on the D&D section that I am not comfortable with and would certainly need a refresher. The information management section is doable with a week or so study, but there are some interesting bits I've not done before.
The idea being, that through exam exemption, I will free up course units to pursue more interesting courses or try out the "turbo" courses in areas that I'm competent. I'd be interested in pursuing some engineering courses for instance and gain that second Masters if possible and those spare credits would come in handy if the engineering courses could be double counted...
Anyhow, I think exempting from exams would be a unwise choice given that I'm not used to American education system. I think I'll stick to perfecting my excel skills this summer and have some fun and relax whilst it lasts... I'm very happy with their course selection system, it's very flexible allowing for different abilities and career ambitions- one of the reasons Stanford was always my top choice for an MBA.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My 20 expectations for the Stanford MBA

I'm going to layout my expectations as well defined as possible. Having not attended admit weekend or previously visited Stanford or indeed California, I am starting to wonder whether I'm in danger of developing unrealistic expectations. Later on, once I'm settled in, I shall review my expectations and determine to what extent they have been meet. I've come up with 20 in all from 4 categories; People & Social, Location/Environment & Lifestyle, Academics & Workload, Career management.

People & Social
  1. I will meet some amazingly talented people who are either amazingly intelligent and/or have worked to get to their positions from all walks of life. There will be no slackers.
  2. All the students will be willing to help one another out and in general there will be no selfish or self-centered MBA students (at least that I have to deal with).
  3. I will get to know pretty much all of the students in my class (yes, all 380) by name, and have a core group of friends, however, there will be no particularly strong cliques (e.g. by nationality, career function, age etc...) and it will be easy to drift into and out of different core groups in time in order to really get to know the few who meet my diverse criteria and will become my best friends.
  4. There will be beautiful girls, both on campus and across California (sorry, had to slip that one in... It's California!) and they will love my British accent. Otherwise, at least, my mates who have promised to visit me, will be disappointed.
  5. I'll be able to find classmates who will appreciate a variety of social activities ranging from clubbing/raving, visiting pubs/bars to the occasional quiet nights pretty much on demand. In other words, I will not feel like I'm constrained into social activities by my immediate friends/classmates.

Location/Environment & Lifestyle

  1. The campus environment will be vibrant, buzzing during class time, but at times, will be the the quiet serene and spacious campus that it appears on the brochure.
  2. I will be able to achieve a great work/party balance at my will. In this sense I don't strictly mean, 50:50 of course, but I can imagine for instance in the 1st month or so, having partying a lot, and at times, needing to do some serious cramming for exams etc... All driven my behaviour and discipline, and not so much dictated by the school or friends/classmates
  3. I will be able to maintain and improve my general fitness and improve my tennis game and yet eat a pretty fun diet (yes, some American fast-food here and there without getting fat...)
  4. Facilities and service (academic, sports, accommodation etc..) will be world class compared to what I've seen at other academic institutions so far.
  5. The weather will be amazing 5 out of 7 days a week. "Amazing", means, good enough to play tennis.

Academics & Workload

  1. I'll spend on average about 50-60 hours a week on academics (here's hoping!).
  2. Mathematics/Quantative work required will not be harder than engineering mathematics (2nd year level at Bristol). However, I expect to initially struggle but ultimately get by in courses requiring statistics.
  3. If I'm disciplined and consistent, I can at least spend one and a half complete days away from academics. I am able to devote a complete whole day away from the Stanford GSB environment to visit external friends in San Francisco .
  4. To obtain a 2nd Master's, e.g. in Engineering, I will need to sacrifice a great amount of my social life in the second year, but I should not have to become a complete hermit to obtain it.
  5. The teaching will be exceptional and focused and I will receive suitable attention in areas I struggle, better than in my days in public school in UK, Bristol or at my last job training courses.

