Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week 6 Hilary

This week allowed less frantic work than that of the recent past and so I had the ability to sit in the library and do some decent research into my large projects.
I had planned for the ability to row most days however with the Isis being amber or red flagged that didn't really happen. On the subject of rowing, next week is supposed to be Torpids however there is much doubt as to whether it can take place at all. Not so good...

This weekend, Julie, Lisa and I did a large portion of our Operations Management project which involves modeling the queuing system in a well known coffee shop. We then interviewed the store manager to gain further insights into an amazingly fast moving business.

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday
On Tuesday I was introduced to Mardi Gras by some of my American friends. Seeing as they couldn't be in New Orleans they decided that the Jam Factory in Oxford would have to do. Seeing as it was a school night (and having been caught out by this gang previously) I joined Dan Adams at Jesus college at 8pm for their pub quiz.....

Dr Patrick O'Connell
Dr O'Connell is the managing director of BT's Major Programmes. He is the man in charge of BT's portion of the new NHS computer system and came in on Wednesday to explain the concerns with running such a large programme. He explained the differences between project, programme and major programme management and detailed the famous failures in the area of such major programmes (i.e the Hubble Telescope not working first time around and requiring a manned space mission to fix it).
This was a great talk from someone who really knew his stuff.

McKinsey Recruitment event
On Thursday I attended the McKinsey Recruitment event at the school. As the biggest employer of Oxford MBAs, there were high expectations of this presentation and we weren't disappointed. It was a very well prepared and brilliantly delivered event hosted by a partner who happens to be an alumni of the school. Very impressive.

22% Club Dinner
For Valentines day it is tradition for all the male Oxford MBAs to buy roses for all the female MBA's. These were presented last week following the Operations Management lecture on Wednesday and this dinner was arranged by all the female MBAs as a way of saying thank you.
In case you are wondering, the course is made up of 22% females...hence the 22% club.

Open Mic Event
An event arranged by Ean Hernandez (he's on the drums) where it is a free for all for all the amateur musicians to express their 'musical identity'. It was a great event that followed the 22% dinner and gave us some great music to listen to as we attempted to relax before a weekend of work.

Pamela's Birthday Following both the 22% club dinner and Open Mic event a few of us went to Ashton and Wayne's house to help Pamela celebrate her birthday. It was a fun night of 'truth or dare' and generally relaxing
Simon, Jacqueline, Sonny, Fred, Kaz, Swapandeep, Pamela, Kian, ShinjiArash's Surprise Birthday

On Saturday night at 11.30 we all piled round to Rewley Abbey Court (Templeton's college housing) common room to celebrate Arash's birthday (which was on Sunday). Earlier in the evening a few of us had been for dinner with him, however seeing as the main party was to be a surprise we had all said goodbye following the meal. He seemed to walk home having expected a party.... He got one an hour and a half later....

Arash with his cake

Tonight Namiko and I went to see Blood Diamond at the cinema. For anyone that has not seen it, we strongly recommend it. I remember all the news feeds and so it was all the more real.

So this week has been one of birthdays and research. Week 7 is looming large with the standard strategy assignments as well as operations management and another (yes another) finance paper due...And its only 3 weeks until exams...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Week 5 Hilary

This week was dominated by the Oxford/Cambridge MBA recruitment fair which took place on Thursday (see below). It is little wonder then that my (now) well established work routine was thrown a little by taking a day off. In addition, a finance assignment seemed to dominate my every waking moment. I don't normally talk about specific papers on this blog, however this one absorbed me completely. We were tasked with valuing a company that was to be spun off from its parent. That is to say, value an initial public offering (IPO). What a task! Lets just say that I spent a considerable length of time on it and instead of my normal 'hand it in a day or so early', only managed to finish this evening (deadline is 11pm tonight).

Of course the standard 2 weekly strategy assignments also managed to get slotted in somewhere in between.

This week the river was red-flagged until Friday which meant that most training was either in the erg room or in the Iffley Road Tank Room (an indoor boat). Today however we discovered that we had been inadvertently entered into a race and seeing as it meant valuable river time, attacked it with gusto. The result was probably better than expected and we managed to hold off the St Peter's boat all the way to the end, however as I keep saying, we have an rather large amount of work to do to be competitive at Torpids. Never-the-less, I really enjoy the whole rowing scene and would go out on the water regardless of of our standard.

High-Tech Panel Discussion
On Monday, the school hosted a panel discussion on the high-tech sector. It was attended by representatives from Google, Adobe, Ofcom, IBM, PRTM and offered an interesting insight into the fast moving nature of both software and hardware developments.

