Sunday, June 27, 2004

Things only go from bad to worse as far as sleeping patterns are concerned. Yesterday our group meeting went on from 10 pm to 5:30 am with no breaks in between.

We were unable to sustain our lead in the markstrat simulation game, and slipped to second position. Next period’s results will come on Tuesday morning. I don’t think we can regain our past glory anytime soon.

To give an idea of the game, we are marketing managers in charge of some products. The products are called sonite and vodite. We need to decide on how much of which to produce, how much to spend on R&D, sales, ad etc, and also which market segments to target. We get very creative when naming the brands. Sonite products must be named starting with an S, followed by one of A, E, I, O or U. Then there should be two more letters of our choice. Popular names are SEXY, SUCK, SUNK etc.

This week will be one of the toughest, with some big case studies, mid-term exam, and markstrat finals.

In my last post I expressed surprise that a down-to-earth person could reach a great height. I apologize if it offended some people. My intention was to mean that it’s uncommon for people at high positions to remain down-to-earth. We recently had a leadership class on Level 5 leaders. These leaders are very down-to-earth, and never take credit for what they do. There are only 11 companies in Fortune 500 with such leaders. A prime example is Darwin Smith, who was CEO of Kimberly-Clark from 1971 to 1991. Boy, did he turn around the company, and how! I look up to people like him.

I am a paying customer of Hotmail, and received a message that I will get 2 GB of email space starting this summer. This is in response to Yahoo and Google offering similar enhanced storages. I also got myself a Gmail email address.

Long post, but expect less of me in the next few days, as I struggle through the grind of this week.


Friday, June 25, 2004

The dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Deepak Jain, visited the ISB yesterday, and gave us a mesmerizing lecture. He is a very down-to-earth guy, and yet reached such a great height. He was instrumental in setting up the ISB, and is very close to it. So yesterday we had on campus two stalwarts, dean of Kellogg and vice-dean of Wharton.

The press release I was talking about gives details of schools over which we selected ISB. Some of the schools whose offers we declined are London Business School, University of Michigan, Stern School of Business (NYU) and Columbia University.

My team/group has five members. Three are from leading IT companies, with significant work experience in the US and Europe, one is a TV personality who was working with India’s leading business news channel, and one is a management consultant who was working with a Big 5 firm.

More later.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Wow! My team is currently number 1 in the whole school, beating 49 other teams in the Markstrat game. We had a net contribution above US$70 million, whereas the closest competitor was somewhere around 50. There are many below 0 too. We just finished our strategy for the next period. It's 3:30 am, and I have a class at 8:30 am. So off to bed.


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Just pitched in to say that there's going to be a press release giving details of our batch statistics. It will appear in major newspapers in India tomorrow (24th). You can also see it at http://www.isb.edu/communication/index_about.html?topic=media_room.html
The press release also talks about ISB having become India's biggest b-school.

Have to go. Have had a 21-hour work day, and still have miles to go to prepare for tomorrow's class. Yesterday night slept at 4:30 AM, and was in class in the morning at 8:30 AM. Sleep deprivation!


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Nothing much to report. The pressure remains high. Today we have to prepare a Chairman's report for our Markstrat decisions. I would also attend a talk by Mr. Rohit Arya, who is an authority on Indian cinema. It would have been nicer to hear it from actress Rani Mukherjee!
The world's number one venture capitalist, Dr Pramod Haque, would also be visiting ISB next week to talk on, what else but venture capitalism! He was ranked number one by Forbes, and here is a link of that: http://www.forbes.com/maserati/midas2004/LIRSN6V.html?passListId=99&passYear=2004&passListType=Person&uniqueId=SN6V&datatype=Person

Yesterday we had to read a Harvard Business Review article called Tipping Point Leadership. It spoke of an NYPD chief who cleaned up New York's streets of crime back in 1995, with help from mayor Guiliani. Indeed, Manhattan is now a very safe place. What the article did not mention is that Guiliani went on to remove strip clubs from Times Square and other places in Manhattan. The flip side is that people now need to travel to the other boroughs of NYC like Queens to visit these joints. I hope the new mayor Bloomberg will restore the past glory and bring back the clubs!


Sunday, June 20, 2004

Great news! My team's performance in Markstrat was the best in our industry. Am playing with millions of dollars now! Thinking of buying a private jet. But alas, the money we made is only virtual!
We are also positioned well to beat the competition in the next periods. Tomorrow we take decisions for the next period, and it will be another long night for us.

