Thursday, September 22, 2005

Weekend starts Santa Cruz.

Wow, so pre-term has come to an end. I'm now loaded up on the next set of course readers ready to start the core on Monday. I can't believe pre-term has gone by so quickly, I feel this was just taster of how quickly things will move in the core classes... Managing my time is certainly shaping up to be the biggest challenge here. I'm anxious to see how I handle my time to fit extra-curricular clubs, not to mention recruiting prep- I know it doesn't start until later in the fall, but getting a strategy together will be crucial to go in prepared in the wake of the academic work to come. The Mckinsey company visit yesterday, although lighthearted and informative, was a gentle reminder of my key purpose of coming to business school.

So although there has been a lot of social pre-term activity and I've tried to remain true attending as many events as possible, it gets tiring, especially since last weekend was spent Napa Valley and a Scavenger hunt on Sunday left me tired starting the week. So keeping true to my promise to spend some time outside the b-school scene when things get intense, I ventured out to Santa Cruz this afternoon/evening with a friend I met in Zanzibar over the summer who happens to live locally. So I've finally seen the surfer town where they filmed that teen-horror film, the Lost Boys (fictional town name of Santa Clara). Great place, and more relaxed than Palo Alto. Just what I needed to end the week and start another big weekend- going rafting with a third of the class down south on the American river near Sacramento.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Getting ready to make the next two years count

I feel like I’m slowly getting into the swing of things now here at the GSB, even though the core has not started yet. Today’s highlight was the first of the “View from the Top” series, where a leading CEO comes to give a talk at the GSB. Today was Richard Fairbank from Capital One, a solid alumni of Stanford undergrad as well as the business school. He was nothing short of an excellent speaker and gave a moving story at the end about his father’s determination to launch an ambitious experiment to prove Einstein’s theory of relativity. The experiment, finally being launched after 40 years following some hard times including being revived after being scrapped by NASA in1980s, is now on the verge of successful completion. I could certainly relate to the story, having just left the glamorous yet frustrating aerospace sector in the UK. However, the main message that came out of that speech that struck me was that it’s the journey that matters in any endeavor you go for, dream big goals, stick to the journey and you will have a rewarding experience.
I’m going to try so hard to make my time at Stanford count. For the next two years I’ll be connected to some of the brightest, most ambitious people my age on the planet which will provide tremendous opportunities that I must not waste. When I return to my room completely shattered after a long day, there is an easy temptation to just relax and let a few hours go by and let this become a habit, just as I’m sure, and we’ve been warned, how easy it is to fall into the trap of FOMO (“fear of missing out”). I need to maintain balance, to not over stretch myself to the point of over-stress, but find time to rest and enjoy the rest of California area. That’s why I place so much value on taking a day off in San Francisco or wherever outside the MBA scene from time to time. Additionally, regular tennis sessions, not only provides me opportunity to get to know a lot of people more closely (and offer some coaching for those who value it and improve my tennis). However, things can get intense on campus- I just need to optimize my experience over the next 2 years.
One other things, Richard Fairbank was a very eloquent speaker, so important for a business leader, and a reminder of why those management communication program lectures are so popular with MBA students… I’ll certainly push myself in this area too.

Now, a busy weekend lies ahead…

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bookworm has found his lair!

Okay, I know this is nothing to get excited about, but I have finally taken the library tour at the Jackson Library at Stanford. So what, you ask? Well, me and libraries are inseparable when it comes to needing to maintain good academic discipline, I could never work well in my own room- least not the one at Schwab! What with all the cable TV, partying, tennis courts etc... to distract me? The library is the only place I can find the calm to work and I can put in insane work hours.

Another obvious issue is books. I only ever bought 2 textbooks whilst doing my engineering degree in undergraduate years, although I know I cannot replicate the same tactic at graduate school, I intend not to go out and buy every singe latest edition book that is out there when I am only 5 mins walk from the lair where I would want to read it anyway. Course readers are another issue, I found it so strange paying $90 or so for 2 syllabi and a bunch of articles.
The only pitfalls that may arise are when I have to study off campus or outside of library hours.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cardinal Cards complete

Wow, I can’t think of a better start for an MBA program than running a business simulation that get you to experience running a business. Cardinal cards requires a team of about 12 compete with another 5 teams to make & sell the best greeting cards from all day (it gets exhausting). Each “cycle” lasts 20 minutes as you rush around collecting orders, purchasing supplies, ordering market research etc… It was all pretty good as it forced you to appreciate all the functions of business/management. The stakeholder roles within the simulation were all played by GSB faculty and staff which is great for getting to know them early on. There are also appropriately inserted “lessons or hints” in between cycles to alert you of the issues faced by a manager ranging from ethics to leadership & teamwork. I was in the administration role, helping to prepare financial accounts on time at the end of each cycle as well as taking care of other random compliance forms. Our team, and I’m sure much can be said about others, struggled in the first day with everyone shouting over each other, but by the end of the second day we were an amazing cohesive team and I have to boast that we were the most profitable team and had the highest customer satisfaction! At the end of the second day marking the end of the simulation, we were notified of a GSB slip up on setting up our sections and study groups, leading to an emotional outcry by teams. The Cardinal Card teams were set up in such a way that many were part of the same study or section, so the change meant that I, for one, was not in the same study group that I had bonded with over the last few days… Of course, my new study group could be just as awesome as the former…!
Directly following the Cardinal Cards, was the Liquidity Preference Function (LPF), the first of the after week drinks sessions and get together, and you could finally grasp the size of the class and meet people who lived either in another part of Stanford or off-campus. At this point, I was beginning to get tired… I think the amount of sport I tried to participate in over the past week must have played a role, or maybe it’s getting up at 6:50am to play tennis before breakfast & Cardinal Cards that caused it…
Today, I need to escape the business school scene just for the afternoon… Yes, back to San Francisco. This time to explore Oakland & Berkeley area, find a barber and catch up with friends…

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Completed my first week here

So I survived International Pre-Enrollment. Although the immigration talk was a little overwhelming... Just think of this scenario:

You send you passport & I-20 to Pennsylvania to get your tax number (since you probably need to compute your taxes in April with the fellowship funds in your account). You then get stopped by the police and asked for your passport and I-94, since strictly speaking you are meant to carry these with you anywhere you go, especially if you head somewhere far from your local area, for instance San Diego. Since you do not have the documents you get apprehended as a possible illegal immigrant...

I know it's a highly unlikely scenario and maybe you should know better but to stay at school and do nothing while your passport is on the other side of America. But what happens if your passport is lost in the system? It’s also almost impossible for internationals to get a social security number, which although we will get one if we do an internship in little less than a years' time, it would be very handy to have it early on in order to get cell phones, credit card, driving licenses etc… The conclusion, being an international student means there are some unique barriers for accessing some useful services in the states, and one does need to be careful. The IPEP was very useful for new internationals as well as those from English speaking countries such as South Africa and UK, and it’s good to know that Stanford have someone who it is their full time job to advice on complex immigration status issues.

Exemption exams studying are the talk within Schwab at the moment and it has started to make me feel like I should have signed up to take some, despite the fact that I know reviewed this issue thoroughly in May and came to the conclusion that it is not worth taking any. But nevertherless, in a panic state I’ve just gone through the samne process again and come to the same conclusion! So no, although I know certain topics well, I don't know them well enough to pass the exemptions exams, or put in another way, I don't want to scrap through the exams and kid myself that I've mastered certain subjects. So Labor Day weekend will be spent lounging around and exploring, not studying… I'll heading back into San Francisco with some newly made friends this afternoon...