Sunday, January 28, 2007

Week 2 Hilary

It is week 2 and I have managed to readdress the balance between work and play. That is not to say that the work has reduced, (in fact it has increased), I just seem to have remembered how to prioritise again.
Surprisingly, Mark, Swapandeep and I are also running in the mornings which is a start to ward off the effects of eating too much/at strange times. Its funny, as much as it pains me to wake up early (having not gone to bed until the wee hours), once the run is over I am ready to take on the lectures...
Also this week, in a spot of good fortune, I managed to get all of the Trinity term electives that I bid for and so am extremely happy. There is one course that was heavily over subscribed and in this week's Dean's Q&A (which is a great way for the students to air their feelings about the programme) it was the hot topic. He seemed keen to resolve it.

This week's other events:

Sir Martin Sorrell
Sir Martin is CEO of WPP and came to SBS to give a talk about 'why making money is not about making money'. During his talk he talked about the founding and subsequent spectacular growth of WPP (company with a market capitalisation of £18 Billion), his mistakes and his predictions for the future. He believed that there were 6 points that one should consider when thinking about the future of their respective business:
  1. Globalisation: Shift of wealth from West to East
  2. Over capacity of production: i.e automotive industry
  3. The web: I think that we all got that one
  4. Internal communications: What to do about companies that have grown by acquisition?
  5. Distribution: Part and parcel of globalisation. Mentioned Tesco and Wal-mart as examples
  6. Corporate Social Responsibility: Now a prerequisite for doing business.
Having no knowledge of the global media industry, it was a fascinating learning experience and a great opportunity to hear someone who has been successfully involved in it for 40 years.

Bain and Company Consultants
A recruitment event designed to give a personal touch to the explanation of what Bain does and why we should apply. Oxford is now getting more and more well known as a leading MBA school as is demonstrated by the number of top firms like Bain coming to get us. I enjoys these types of events as website and here say can never accurately convey what a company is like to work for. I find asking their employees a much more robust way of understanding what it is like to work for that particular company. Bain was no exception, the people were extremely bright and enthusiastic about what they did.

BT OneIT event
Another recruitment event, this time from BT (that's British Telecom). They have a highly respected leadership programme into which they only admit MBA graduates. The programme is relatively new (3 years or so) and during that time Oxford has only managed to get one person onto it. This year (through that Alumni) they are making a concerted effort to employ more. It seemed from the presentation that they may get more applications than they expected.....

Templeton Party/Indian Party at St Anthony's
Templeton College kindly arranged an open house at their Rewley Abbey Court site on Friday night. It also coincided with Shoko and Aston's birthday so turned into quite a bash. Following this many of us made the journey in the cold to St Anthony's College to get down to some Indian tunes (I never thought Bhangra could be so much fun......and so painful the next morning)

Japanese evening
An informal Nabe party arranged by Maho and me took place yesterday. It was just another excuse for a few of use to get together, eat Japanese and generally hang out. I like doing these things as it gives us an opportunity to socialise outside of school/noisy pubs.

The Participants of the Japanese evening
I feel that I am now back into the swing of things and am ahead of the game when it comes to assignments (3 were handed in this week). The EP project is going well and our supervisor seems as enthusiastic as we are....must mean that we are on to a good thing. As a further sign of our improved organisation skills, us students are now even finding the time to do some 'interview practice' between ourselves. Should put us in good stead..

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Week 1 Hilary

Week 1, and I am back into it. Its funny, I was expecting a slow ramp up period, but I just seemed to to have reestablished the work rate from last term without too much distress.

As to the lectures, some are a continuation from last term, where others, like marketing, are completely new and involve a whole other set of skills. One thing that is common across all subjects is the vast quantity of reading that one must get through every single week.

As I wrote last week, I have to submit my elective choices for Trinity (summer) term by tomorrow. They use a bidding system here (due to capacity on class size) involving each student being able to use a maximum of 120 points with which to bid for 6 subjects. I hope my spread of bids is successful in securing the subjects that I want - which are as follows:
  • Private Equity
  • Restructuring and Implementation
  • Business in China
  • Media Strategies for a Networked World
  • Real Estate
  • Fixed Income
My idea is to have 3 finance modules, and 3 strategy modules and from the presentations it seems that the 6 above will challenge both my quantitative and qualitative capabilities and also be very interesting.

In addition to the lectures, the Trinity decisions, the EP meetings and the Oxford Business Network (OBN) meetings, I managed to complete 3 assignments this week and so unfortunately there was no partying. There were, however, a series of extra curricular events as follows:

Panel Discussion with Recruiters
On Tuesday we had a 7 people from different recruitment agencies come to attend a panel discussion. During the session they all agreed on the buoyancy of the employment market at the moment and that we were much more fortunate that our predecessors. They did however, reiterate the same as has been coming from the careers service; no matter how good the market is there is still no substitution for a good CV and plenty of research to get the good jobs

Dr Roger Cliffe, Quality Director Vodafone
As part of our Operations Management module, Dr Cliffe came in to present about his transformation of the Vodafone way of thinking about quality. He began by explaining the youth of the mobile telecommunications market (apparently the first mobile phone call took place on 1st January 1985) as a reason for the lack of inherent quality (plenty of money, no need to worry about waste). He then went on to explain the effects of the introduction of 6 Sigma into Vodafone and the new emphasis on quality. It was an interesting talk.

