Saturday, October 02, 2010

U Mich (Visit to Ross)

After Darden & Tepper , this was my third visit to a business school. Needless to say it was a fascination experience. These schools make it a point to impress you , ofcourse it is their duty/ business/ dharma. However , the interesting aspect of my trip to Ross was the candid nature of the adcom members, the Career ceter and the students. No one tried to hide the fact that it has been a difficult year for internationals and it is more challenging in terms of job search. The buzzword was collaboration and culture. Over the entire day I heard it like a thousand times.

The day started with John Fuller, associate director of admissions giving us two sample applications ( apparently real ones with some critical information changed). We were asked to analyze the two applications and were given critical insights into how a prospective application should look like. This was followed by a pannel that comprised of students from different backgrounds and interests. This was an insightful session providing an overview of the various aspects of the school - its culture, its ties with the industry, their internship and job search experiences and the strength of the michigan alumni network. After the pannel discussion we went for a lunch with some of the current students and Rodrigo, an International student from Brazil accompanied us. His conversation was insightful and offered an international students perspective. Collaborative culture is not just a buzz word at Ross , but the students live it. If you are a person who is ready to help your competitor win the competition, you definitely fit in Ross (nice sentence :-) ...

Next was a brief session by the career center which answered my questions about the placements for international students. The career center people were candid in their response, but I felt confident that they are there to help me attain a job that I want. We met the various centers at Ross after the career discussion. This turned out to be one of the best sessions of the day. Tauber and WDI are two of the important reasons I chose Ross and my decision / faith was vindicated. Speaking to Prof. Danielle from Tauber I learnt that I have opportunities to consult for clients like Ford and UPS. An interesting project she described was optimizing the gas usage for UPS. These are the kind of projects that I would like to work on. After Tauber, I met Colm Fay, class of 2011 who is closely associated with the WDI institute for emerging markets. The BOP is one of Ross's success stories and I learnt how ross puts it into action from Colm. He worked in Indonesia , trying to sell a small tablet that can help people cleanse drinking water. The BOP concept and learning the various variables that are crucial to working in emerging markets would be critical learnings for me , with my long term India centric goals. Finally, I had a chance to get perspectives of Justin Fishman, one of the Ross ambassadors about the application process, his opinion on the interviews and what is the personality of Ross.

Later in the night , I met one of my old friends who enrolled in the engineering program here. I went around the Ann arbor area and found the place to be really nice and close knit. Students can be seen everywhere. I couldn't help draw comparisons with my under grad institute - BITS-Pilani which was a small city and was equally entertaining. I went around the foot ball stadium, spoke to current michigan students and found the kind of passion football invokes here at Mich. A slew of restaurants of various cusines appeals to a foodie like me .... coming from Pittsburgh with equal passion for football (may be a little more than mich :P ) , I can certainly see myself living here for another 2years.... hopefully things will be good ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

11 rules from Bill Gates' speech

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

My pics 4 and 11.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Visiting Darden

As part of my bschool visits, I visited the Darden school of business at the University of Virginia on sep 6th. My first reaction on entering the school was "Classy" . Everything starting from the building to the fireplaces reminded me of the victorian era. The students were very helpful and so was the admissions office and the professors. One of the students offered to host me at his town house and I had the opportunity to meet his two roommates (Darden students). It was really great spending some quality time with them and see how they go about their preperation for the next day. Darden deals entirely in cases and I had a chance to understand the next day's case before hand. As I am not aware of the tools they use , the first question I asked was how do you know about all these concepts ?. Did you learn them before hand ?. I actually put the same question to a few others and all of them had a single response. "When you spend 4 hours a day with your learning team, you end up learning the stuff" . Team plays a very vital role at Darden. So if some one is not comfortable working in a team or doesn't enjoy sharing knowledge and expanding horizons, Darden is not for them.

The day of the class visit started with the first coffee. I had a chance to meet some current students at the bschool and interacted with them to understand what motivated them to attend Darden. I felt first coffee is a great tradition, giving an opportunity to meet the faculty and co students. After a brief coffee Shivram N, my student rep accompanied me to the class on Decision Analysis by Professor Lichtendal. I was in the class along with another visitor , who happend to be working for the FBI :) ... The class started with the customary section tradition of clapping on the walls /benches etc... which was fun and I guess relaxes the students and gets them into the proper mood. Darden classes are highly interactive. The session continued with a discussion of the previous case on NPVs that they discussed and the lessons learnt from it. At Darden , the professor acts just a facilitator. It started with "cold calling" a student who spoke about her understanding and learnings from the case , to which another student added a point and it continued. All this while the professor was silently making points on the black board and was occassionally providing cues so as to direct the process. I now understand it is a great way to learn. After 15mins , three teams were asked to do a mock consulting presentation to the client from the case to be discussed. Three students were selected as the judges and were required to evaluate the teams. The presentations were very skillfully done with various assumptions , which the teams substantiated. The really fun and interesting part of this mechanism was the opportunity that was given for cross questioning. I remember the ire I used to face when I happend to ask a question in Principles Of management (POM) class at BITS. At my undergrad questioning a prof or a student giving the presenatation was a strict no-no . I could feel the cultural difference at Darden. It was through cross questioning and interaction that students learned concepts like CAPRatio. I wish we at BITS change our attitudes. The class was highly interactive, engaging and fun. For three quarters of the class I forgot that the professor was present except for his occassionaly announcements about the time.