Many of you might be returning to this blog only to see no new posts for days together. This can happen due to my busy schedule. There is an option of RSS or XML feed that can send new posts or notifications to your mailbox. I do not have enough tech savvy to know how it is done, but I'll try to find out.


Friday, June 18, 2004

It's 4 AM, and we just finished working on our first MarkStrat decision. It's a top secret what strategy other teams have chosen to market their products. It was pretty interesting going over loads of data and charts to decide on a product strategy. Tomorrow at 3 PM we will know if we beat everyone else to it and made virtual millions of dollars, or if we lost all our investment. Fingers crossed!


Thursday, June 17, 2004

As expected, Markstrat, the marketing strategy game, has started to ruin our lives. To launch just one product, we have to spend hours analyzing the different parameters of the market. We need to decide on how much to spend on advertising, R&D etc.

We also did a case on a Filipino fast food restaurant, Jollibee, which wanted to compete with McDonald's. They have branches in California, so the next time I am there, I will try their food.

Today I have a case on Barco, a Belgian beamer (projector) company.

Today evening we have a theme party to take our minds off all the load. The party will be color coded. Those who are single for the night will wear orange, and so on...Will I get lucky? Not counting on it. It doesn't work that way in India. Anyway, I can't spend too much time at the party as I have an all-night's work tonight on Markstrat.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I was looking at the profiles of our profs of this term, and saw that our global economics prof, who's an American, teaches at Chicago GSB, and has degrees from Brown and MIT. Our Competitive Strategy prof is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, and a PhD from MIT. The marketing prof went through IIT Delhi, IIM Ahmedabad, Stanford and is currently a prof at Wharton. Great profiles to have!

Tomorrow we start working on MarkStrat, a simulation game that is considered the most time consuming in the whole course. The second term is considered the toughest just because of that game. This game was developed by the French school INSEAD. Let's see how it changes our lives for the next few weeks.


Monday, June 14, 2004

Term 2 finally started today. Fun days are over. I had been watching lots of movies last week because one doesn’t get a chance to watch movies during the six weeks a term runs.

Today’s first class was Leadership Development Program. An MBA from Thunderbird taught us how to be leaders. Today’s class wasn’t much interesting, but I am told it becomes interesting later on.

The other class today was Marketing, and it was interesting. We discussed Boston Consulting Group’s matrix, and the reasons a company might or might not want to enter a business segment.

Yesterday we had a term kick-off party. It also served as a send-off party for two of the highest officials of our Admissions department. They are leaving to pursue other opportunities. Next year’s intake would be higher at approximately 420 students, so the new Adcom director would have his hands full!

Tomorrow we have Global economics. I will finally come to know all about GDP, Inflation etc. Tomorrow we also have a Coke Vs Pepsi case in Competitive Strategy. It's going to be interesting.


Saturday, June 12, 2004

House Full. Every single movie was full-house today. Still there were long queues of people in the ticket counter. They must be booking in advance for next day’s shows. And thus I had to return without watching a movie today. My next door neighbour saw my long face, and predicted that my blog would start with this incident. I did not let him down.

Yesterday I had skipped going to the movies, and instead spent the evening on campus. I played tennis, and swam to heart’s delight. Today I played badminton and snooker. Life is so different now, with no worries about studies. But these days are coming to a swift end. Tomorrow I have to get back full steam into studying for Monday’s classes.

Term 2, which starts on Monday, will have some star professors who are the best in the world in their fields. Most of them are from Wharton School of UPenn. It’s going to be exciting I guess.

Back to Tintin’s Destination Moon. Explorers on the Moon will probably have to wait until next term break.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Last few days have been very relaxing. Wednesday I woke up late, had sumptuous breakfast, chatted with friends, ran up my telephone bill calling long distance, and went to an Indian movie in the evening.

Indian movies can be so lame sometimes. This movie, “Main Hoon Na”, was a sheer wastage of time. However it was refreshing to see civilization outside the campus, and nice to see so many women. I decided to return to the same multiplex the next day. Today I saw the movie, “Day After Tomorrow”. It had some good special effects, but overall not that great a movie.

I played squash after midnight, and then started watching yet another movie, this time on DVD in my room. This was the best of the lot, and had great music to boot. The movie was Coyote Ugly.