Career management & Jobs

  1. I will be able to explore initially, a diverse set of careers through career management and advice from other students, but very quickly hone into one or two career options and will receive enough support through clubs and seminars. Management consulting in Strategy & Technology areas will remain my top career choice throughout the two years.
  2. I will have to work reasonably hard to gain an internship, by reasonably hard, I mean I won't expect to get one just attending seminars or career fairs, I'll need to put some work, but not to an equal or more measure as the amount I put into my academics.
  3. I will get at least 2 job offers on graduation. At least one of those I will be within the United States.
  4. Hi-tech jobs in the Silicon Valley/Bay area will be the easiest for me to access whilst finance related jobs will be the hardest.
  5. The MBA will categorically provide me with opportunities that I would have never accessed without it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A new business is born

Over the weekend I was part of something surprisingly common. In the UK, a new business is launched every half an hour. Toward the end of my long London weekend trip, my musically talented friend, Alex, invited me to set up his website to publicly announce his offerings. The Live Link, will, in essence, be a live music agency, connecting young and talented jazz and blues musicians to events and venues across London. Alex is bootstrapping amazingly well to get his business going, he has exploited all of his friends to help him get things off the ground. From website, tax and audit to newsletter articles. For me, being involved in an exciting and promising new venture always gets me going, blasting through problems and offering advice with the minimum of resources.
It’s very easy to draw comparisons between a small nascent business to a large corporation. One striking characteristic in this work is that your are easily inclined to think creatively when there isn’t the constraints of bureaucratic rules and regulations that are imposed on you in a large corporations, not only is it really quite liberating but it also feels hugely more productive. This not to say that once I complete my MBA I’ll go straight into my own start-up, I still think working in large established companies is necessary for me to learn additional skills & competencies without the risk of failure of a start-up. Over the weekend, before long, Alex began raising questions and issues in which there were no clear or easy answers to; such as how does he maintain 100% complete ownership and control as the business grows? He is in the unique position where he is able to raise all of the capital for launching the business on his own, and his primary partner, at this time, cannot raise anything, but for him to remain engaged and motivated by the business whilst continuing to provide his essential skills he may want the opportunity to own a share in the future- I’m sure this is a classic start-up dilemma.
Ultimately, I will also want to become an entrepreneur, but I doubt I’ll be ready so soon after MBA, in the meantime, I’m happy to dabble in start-ups before fully jumping ship. The fact that I’m willing to spend half my weekend helping out someone else’s business shows I’m passionate and serious about new ventures. I should be right at home in Silicon Valley, and after 2 years, hopefully I’ll be the wiser when it comes to business matters.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mislead to the wrong campus?

In my haste to catch up with as many people as possible in London I ended up missing an important lecture by a World Bank Director of the Tanzania region...

To cut a long story short, in the rush to get to the lecture, my friend led me to the wrong school of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) campus... There are two campuses, one in Russell square which is the main one, and another near Kings Cross. What annoys me, is that I had the directions which indicated exactly which campus it would be, I just let stupidity and misunderstanding rule the day. Oh well... There are other things I came down to London to do besides. My friends and I ended up being let in to the main SOAS bar and enjoyed a few drinks amonst the most multi-cultural student environment I have ever been in. It was just great. I doubt the Stanford GSB community is as diverse as SOAS's, but I'm sure it'll come pretty close.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The nitty gritty of MBA funding- Am I out out this negotiation pinball machine?

Funding the MBA has always been a critical issue to get right. Whichever way you cut it, this issue affects decisions I will make 2-3 years downstream in terms of amount debt I end up with and consequently the job decision that provides the means to service this debt. I’ve been running around and at times have felt like a ball in a pinball machine trying to come to a conclusion as I beg and try to please different people. In the end it’s been worth it, as it’s an issue too important to rush.