The class ended with a student taking a voluntary punishment for letting his mobile ring in the previous class :) ... he was asked to place his mobile on his forehead and walk backwards. I found Darden students to be fun loving and professional in equal measure. Post class , I went around Charlottesville . It turned about to be a nice quaint town and Virginia students are present everywhere. Later I met Prof. Lichtendal and discussed my career aspirations and how Darden can help me meet them. He was extremely responsive and friendly. Darden faculty has an open door policy and you can walk into a professor's room if the door is open.

On the whole , I am highly highly impressed with Darden. When they write on their website that they are collaborative , the really mean it and it is pervasive all through the campus and community. My resolve to attend Darden has now increased leaps and bounds. I shall put in as good an application as I can :) ... wish me good luck.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A l'il introspection

Lately, I have been thinking about a question that came into my mind about a couple of weeks ago. What does success mean to me ?. Since college it has meant a lot of things to me. Marks, GPA, awards, certificates , a nice job and a high pay package. However, these days I have started associating success with learning. If I can learn new concept, analyze it and use it to help the client I feel I have succeeded. Another article that I would like to highlight here is An excellent speech on how to look at life and success and why success as a person outweighs success as a professional.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

First impressions

I have been in the US for two weeks now and haven't yet posted a blog entry which is weird. So I thought I will put in some words here.

First thing that surprises me in the US is the size of the parking lot :) ... If it were Bangalore , I am sure some one would have build an apartment over there :)...

Secondly, the food habits in this country are way too weird for me. They eat a lot of junk (pizza, burger, bagel , donuts, cheese and lots of it ). Yesterday, a colleague and I went to watch INCEPTION and ordered some nachos with wine for dinner. We were surprised to see the amount of cheese spread on those nachos. I barely ate a few.

Third , the approach of the people. Everyone is so nice and courteous. Everyone asks how are you ? / how are you doing today? but I don't think they really care for a response from you. For ex: we stayed at Marriott over the weekend when we went to Washington DC. The receptionist asked us how we were doing. Washington was burning that weekend and we said the same. She didnt even bother to respond and asked us if we had a booking. :-) ... strange.

The organization is highly meticulous and people follow processes as if it were a crime to break rules. Traffic signals are respected. Bills are given for every dollar spent and queue is maintained. How often have we seen people jumping ahead of the queue in India or rather we ourselves have jumped ahead.

People enjoy their life. Traveling over the weekend to another city isnt an uncommon thing.

Credit checks / criminal background checks for housing surprises me. But I guess it is for the good.

And finally, this is a country of various nationalities ... sounds paradoxical , but I work with Indians , Americans,a Slovekian, a Brazilian who are all actually PRs or citizens here. That I think is a great thing about this country , you are accepted if you are useful (sounds a bit like matrix :-) )...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dday - 1

-- All set for the trip.
-- Packaging done.
-- got calls from home wishing good luck and asking to be careful . I suspect my mom cried somewhere in the middle (they are always like that)
-- tickets, forex and visa are ready.

--Essays have been released for Cornell , Kellogg and Darden.
-- completed Duke essays
-- Ross is under review

-- Need to visit Shishu Mandir one last time. May be get them some chocolates. Will really miss the saturday program.
-- Need to do some last minute shopping.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

c'est la vie (such is life)

Got my L1 visa today. If anything had disappointed me since the start of my career in 2006 (there are quite a few) it was the L1 visa rejection in 2007. Usually unperturbed my disappointments , some how I gave into it. It did impact me quite a lot and kinda hurt my confidence. So when I was presented for another US project I felt it is time.

The interview was over in a flash. There were no long lines of people and I was asked three questions.

1 ) Who is the client ?
2 ) How are you going to help the client ?
3 ) How did u specialize in this technology.

VC : Your visa has been approved. Your passport will reach you by a courier.

me : Thanks mam ....

So it settles the score I guess. waiting to go to pittsburgh.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The first of the essays

It has been highly packed weekend. I wrote my essays for Fuqua. I was a little surprised they didnt mention their Leader of Consequences and havent asked how you wish to be one. But I guess they gave enough hints that they want you to emphasize on this point. The first question about inspiration for the carrer path was a little tricky one as there was a fine line between the career path and the job you want. I am glad that my friends helped me identfiy it. I was writing saying I want to become a consultant at McKinsey / bain / booz / Deloitte but later realized that the question asks for something much more higher. Why would you want to be a consultant and what is the impact that you are going to have on the community in that role. By the time I finished it off (12 in the night yesterday) I felt I brought out the best that I could.

The second question was straight forward asking you to tell them how your background , values and nonwork activities would enhance the learning of the duke community. This was the easiest of the lot and luckily I had quite a few things to speak about. Though I have been an IT consultant for the last four years , I have had a chance to work for clients across various industries and help them solve problems related to their supply chains. This business knowledge I have from an IT perspective would certainly enhance the learning of my peers. I have taken initiatives at work and out of it , shishu mandir where I run the english teaching program was a good example to have along with my work for i2 share for the past 4 years.

