Friday, March 30, 2007

Can't get enough of San Francisco

Spring break for many GSBers has meant exotic far flung visits to destinations including Brazil, Hawaii, and even Mexico and East Africa study trips. I've stayed put enjoying the bay area and specifically hanging out with friends- with just 3 months till graduation do I now begin to fully find my way around the city. I attended a great business plan competition last night at the University of San Francisco- it involved 2 minute elevator pitches from business school students across the globe- very exciting to watch with social networking, biotech and cleantech sectors well represented.
Additionally I'm starting to engage myself with project work at pixpulse (, a mobile media platform start-up. With only 10 GSB units needed next quarter to graduate equating to about 2.5 classes, and a long awaited trip back to UK planned in May, I think I should finally be able to start meaningful work on my mobile ambitions in Africa prior to joining Microsoft. Speaking of which, they just sent me my welcome gift- windows vista ultimate and office 2007 standard (+ ultimate from my team)- my computer has a new life! Although I do plan to get an apple macbook pro + iphone come this summer- no I'm not a traitor, it just works for me for consumer device connectivity & creative works.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Winter Quarter in Summary...

This has been a surprisingly busy quarter, particularly the dash towards the end where I embarked on a no. of trips.

Within the GSB, I took Competitive Strategy, Strategic Management of Non-Profits and Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital. Across the street I took a class on Africa- Health, Land and Education. I also undertook a fascinating independent team study on mobile marketing. The guests kept me thrilled in both the VC and Non-profits class- I saw these classes as extensions of Formation of New ventures I took in he Fall quarter- just being inspired by different ideas and personalities out there in business. The competitive strategy class had a fascinating simulation game where each team had to decide market entry strategies, capacity and pricing tactics as well as amusing press releases to signal to other players one's intentions OR not! The Africa class was a welcome relief from the GSB format, and I enjoyed sharing and collaborating with students from education and biology fields on the challenges confronting Africa- definitely some valuable contacts for the future when I'm back in Tanzania.
Personally, fatigue during classes started to creep in, I will admit that this is the quarter where I really started to feel the "senioritis" creep in- in essence, my participation and contribution in classes dropped, and I had some study groups that did not work out so smoothly- and I really begun to doubt the logic of a two year MBA- it gets tiring!


Ok- I know I said I signed with Microsoft, but there's a ton of stuff that's occupying my mind including sorting out my visa status moving forward as I transition from F1 (student) to H1-B. In turns out this is not as simple as it seems, especially if one plans to travel over the summer as I do. The problem arises in getting back into the US in September, where apparently the immigration officers might see me as under "dual intent" immigration status which is a big no-no. Without boring you with more details, lets just say this is occupying too much of my mindshare- Microsoft lawyers/recruiters think I'm freaking out unnecessarily- lets hope so.
On the long-term career planning, I've also been developing my knowledge and connections in the area of mobile technologies and social communities/networks, this has tied in nicely with the independent project I am doing. Mobile is an area that I want to engage in future, within Microsoft and in a future start-up career, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. I recall a great meeting with the CEO and founder of Admob, which was insightful as to where the future of mobile is heading. Other interesting developments include- "m-banking", this is another top tip of a disruptive technology that has the potential to transform Africa- check out this innovative offering, from wizzit in South Africa.

Trips & stuff!

Ahh- I am starting to enjoy myself a bit more, with recruiting out of the way, I spent time in San Diego, tried my hand in snowboarding at Lake Tahoe (finally! Lake Tahoe is a GSB time honored activity- and I had to go atleast once!). The highlight was definitely the Las Vegas career trek organized by the Travel and Hospitality club- it was simply amazing, once in a lifetime trip! We got incredible access to casino security camera rooms, priceless suites, meeting with top executives from the Wynn and Venetian. I certainly see Las Vegas in a different light moving forward and learnt some valuable lessons on the meaning of customer service in the travel and hospitality industry.
I was not happy that I missed the Africa Business Club conference at Harvard Business School- thanks to stormy winter weather on the east Coast and flight cancellations- hey, aren't I glad I am in California!