Sunday, March 25, 2007

Week 10 Hilary...Exams and Texas!

And that's it! Exams over. As was the same in Michaelmas Term, six exams in four days is physically and mentally draining. They are now over and except for an Operations Management assignment (due tomorrow) and a Financial Management assignment (due Friday) the term is over. Its amazing to think that 2/3 of the MBA is done. Where has the time gone?
Whilst the exams seemed harder than those in Michaelmas, I feel reasonably confident that all went OK.
Mikhel, Niall, Me, Barry and John on Tuesday
Mark, on the realisation that he wrote the answer to one question on the QUESTION SHEET, and not the ANSWER SHEET. Its good that he can laugh about it.
Swapandeep and Wayne in deep conversation in the Hertford College Library prior to the Finance exam on Wednesday
In the title of this post I also include the word 'Texas'. It would seem that following last week's presentation, my EP (Entrepreneurial Project) team has been selected to represent Oxford at the Moot Corp MBA business plan competition in Texas during May. As I explained last post, we knew that the presentation was well received, but didn't expect to win. It is a great honour and if I were to say that the 5 of us are excited about the trip, it would be a tremendous understatement.
The winning EP team
Li Yuanchao
On Friday, here at the business school, I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Li Yuanchao, Chairman of Jiangsu Province and expected future President of China. The title of his presentation, 'New Concepts in Socialist China', seemed a little strange, however the results in Jiangsu combined with the passion with which he presented seem to suggest that he really is the future of China. To be able to sit in a room and listen to people like Mr Li is one of the things I love about doing my MBA in Oxford.
Li Yuanchao and a packed Said Business School Lecture Theatre

On Thursday (and following my last exam), and for the first time in many months I managed to play a round of golf... erm as expected, the time off from the game was very visible and I was horrible. Hopefully I will get the change to practice next term.
The after golf dinner at Browns. Matt, Andrew, Chris, Me, Dan, Brandon and Kaysa

After Exam Party
The usual crazy after exams party. Less said the better about that one... No photos, to protect the innocent!

Japanese Dinner
On Sunday, Namiko and I attended a dinner hosted by Tomo Suzuki (a lecturer at SBS) and his family at Shanghai 30's restaurant. The object of the evening (apart from having dinner with friends) was to strengthen the 'Said Business School Japanese network' and I felt privileged to join. It has been a while since I spent an evening speaking nothing but Japanese, but it seemed OK and Namiko and I had a great time.
Namiko and Hiro at the partySo that's it. Another term bites the dust. Last year's class warned us about Hillary, and they were right. On the up side, they also stated that Trinity (summer term), is the best so I suppose that if they were correct about this one, I can trust them on the next one.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Week 9 Hilary

The theme for this week was revision and a very (very) well received EP (Entrepreneurial Project) presentation.

It was amazing. On Thursday afternoon my EP group and I presented our business plan to a panel of potential investors. All of the investors were friends of the school and the idea of the exercise was not so much to get funding but more gain experience in presenting to these types of people. Never-the-less, we started with a little skit (a risky strategy) followed by the presentation proper from Esther and I. Throughout our talk (supported by powerpoint slides) I had the feeling that it was going well as we seemed to hold the panel’s attention, but I was only aware how much they liked our idea when we asked for questions at the end. The following 10 minutes was spent not answering questions but listening to the panel debate amongst them-selves how to grow the business. Whilst I have presented a lot in the past, I have never received such a response from respected individuals. Due to the enormous enthusiasm and offers of help (including introducing us to some very big players in our chosen industry) the team and I are now discussing the best way to take this forward. I will all depend on our partner and his idea of the future. Exciting!

On Monday (prior to all the EP excitement), I attended a presentation by Eric Knight (from Knight Vincke) about activist shareholders. His company invests in large-cap public companies that aren’t doing very well with an aim to get the board to improve the way it runs them. His methods involve gaining consensus among other shareholders and using the press to pressurise the management team by writing ‘open letters’ detailing where the incumbent management are failing. Despite having relatively small stakes in these large companies, I got the feeling that it was Mr Knight’s ability to form these consensuses as well as his understanding of the best way to manage to press which has lead to his success in this field. His comment that financial analysts look at a company as it is today, whereas he looks at a company how it may be in the future was well received (especially by Esther who compared it to the famous Bobby Kennedy speech).

On Saturday night a few of us (me, Namiko, Andrea, Akiko, Allan, Haruyo, Brandon and Caroline) went to see the Luminox display on Broad Street. It was quite a surreal event with the whole street seeming to be a mass of displays of fire in one way or another. The main sight was the large ball of fire dangling above us. It was a very enjoyable break from revision.
Luminox PosterVery Large ball of fire dangling above us
Namiko and Akiko
Namiko and I
Andrea getting too close to the fireThe guy controlling 'The Volcano'Speaking of revision (and seeing that it was that which filled most of my week), I now have pages and pages (and pages) of notes which attempt to summarise all that I have learnt in the past 8 weeks. As I sit here now, I am looking over the ones necessary for the Financial Management and International Business and Global Governance exams that I have tomorrow. Tonight all of the Hertford MBAs will sit in our common room and debate the issues in order to make sure that we understand them all. Following that we will go through a few previous years' exams. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Week 8 Hilary

So there it goes, another term over...only Trinity left. This MBA is really flying past.

