Saturday, September 15, 2007

All Finished

So that's it. I am now an Oxford MBA for real. I really can't believe that it is over. What a whirlwind year!

The Capstone week's lectures weren't bad and it was a great excuse to meet up with everyone again. Our presentation went well (the two Japanese in our group were randomly selected by the school to present, and they did very well). The individual 3,000 word essay was straight-forward (well, at the end of the MBA writing 3,000 words is like shelling peas). And as expected, we partied every night.

The Turf for the last timeThe final black tie party was fantastic and the school pulled out all the stops. It was easily on a par with any other party that I have been to this year. As a strange twist of fate, Esther and I were asked to make a speech each, which we did and actually enjoyed quite a bit. I always find it quite difficult to follow her (we did our EP together) as she is an amazing speaker, so in a perfect display of teamwork, she went deep and meaningful and I went light (very) and funny (somewhat).
Me speaking
Esther and meNamiko, Akiko and Arima san
So I now have a couple of months to have a baby (well, watch Namiko have him), move house and prepare for my new job (which I am very much looking forward to).

And I suppose that this will be my last post to this blog. Its funny, looking back, it was a great decision to write it. I re-read it from time to time and it reminds me of everything that has happened over the last 15 months. Its hard to imagine that in such a short space of time my life would change so much, that I would meet so many fantastic people who I can call friends and that I would now be preparing for a job in a company such as McKinsey.

Money well spent, is all I can say.


Friday, September 07, 2007

End of the summer, only the Capstone to go

The summer is over, and this evening I will travel to Oxford for the final week of my MBA; the much anticipated Capstone Course.

Since my last post we have completed our SCP. It was an amazing experience! The final week involved us presenting our findings to the DTC Executive Committee, which went surprisingly well. You know when you have done a good job when the Managing Director's comment at the end of the presentation is "brilliant work!". We all left the room feeling suitably content. The week following involved us submitting our written document which ended up being a 60 page thesis. Actually when I look back on the experience, the amount we learnt about the industry in such a short period of time was amazing. I will never look at a piece of diamond jewellery the same again.

In addition to the SCP, I have been working on selling our current house and buying another. Despite being tremendously time consuming, it has (so far) gone reasonably smoothly and so I am hoping that we finalise soon.

Other activities include preparing for the 2008 MBA welcome panel. To briefly explain, during the first week of the course last year a few 2006 MBAs came back to present their experiences to us and offer the opportunity to ask questions. So now it is our turn to present our experiences to the next year's class (and so it goes on). Due to the fact that I am not starting at McKinsey until November, I seem to be taking the lead for this panel, and so have been coordinating a few of my fellow students to produce some slides... Hopefully it will all be alright on the night.

In addition, I have been trying to write a speech. Our final formal dinner will be held on 14th September (in Templeton College) and Esther and I have been volunteered to make a speech each to reflect on our experiences. Hmm, writing speeches was never my forte and so I seem to spend more time procrastinating that actually writing. Luckily (?!?) I only have 7 mins.

So that has been the summer. I am now an uncle (my sister's first child) and will soon be a father (Namiko is now 36 weeks pregnant), so I suppose that there is a lot of change there as well.
Thomas Chambers (No.1 Nephew)And finally, it seems that the Oxford University 2008/9 MBA brochure has been released. Spot the chap on page 19!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer in London

Its been a couple of weeks since I blogged last. I am now in London and have just started my 3rd week of the strategic consulting project at The Diamond Trading Company (DTC). Our offices in Charterhouse Street, London are right next to the 'diamond academy' (where they have lots and lots of diamonds), is very comfortable and right at the heart of the organisation.

Our project – reviewing the value proposition of one line of products – started off very broad and so our the first week was mainly taken up in forming a realistic scope with which we could direct our line of attack. We have so far had two reviews with our sponsor, who seems to be happy with what we have achieved/the direction that we are going in, and been introduced to both the Managing Director and several members of the executive committee who all seem to have a real interest. It seems that this project is really high profile and I am led to believe that real decisions will be based on our results. As proof of their intent, and in addition to the office based work, two members of our team (there are four in total) will travel to India next week to visit customers so as to understand exactly what they require from the company offering. DTC are certainly ensuring that there are no barriers to us collecting really robust data with which to make our recommendations.

Mark and Swapandeep strategisin' in our office
Kaysa, not strategisin' (in all fairness, it was late)
From a ‘non-work’ point of view, our apartments are quite luxurious and perfectly placed for exploring London (being located in the centre of Marylebone). We have more restaurants within walking distance than we realistically can visit in the time allocated and can walk as easily to Oxford Street as we can to Regents Park. In the evenings I am even managing to either get to the gym or, when the weather is nice, take a run around the park. This is certainly very different to the ‘MBA hours’ that I was pulling less than a month ago.

