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.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Week 6 Trinity

After a relatively quiet week last week, this one was full of activity.

Work related:
On Monday our real estate class ventured to Bicester Village (an outlet shopping mall about 25 minutes outside Oxford) for a tour and case study discussion. Recently we had completed an assignment on Value Retail (the owner of Bicester) and were thus able to enter into an interesting discussion about the origins of the idea and subsequent financing decisions with our hosts. It was an interesting visit to a highly successful real estate project.

On Thursday, and during our Business in China class, we had a conference call with Buddy Ye, CEO of wangyou and 2002 Oxford MBA. He talked about the starting up of an internet company in China and the paradox of the fact that it is a UGC (user generated content) website yet needs to be censored so as to comply with the Chinese authorities. Buddy talked about his use of radio stations (71, in which they broadcast the most popular UGC of the week) and the other off-line methods he has/is currently using to promote the site. So far, and since inception in 2005, his site now has 9 million users with a plan to be the no.1 social networking site in China. Unfortunately the company's financials do not look positive, so the question is "will they make it"? It seems that from what we know, even odds are about the best that one would get with that bet.

The Parties:
This week was my birthday and with the help of some lovely friends I managed to celebrate it on three consecutive nights.

On Wednesday night, Mark, Swapandeep, Simon and I invited 22 people to dinner at Hertford College. We had been meaning to do it for a while, but had not got around to arranging it. We started with a pint (or two) in the Kings Arms Pub before moving to hall for dinner. Following not a bad meal, the Hertford boys introduced our guests to sconcing (a tradition at Hertford and used as a drinking game) before escorting them to Hertford Bar for yet more drinks. The evening finished in Merton Bar and many people were not well on Thursday...sorry chaps.
Xing, Andrew Taylor, Renee and I at HertfordOur guests outside Hertford Hall
Thursday night was a quiet one with a couple of us going to the Head of the River for a couple of drinks and then carrying on in one Hertford College's kitchens after closing time. What I was not expecting was that whilst I was in the kitchen a large number of friends had gathered downstairs to surprise me at the turn of midnight (my birthday). It really was a lovely surprise and I was quite touched by the number of people that came out to celebrate with me.
My cake
Swapandeep helping me eat my cake Friday night was the Great Gatsby Ball at Templeton College. This was a massive summer party held in the college grounds and fully paid for by Templeton. During the meal (Templeton has the best college food in Oxford), all of the people in the Marquee (about 10 tables) sung me a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' before demanding a speech (which I gave). I realised that in a very short space of time I had made some really good friends that I will miss when the course ends. Anyway, following the meal we all moved to another location on the grounds so as to partake in a lot of dancing and even more drinking. It was a fabulous party with many of us staying until the bitter end. Many people were also not well on Saturday.Esther and Arash in the MarqueeAllan, Andrea and IAshish and Mihkel getting down Those that made it to the bitter endOn Sunday I attended Satyenda's son, Aryan's forth birthday. It was great fun with many of the MBA's (and their families) turning up. I then moved to the business school for a barbecue party and some croquet. It was a nice end to the week.
Satyenda and AryanBrian, Founder and President of the Said Business School Barbecue societyAbhishek, Shariq and Naser, the croquet hustlers
And finally, as those that have been reading this blog will know, I have received a number of job offers recently (as have many of my friends) and have thus been deciding which one to accept. In the end I had narrowed the decision down to offers from two consulting companies, McKinsey & Company and Bain & Company. After much thought and discussion, I have chosen McKinsey and will join their London office this year. Prior to starting at Oxford I had decided that consultancy was what I wanted to do when I left and so am really excited that I now have this opportunity. I can't wait to start!

So, I thoroughly enjoyed this week, it is hard to believe that tomorrow marks the beginning of the penultimate week of my Oxford MBA lectures. Where has the time gone?

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