The third one was the straight forward why duke and I stressed on how Dr.Sheppard's session and the alumni over there impressed me. How collaborative environment appeals to me and how Duke's course strength in Operaions and strategy would help me. The template I followed was that of pleasing the beautiful chic. Say I want this / I see myself as XYZ and hence Duke as you have ABC that would help me becom XYZ. I shall keep you happy by doing CDF and ERT.....

On the whole I spent the entire weekend writing , rewriting and re re rewriting three essays.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

for some sanity....

I have been going crazy over the last week. The applications are catching up with me and I still feel I haven't done enough research about the schools , though I have been studying them and gathering facts for the best part of an year. Essays of atleast two schools are out , one of which is my top choice , so started writing outlines for the essays. However much you write it feels as if something is lacking. Leadership in and out of work , values , background , inspiration and aspirations, why ?, why now ?, why me ? and various other possible questions , all swirling in my head and of course in front of my eyes. I am beginning to get a picture of how it is going to be like to work on 5-7 apps simultaneously. With the prospect of a US travel looming large and working at the customer place being as difficult as it ever is , I am looking for some sanity in my world that is slowly exploring the realms of insanity.

All isn't bad as it appears , coz there are some comfort points though.
1 ) My poetry is definitely helping me. Just wrote my own version for one of the best songs in Telugu. I feel I am becoming a decent poet :) , anyways it is helping me relax and takes my mind of the schools and apps.

2 ) Shishu Mandir , I am really fond of this and can't wait for the next saturday. Worked with JDA to buy 300 books in Hindi , Kannada and English for the Saturday teaching sessions we organize. The school teachers have been really thankful and have sent an appreciation mail. Couldn't help read it and re read it multiple times. Never felt so happy.

3 ) Recently completed another presales projects. Should really thank my manager. When the Client sent the appreciation mail only to him , he made sure that I received the credit by forwarding it my directors with the following note ...

Gordon, Jason

Credit for this work should go to Prasad, as he took extra effort and time over & above his current engagement to develop this prototype.Looking forward to engage in this implementation activity soon.

Well that makes your day ,.... wouldn't it .... Writing an outline for the duke essays , time to go back .. cya..

Friday, May 28, 2010

my poetry (నేను వ్రాసిన కవితలు)

I am great fan of the Telugu language and no surprises here as it is my mother tongue. I wrote my first Telugu poem way back in my 8th class , but unfortunately don't remember it any more. However , I have kept track of every single poem (except one) after that and I post them here. Some of these poems are really good , as most of my friends have agreed. I know that there is a risk of plagiarism involved , but I wish to believe that people are ethical enough to acknowledge others' works and I like to trust them.

Here they go .

This was a kind of parting gift to one of my friends during my last semester at college.

సిగ్గులమొగ్గ పెదవి పై చిరు మందహాసం మన స్నేహం
పసిపాప బోసి నవ్వులోని లాలిత్యం మన స్నేహం
వసంత కోకిల గానం లోని మాధుర్యం మన స్నేహం .
తొలకరి అలంకరించిన పైరు అందం మన స్నేహం
ప్రాతః కిరణాలు సంధ్యా సమీరాల అనిర్వచనీయమైన అనుభూతి మన స్నేహం
ఆనందింపజేసిన బాధ పెట్టిన అది ఈ స్నేహానికే చెల్లింది
అటువంటి సుందర సుకుమార సుమనోహరమైన ఈ స్నేహం ఇలాగే నిలిచి ఉండాలని ఆశిస్తూ ..........

Volga resturant , pilani

The next is a combination , half of which was written by a close friend of mine and I completed the rest.

కలలోని కనబడిన కమ్మని కలవరమా ..
నా ఎదుట నిజముగా నిలిచిన ఓ వరమా ..

నిన్ను చూసిన పరవశమున
కనుల నుండీ వెల్లువాయే వెన్నెల వర్షం

నా పసి సంబరం చూసిన ఆ క్షణమున
నీ పెదవంచున విరిసేనొక చిరునవ్వు ముత్యం .

అద్దం లో నేను నీవుగా కనిపించిన వేళ ,
నీ మాటలే నా తలపులయ్యి , నీ శ్వాసలే నా నిట్టూర్పులయ్యి ,నా మది లో పొంగినదొక ఆనంద కెరటం .

వాన చినుకు నునులేత స్పర్శ నిన్ను గుర్తుచేస్తుంటే , మధుకోకిల కమ్మని గానం నీ పాటని తలపిస్తుంటే
నన్ను నేను మరచిన క్షణం అద్భుతం , అనిర్వచనీయం .

ఏమని చెప్పను ఎన్నని వర్ణించను , మది నిండా నీ ఆలోచనలే , రేయంతా నీ గురించి కలవరింతలే .
నీవు లేని క్షణాలను గడుపలేను , నిన్ను చేరి నీ ఒడి సేదతీరలేను .
మేఘ సందేశం లిఖించ కాళిదాసును కాను ,హంస రాయబారం పంప దమయంతిని కాను .
నా ఊహలకి అక్షర రూపం ఈ కవిత్వం , నన్ను నీకు చేర్చి నా మది నీ ముందుంచేది ఈ కవనం .

