Holiday… it’ll be so nice

Since I’ll be spending tomorrow-night at my parents’, I’m already packing my bag for my hols (flying out on Wednesday). I love packing, it’s one of the few chores in and around the house I actually enjoy doing. Biggest decisions regarding what to bring of course revolve around reading material. A carefully selected stack of magazines and books is waiting for perusal by the pool… Sorry, didn’t mean to poke anyone’s eyes out, but I’m just so happy that I can escape everything for a week. That also means that I’ll take a week off from blogging, I’ll be back late next week.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Girls my age tend to plan a big party at this time in their lives. Involving a white gown, a handsome groom, an extensive guestlist and an exquisite party location. That’s what I did too. Minus the groom that is (oh, and minus the gown, although I did wear white). I had my leaving party yesterday (yes, I know I’m not leaving already, but this way everyone is not yet on holiday and can come) and it was a hoot. A mixture of family, friends and colleagues turned up yesterday afternoon and we celebrated my acceptance into LBS. I left feeling grateful that so many people who have had an impact on my life were there and that I could celebrate with them. Like Hillary Clinton said ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, it also takes a community to get an MBA. My family who have supported me from day one, by friends who cheered me on and helped me keep up my spirit when things got rough, my colleagues who were very supportive of my days’ off for yet another visit or other MBA-related activity. Thanks guys, I appreciate it more than I can say in words.
This summer, the BBC and the National Portrait Gallery are collaborating on an exhibition called The World’s Most Photographed, which according to the National Portrait Gallery’s website is
an integrated project consisting of an exhibition of around 100 photographs and an accompanying BBC Two series exploring the lives and legends of ten well-known figures from history – Muhammad Ali, James Dean, Mahatma Gandhi, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Queen Victoria.
The Guardian has got two articles on this exhibition, one called Fame in the Frame, and another called Illusions of Grandeur, written by Germaine Greer.

We’ve got the band together

Another new kid on the block (and he handcodes his blog, wow :-), Farhan Lalji, who’s thinking about applying to LBS for the 2008 intake. Welcome on the block, Farhan!
I blogged before about Backpackit, which is sort of link repository, to-do-list, notes storage utility on the web, and me and my future housemate are using it to jot down information for the flat hunt. So far, it works like a charm. I can definitely recommend it. I’ve got another personal page set up with all the information for the move to London on it. Very nifty stuff.
[edit 1. Another trip to the supermarket today for some more icecream. It’s been 30 degrees and above for three days straight now, a very rare occurrance in Holland in June. And I work in an office without airco. So you understand the need for icecream ;-) ].

Another new kid on the block

A warm welcome to Rusgirl to LBS (LBA MBA2008 applicant)! Good to see some more girls on the blogging front, especially those applying to LBS ;-)
I’m happy to report that I’m feeling decidedly less cranky today, got some ice cream which seems to have done the trick. That, and kicking myself in the butt reminding myself that I’ll be lying beside a pool with a good book and a cocktail this time next week! The next items on my MBA to do list:
* write my official resignation letter
* send off the HSBC loan application (translation is due early next week)
* buy my train ticket for the London apartment hunt (shout out to my housie in NY!) and book hotel for the stay
* sort out which books to bring to London, which to sell, which to give away and which to store (it’s official now: I own too many books!)
* sort out what I’ll be wearing at my leaving party this Saturday.

Cranky

Because I seem to be less and less interested in work, and feel terribly guilty about it.

Because I found out that the ABN AMRO, who recruited LBS’ers last year, have got a new Master Credit scheme, which is valid for any master’s degree, EXCEPT an MBA…..


Because we had to find a new place to host my leaving do (this Saturday) and the girl on the phone had never grasped the concept ‘be nice and courteous to customers, they seem to like that more than uncooperative and rude’.


Because there just are days when everything seems to cost so much more effort than other days.


Because I let these things get to me and I get cranky and I hate being cranky.


Because the only thing that will remedy this crankiness is ice-cream. And I haven’t got any in my freezer……

Happy Father’s Day!

