Monday, December 19, 2005

I bet I am making a 3 on this one !

One more finance exams...when I walk in I always hope to pass and when I walk out I am perhaps the only one smiling. Today the test was truely gruelling (or so everyone claims). I was totally pressed for time...I finished like 2 minutes before the end of the that I assume is a good sign. I am extremely happy with this period and won't be surprised if I do move up from the 'average' position awarded in P1...but then I can't get so optimistic with just two exam performances. (Man. Accounting and Finance) the other three 'poet' courses can swing me anyways right? True...I think I might end up being turned into a geek here. I am a geek....oops. (Wannabe happy?)

Ok what is the 3 doing up there in the subject. I thought it would be a good idea to explain how the GPA works here. If any of you are six sigma black belts this will be much simpler. But let me start by saying the grading is relative. So anyone with an average performance gets a 2.5 and everyones score is given 2.5 +/- the number of standard deviations you are from the mean. So essentially a 3.0 means atleast a 0.5 from the mean...for the people who know the normal curve you might know that about 99% of the data lies between +/- 3 if you do get below -0.5 (oh yes, people do get GPAs that are negative atleast in core courses) one needs to redo the courses (and they say that happens too) in P1 I narrowly missed escaping some cruel lonliness in the Z curve in financial accounting (I can never get balance sheets to balance and the accounting graders are always out to punish me for such mundane mistakes)

What am I doing blogging now about boring grade points which anyways don't matter....I am going and getting my beer to celebrate the commencement of P2 holidays !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Merry Christmas everyone !!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I am not alone :-).

Here is a not so clueless MBA with a very interesting article...enjoy reading

KV - thanks for the message. 1 more day to go for 15 days of vacation. Just can't wait :-).

Now back to the Strategy book (not that I am done with Finance)

All in a day’s interview
By Laura Huang
Published: November 27 2005 18:36 Last updated: November 27 2005 18:36
Alittle while ago, I was asked: “How many jellybeans can fit in an ­aircraft?” I was not talking to a precocious five-year-old. I was talking to a 40-something-year-old man, at one of the leading companies in the world, in the process of interviewing for a coveted position within their organisation.
In this same interview I was asked: “What is 36 cubed?” and: What do you think the interest rate will be on February 17, 2007? The exact interest rate please, to the nearest hundredth of a per cent.”
As any MBA student can tell you, we are in the recruiting season.
What is interesting is that this interview was not at an investment bank or a financial services institution, as my cohorts here at Insead might have guessed. It was actually for a position within a sales and marketing department. Despite the seemingly casual interview process for sales and marketing posts, at least in comparison with those for investment banking roles, this particular institution had nonetheless incorporated the “stress interview” into their repertoire.
The stress interview is one in which rapid questions are fired at you, usually complex and time-intensive in nature, with the goal being to see how you react to “stress”. This type of interview can take on other variations, such as when an employer lines up a group of interviewers, either one at a time or en masse, with each given the sole mission of intimidating you.
Contrast the stress interview with the behavioural interview, where applicants are asked to describe past experiences where they demonstrated leadership, teamwork or creativity. Here, any answer is accepted; what is important is how one describes the situation.
There are also informational interviews, the structured interview and the semi-structured interview, among others.
And here in Singapore, where we are sometimes interviewed by companies that frequent only the ­Fontainebleau campus, there are also video-conference interviews, on-campus interviews and on-site interviews. These, in fact, form a ­different axis on which all the other types may be ­plotted.
Preparation for each nuance of interview has proved to be time consuming. But the best advice that I have received about interviewing is this: relax and remember that you are interviewing them, just as much as they are interviewing you.
This advice helped me to rule out one employer who chuckled when I said that five years from now I wanted to be in a job where I felt a sense of joy in my career. He replied that he had not experienced a single day of joy in the course of his 20-year-career and that it was called “work” for a reason. This, I decided, would not be the company for me.
It also helped me rule out a potential employer who had invited me for a final-round interview, only to reveal that the position was not actually in Singapore, as I had been led me to believe.
The advice has also helped me rule out consulting, to the horror of many of my fellow MBAs.
Instead, I have decided to remain true to my strengths and passions and not be led astray by contracts etched in gold. I will continue in the realm of sales and marketing and devote myself to shaping consumer behaviour.
I may be atypical, as it amazes me how many MBAs turn out to be career-switchers, whether they opt for a change in location, function or industry.
There are former strategy consultants looking for management roles in industry. There are those from business development who are trying their hand at investment banking. There are entrepreneurs bidding for top-tier consulting jobs. And there are those tired of working for others, trying to start up their own ventures. Everyone wants someone else’s job.
Why not create some kind of internal market for these jobs? It is analogous to the “double-coincidence” problem we studied in macro- economics.
In the past, people would trade bread for eggs and eggs for bread. But in order to do so, the baker would have to find exactly the right person who was willing to take his bread and give him eggs in exchange. And when the baker wanted milk he would have to find another person who was willing to trade bread in exchange for milk.
And, thus, monetary units were created to solve this problem, where the baker sold his bread for money and then used money to buy whatever else he needed.
In the same way, we should create a system for jobs pre-Insead.
The number of fellow participants at Insead who are scared they will not find a job is amazing. These are people who have excelled their whole lives, been showered with praise and large sums in year-end bonuses, only to admit that they are afraid they are not good enough.
Despite any change or lack of change in functions, we all bring with us many newly cultivated MBA skills. Even I am impressed by my recently developed Excel skills and my ability to create macros and pivot tables when, just a year ago, I was one of those people who would scroll down a 30,000 line spreadsheet using the little down arrow.
I now also notice marketing campaigns in a different way and feel (almost) compelled to tell anyone who will listen how they might be improved. I find myself thinking in frameworks and wish that people would express themselves in more organised and concise ways.
I think of new ventures and products that would thrive in Singapore and observe organisations that are not spending enough on their sales force or need a significant change in ­management.
As we enter the last of five academic periods, I suppose we are almost ready to re-enter the real world. All that is left is to determine who is ready to accept us, with all this fresh MBA knowledge.
The company is out there and when I find it I am sure the interview will go very well, now I know that “six to the sixth power” and “whatever interest rate is printed on the front page of the Financial Times” are not clever enough answers.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Long Break in a couple of days