Tech Mahindra
My good friend Pawan arranged for Tech Mahindra to come in on Wednesday to discuss their MBA intake programme for this year. It seems that they (so like the other Indian IT companies) are expanding at an incredible rate and are thus taking on staff very very quickly. They came in to discuss the opportunities for September and seem very keen on taking on a few Oxford MBAs.

Oxford/Cambridge Recruiting Fair
This was a great event, this year hosted by Judge Business School, Cambidge. It attended by 27 companies in total, including: KPMG, IBM, Accenture, Capgemini, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Fitch Ratings, PRTM, Roland Berger, Deloitte, Ocado, London Asia Capital, TTP Group, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant, Convergys, Altran, Fidelity and a host of others. As usual, this event was a good way to gather more information on the culture and practices of the company (I believe that you can tell a lot by the person that the company chooses to attend these things) and I spent several hours chatting with their respected representatives.

I also managed to get some time to have a tour of some of the colleges in Cambridge as well as having a walk around the town. The main event was closed by a buffet reception and a select few of us then joined some of the Cambridge MBAs for a pint or three in their locals. It was a good day.
Me in Trinity College Cambridge
For those that have seen the film Chariots of Fire, one scene recreates a race in which the runners attempt to run round the perimeter of the Great Court at Trinity College Cambridge in the time it takes the clock to double strike the hour at midday. In the film one sees the runners run through the cloisters pictured above. I have since found out that the scene was actually filmed in Eton College...
The Chapel at Kings College Cambridge

Templeton Valentine Ball
On Friday Templeton hosted a Valentine Ball, to which it seemed that most of the MBAs and their partners attended. Templeton is reputed to have the best food of all the Oxford Colleges and they did not let them-selves down for this party. Following the food there was a party in the JCR (Junior Common Room) where we danced the night away.
Andrea and Akiko Pawan and Mahima at the after-party

Dinner at the Di Martinos
On Saturday, Bruno and his wife Rosie hosted an intimate dinner for 7 at their home. Also present were Eric, Christina and Julie. The food was out of this world and we were treated to a series of Latin American specialities (Bruno and guys can really cook!). As expected the MBAs present spent the beginning of the evening in a corner talking about the finance assignment, however as the delicious food was served we pulled ourselves out of our self-inflicted pain and enjoyed a wonderful evening together.

The week to come...
Week 6 looks like its going to be another busy one. Projects on a famous retailer, Hybrid cars, an Indian 'emerging giant' and further progress into the EP are on the cards. And its only 3 weeks until the end of lectures for this term! Last year's class weren't wrong when they said that Hilary was a tough term...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week 4 Hilary

Snow and cold was the theme for this week’s weather. The temperature dropped on Tuesday and on Thursday it actually snowed! Not altogether expected for a February in Oxford.
View from my window on Thursday morning
As far as work was concerned, this week was one of consolidation. After the mad panic of last week and its multitude of assignments, this week’s two were easily planned and executed. It therefore allowed some time to do work on our EP (Entrepreneurial Project) and discuss another group project entitled the ‘TMO’ (Technology, Market and Organisation) for which we need to write a commentary on a recent technological innovation. We are deliberating over online share trading, hybrid cars and the YouTube phenomenon and will decide which one during the coming week.

Also, this weekend I returned home to try to erect a new fence in our garden. The old one apparently took exception to the recent strong winds and decided to blow over (see photo). After several hours, we managed to get the broken post out of the ground however due to the miserable weather couldn’t put in a replacement as the ground was still too wet for the cement to be able to dry. Take two will be in a couple of weeks.
Our dead fence
I managed to get out in a boat again this week, this time with the Hertford College 2nd VIII. Hopefully if I train enough I should become a permanent fixture in the squad and be able to compete in Torpids (see rules), which is only 3 weeks away. There is a lot of work to do!

Other than that, there were many other activities this week:

Consumer goods panel discussion (Monday)
An interesting panel discussion attended by Tesco, Masterfoods, Carrefour and PTO Group (branding and packaging consultants). It made a change from the focus on the consultancies and banks that come here and offered a great insight into the consumer goods industry.

Citigroup Recruitment Presentation (Tuesday)
A presentation from Citigroup’s commercial banking division. They came to the school to present their associate programme, into which they recruit MBAs from the best schools. A good presentation giving a different view to the banking sector (we have mainly received presentations on the Investment Banking function so far). Interesting, but maybe not for me….

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Recruitment Presentation (Tuesday)
On Tuesday I attended a recruitment presentation from another prestigious firm of consultants. Roland Berger (Berger for short) is the only European based elite consultancy firm and came here to explain why it is different and thus why we should apply. It was a good presentation by a charismatic partner of the firm and very well attended from our side.