Spent the weekend packing the first boxes of books that for the next two years will be stored in my parents’ attic…. I’ll miss ‘em…
Then went to my parents to celebrate Father’s Day (and drop off the boxes with books). I know, it’s a all a commercial ploy to get us to raid the local DIY store to find yet another-soon-to-be-underused powertool, but I like celebrating days like these. It’s a way in which I can say thank you to my dad (and on Mother’s day to my mum) and spoil him a bit. Especially since I won’t be seeing much of my parents in the next two years, it was great spending the day with them. A shout out to two special dads today: my dad, who is the best dad in the world, and a newly minted dad from Nigeria (you know who you are) whose wife recently gave birth to a lovely baby boy.
[edit 1: a great article in today’s Observer about innovation and design can be found here.]

To reco or not to reco

So, you’re studying for the GMAT, got plenty of good ideas for the essays and have figured out all the practical stuff, now it’s time to think about the recommendations. Here’s a few tips from my experience:

* Start early. Chances are your recommenders are very busy people. So whatever you do, think about it ahead of time. Also consider how many recommendations you might need, from whom (Stanford for instance also requires a peer recommendation). If you’re applying to a shedload of schools, it might be a good idea to spread the load over more than two recommenders.

* Choose carefully. Nothing worse in the recommender-area than choosing the wrong recommenders. Choose people that know you well as a person and that you suspect will have something positive to say. DO NOT choose the CEO of your company just because of his title (but by all means choose him/her if he/she knows you well and has good things to say).

* If you, like me, are not surrounded by MBA’s and your recommenders are thus a bit unsure of what writing an MBA recommendation entails, prepare an information packet. I recommend filling it with: recent CV, short summary of what you want and when you want it, short summaries of each school you want them to write a recommendation for, what your post-MBA goals are (tie these in with your essays so the recommendations support the essays), and a few sample recommendations (Montauk’s book is very good for this, but there are probably some examples on the internet as well).

* If your recommender’s native language is not English, try and get someone with good English skills to proofread the recommendations (same goes for your essays).

* DO NOT be tempted to write your own recommendations. Reason one: it’s just not good karma, you are not meant to write them, that’s what the essays are for. Reason two: this could be a really good opportunity to cultivate your relationship with your recommenders (hey, this is b-school: you never know when you might need your network ;-). Reason three: just don’t. Make it easy for them to write the recommendation by allowing them enough time and handing them all the information they need and if you’ve chosen wisely, they’ll happy to help you.
[edit 1: almost forgot: good luck to all the LBS R4’s who are waiting for their results tomorrow!]
[edit 2: there’s another LBS2007 blog (yeah, we’re becoming a real community here!), see USA to LBS]

Hey big spender

I took the plunge. After weeks of thinking, weighing the pros and cons against each other I went out and got one. A brand spanking new iPod 30 Gb Photo. So far I’m infatuated with it, don’t know if it’ll turn into love, we’ll see.
On a related note (ie both cost money that I should be saving up for my MBA), I’ve booked a week’s holiday on one of the Canary Islands. In two weeks time I’ll be packing my stuf for a week long of sun, swimmingpool and lots and lots of reading material. And my new iPod of course ;-) Since I started this MBA-application phase last September I haven’t had a day off without it having a use, ie either it was a public holiday, or I was doing something MBA related. I realised this as I lay in a swanky hotel at 1.30 am last Saturday night. We had a great company outing followed by a lovely dinner and drinks at the hotel bar, and somehow I was just too tired to enjoy it. So that’s it: in two weeks time I’m off to get my tan back in shape. One good tip to MBA2008 applicants: plan a vacation at some time in the process. You’ll need it!
On the subject of careers, the Career Journal is the Wall Street Journal’s selection of articles, here’s a few that I found particulary interesting: Vacations can inspire a change in careers (;-),
A four-step strategy for changing careers.
Businessweek is running a series of articles on the new economy, I was especially interested by The Sharing Economy.

Warning: potential useless advice ahead

[disclaimer: I had a chat with Anand the other night, and some stuff we talked about sparked the below. Sorry, Anand, I’m hijacking our chat for my blog!]