I need to jump the hurdle of two more finals before I can enjoy tranquility for another 15 days. Well not really, there is a lot of mixed feeling already on Campus with everyone going their way for the break and "Ever after". Some stay here, many go to singapore, and then the "sections" are broken down and new ones have been created. So January is going to be as good as new.

The finals this period have been lesser of an ordeal than the P1 finals. There are a couple of "decently quantitative courses" but even finance is getting a lot more "intuition" driven than otherwise...although they say that is good for poets and not for engineers as an "engineer pressured into being an engineer by society" I am secretly cherishing the long essays I am writing in my marketing (finished Friday) and strategy exams(on monday). Jake's exam is over and I should say it was not difficult at all. I never thought I could enjoy writing an accounting exam as much EVER (especially after that stupid grade I got for P1 financial accounting). This time I think it certainly will help me move my grades up by a notch when my Mktg and OB will keep me as close to average (hopefully)!

The break is here. I am looking forward to it. But then now I need to get back to Black-scholes (for winning Nobel Prizes for making way too many assumptions about what shouldn't be assumed in the first place) and why Microsoft had to change ESOs (Executive Stock options) to RS (Restricted Shares) before announcing Dividends (instead of trying to fix the innumerable bugs on windows xp)...ok people Chao !

Monday, December 12, 2005

Exceptional INSEADer !

When there are anonymous ordinary bloggers like me, there are some exceptional ones that are more tech savvy (With PODcasts included) that are changing the world.

You have no idea what you are losing if you don't check out.

Ahh...yes, going back to study. Naaah. going for lunch.

An Excuse not to study

Finals are approaching and I have left no stones unturned to excuse myself from studying....Some examples of things I have been doing so far

1. Planning a Vacation at home for Christmas
2. Dinner with housemates.
3. Googling words like "Jobs", "Career", & "Put Options"
4. Drinking coffee thrice an hour
5. Downloading wierd podcasts on self-awareness & spirituality
6. Calling up friends and family I have ignored for several weeks now
7. And even reading other blogs ;-)

So finals are almost here and I have put about 5 quality study hours so far including the weekend. The pace has got better so far. I hope to keep it up so that I maintain my "as average as it gets" profile. I will have to put a few hours on my finance and accounting to "Stay away from Trouble".

Adios people, Finance beckons !

Thursday, December 08, 2005


That was a long time away from here (nearly a week). I was away from Fontainebleau for the weekend and am trying to grab every straw I can to keep pace with P2 craze. A quick update on what is going on. P2 is almost coming to an end. We have already had the last classes in both Managerial Accounting (our favorite class) and Marketing (MY favorite subject) so far.

Berlin was incredibly cold. I was there for a friends wedding and partied quite a bit (isn't sleeping 9 hours in total all weekend long a little crazy).

This week the US - Canadian week is on. I haven't enjoyed much of what was offered until now but I hope to catch up today with the movie "Walmart" followed up by some iceskating this evening.

Elective results are out and I did not get one elective in enterpreneurship I really wanted. Otherwise no big surprises.

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