3 ) The first two lines are that of a song in Telugu and I wrote the rest. Of course the song is much better , but this is just an inspiration.

చిగురాకుల లేఖలు రాసి చిరుగాలి చేతికి ఇచ్చి ఎపుడో నే పంపించాను నువ్వు చూడలేదా ...
నా మనసే పడవగా చేసి కలలన్నీ అలలుగా చేసి ఎపుడో నే పంపించాను నిన్ను చేరలేదా ..
ప్రొద్దు గుక్కే వేళ నా మనసు నీతో ఉండాలని , నిదరోయే వేళ నా పలుకులు వినిపించాలని ..

పడమటి అరుణిమ నన్ను వెక్కిరిస్తోంది
గూటి కి చేరుతున్న గువ్వ నన్ను ప్రశ్నిస్తోంది
నీ జాబు రాక సన్నగిల్లిన ఆశ నన్ను వీడిపొతోంది ....

రాగాలు పలికే నా మనసే మూగబోయిన వేళ ,
అరవిచ్చిన మల్లియలన్నీ సొమ్మసిల్లిన వేళ
నీ తోడు లేక రేయి సాగనంటున్న వేళ,
నిశి కన్య నిద్రలేస్తున్న వేళ
మాటే కరువైన మౌనం ఇది భావం నిండిన భాష్యం ఇది.

4 ) తళుక్కుమనే తారలు ప్రశ్నించాయి వాటి దరహాసానికి సాటి ఏదని , నీ మందహాసం తెలియకనేమో
వయ్యారాలు పోయే మయూరి మిడిసిపడుతోంది తనకి పోటి లేదని, నీ నడకల సొగసులు చుడకనేమో
రాగాలు పాడే కోయిల వినలేదు తేనెలొలికే నీ గానం, సుకుమారులైన పూబాలలకు తెలియదు నీ స్పర్శ లోని లాలిత్యం
హంపి శిల్పం ఎరుగని హొయలు, అజంతా చిత్రం కనని వర్ణాలు ఉన్నాయా ఈ సృష్టి లో అనే ప్రశ్నకి సమాధానం
నీవే నా చెలివే

5 ) ఎవరివో నీవెవరివో

అజంతా శిల్పాల గ్రంధానివో , బాపూ చిత్రాల ప్రేరణవో
తెలుగు వారి ఎంకివో , నా మదినేల వచ్చిన సుర కాంతవో
కాశ్మీరు అందాల చిత్రానివో, తెలుగింటి లోగిళ్ళ మణిదీపానివో
ఎవరివో నీవెవరివో , ఏల ఈ దరి చేరావో, నా మదినేల దోచావో

ఏ దేవత దీవెనో ఈ కలయిక, నా మదిని ఆనందడోలికలాడించింన సుర గీతిక
వసంతమై వచ్చావు నా దరికి , శిశిరమై పోమాకు ఏనాటికి
నీ అధరామృతము చవిచూచాను ఈనాడు , నీ విరహాన్ని ఓపలేను ఇక ఏనాడూ
వాసంత సమీరంలోని చల్లదనం నీ మందహాసం, తారల కాంతుల కలబోతైన ఆ దరహాసం

నీ సాంగత్యమే నా జీవన గమ్యం , నీవు లేని నా ఉనికి ప్రశ్నార్ధకం
ఈ విరహానికి ఆవిరవుతున్న మంచుబిందువును నేను
నీ వలపుల చల్లదనానికి ఘనీభవించే వైనాన్ని చూడు

For those of you who can understand Telugu , I hope you enjoy these.


Humility in my life

I was watching Joe Dummars speaking about his career as a player and now as an executive with the Detroit Pistons. During a largely interesting presentation , one point that stuck to me the most was how Joe's father used to tell him to be firmly on the ground and show humility despite his many achievements. This is a value that I had lived all through my life , thanks again to my parents , who despite their rise in economic stature and their kids being the first to make it to the best undergrad universities in India amongst the family , made sure that we didn't get over board with the achievements.

Coming from a traditional South Indian Brahman family , an emphasis on education and getting a government job were always stressed up on in my family , so much so that people thought good colleges were out of reach for us. My parents however encouraged me to think big which was just the motivation I needed. After getting into BITS-Pilani, one of the best universities in India , the first advise my mother gave me was to go out share the news and enjoy an evening with my friends. I didn't understand why she was stressing on that but I realized it's importance only after I met my friends and some family members. They were all of the idea that the success would have made me a different person. But I was able to clear off their apprehensions and make them feel better. It was my first lesson in humility.

In my professional life, I have had my fair share of success and encountered the challenges that I faced 10 years ago - making sure that people realize that I am still the same person. Reaching out to them resulted in friends for a life time. People trust me a lot now and believe that my core values and I remain the same even to this day and way into the future.

One of the values I would strive to add to any place , organization or person that I encounter is humility because irrespective of the amount of success we achieve or the prestige , position or power it is who we are that defines us in the society. For me, Humility is at the core of that definition.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tribute to Veturi

one of the legends of Telugu movie industry and my favorites Veturi passed away a week ago. Here is my tribute to his poetry ...