What do you want to be when you grow up? When I grew up people asked me that over and over again. I’ve reached the ripe old age of my late twenties and I still don’t know. Not exactly that is. One of the things that an MBA forces you to think about is what you want to do with that precious knowledge and network the minute you graduate. If you’re like me, and didn’t have much of a clue, maybe this’ll help.
Think of your dream job. The one job (or several if that’s your thing) you’d like to do if there were no constraints. Zoo-owner? Partner at a big four consultancy firm? Investment banker? Set up and manage your own widget-making company? Astronaut? Bee-keeper? Remember: it can be anything. As long as it’s YOUR dream, not someone elses. DO not think about the practical details when dreaming, just let your thoughts go. Scribble every thought down. Think back to your childhood, what did you want to do when you were growing up? What things do you like to do that make you forget everything around you? And remember that you’ve got plenty of time left, there might be more than one thing you’d like to do to make a living.

Secondly, determine how much you want this job. Investigate the job. What does it entail? If at all possible, talk to people who are doing it. Read about it. Do you like it enough to make a real effort? Enough for you to want to be doing it for free if you’d have to? If not, then it might be worthwile to look for a job you’d like that’ll pay for the bills and keep your dream job as a hobby. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, some people make the mistake of wanting their dream to come true, only to find out that it’s not for them. A bit of snooping around should help you figure it out.

Thirdly, if you’ve determined that your dream job is still your dream job, start making a plan. To make it more real, write it down. Start with where you are now, and where you want to be. What’s the gap between the two? What skills do you need in order for you to be able to be good at your dream job? Read books, scour the web for information, talk to people you know in the field you want to enter into. What jobs or roles will give you the skills you need? Will an MBA help? What elective courses in an MBA will help you? Other courses you want to consider? Volunteering opportunities that you can get engaged in to gain some experience?

Lastly: get your ass in gear. This is the time to stop dreaming and start doing something about making your dreams come true. Take action. And remember to enjoy the ride!

If you’ve decided that an MBA is the way to go, then there’s some really useful advice on Simba‘s blog and Flatpoint‘s blog.

On a completely different note, The Sunday Times ran a great article last weekend, called Nouveau Rude. The author makes a really good point, about the new rudeness that seems to be popping up left right and centre. She describes her annoyance at a woman blocking the street in her badly parked 4WD, then barging past me to grab her organic-food fix, bruising a display of tomatoes with her suitcase-sized handbag in the process. Hilarious and horrifying at the same time.

Last but not least, I just want to mention the chat transcript database at Accepted.com, which includes this recent chat with LBS adcom and students. They are one of the best resources on the net for finding out the nitty gritty about schools.

[edit number 1: Helpful as always, Dave has put up some really useful advice up on his blog, this time especially geared at those who are applying for MBA2008.]

My name is Suzy and I’m a biblioholic too

This game of tag is really catching on, I’ve been tagged twice in a couple of days (by Anand and by Simba)! So I suppose I ought to elaborate a bit more. I’m a bookie. I collect them, own lots of them, read lots of them, love to be surrounded by books (one of the things I do to chill is spend time in the library).
I’ve put down what I’m currently reading in the sidebar, I try to have a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Right now I’m reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (picked it up before I knew the movie came out) and am loving it. If you’re thinking about coming to a UK school, read this first. If you like it, then you’ll like the UK. I’m also trying to plow my way through Accounts Demystified, which as you might have guessed is not something I picked up to read before bed ;-) It’s alright though, and I hope it’ll help prepare me for the finance courses in school. All books that I read, I note down in a notebook, and have been doing so since 1994, so I’ve got an accurate record of which books I read (NERD! I know) and what I think of them. I use a * to ***** star system of rating the books, and seldom re-read.
Books I read that had a great impact:

* Several books by the Dalai Lama. Life is suffering. For me it means that I accept life’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, nor is it/I meant to be. And that’s alright. Also: be compassionate, to yourself and others. Powerful stuff.