Parental Pressure- job security & a hidden agenda? Family funding was always going to be a huge part, but my father over the last month has been calling for me to balance his contribution with employer contribution almost like a 50:50 split. (God, it sounds like a pension scheme!). This would was the ideal model, with virtually no debt if this deal was achieved. The key benefit here is job security. I have a feeling my father has always thought I was extremely lucky to land the job with my current employer in the first place, and I should hang on to it for dear life! He also fears that I would not get as good a job post MBA, I have been trying hard to re-assure him that I would find a better opportunities, but he has insisted, if anything to cover my tracks and not burn any bridges. I agree to a certain extent, but in the end the MBA is an opportunistic degree, fundamental to it’s purpose is that it opens up so much more- I’m sure he knows this, I feel he as another agenda, most likely he does not want me to be too far away from Tanzania so I can be closer to home and hence, be in the position to become more knowledgeable about the family business. Working in the UK has allowed me to return to Tanzania twice a year, if I were to get a job in the states, I would jeopardise this convenience. I agree with my dad on this issue to some extent, ultimately I do want to return to Tanzania and help out with the family business, the MBA qualification of coures very relevant, but not in the near future. My mid-career plans currently do not agree with what my dad wants.

What about current employer contribution?-The world is your oyster, don’t turn back…:
My employer, although widely touting that they provide assistance to further education, have been reluctant to provide funding simply because 2 years full time does not qualify me to this benefit and they are no special circumstances. If I were doing a part-time course, things would be different. All the senior managers, I have spoken to have stood by this. Additionally, under the "learning agreement", I would have to sign and lock myself with my employer for a minimum of 2 years, with amortized repayment options to re-pay the outstanding should I leave until the time period is up. Not only does the argument not fly in the cost/benefit criteria, but the executive that kindly took time to speak to me last week said, "Why would you want to come back? The MBA would open up so many opportunities, returning to us would be a step backward". I explained my family pressures, yet the executive, who is originally from California has a family home near Stanford, went on to say, "The worst thing that could happen if you were not pro-active whilst as Stanford is that you’ll end up in a management consulting firm". You could tell, as a senior executive would, that he had a low view of management consulting, although the utmost respect for the likes of McKinsey. After offering some valuable career advice to get into "Product Marketing" as a career that would combine the best of my engineering skills and the MBA and fulfilling a much needed role should I return to the UK, he finally addressed my dilemma by offering to have a chat with my father about my situation to re-assure him that I should not return to this organisation so soon post MBA. He also gave me his personal phone number in California, so I will be sure to meet up with him when he visits.

In the final analysis…
I make the final decisions, it’s my MBA, so I should choose- despite family still treating me like a child, I do have to come to terms with what my father says to keep him happy. Yesterday, I spoke to the head of my division and after congratulating me, we got down to business. After I explained my situation, he came to the same conclusion as the executive, but he promised to offer me a job should I not get a better opportunity post MBA. I trust his word; even though maybe I should best get this in writing, the risk of him and the divisional group disappearing in two years is very slim. It’s good enough, more importantly enough to keep my father happy on the job security front.
So, previous employer out of the picture, the funding that looks most probable is "option 2" on my spreadsheet, 60:20:20, family/savings; fellowships (assuming I secure this); & loans.
I’m almost there, I can start to progress funding and visa issues now, but need to hurry up.

On other news:
I’m in a Schwab residential centre, after being on the wait-list for a month. I’m pleased as I will be in the centre of all the MBA action for the 1st year with all the single students and a 2-3 minute walk from class. Additionally, I will be near the tennis courts, my game will develop so well, as for once I will be able to play tennis all year round.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mountains are my leadership classrooms: But the ability is sharpened through a sense of purpose.

Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard all the metaphors and parallels of mountaineering/hill walking with leadership, but I can definitely say without a doubt that I can attribute my leadership ability from my love of climbing big mountains or hills. The ability has been strengthened by improved self confidence and belief in a cause, not in mountaineering alone.
I founded the trekking expedition last year as motivating way to raise urgent funds for a school in rural Tanzania, it so happened that the cause, the construction of a science laboratory, was in line with my organisation’s core value of science popularisation. In effect I sold the scheme as a corporate social responsibility project where members would get a subsidised trip to Africa to climb one of the world’s most magnificent peaks whilst raising the funds on behalf of the charity I was supporting. I was always afraid during the year and half of organising the expedition, that the charitable purpose would be lost in the jumble of excitement, training, "holiday preparations", and I battled endlessly to maintain the purpose- in short, recruiting was the problem, people often joined the trip for the wrong reasons and made no concerted effort to raise money for the cause- instead revelling in endless training weekends, forming little cliques and couples- of course people should have fun and get the added benefit of valuable relationships, networking, team-working and leadership experience (an expedition selling point) etc… however, the original purpose could have easily been lost. To me the key success criteria of the expedition was raising enough money for the cause- we raised over £10,000 which was slightly short of the target, but thanks to the spot £/$ exchange rate, and the enlisted additional fundraising efforts of a local English school near work, we actually achieved our target. I spent this last weekend with my organisation Himalayan Expedition team in North Wales on training; the initiative is the follow-on expedition to the Kilimanjaro Expedition last year. This year’s team is 28 strong, retaining about 5 of the original team members (losing myself after discovering I was heading for Stanford). Being around them over the weekend confirmed what I had sensed already was a very different feel and purpose of this Expedition to the first. Marketed as "Everest 2005, committed to social responsibility, developing team-working & leadership skills", I meant it to mean; Yes, you climb a mountain to develop team-working and leadership ability, but motivated by the social cause. The expedition is full of climbing and walking enthusiasts, and a clique has already formed among the leadership four, including the Expedition leader, finance and team-working (who are very close). There is no fundraising plan in sight, and the social cause, raising money for a Nepalese school, seems to be slipping out of the agenda of recent meetings and making matters worse, Don, responsible for charity affairs, has also left the expedition, losing the link with Edward Hillary Trust charity. All in all, the team is slowly but surely detracting from the initial purpose and becoming a mere company mountaineering club. It’s shame, as I was hoping what I started out would become a group within the organisation which made far reaching contributions to society, helping the poorest and underprivileged, stemming not only from the enjoyment of trekking but maybe even using the company's science capabilities to serve communities through genuine corporate social responsibility. Not to be so.
"So Mbwana, what do you do about it?", is what an business school professor might ask. But I’m no longer the leader, nor am I around to do the marketing role, subsequently quitting last week. I do wish I was around to address the problems, but I have to let it go like everything else, plus, it’s probably too late at this point anyway. I think it was bound to happen; luring people to a trekking expedition in the hope of motivating them to fundraise is harder than one may expect. I had an obligation to my charity and was genuinely motivated by the cause, there is no such motivation in the Everest Expedition. A few days previously, the thank you letters from the Britain-Tanzania Society finally arrived thanking the original Kilimanjaro team for their fundraising efforts, I hope this will make those on the Everest Expedition think about why they were originally climbing last year’s mountain and carry that forward. My mantra was always, Climbing mountains is fun, but much more enjoyable and rewarding when there is clear and worthwhile purpose behind it all.
Aside, I had a good weekend in Wales, the strenuous 10 hour walk on Saturday over 10 miles, with shifting weather conditions and across some incredibly diverse terrain. One peak, the Trafan, resembled Mordor from the Lord of the Rings, not the clear blue skies, icy peaks, gentle slopes and faunas of Kilimanjaro that I’m used to. In fact, I’m normally in front, leading the pack, but lagged all day and some of the new "keen and professional" campers must have been wondering how I managed to lead the previous expedition - the months sacrifice for MBA admissions were showing in my clear lack of fitness. I have to contemplate visiting the gym. Tennis and the occasional tough walk may not be enough to save my health and fitness this time. Nevertherless, the walking gave me a lot of time to reflect on issues, and hence started this week with renewed motivation and clearer thinking. I need more of these.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I foresee a work overload coming

I'm starting to get a little nervous about the amount of work that needs done in the next 6 weeks before I leave for my break in Tanzania, I should have guessed with 1-2 months left till departure, the company would want to try and get the most out of me. Well, on the flip side I also have to try and get the most out of them!