Every Tuesday all the MBAs that are in London for the summer meet up for dinner. Last week was Italian, this week Sushi. It’s great to hear how everyone is doing/adjusting to working life. Seeing as there are about 20 of us here, it makes for a nice evening.

So that is it so far for the SCP. I am really enjoying the DTC and remember now why I love London so much.

Photo from night out in Camden

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Week 10 Trinity... Last Oxford Exams!

The end of Trinity Term. I can't believe that it is over.

This week I sat 3 exams in the Exam Schools (on High Street). One on Monday, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday which also marked the day that I finished all formal assessment for this term. Where has the time gone? Just the SCP and Capstone, and this MBA is over...
Swapandeep summing up my emotion following the Restructuring Exam on Wednesday
Arash and me following our last examFollowing our last exam, and in line with tradition, we all piled down to the Turf for a well earned drink (it was, after all, 11am). Unfortunately, most of us didn't last long as we had been up most of the night with some last minute revision.
It would seem that the Turf is now 'Award Winning' Archit, Saim, Gaurav, Kaz and Shariq at the TurfOn Thursday I went down to London for a welcome BBQ at McKinsey's Kensington office. This was arranged by the recruiters to welcome all of the consultants (currently in the UK) joining this year. It was a great event and I managed to meet plenty of people. Most were joining at the Business Analyst grade (for people who have just finished their undergraduate degree), however I did manage to meet some who (like me) were joining as Associates following the completion of their doctorate/MBA. Everyone was full of enthusiasm, intelligent and a seemingly fun loving, I am sure that I have made the correct choice.

On Sunday Namiko and I attended Paul and Liz Evans' son's Christening. Little Ethan was very well behaved during the ceremony and was then treated to a party on a train. It was a lovely event for which even the weather was well behaved (for a change)
Liz, Paul and Ethan Namiko, Bump and TrainSo, with Trinity over, I have now moved out of Oxford and back into our house down south. The next week will involve me preparing the house for sale (it should go on the market tomorrow) so that we can move to London in November. And I thought that I was going to have the week off!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Week 9 Trinity - Revision Week

Due to the fact that I was only revising for 3 exams this term (Restructuring & Implementation, Fixed Income and Media Strategies for a Networked World), I managed to do a few other activities that I wouldn't have had time to do last term.

On Monday, Kaysa, Swapandeep, Mark and I went down to London to spend the day with The Diamond Trading Company (DTC) so as to ensure that we 'hit the ground running' on the first day of our summer consulting project. It was great, we went through the diamond academy (to be taught about the structure, clarity, colour and size of uncut diamonds), before being shown the sorting/pricing methods. We ended the day with a meeting to clarify the project direction and tie up any loose ends. We have a fair amount of homework to now do prior to the 9th July start date, but it should ensure a more efficient first week.

Tuesday day-time I spent doing case studies with my classmates so as to prepare them for their forthcoming interviews (good luck guys!). Tuesday night was Brandon's 30th birthday and we celebrated with an intimate meal (for 4) at Browns before heading to the Retreat where everyone was waiting. A really good night.
Mark, Brandon and me in Browns
I forget the name of this drink, however remember that it has Tabasco in it... Well, one only turns 30 onceWednesday was all day revision broken up with a nice lunch in St Cross College (courtesy of Renee). In the evening I attended Fred Wong's birthday party held in the Magdalen apartment complex (Kitty's place). As with most birthday parties, it was all a big surprise. What was nice was that he really wasn't expecting it. His speech was heartfelt.
Renee and Barry in St Cross The quad in St CrossFred getting 'the bumps' Those at Fred's Party
On Friday, Namiko and I travelled down to Truffles Restaurant in Somerset (which is owned by my sister & brother-in-law), so as to host a 'Japanese Evening'. Namiko and Mark (brother-in-law) cooked whilst Debbie (sister), I and the staff explained the meal to and served the customers. It was really hard work and both Namiko and I were exhausted.

Saturday was spent relaxing and Sunday day-time was a heavy heavy revision session (for my exam on Monday). Sunday night was spent at Tass' place where she cooked up a feast of Thai food (which was incredible).

So, my first exam starts tomorrow (at 14.30) and I have one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Following that I am free of Oxford exams forever. Now, that is sure to feel very very good.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Week 8 Trinity

So that is it. The last week of lectures all finished. It really is hard to believe.

I now have a week of revision and 3 exams before the end of Trinity and that (apart from the Capstone course in September) will be the end of my MBA.

