Monday, March 14, 2011

Discovering limits ...

A lot of data that get sent across the web gets sent using a protocol called TCP. How does one send data as efficiently as possible across a channel whose capacity one doesn't know? TCP does this by increasing the window size of data sent for every acknowledgement it receives for receipt of data. It does this until it starts to see packets lost, at which point it throttles down to the bandwidth that it just observed and tries to maintain that data rate for transmission, fluctuating around that mean value using the same mechanism.

What's the place for a networking lesson on a Wharton blog, you ask? The Wharton Executive MBA program topped rankings yet again recently. One of the reasons of this other than the usual that you hear, is how the program manages to extend your capacity for work, slowly but surely. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun while you are in the middle of it facing time crunches, but looking back at some of the busier sessions, it has been amazing to see the amount of work that got done between sessions with minimal time and additional commitments.

Which brings me to the TCP analogy. This session promises to be one where most of the class will hit our capacity ceiling. And as if they knew it, the load for the session after the one this weekend seems to be lighter too, as if to give us a breather. In the upcoming session, we have Bell's MKTG 621 final, in MKTG 622 we have a Medicines case assignment due to be submitted, SABRE decisions due, and an Aqualisa case due to be read for discussion. In OPIM 632 we have an assignment due, and three (yes you read that right) cases to be read for in class discussion. In FNCE 601 we have a Teletech case on cost of capital and hurdle rates due, and in WHCP 614 there is a lot of reading that needs to get reflected into a five-minute presentation on communicating change.

Now one thing I know for sure - this too shall pass. But during the time that it hasn't, it has been a scramble trying to identify all the different things that need to get done, and re-prioritizing them based on urgency or learning team conference call coordination. Last session itself was an exercise in juggling tasks and this one promises to do one better on that.

What else happened last session? Two of my classmates, along with two from class 35 represented Wharton at the Hult Case Challenge and just missed getting selected to the next round. We're proud of you anyway, Chris and Brian! Five of us represented Wharton at the CFA Institute Global Investment Research Challenge Western Regional Finals (that's a mouthful!) last weekend, and won. We now move on to Omaha to represent Wharton at the Americas finals. A big shout-out to Arif and Tao, the two classmates that were instrumental in making this happen!

As an earlier post alluded to, a few of us 36ers, a couple of Harvard alums, Prof. Smetters and Dr. Harvey Rubin from the Penn School of Medicine started a nonprofit recently called Energize the Chain to eradicate vaccine preventable diseases in the developing world through an innovative use of cell phone towers for off-grid power for vaccine storage. We have submitted grant proposals to Gates Foundation as well as USAID. The reason it gets a mention on my blog today is that one of our team members, Alice,  at Harvey Mudd, got one-on-one time with Mr. Gates himself to present the idea and hear his feedback - way to go Alice! We are hoping that exciting things come out of this project and hope to launch a project in India and/or Kenya soon. Couple of our team members are in Kenya right now attending a GSMA conference to learn more.

Stay tuned for how this three-day marathon session pans out. I expect sleepless nights, caffeine-filled days and a lot of fun!

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