* Travel books. I love ‘em and own heaps of them. My oldest is 100 years old, the newest is the one LBS gave me. I leaf through ‘em and feel like I’m there. I keep all my used ones with my notes in them.

* The Handmaid’s Tale, what happens when madness takes over.


* Several biographies: Pepys, Picasso, Rubens. I love reading about people’s lives, I suppose it’s the voyeur in me :-)

Not exactly a book, but reading that had great impact: English sunday papers. The symbol of freedom and independence, a good start to a Sunday (in combination with a nice cup of tea) and guaranteed hours of reading pleasure.

LBS Open Weekend

Rats! MBAEurope beat me to it, he’s already got a description up off the LBS Open Weekend, including some great pics of the school building…. ;-)
So now I have to come up with some original thoughts about the weekend. I’ll take sketchy, impressionistic approach once again, apologising in advance for that.

People
I met the most amazing people. Not only fellow MBA 2007 blogger MBAEurope (yes ladies, the rumour is true, LBS is filled with handsome men ;-), but also a host of other people, who all had interesting stories (and in the process made me feel rather plain…). Wow. I’d heard stories before, but I never realised it would be like this. Amazing. I so look forward to getting to know a lot of these people a lot better.

Official stuff
Of course, an Open Weekend wouldn’t be complete without the official speeches, tour round the school and trial lecture. What struck me was that everyone was making a real effort of welcoming us, everything was organised pretty well and the current students did a great job of organising the ‘day in a life of a student’. What particularly struck me was the fact that LBS is increasing it’s elective portfolio to 80 courses next year (25% increase), and that they’ve changed the pre-program in response to comments of MBA2006’s. They really are serious about improving the school (not that it’s not good now, but there’s always room for improvement) and all it’s got to offer and really listen to the students. Impressive. I like.

Goody bag
As everyone who’s a regular reader of my blog knows, the Miss N likes gifts. Highlights of the goody bag: cool t-shirt (special women’s shape, nice), Lonely Planet "London" (Tony Wheeler is one of the LBS alumns), lots of pens, notebooks etc (always handy). Pretty good as goody bags go!

Overall impressions
Oh, my God, I’m going to business school. With a lot of interesting, and terribly smart people. I can’t wait!! Bring on August, baby. I’m ready.

First things first

I’ll write about the LBS Open Weekend in my next blogentry, right after I finish this one, but first things first: congratulations to MBAFarbe, who just found out that she got in at IMD. Congrats, girl, you rock!
On another weblog-related note: I met up with PowerYogi last night. He’s traveling through Europe and we had a rather lovely meal and lots and lots animated discussion (nearly solved all the world’s problems in one meal). I had a great time and it was so nice meeting the Yogi behind the blog.
There’s been a lot of playing book-tag going round, and I got tagged too (thanks Anand). I’m soooo the wrong person to ask about books…. I’ve studied books in my first and second degree and for a while it looked like books would become my career. I own about 800 books, of which about 350 are really precious to me and I’ll keep them, the others I will sell before I start b-school. Last books I read: see sidebar (I use a one * to five ***** system to indicate how much I liked it); currently reading: see the sidebar too. I typically will read at least three books at any one time, and try to read (and succeed mostly) every night before I fall asleep.
Most influential books? Hard to tell. In a way all my books have been influential!

On the road again…

I think I’ve been to London about 6 times in the last six months, but still the prospect of going still doesn’t fail to excite me. This weekend is the LBS Open Weekend for admitted MBA students. I’ve got a busy schedule ahead, flying in at a very early hour, drop off my stuff at LBS, check out the mobile phone stores (and do some other shopping –> most importantly have a look at all the different MP3 players I’ve got my eye on), have lunch with a friend, more shopping and/or a museum, meet the current student who’s been so kind to have me stay the weekend, have tea with a friend, have dinner with a host of LBS MBA2007’s. And that’s just Friday…. Saturday and Sunday will be filled by the LBS Open Weekend, getting to know my classmates, the staff, the school, the clubs. The Women in Business Club is hosting a brunch on Sunday morning which I’m looking forward to. In fact, I’m looking forward to the whole weekend!