There are still, however, exams to sit (6 in total) which will take place in the week commencing the 19th March (a week from tomorrow). This gives me 7 days with which to revise.

Week 8 was dedicated to churning out assignments. As I look at the the list on my wall, I can see that since Hilary Term started, I have handed in 21 assignments and that I still have three to go (EP, Financial Management and Operations Management). These, however, are not due until after the exams....thank heavens.

To mark the end of term, there was a party held at the business school on Friday night, however it was Namiko's birthday and so we slipped out to go for a romantic meal at edamame (a very good Japanese restaurant on Holywell St. in Oxford).

Seeing as next week will be spent doing revision, I decided to take the weekend off, and Namiko and I used the time to do a little more sightseeing in Oxford. We had been meaning to have a walk around Magdalen College for a while and seeing as the weather was nice, proceeded to do just that. We also managed to have a walk around Deer Park (the park which sits inside Magdalen).
Namiko and I next to the Magdalen Plane
On the way to Magdalen, we also managed to pop into Merton College (another one of the really old ones) and looked between the railings to Dead Man's walk. Which is so named as it was the route taken by funeral processions from the Synagogue to the Jewish burial ground (which is now the Botanical Gardens).
Namiko striking a pose in Merton
On Saturday night was Andrea's Birthday which turned in a joint party between him and Namiko. It was great nice party where Akiko prepared a mountain of Italian food and we tucked in for hours.

The Birthday Boy & GirlSo, that was this week. As I look back on it, I realise that there were no guest speakers or other such extra-curricular events, which I suppose is a first for me. I recall spending alot of time on our EP presentation, which is due on Thursday next week.

So, now its head down for another couple of weeks before the holidays... Where does the time go?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Week 7 Hilary

Erm, Torpids didn’t happen. Despite the training, preparations and last minute panic about getting the kit on time, the weather made it impossible to even row one day. Oh well, Oxford Vs Cambridge MBA, MBAT and Summer VIIIs to look forward to.

Of course, the lack of rowing meant that I really had an opportunity to chomp through the work and barring the cold that I caught, I proceeded to do just that.

Unfortunately, this week I had to deal with a freeloader (someone who doesn’t pull their weight) in one of the groups I am in. Luckily (for them), the very real threat of removing their name from the author list seemed to do the trick and the work was (finally) forthcoming. I didn’t enjoy having to man-manage a fellow MBA.

On a brighter note (and on the whole it was another good week), the Japanese party went very well with about 40 or so people turning up. Due to the numbers, it ended up being a ‘half-Japanese’ party as the non-Japanese brought food from their own nations. The interesting competition between Swapandeep and Simon’s curry kept the betting public interested for a short while, however within a few minutes it was clear to see that Simon’s valiant attempt (despite Mark's request to the tasters) was struggling to keep up with Swapandeep’s chick-pea extravaganza.
Random Party Photo
Simon's Curry and attempt to get someone to eat itThis Saturday we had a lunar eclipse here and following the Japanese evening a few of us stood outside to watch it. The compilation photo at the top of this entry tracks its progress.

Chatham Financial Recruitment Presentation
On Tuesday Chatham Financial were here explaining the company and encouraging us to apply. It was a fascinating presentation by a relatively small company whose customers include all of the major investment banks, PE firms as well as a multitude of real estate companies. Have a look at the website if you have any interest.

Dick Cantwell P&G
Dick is the VP in charge of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) at Procter and Gamble. He came to chart the reasons for RFID (supply chain visibility), how it was developed (at MIT and sponsored by Gillette and P&G), what happened first and where it was now. The fact that this technology can now actually pay for itself in consumer products (through shrinking reduction etc) is amazing

Venture Fund Launch
The big event that many have been working on took place on Thursday. This was the launch of the SBS Venture Fund where four teams of current/former Oxford MBA students presented their business idea to Sir Philip Green and David Bonderman. Just to put it perspective, last year Sir Philip and David donated £500k each to this new venture fund. From 83 teams originally, four were selected to present to these gentlemen so as to get their advice as to whether the fund should invest in them or not. The result was that two were successful with David Bonderman keeping the audience entertained with his opinions as to why he would not invest in the other two (he didn’t pull any punches)

So, this week had no rowing and a bit of an argument but on the whole a load of work got done, and I enjoyed the presentations and party. I now go into 8th week of Hilary in a good position to have all the assignments done so that I can concentrate on revision in 9th week. Exams are then in 10th week. Here we go again!