Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parties on non-school weekends

Attend Harshit's party this weekend. Wow! I didnt know what I was missing. Got to connect with the families of my friends. Had some really interesting discussions and ate some amazing food. Pictures from the house party in South Bay. People also got together in San Francisco and Seattle.

School this coming weekend!!

House Parties

In addition to all the networking events, it’s nice to see the batch come together for what seems to be quickly becoming a ritual – house parties. I hosted the second one last week. So far we seem to be averaging one a month. It’s definitely great to get more face time with your class mates, but the real value of these events are for families, quite frankly.

There’s no question that the program is taxing and takes a lot of hours – both in and outside of class. And there’s also no question that we can’t do this without the support of our families. The house parties give them a chance to meet each other, trade war stories, and form their own network. After all, we are all in this together!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The sound of silence ...

As fall approaches and the MBA admissions process starts for different schools, many of you might have started the process of taking GMAT and wondering what to do with your essays. As I look back to those days, one useful piece of advice I could give would be that the habits you develop during this time will help you once you are in the MBA program as well. As you navigate the labyrinths of application forms and deadlines, listen to yourself. Take feedback and advice from as many different people as possible, internalize it, and then take a pause. Look within. What comes to mind when all there is is the sound of silence? Just as the application process is all about figuring out what you wish to achieve with the MBA and how your life so far helps you towards that, the MBA process itself, as I am learning firsthand, is all about figuring out what you want out of it and working towards that. What rings true in the silence of introspection as you prepare your essays is what will guide you as you navigate the waters of the MBA program.

In some sense, it is like transplanting you as you are driving during rush hour in Boston or New York, into the traffic in Mumbai on a normal day in India. You are already an expert at driving in an environment where traffic rules are considered useful suggestions rather than rules, so you know how to move forward successfully under uncertainty. Now you need to figure out how to travel towards your destination in an environment where everyone seems to be traveling in totally different, sometimes contradictory directions. The sights and sounds on the roads are aplenty, several roadside vendors of interesting products beckon you to stop awhile and take a look. Each moment is a sensory overload in terms of the information your brain can process, yet you need to focus and remember that you hit the road with a plan to get to a destination. While you can have your pick of roadside distractions to entertain you along the way just as any other person, it is ultimately up to you to reach where you intended to reach. If you are lost all that you need to do is to stop and ask any bystander for directions and they are eager to help. But unless you, in the silence of your thoughts, process all inputs thrown your way and find out where you wish to go, you will not get there.

So as you look ahead to some of the busiest years in your life, stop, relax, reflect. For one, you will not find time to do that for a while, especially if you get into a program that's intense and intensely rewarding such as the WEMBA program. Listen to your mind as it tries to find an optimal resting place between the different constraints of time, family, friends, work, money and desired goals. Observe what process led it to that choice. Once you are in the MBA program, these observations will help you stay the course and course correct when needed, and not get lost as myriads of choices get thrown your way. After all, it is through moments of silence that our inner selves speak loudest to us.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Term 1: Check Point (exams and FAP)

More than half of the first term is gone… we have had 3 mid-term exams since the second weekend in SF and finally, we now have two weekends (end of July and mid-August) without worrying about any exam. Then, the finals will arrive at the end of August. What a packed term! And it will get worse in term 2, 3, 4 …

When I evaluate how well I did in the exam, I cannot help but using the equity theory learned from the management class: was my output/input ratio above or below my expectation? If not, did I study efficiently? Did I spend the extra 80% of time to get the extra 20% of score? Of course, sometimes I tend to compare my output/input ratio to others’ – “too competitive”. But more than often, I would self-correct since comparing with others will never make me happy. The ultimate goal is to learn and apply the knowledge, at the same time, maybe improve exam tactics. Study partnership definitely helps, even if you understand one concept better than other people, explaining it to them make your own understanding deeper. Knowing others got a better score with your help is much more satisfactory than getting a higher score yourself. And when I am the person being helped, I feel very grateful for the great classmates I had the honor to meet in Wharton.

The biggest project for me this term is FAP (field application project) since I convinced my learning team to conduct the study in my organization. If you really want to do it in your organization, the key is to convince your upper management to sponsor FAP before you start at Wharton. Since the project lasts for less than three months, a quick start is crucial. After that, you will work with your organization and your learning team to define the scope and approach. Our data collection is mostly done via phone interviews and competitive analysis. Of course the highlight of the project was meeting the president of my organization – half of my team travelled to Seattle for this. It is an eye-opening project not only for my learning term who did not know much about my organization before, but also for me. I got to know many people in my organization and learn about cultural differences outside of my team. Coordinating the entire project is not easy at all, and I probably spent 20 hours just to arrange all the appointments and internal data collection. Not everyone will understand the importance of the project, and you really have to believe what you are doing and continue doing it especially when people refuse to participate for various reasons. Believe that you can make a change is the key to success of FAP, or to any other endeavor in life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pacing oneself ...

Since I don't run quite as often as I talk about running, I thought I'd use running analogies this time as a wishful motivator to get me out and about. These first six weeks at Wharton have been like the first two miles in a marathon. You know you're a 4-hr finisher, but you like to feel cool and stand at the 3-hr starting line with the Boston qualifiers. You see them zipping ahead and in all the headiness of the race, the cheering crowds and the reality that race day has finally arrived, you get your adrenaline rush and start sprinting along with them too.

It feels good for the first mile. At the second mile, slowly some muscles start to cramp. Stomach tightens. Posture sags. You start taking big breaths from your wide-open mouth ... and slow yourself down to a jog, trying to recover your breath and deciding to pace yourself at the speed that works for you. Ultimately, thats what the marathon - and in a sense, life - is all about. Its about the journey, and your experience along the way; the friends you make, the people you cheer along, the folks that run beside you when you begin to tire and cheer you on. Its about finishing strong with a smile on your face, your friends crossing that finish line together with you.

There are the 3-hr finishers. Hell, there are the 2.5-hr finishers. Kudos to them. The key is, what is in this journey for you? When you decide to apply for an MBA program, or more specifically for the Wharton Exec MBA program, what motivated you? As you will all find out, this is not your typical Exec MBA program. Getting the same experience as a full-time program in terms of workload - that is the exhilirating part about this program, and that can be something difficult to get your head around as well. The key, as we're learning slowly, is to pace yourself. To keep in mind, that this is not a sprint, but a marathon. What matters is not how long it took you to cross that finish line, and how many were ahead of you, but how many will remember that you ran the race with them, and cherish the shared experience for years to come.