Booz Allen Hamilton
On Wednesday Booz Allen Hamilton, strategy consultants, came in to teach us how to 'crack a case'. For many consultancies, the job interview contain a case study where the candidate is posed a problem and asked how they would go about breaking it down in order to offer a solution. Booz Allen has recruited from the Oxford MBA before and wanted to make sure that we were as well prepared as we could be for their 2007 interview round. The evening went well, with over 100 people turning up to hear the presenters and witness the roll play.

Yesterday was Namiko and my 2 year anniversary. We spent a lovely day together rounded off with a good meal at Quod in Oxford.

It would also seem that I have been made captain of the MBA rowing team for this year with the target of winning the MBA Olympics in France hosted by HEC during May. Luckily (this being Oxford) there is no shortage of rowers and so from now the training must begin...

I must admit that I feel that this week has been all work and no play. Maybe because it is week 1 and I was unsure what to expect. I will attempt to re-address the balance next week

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Week 0 Hilary

So the waiting is over, Hilary Term has started. Actually over the break many people have asked the meaning of the term names and a little research has produced the following:

Oxford terms follow the ecclesiastical calendar of the Anglican Christian year.
  • Michaelmas (winter term) is named after the feast of Michael which takes place on the 29th September.
  • Hilary (spring term) is named after Saint Hilary of Poitiers (c315-367) who was the a bishop in the church from 350.
  • Trinity (summer term) is named for Trinity Sunday which is celebrated as the first Sunday after the feast of Pentecost. This is important in the Christian calendar because it signifies when the Holy Spirit first came and the Christian church was "born".
I hope that the above helps to clear things up.
This week has been one of Entrepreneurial Project (EP) preparation and Trinity Term elective presentations. As I have explained before, MBAs are required to prepare and present a business plan for the start up of a company as part of our Hilary Term marks. Oxford is very keen on Entrepreneurialism and so in order to help prepare us for the project, scheduled 2 days of presentations from lectures, Isis (Oxford University company dedicated to spin-outs), and Entrepreneurs.
Stewart Niblock
Stewart used to work for Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the 'Easy empire' entrepreneur, as part of his board. Stewart's main responsibility was in the start up of businesses and he came to give a presentation entitled "Classic Start up: Mistakes and Challenges". During the talk he described his experience at Easy whilst focusing on the formation of Easycar (which started life as Easy Rentacar) and why it didn't really work.
Torsten Reil,
Torsten is an Oxford Alumni who started Naturalmotion with the help of Isis. It is now a company with 45 employees and offices in the UK and the USA. He gave us a talk about how the business had begun in 2000 and the stages that it had been through since then. He also talked about business angel funding as well as venture capital. This was a thoroughly enthralling speech by someone who was living and breathing the entrepreneurial experience.
Trinity Term Elective Presentations
In contrast to last term (where we were only required to choose 2 elective subjects for the following term), this term we have to choose all of the subjects to we wish to take in the next term. This, therefore, involved 2 full days of presentations from lecturers peddling their wares and enticing us to choose their subjects. The list is far to long to include in this blog and to be honest, I have still not fully decided which ones to take. Watch this space and I will post my final choice next week.
In addition to the academic subjects this week, I also managed to attend Daniel Adams 30th Birthday as well as getting out and about in Oxford and the Cotswolds.
Namiko and me at the Oxford Natural History Museum
The Shakespeare Hostel in Stratford-on-Avon
Andrea, Aki, Namiko and me in Stratford-on-Avon
Aki and Namiko in Stow on the Wold
That is it for now, I am sure that I will have a fair amount to post next week... Until then.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Winter Break

Winter break is almost over. Its amazing, the 3 weeks has flown past.

During the break Namiko and I flew to Japan to spend 'Shougatsu' (New Year) with her family. This is something that we have been been doing every year for the past 5 years, however this time my parents and brother (+ girlfriend) decided to also join.
This was the first time since the wedding that the 2 families had met and it went very well.
We spent a traditional Shougatsu evening having dinner at home followed by a visit to the local shrine at midnight to ring the bell. In accordance with Buddhist teachings the bell must be rung 108 times as the date changes between 31st December and 1st January. The 108 strikes represents each person's 108 passions or desires. By ringing the bell one is meant to get rid of these so as to start the new year afresh.

We also managed to do a little sightseeing, going to Kanazawa Jo (Castle), Takaoka Kojo Park and Kanazawa Kazue-Machi Chaya district (the old Geisha district).

Me, Namiko, Mum, Daniel, Daisy, Dad at Kanazawa Jo

The trip was concluded with a pseudo/late Japanese wedding party. It seemed a little funny that now (2 years after getting married) we were having a wedding party, but seeing as our actual wedding party was in the UK and Namiko's extended family couldn't make it, her father decided take advantage of my family being in Japan to host a traditional style party. Despite the language problem, the evening went very well and finally allowed Namiko's extended family to meet my parents.

Namiko talking with her Uncle and Aunt (her Father, Mother and Brother are in the background)

Mum and Dad at the party

Daniel and his girlfriend Daisy

The whole trip went really well and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

So that's it, winter break over. Hilary Term starts on Monday with the following subjects:

  • International Business and Global Governance
  • Finance 2
  • Strategy 2
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Financial Management

In addition to the subjects listed above, it is also time to start applying for jobs.... And so it starts again. Great!