HSBC scholarship shortlist was announced, and predictably my name was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t have the word ‘Finance’ in my resume anywhere, so it would have been the case of ‘opposites attract’ had they selected me. I later learned that the position they were going to offer was for commercial banking, and not investment banking. Had they told this earlier, many people like me would not even have applied.

A British IT guy was recently in India, and here is an excerpt from his diary:

Even though I've become used to the Indian traffic I sit terrified in the back of a taxi to the airport as my driver weaves in between huge trucks and buses at breakneck speed. I'm struck by the 'peoplecarrier' motorbikes, the main form of transport for many families. It isn't uncommon to see the father riding the bike, with the mother perched precariously at the back (often side-saddle), the smallest child sitting on the petrol tank and another kid sandwiched between the parents.

Exam or no exam, it has become a routine to be up until late night. I will make an exception tonight, and will go to sleep now, it's just 1:40 AM.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Exams are over! And it didn't go half as bad as I had feared. Although the last paper on marketing played spoilsport. It was a Harvard Business School case on marketing socks in the US, and I don’t want to elaborate any further than say that most of us were stumped.

The parties have begun. There is music and dancing and booze in the hostel, some have gone to the movies and almost half the student population went to their homes. I wanted to go to the movies, but postponed it to tomorrow. Instead I brought a DVD, Matrix Revolutions, from the library, which I’ll watch on my notebook. After the movie I’ll join the party. And then sleep until afternoon tomorrow!

Last few days have been so busy, but suddenly there is so much relief and lots of time to kill. Life’s like that.

One term down, seven to go.


Monday, June 07, 2004

First two papers are over! Two more for tomorrow, and then the parties begin!

After the exam, like many others, I avoided discussing the answers. I was able to write at least something for every question, and want to feel good about that. Comparing answers with others would bring to light the numberous mistakes I might have made.

Overall, am happy that things went better than expected. Expected was getting marks for cleanliness, by leaving the paper blank.

A few years back I was watching a cousin slog for his grade school exams, and felt happy that I had completed all my education and will never have to go through the ordeal. Then the MBA bug bit me, and here I am, staring at exams again.

Back to studies for tomorrow's exams.


Sunday, June 06, 2004

Finally, the D-Day is here! First exam is in a few hours from now...


Friday, June 04, 2004

There is a queer calm in the campus. It is the lull before the storm. The storm being Monday and Tuesday’s end-term exams. There is an infinite amount to read, and realizing that it cannot be done, many people hit the recreation center today.
The library opening hours have been extended until 2 AM, and so have the hours of the recreation center.

Lot of people will be leaving the campus on Tuesday, and will come back on Sunday in time for the start of second term. I am going to stick around here.

One of our classmates here is a German, and he told us about the Love Parade in Berlin. It's much like Mardi Gras, but with more people and less inhibitions. One of my co-workers had been there, and she was all praise for it. I did not think much about it then, but now I think I should have been there too. Well, may be next year.

Break time over, back to books.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Took out a few minutes from the hectic preparations and assignments. It's almost 3 AM, and I have no idea when I might get some sleep.

An Indian magazine, Business Today, has in its latest issue carried an article about the ISB. It says that the ISB salary is the highest among all the schools in the country. Nice to know that!

Biswajit wanted to know more about the scholarships. The only information we have been given so far is that HSBC is going to give two full-ride scholarships. It will cover tution, living, and other expenses. The caveat is that we have to join them after our MBA, and stay with them for at least three years. That's not too bad, considering they tend to offer high paying (100 grand plus) i-banking jobs in London and elsewhere! Details are awaited. And it's not that only Chartered Accountants bag these scholarships. I think last year it went to engineers. So the field is wide open for everyone to try their luck. I will post more about this when we get closer to the date of the scholarship.

Someone wanted to know how the married students are coping. Damned if I knew or cared. I am having trouble coping myself. All I can say is that your social life goes for a toss for this one year. You might have to study with your study group for hours together, going well into the morning hours. The spouses have their own association, and they learn to live in solitude I guess.

There is a beer brewed in the UK by an Indian company. It is widely available in Indian restaurants all over Europe. This company is thinking of entering the Indian market, and four ISB students will get a chance to devise the entry strategy. I have also shown my interest in participating in this project. Let's see who get's the chance.

Gotta go. But I will be back (in Schwarzenegger accent).


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