This week was fun filled with a drinks reception to mark the end of the real estate course, a formal dinner at Brasenose college, Brian's birthday, the Collingwood dinner at Pembroke college and the Sylvesters at the business school.
The carving that sits above the top table in Brasenose, a happy unicorn?
The quad at Brasenose
On Friday, during our Private Equity Class, we were joined by 3 people from Morgan Stanley. Just to give a little background, over the past couple of weeks we have been working on an assignment whose purpose was to prepare a valuation of a company as if we were advising a private equity partnership. Anyway we submitted our assignment on Monday and on Friday Morgan Stanley came in to show us how they would have done it. Actually, my team's valuation was fairly similar to theirs and I think that we captured the same topics as they did (with regards to market sizing, growth potential etc). I suppose that the main difference was the amount of data that they could get their hands on, so as to give a presentation which was richer in its content... It certainly gives me confidence that the MBA has taught me how to think the same way as the banking professionals do... quite a change in less than a year!
On Friday night, Namiko and I were invited to the Collingwood dinner at Pembroke College by Tass. It was (without doubt) the best college food that I have had this term. And to top things off, we were on the top table... the service is always better there! Mark and I learnt first hand that Pembroke is the only other college (other than Hertford that is) that has sconcing after meals... albeit a little more formal than we are used to - they have to write it down in Pembroke - we yell it out in Hertford!
Tass and MarkNamiko and me on the top tableLe MenuThe Pembroke way of sconcingSaturday night was the Sylvester awards. A ceremony arranged by the student social body which is used to mark the end of the year. There was music, comedy and, above all, awards for everything from "best facial hair" to "most stereotypical of home country". I presented an award and collected one as part of the rugby team in the "most memorable MBAT sport" category. It was a great night.
Cezar, Cenk, Puneet, Renee, Andre, me and Maho
Finally, today, Namiko and I chilled. We had lunch with Andrea and Akiko before shooting off to the Cotswolds for a day out of Oxford.
Namiko and me in Bourton-on-the-water (notice the bump!).
OK, so it is now time to knuckle down. We have a meeting with the Diamond Trading Company (De Beers) tomorrow in London to discuss our consulting project and I have a few days to make sure that I do not fail my exams...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Week 7 Trinity

Its hard to believe that this week was my penultimate week of lectures (not including the Capstone course in September). As usual, they was a mountain of assignments to do, as well as events to attend.

On Monday, Said Business School hosted the 2nd Real Estate Summit (the 1st being last year), where many eminent figures in the British Real Estate industry attended; including both the Chairman and President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It was organised by Sandy Apgar, our Real Estate elective lecturer and senior advisor to BCG . The event included a keynote speech by Graham Chase, RICS President, followed by 6 break-out sessions on subjects such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Green Housing, and Emerging markets. It finished with a panel discussion in the evening and was a great fun.

This photo below is me during the REITS break-out session. Just to prove that I do actually work during the MBA.

Monday night was the Hertford College Graduate Dinner, which was our last official dinner in College before we leave. Prior to the meal there was a photo taken of all the Hertford MCR members (which should prove to be a nice memento). Mark, Swapandeep, Simon and I attended, and the photo below quite accurately describes the quality of the food on this occasion. Not one of Hertford's best unfortunately.

During our Media Strategies Lecture on Tuesday, we were joined by Chris Sacca - Head of Special Initiatives, Google, Richard Halton, Controller - Business Strategy BBC and David Wells, Deputy World News Editor FT. The subject of the discussion was "Coping with Abundance" or more specifically, how people (you and I) deal with the immense amount of choice that we now have, especially with regards to information. It was an interesting event with all three guests presenting independently about how their organisation 'makes things simpler for people' using editorials, aggregation etc.

On Wednesday, a number of us were treated to a meal at Keble college by Fred. Those that attended reached the consensus that Keble has the largest dining hall amongst all the Oxford colleges. And the food wasn't bad either. We followed the meal with a trip to Keble bar.
All those that attended Fred's dinner
On Saturday night Aston and Wayne organised a barbecue at their house on Botley Road. The weather held out and we ate and ate and ate. The evening was topped off with some karaoke before we wished Jian well on his way (he leaves for an internship at Deutsche Bank in Shanghai next Saturday).
Esther, Arash, Shinjiro, Swapandeep, Wayne, Naosuke, Simon, Jian and Abhishek

The weekend (despite having some nice weather) was taken up with assignments. We had two big ones due for Monday morning. Luckily, I only have 3 more to complete before the end of term...and then its exams (well, only 3 of them). Its only a few weeks now until we start our SCP. Time to start preparing.