Top 5 things to do before leaving work:
  1. Seek out and grab as much company freebie merchandise as possible.
  2. Attend as many jollies (company away days or trips) as possible- there's one at the Oxford stadium next week.
  3. Make solid contacts for post MBA opportunities and if possible seeking MBA funding sponsor.
  4. Play as lunch time tennis as possible on sunny days.
  5. Go out for as many lunches with my ex-colleagues as possible.

Divorcing, weekend out in London & career reflections amongst other things

The Divorce & the moving arrangements...

This last week I confronted an issue that had I been dreading for a long time- divorcing my housemate! No, we’re not married, but that’s probably how you would describe the process of dividing up assets that we bought together without have any concrete agreement as to who had the rights to any of the items. What annoys me the most is that he initiated the buying of what has turned out to be mostly unnecessary items which he then subsequently replaced with others (often his mother’s), rendering the originals even more useless!! He even had the cheek to purchase house items without my consent and then present me with a bill at then end- in the spirit of getting along I always agreed, but in the end it adds up and has ultimately been costly. Anyhow, without further whinnying, I had been thinking around this problem for quite a while and I came to the conclusion that he was going to likely try and take me for a ride by keeping quiet in the hope of keeping all the stuff (as I clearly was not going to take them with me to Stanford). I virtually don’t speak to my housemate now, but I had a clear negotiating strategy in order to get an upper hand, so after an exchange of e-mails, in which I proved myself right that he indeed he was planning to do one over me, he finally gave in to my threat- "I'm sticking with my plan to withhold some rent unless you come to a rational figure for the physical stuff you are keeping, for once- I'm going to be firm with my rules."
Yes, the housemate partnership was never really a compromise on living styles, only his way or no way, so I’m glad I made it clear to him that he was not going to get his way right to the very end. People reading this may get a view of me being a harsh person, I’m really not- it’s just that my housemate for the last two years has not only been terribly dishonest and untrustworthy but also terribly selfish and uncompromising, most of, he needs to learn to respect people he has fundamental differences with rather than try and impose his own will. I really hope I don't get such a housemate at Stanford- I filled out the accomodation forms with great care!
Another aspect I had been looking at was how to move my stuff to California- I’m am surprised at how easy it is. The price is around £360 to move 60kg with only 24 hours notice required! And surprisingly, it’s cheaper by air not sea as I assumed (only marginally though).

Reflections on the Aerospace career- The exclusive scoop!
Over the last month I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve done in the last 2 and half years my organisation. The short answer, without being too modest, is rather well… In two years I have done diverse roles from developing an analytical visualisation flight test data analysis tool using a $50 open source development tool, learnt how to critically test and evaluate aerospace systems from one of the three test pilot schools in the world and helped to innovate and enhance the military and civil aircraft certification process. I’m now running around grabbing our slick marketing test pilot school merchandise like its gold dust, call me sad, but nothing tops those memory sticks! On the topic of things to have on the mantelpiece and frame- Timing could not have been better, as I finally received the independent annual supplement "Everything Aerospace", through the post on Saturday- in which I was featured in a double page spread article- "Plane Speaking"- Mbwana Alliy, 23, from Tanzania, studied electronics and communication engineering at Bristol University. He now works as a technical consultant with QinetiQ."
The article itself is pretty accurate to what I said during the phone interview on my way back from TESCO shopping, and some of my friends who have seen it have said it describes me pretty well. What I love most about the article is how it drifts into the Expedition/charity work I did for the Britain Tanzania Society last year- it certainly portrays me as a socially responsible technologist with Africa firmly on my agenda. The article ends with my plans to drift into more business matters (no surprise!). QinetiQ has been great, I will certainly miss the people, flexible working hours and the "jollies", and to some extent, the location- being smack in the Wiltshire countryside is lovely in the summer - where else can you play tennis with fast jets whooshing above your head? I’m leaving a relatively low paying job for my skills and a culture which does not yet value or reward its employees as well as it could. Hopefully, the MBA and future employment will change all that for me, and ultimately I’m hoping post the initial public offering (IPO), QinetiQ will become an enviable technology and security company that rewards its staff.