నీ రచన అమోఘం , నీ అలోచన అపారం
మధురం నీ పాట లోని భావం, మది మదినీ ఓలలాడించిన నీ గీతం
తెలుగు చిత్ర సీమ మణిహారం నీవు , తెలుగు వెలుగుల దీపికవు నీవు
నీ కత్తి కి రెండువైపులా పదునే , నీవు లేని తెలుగు పాట కళావిహీనమే
ధికరీంద్రజిత హిమగిరీంద్రస్థిత కంధరా నీలకంధరా అన్నా
పోక పోక తోటకెళితే .. ఆకు చాటు పిందె తడిసె అన్నా అది నీకే చెల్లింది
ఎందరో మహానుభావులు , కాని వేటూరి ఒక్కరే అనిపించిన నీకివే ప్రణామాలు

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why an MBA

The most fundamental of questions. Without having a clear answer for which you cant expect to get an admission. When I apped to ISB, I should honestly say I was bit confused , wasnt really clear on what I wanted to do or where MBA fits into my plans. May be that was the problem with my app and led to a rejection. Last week I had a chance to speak to adcom from Rotterdam and it was my first chance since ISB to explain to anyone where I come from , where I see my career going and where I want it to go , what is the gap and where an MBA fits in. I felt pretty good after that conversation and even the adcom lady agreed that I require an MBA to diversify my skills to attain my goals.

So here is how the conversation went:

Rotterdam adcom (Maryke): " So Prasad, why an mba and why now?"

me : let me explain why I made a few career choices that I made and use it to answer your question.

Maryke : OK

me : "Computers have interested me since my high school. So it was natural for me to choose information systems at BITS-Pilani. However, after getting into college I realized that there is much more to computers that just programming. For ex : During a course called MIS, I was exposed to the concept of decision systems , supply chains and how both are inter related. Learning about how companies like Walmart made good use of these systems to make profits created a huge interest in me to learn about the field of supply chain. Thus I chose i2 Tech, a leader in the supply chain management domain. Over the last 4 years that I have been with them , I have had a chance to learn not only the software part of the job , but also the business side of the problem. For ex : I implemented and maintained software to help a client reduce it's in-transit inventory and improve customer satisfaction. However , the way I see my career going I shall be a solution developer than a consultant who would understand the client's problem and suggest process improvements to solve it. That is where an MBA comes into picture. I want to make that career transition from being a IT Product consultant to the real world of consulting. However to do so I see that I require a lot of analytical skills , a perspective of various business problems and the possible solutions. Additionally , I need a chance to interact with the people in this business and learn from them. Lastly, making such a career change is not possible without an MBA. I wouldnt even get an opportunity to interview with the top consulting firms. An MBA would solve all these problems , provide me with the skills I need and also a network that I can leverage."

Maryke: Agreed , I see that you want to diversify your skill set and you need an MBA. But my suggestion is when you write your resume , be a bit more elaborate and tell us what you did in each of the roles. I see that you have been in Finland and South Africa, that is a good point , but we need to know what you did there.

me : Sure , I will keep that in mind.

After some additional discussion about the school , opps in Europe and across the world we ended our conversation with a small informal talk about Capetown ,SA. Maryke grew up in the cape and I have fond memories of the place. It was a good conversation overall. I discovered a bit about myself and hopefully made a good impression on Maryke.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Some random thoughts about b-schools

I had a lot of time to think about my bschool application strategy , especially after the ISB rejection. Here are some points that I think are important. This post is intended both as a memoir for my future reference as well as a general gyan :)

1 ) Liked the analogy of bschool and a beautiful chick. If you want to date her , you wouldnt say that she is great because of so and so attributes. She must have heard it a thousand times. You would say , you have dreamed of a person who had those beautiful eyes like those of megan fox or the lips of a Angelina Jolie. Some one who carries attitude and at the same time not arrogant, whose smile is as sweet as honey .... and so on....

I made that mistake at ISB. I openly wrote that ISB is good in this way and that but never said why it would suit me.

So trying to relate my personality, goals to a few schools that are already on my list.

Darden : This is the first that comes to my mind. Relating it to my personality , I want to go to a school that stresses on teamwork and helps me develop / enhance my leadership skills. My reason behind wanting to go to a bschool is to gain a diversified set of skills that would help me make a transition to consulting. While this sounds mundane , the difference is how Darden fits into this scheme of things. After four years of work and having seen people of different types, I am sure that an attitude and interest to work in teams is the best culture. Darden develops that. Additionally , during my consulting assignments I had observed that stimulating discussion is what leads to an effective solution. It covers a wide variety of angles , concerns and helps to identify all the corner cases for a problem (excuse me for the software terminology). Here is where case methodology fits in. I feel I will fit perfectly with the kind of environment Darden has and it's teaching style.