Luis Cantarell, Nestle (Wednesday)
Luis Cantarell is Executive VP, Nestle SA and responsible for the European area. He came to give a talk on “Responsible and sustainable competitiveness: wishful thinking or business reality?” and talked about Nestle’s efforts to grow the business through sustainable and responsible practices. There were some interesting comments from the audience about the baby formula scandal however the speaker managed to deal with them with the skill of a diplomat and stressed that it now represented less than 1% of world-wide revenues and was firmly in the past. I believe that the school recognised that they may have been problems and thus made sure that security was tight (the attendance of security personnel didn’t go unnoticed).

Martin Varsavskv (Friday)
Martin is CEO of (the largest Wifi network in the world) and a serial internet entrepreneur. He gave a talk on why people shouldn’t always assume that Silicon Valley was the only place that internet innovation took place. Martin is the epitome of the internet entrepreneur and gave a thoroughly engaging talk about his successful European investments.

Hertford Guest Night (Friday)
Namiko and I invited Akiko and Andrea to join us as our guests for this event in Hertford College. It was a joint event between the SCR (senior common room, i.e. Lecturers), MCR (Middle Common Room, i.e. post-grads) and JCR (Junior Common Room, i.e. under-grads) and started with a champagne reception in the Principals lodgings. There were many other MBAs there and it was a fun night.
Akiko, Maho, Takashi, Namiko and Andrea in Hertford HallMe, Nami, Kian, Akiko, Andrea and Takashi in the Principal's LodgingsLe Menu
Tonight, Namiko and I are going to have dinner with the family somewhere in Newbury. It will be a nice opportunity to catch up as we have not seen each other since Christmas.
That is about all for this week. Its funny to think that we are already half way through this term. It goes by so fast...

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Week 3 Hilary

The week that everyone was dreading has now passed. This was the one on the schedule that made everyone blanch as 4 (yes 4) assignments were due in. One large group assignment (40% of the total module's marks), one medium individual (12%) and then two smaller individual ones. It was a tough week.

The large group assignment was for Marketing, and despite being a new group (we are not in the same groups that we were in for Michaelmas), we seemed to work really efficiently. We will see how good we were when the marks come out... Actually, on the subject of marketing, I have to admit that this was one the reasons that I came to B-school as this is a subject that until 3 weeks ago I knew nothing about... amazing the progress one can make in just a few weeks.

This week, I discovered Google Analytics; a product that allows you to reasonably accurately see who has visited the blog, from where, what domain, etc. It also tracks the number of new users vs existing ones... its great. Due to this, you will notice the new piece of advertising on the top of the blog. Please click on this as I would like to track the 'ongoing links'. I may even make a little money on it.
Also, this week, I found out that an old university friend of mine is about to do the Round Britain Rally. Check out his blog as he prepares. Round Britain Rally, Goodwill 4 Charity

That's it. This week's extras were as follows:

Yes, finally, I was out on the water this term. The river has been amber/red flagged for quite a while thus restricting any training to the erg (rowing machine) room. Which is not fun! As expected, I was hopeless (having not been on the water for a couple of months) which was made worse by the fact that we rowed in a 4 (as opposed to an 8). You cannot hide your poor performance on a 4! Oh well. It can only get better.

Cognizant Lunch
An informal lunch with Sanjiv Gossain, VP of Technology for Cognizant Europe, to discuss forging a relationship between SBS and Cognizant for the future. It appears that they may take on some MBAs this year. It would be great for one from SBS to get in!

Booz Allen Hamilton
A recruitment presentation from Booz Allen Hamilton consultants designed to give us the personal touch (like the Bain one last week). This was another great event and I was really impressed by people and culture presented.

Semi-Mid Term Party
Another party organised by John Stanton, this time at the Bridge and Anuba here in Oxford. Unfortunately, despite it being Saturday night, many of the MBAs were still tucked away in the library finishing their Marketing/Finance assignments and so turnout was not so good. Never-the-less, it was fun and I include some photos below.
Haruyo, Akiko, Namiko and Sophie
James, Julie, Me, Archit, Ashish, Patrick

Namiko and I tried our hands at Yoga today at the business school. One of our MBAs (Diliana) is a qualified Yoga instructor and holds 1.5 hour sessions on a Sunday afternoon. Having completed my assignments, Namiko and I decided to go along. It was a fairly rigorous workout however we really enjoyed it and will probably go back again.

And finally (maybe most importantly), this week I found out that I had passed all of my Michaelmas exams (and some of them quite well). What a great feeling! 6 down 12 (or so) to go.