London Weekend- Those diverse friends!
So the mad touring continues, finally hitting the London scene over the long bank holiday weekend. The focus was on seeing people on a one to one basis long enough to really properly catch up rather than trying to form a large group of incompatible friends (it’s the price you pay for diverse friends!). Weekend went off to a bad start when met up withMyles, my eccentric journalistic friend. He turned up to lunch still ill from a previous heavy night- he did not touch his £15 main course and promptly returned home to bed to continue to nurse his hangover for a couple more hours- I proceeded to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon drinking pimms on the King’s road in a beer garden with my ex-Bristol uni friend who is studying in phD in electronics at UCL which was great to catch up on uni stuff.
Then I met up with 2 mates from my school, Marlborough, one working for Bloomberg, the other a mid-sized accountancy firm- these two were always the potential "business" stars going back to Marlborough days and there was certainly a hint of "How the hell do you deserve an MBA without having not worked in the city or without an economics degree?", but in the end they were certainly pleased for my success- as I would soon possibly be joining them in the world of high-flying business. John, the now Bloomberg employee, even agreed to show me round the Bloomberg offices sometime which should be interesting.
I re-met with Myles who filled me in about his trip to Syria and his first journalistic freelance work- typical Myles, he does not agree with the idea of blogs, despite their growing prominence for freelance journalists- he can be stubborn. Later, Tom joined us, who now works for war-child in the non-profit sector. It was a welcome change of career conversation as together us three went around exploring Camden town area of London on the Sunday from beer garden to beer garden and eventually to a tapas bar. I invited them both to the forthcoming lecture next week at School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) by the Tanzania & Uganda World bank country director arranged by the Britain Tanzania Society- which I’m hoping will entice them to join the society as it really needs some younger blood. At one point I met briefly with Alex, the now "entrepreneurial musician", with his jazz group having kicking off very well, he has at played numerous venues around London. I offered to help up set up his website and he obliged even offering to pay me (yippee more money to pay off debts!), as before long his bootstrapping would have to end- he hasn’t even thought up a name for his music business yet. He reckons he may have found a potential niche in London for semi-professional/professional jazz group to play at venues as well as exploring a host of other possible options such as acting as an amateur recording studio- this is a competent engineer who has decided to turn his back on career in industry for a passion he really believes in- huge respect! Anyhow, I have to hear his group play, because I’m betting they are very good. One day, maybe in a few summers time, I have visions of his group touring around the east coast of Africa, I can imagine the bars of Zanzibar really appreciating it (I would!).

Oddest Things- Smaller world than you think!
On Friday before I departed for my weekend, I noticed a guy on the Stanford MBA message board who had been organising a London BBQ/party who worked for Barclay's Capital, this was a guy I was waiting with for my first attempt at the GMAT with back in Septmber! The test centre turned out to have moved across the other side of London and I ended getting a shockingly embarrasing GMAT score- he then encouraged me to re-take the test and appy in round 2- the rest is history! I called him and he obviously remembered me. He's called Vernon, he then told me about this girl, Sandy, who was also joining us at GSB and was travelling to Tanzania this summer! I have contacted her already and I may meet up with her if I catch her at the end of her trip in Zanzibar. All in all there are 4 people I could possible meet before attending Stanford in September- who needs Admit weekend! I shall meet a few others at the London party ofcourse. What a small world.

I got a response my organisation's commercial director, and have scheduled a call with him on Thursday. So I need to really have my facts straight about what funding terms I’m willing to accept.
Accommodation- I thought I missed out on off campus housing deadline on the 1st May, but it turned out they extended the deadline, phew! I'm still hoping for Schwab, I suspect following Admit weekend, some people may have considered to switch to other accomodation (I hope!). I also got to submit my financial aid tax returns and start on my visa stuff ASAP.
The pace is pickning up.