Duke : Having worked in Finland and South Africa , I have the first hand experience of how diversity in professional setting helps you to grow both as a professional and as a person. For ex, I heard first hand the brutal effects of apartheid in South Africa. I understood the difference of work cultures in Europe and India, explained a lot about India to a German team mate of mine in Finland , learned about Czech culture and had stimulating discussions on various topics. In that way , Duke ranks at the top of my school list simply because of the diversity that exists in the class both professionally and culturally.
Secondly , Operations and strategy leadership is something that I am looking for through an MBA. Having designed and developed software to improve various operations parameters , for clients , I am of the firm belief that supply chain consulting still has a huge role to play. Given that India is rapidly growing economically this leads to a lot of opportunities in various sectors where best operations practices would help. In that sense I want an education that has good courses in operations , supply chain management and strategy. I went through the course list on Duke's website and it has a well rounded set of courses that would surely come in handy.
Duke is young and vibrant as I understood from it's alumni and additionally Dean Shepperd created a very good impression on me. Attend his conference last year and was truly attracted by what he said , especially about Duke trying to develop an international outlook. Their expansion plans are a testimony to the same. I hope these exercises have a ripple affect on the curriculum and culture at Duke.

Ross : Again international Diversity and hands on experience. Simply an action packed school with so many options like tauber , MAPs and WD institute . Being someone who wants to work in India in the longer run , I feel WD institute would provide me with the necessary contacts. A look at ross website shows how much of a team oriented school they are and they have an excellent program in General management covering the ares of operations and strategy. No doubt I will be apping to Ross in R1. Ross again has some awesome courses for Supply chain management along with a very active club and the internships Tauber can offer are an incentive. Ross has very good descriptions of the various courses on it's website and it is certainly worth looking at. MAPS are a definite plus and for people who want to move to consulting , they are sure to enhance your skills.

Kellogg : What gives you a chance to interview with top tier consulting firms ? -- brand and that is exactly what Kellog has. You can choose this school simply for it's value but the buck doesnt stop there. Team culture is something that Kellogg breathes day in and day out. Additionally , it has excellent courses in strategy and operations along with some very well known names in the management field - Sunil Chopra , Deepak Jain. Another dimension of Kellogg is it's international perspective through GIMs. Infact Kellogg is the first school that helped me get a very good idea of what operations consulting is about. The ops club at Kellogg organizes leadership series and site visits which help gain a fist hand perspective of operations.

Johnson (cornell) : Class size , very good focus on consulting, responsive alumni and students. Infact cornell, ross alumni have been highly responsive to my emails. Spoke to Christian P , the consulting club president at Cornell and his enthusiasm was evident even through the mails. The immersion programmes appeal to someone like me who likes a more practical learning that class room based teaching. Immersion in strategic operations is a program that I would surely look forward to if I make it to cornell. The bigger advantage is the Cornell experience , with a strong alumni network cornell should rank among the top 5 for my app.

Kenan flagler : Met their adcom in a meeting in Bangalore and have been thoroughly impressed. Not only by the school profile , but also by their strength in General management and operations. They have quite a few good courses in this area and in my research I found this to be the only school that gives high importance to Sustainability. Given that my long term plans are to start my own consulting firm in India, sustainability is an aspect that would be core to my plans. Learning about creating sustainable enterprises would certainly help. Again a small class and tight knit community

That kind of sums up ....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Free markets -- How ideal are they ?

Free market economy by definition is an economy where the prices of goods and commodoties are defined by the forces of supply and demand with little or no intervention from the government. I came across and article that goes further to say the only role of government in a free market economy is to play the role of a watchdog , to make sure that the prices suppliers are charging are charging a "fair price". All through my college days and post graduation I had believed the supremecy of the Free market system. Having grown up in an India that opened it's economy almost immediately after my birth :) I was convinced that letting the businesses play their part without intervention is the best way of running a country.

I was watching Dr.Milton Friedman's video titled "Free to choose" on youtube , apparently he is considered the Einstein of economics and his video stood to his reputation. Taking the example of UK controlled Hongkong , Mr. Friedman clearly pointed out how industries operate in a free economy and how they change their strategies based on the changes in competition. An example is that of a Hongkong family which has been creating traditional bridal ware for nearly four generations and are now looking for a new product as demand for traditional ware is falling. The raising standards of living in Hongkong and the pain which illegal immigrants from China take , to cross the border kind of vindicated the Free Market principals.

However , nearly 27 years after Mr.Friedman's video things started happening that questioned the foundations of free market economy. American economy , the supposed champion of free market principals came crashing down. Goliaths like Goldman Sachs, AIG, GM, Fanny and Freddie crashed like a pack of cards and exposed the soft underbelly of the US. On the other hand , communist China started making good use of this opportunity and now the US owes nearly $500bn to the chinese. All this made me question the validity of these free market principles. How ideal are they ? Their role in making the US a global power is unquestionable , but then what led to the current crisis? Is the direction of the Obama adminstration more in tune with the socialist form of government ?.

Once while browsing through an article on Wal-Mart , I read that to kill competition Wal-Mart supplies a gallon of pickle at 1/4 of it's cost. While this is probably a free market principle, it's consequences are far reaching. The pickle manufacturer is being squeezed to reduce the cost so that wal-mart can make a profit and a brand that once commanded a premium price is now available dirt cheap. In addition to this, the consumer who is buying the product eats half of the product and throws away the other half as he doesnt really care (the law of diminishing marginal utility). Another example is that of an American woman , who flushes rice down the toilet as it makes her hate it and thus prevents her from eating rice and she does all this as she wants to stay thing. Reading that article at a time when Global prices of rice peaked and when Mr.Bush threw that ugly comment about Indians made me think. This is an abuse of Free Market principles. While free market economy increases the wealth of the individuals , the attitude of the individuals is what determines the economy's success. As the US tried to get more and more out of a cup that already reached it's maximum , while wasting precious resources (gas guzzling SUVs), no doubt the economy crashed. Thomas Friedman once wrote , stop giving the 16yr old kid keys to a car, instead give him a book and ask him to study.

So as I thought , read and analysed I felt while free market principles have their advantages , the country and it's people are to a larger extent responsible for the economy's stability. The recent economic crisis should serve as an example of what not to do in a free economy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Khaled Hosseini

I thought of a few titles for this blog. Should I say A Thousand Splendid Suns ? or Should I say Kite Runner ? or Should I say a book review ?. However neither of these fit as the content I had in mind isn't a review of either of these two books but it was more about the author , his style and his mastery of blending various beautiful aspects of life with the not so glamorous ones. Hosseini has a unique style of narration that keeps the reader stuck to the book. Either it be the point where Amir knows about Hasan's death in Kite Runner or the point where Marriam sees her mother hanging by the tree , Hosseini starts with the action after the event and comes backwards. An intriguing style. This is a sample from A Thousan Splendid Suns.

"Morning brought no relief. The muezzin's call for namaz rang out, and the Mujahideen set down their guns, faced west, and prayed. Then the rugs were folded, the guns loaded, and the mountains fired on Kabul, and Kabul fired back at the mountains, as Laila and the rest of the city watched as helpless as old Santiago watching the shark take bites out of his prize fish."

Through his two books Hosseini presents the real Afghanistan to us. For a lot of people who think Afghanistan to be synonymous with terrorism , these two books offer a different perspective. Be it The Kite flying competitions of Kabul or the wonderful city of Herat or the culture of the pashtuns or the verses from ancient persian poets Hosseini shows us that there is much more to Afghanistan.

However, the most important feature of Hosseini's works is his mastery at describing how his central characters get haunted by one of their actions throught their life. Be it Amir not rescuing Hasan in Kite Runner or Mariam leaving her mother to find Jalil , only to return back and find her dead. These actions (or rather failures) of the protagonists keep coming back to disturb them through out the book. One final feather in his hat is the skill with which hosseini combines various human emotions in the backdrop of war. Education , Romance , love , sentiment and the pain of parting , all in the backdrop of a 40 year old conflict that wrecked the lives of thousands of Afghans is something that is bound to make you sympathize with the Afghans.

At the end , one cannot help but feel for the plight of Afghanistan and the havoc fundemantalism is creating in these parts of the world leading to the destructiong of some of the most beautiful cities and cultures of the world. Hope sense and sanity prevail and prevail very soon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Getting into the groove

Had a relatively packed day yesterday. Went to Shishu Mandir early in the morning. It was a different experience. Asked the students to speak about themselves for a minute. Gave some guidelines on how to frame sentences and use basic grammar, followed this up with some songs and dance , played the tunes of "All iz well" . This work is excellent, challenging and exciting. Teaching is probably the best profession. To see someone remember lessons you taught them and apply them to become better is , well an awesome feeling.

Checked my toefl page and to my surprise the score was available. Didnt expect it till another 5 days. Scored a 114 (30-27-28-29) . I was always skeptical about the way i fared in the listening section . That lecture about some Egyptian scripts was damn confusing. I guess my speaking and writing sections really gave a boost. Guess it is a good score , considering the schools I am thinking of have an av of 110.

Had a 1.5hrs calls with my consultant for bschools. Roadmaps , teamwork , achievements, goals etc.. Kinda felt nice to explain to someone about my work. Hopefully , gods smile on me this year and I make it. Been researching schools and Duke , Ross, Kellog are certainly on the list. Not sure of my chances at these , but still they look to be good schools with a lot of opportunity for team activities. Need to browse others.

My fav Royal challengers Bangalore won again. Clinical performance. Sad to see Dada on the loosing side especially after batting well , but cricket is a game of uncertainities ... isnt it ?. Hope RCB gets to face KKR again in the Semis. This loyalty is getting to me. Kindaa difficult to take it when RCB looses :) . I wish DD gets thrashed today to spicen up the race to semis. MI look more or less like they have it. This bunch looks like it cant make many mistakes. All set for an exciting evening.

Now back to some more school research ......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What if he fails for once ?

"...I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep" . All of us have studied this at school. Made immortal by Robert Frost , probably the last of the great English poets , these lines carry a deeper meaning - that of responsibilities and attachement. So a week ago, as I was reading an article on higher education , I couldnt help but relate it to this line from "Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening".

The article was about the main purposes of education and university - "of creating thinking minds rather than serving bodies". In a candid writing , a professor at Yale describes the mind sets of people from the top universities and compares them with the "rest". For most of us while university education in the form of an MBA , or a higher degree in one's field of interest, is a gateway to a better career, life and money, there is no question that we are running a rat race. In a burst for a "Success" defined by the society under the framework of intense peer pressure and competition , the true essence of education is missing. No I am not complaining about going for an MBA or any higher degree. It is quite important that one gets a specialization as it imparts him different knowledge and helps him excel. The question is Is this what I really want to do ?. Eight years ago, when Information System or IT was certainly witnessing an upward trajectory I just followed my parents' and seniors' advice to opt for it as my undergrad major. Not that I regret that decision, it certainly has it's advantages but in retrospect , I would have certainly opted for a degree that teaches me more about the world of business coz I realize that is what I want to do - learn more on how to operate businesses.

Under this context , I started thinking about the verse from the poem; Did he make those promises because he wanted to make them or were they forced upon him by the society?. Were they so important as to not even let him take a break to enjoy a view which even he agreed was glorious. His horse realized that it is not a regular stop so was his heart aching for a change?. So through this poem was Frost upholding the values of society , commitments, family and bondings above an individual ?. Certainly the central character is that of a person in his old age, so wasn't he justified in thinking once for himself. What if he didn't keep a promise ?. What if he fails for once?. He would have certainly been happier that he atleast followed his heart.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An afternoon of thought .....

As Gurucharan Das says in India unbound , the baniyas (merchants) were always looked down by us Indians. Pt. Nehru famously said to JRD Tata that "Profit is an ugly word". Things started changing with the reforms of the '90s. Another equally illustrious leader taught India the need of growth , profit and all the things associated with capitalism. I started appreciating the growth of Indian industry, felt that making profit wasnt really such a bad idea and looked up to the Mahindras, Ambanis and other Indian industrialists for inspiration. However , over the last few days I was made to think by two different sources - a blog and a news article.

Sobha De , one of the wellknown Indian media personalities posted an article on Ms.Nita Ambani , more famous for her last name and these days for her appearences in the Mumbai Indians dug out. The article was typical of a celebrity interview glorifying minor details about Ms.Nita. In her favour, Nita Ambani does run a school and heads charity organizations that do their bit of work. So if everything looks well where is the contention ?. Here it goes, her son prefers only organic veggies for his pets and the bill comes to a whooping 35K per month (my god that is close to my monthly income!!! ). Then there is the 1bn$ home she is overseeing the construction off along with the private jets, her famous diamond collection, the life style and various other things that come with being a celebrity. Am I really getting jealous here ?. No absolutely not. I finished reading the article nonchalantly but then some comments caught my attention. I was surprised with the amount of criticism there. Surprisingly a Nitin settled in some alien country (US probably) had some advise for "Indians" on how to get out of poverty. (point taken sir !!) . It is just surprising how people still hate the rich.

So the second article on rediff was a conversation with Azizul Haque, former comrade of Kanu Sanyal , the founder of the naxalbari movement. A skim through this article showed me how deeply affected people are at the lower sections of the society, giving me an idea on what motivates them to revolt. After a recap of his association and the background of their struggle , Mr. Azizul finally concluded that Kanu Sanyal's suicide shows that Chariman Mao's ideologies have no place in this world.

These two articles while appear entirely disconnected are attached by a slight strand that keeps two differnt sections of India together - The poor and the rich. (while people like me oscillate somewhere in the middle). So I started questioning again - Is socialism the answer to India's problems ? Is making money , building companies and enjoying the comforts that comes with it so bad that half of the country despises you ?. Is democracy so problematic that people turn against their own government ?. Are chinese happy with their form of government?. I dont think so.

First of all you can never own any land in China . You are allowed to use the land in the government's control but nothing belongs to you. Additionally ,you cant speak against the government , you dont have a free access to media, news is given to you and as we are witnessing now, if the communists think a company is out it is out Period. They simply rule ruthlessly (isnt that the way china has been ruled since eternity ? ). Can I live in such an environment ?. May be I can if I were born and brought up there. After enjoying the freedom democracy provides I would resent such a control. So while I am seriously concerned about the problems we have in India and highly sympathetic towars the deprived sections of the society I feel captialism , democracy and freedom form a back bone on which we need to take India forward.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A walk in the morning in Bangalore

My ever increasing weight has one day forced me to think and in a way forced me to restart sthin that I havent done in a long time -- Take a walk in the morning. It is unfortunate that I got this idea towards the end of December 2009 ; Bangalore turning to be as cold as it can get. I struggled with a bit of inertia but these walks turned out to be more frequent (almost daily). I started liking them not only for the exercise that I am getting and the reduction in my weight but also for the glimpse they provide me of Bangalore. On one such errand today , I involuntarily noticed that I am looking at a microcosm of India. Not that I didnt know , just that I never looked at it the way I did today.

In the cold early morning , things were just running as they have been any other day. I just started appreciating the sceen and the actors much better. A milk vendor carrying nearly 200 packs on a luna (for the uninitiated it is a small scooter barely 60cc) , the sweeper without a sweater or a muffler going about her job of keeping the roads clean , school children shivering yet still keeping up the spring in their steps, the vegetable vendors, the chai-wala with his dexetrous ways of mixing chai (tea) from one glass to the other; and the best of all - a woman holding a kid in one hand , a laptop in the other and advising her husband about some things at home (kind of eavesdropped on the conversation :-) ). The early morning sun rays provided the perfect background ; it is sad that I wasnt carrying my camera. A collage on Indian life could have been made in a span of an hour. Was sheerly mesmerized by the colour , energy and the hustle and bustle at 7 in the morning.