Roast chicken and other things

I dunno what triggered this line of thought, but I suddenly realised this morning that I feel I’m becoming less personal on my blog than I feel I’ve been before. It’s somehow become less about me and how I experience the MBA than about the MBA itself. As of now, I’ll try and better my life and write more about what this whole MBA-sha-bang is doing to me…. ;-) (now, don’t all run away at once!).

On the top left a picture of the lemon and thyme roast chicken and potatoes I cooked on Sunday. My housemate and myself (grammar??) were having a classmate and his girlfriend over for dinner and it was so lovely sitting down and enjoying good company, good wine and good food. One of the most overwhelming experiences for me so far is meeting a whole horde of nice, interesting, friendly, helpful people who’ve become housemates, studygroup mates, stream buddies and friends. I hadn’t really thought about this when I was doing my applications, but for me that’s been one of the best sides of London Business School so far.

Another aspect of school which has been very helpful is Career Services. We’ve had sessions on CV writing, an overview of the job market, an opportunity to get a half hour CV surgery (which I had yesterday and it was extremely helpful in trying to reanimate my ailing CV to a lively and healthy one!), a one-on-one session with a career coach and of course the Telling and Selling your Story workshop a few days ago. There’s more to come, which I’ll report back about in due course, but already I’ve got the feeling like I’m well prepared to take on this career-search-followed-by-job-search thing!

My one-on-one session with a career coach was really interesting. One of the coaches here at London Business School is Mohan Mohan, who used to work for Proctor and Gamble, is now retired and as a hobby comes in and talks to students. For me, I went in with the idea of talking to someone about my career who doesn’t know me personally to get an objective view and when I stumbled out an hour later, I was overwhelmed and it gave me so much food for thought that my head is still spinning. I’m not quite sure if I want to go public with the details yet since I’m unsure about what this all means to me and how to make sense of my feelings, but I will at some point in the future.

I have to run off now, we’re supporting our stream’s football team (ie soccer for the Americans amongst the readers) followed by some last minute practice for the Indian dance some of my fellow classmates and me will perform at the talent show tonight. It just occured to me: my MBA is full of firsts: first time cheering on a football squad, first time roasting chicken, first time doing indian dance… and I *love* my first times!

[edit 1: RsR has put up some information on the upcoming Media Summit and a request for help on his blog, please check it out if you’re interested/can help]

A new star is born

I am happy to present to you a new star in the London Business School blogging constellation: Hobbes! Welcome to the blogging community and happy blogging :-)

We’ve started our last week of Orientation classes this week, and next week term will start in earnest. No more stats and ethics, but hardcore finance, financial accounting, microeconomics, strategy and managing organisational behaviour. We picked up our binders last week and this week and I’ve been trying to figure out which books to buy and which books to just lend from the library and copy the relevant pages. Instinctively I’m more drawn towards the Strategy and Managing Organisational Behaviour, but I reckon that means I need the books for the other courses more ;-)

This Wednesday AT Kearney will give a presentation on their Global Prize competition, I’m not sure if I want to enter since I’ve got quite a few extracurricular things lined up this trimester, and looking at the courseload I can’t really take on more responsibility (plus I need to keep on finding time to blog ;-)

One of the extracurricular activities that I’m getting involved in this year and one that I’m really looking forward to, is Young Enterprise. It offers secondary school students the opportunity to start up and run a small business, and they’re looking for mentors/consultants to help these students.

Strategic problem solving

Subtitle: How and when to post something irrelevant so as to procrastinate and not do the things you really should be doing…

Today was spent in a one-day seminar on strategic problem solving, offering us frameworks to think through problems and present findings in a convincing and logical way. Really useful stuff, I’m glad we had it. One major lesson learnt is that it’s easy to grasp the theory, but when it comes to applying it…. a whole different ballgame (or should I say: cricket game).

Yesterday was the Media Club presentation, and I’m excited about all the events they’re organising this year. On November 4th, the annual Media Conference will be held, and during the year they’ll be offering loads of workshops and sessions on the different aspects of the media industry. I’ll keep you guys posted!

One thing I’ve learned so far at London Business School is to expect the unexpected and be very flexible. A point to illustrate this lesson learnt: I was having lunch today with some of my classmates and another classmate walked up and asked if me and my other female classmate who I was having lunch with wanted to be in some pictures they were getting taken for next year’s brochures…. so you might see me appear as a happy, smiley girl next sitting outside having fun with my classmates on a brochure near you sometime soon! Woohoo!

I didn’t get to go to the Jack Welch session today, so I can’t really say how it was, although I’ve talked to a lot of people who were all very impressed. Maybe RSR (who I know sneaked in) can tell us some more? [edit: RSR actually did post about Jack Welch already, have a look at this]

I feel I shouldn’t procrastinate any longer now, my Personal Development Plan is due tomorrow morning at 10 am and I haven’t started yet. At least I’ve got one development point to put in there: improve my time management/reduce my procrastination!

Telling and selling my story

Today we had another one of the classes that are part of the CPSD (oh my… I can’t remember what that is short for… something to do with career skills), called ‘Telling and Selling your Story’. I loved it! The gist of the class was that stories are an important way to effectively network and effectively pitch yourself in interviews. I tell stories all the time (evidence: this blog!), so it wasn’t like I needed much prompting on the actual telling of the stories, but it’s nice to get some feedback and listen to my teammates. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I lucked out with my team. They are supportive and give great feedback, and there’s a real open atmosphere, which is perfect for experimenting with ideas and in this case stories.

Some more elaboration on our study groups (which raised a few questions last time round I noticed). We are put together in teams of 7 to maximise the diversity (or some say ‘conflict’). London Business School strives to put at least one native speaker in every group and have the backgrounds and nationalities (and personalities I suppose) as different as possible. Sometimes groups work out well, sometimes they’re nightmares.

Other things that are going on at school: tomorrow night the Media Club will introduce themselves to new students (I’m definitely going and will report back), Jack Welch is coming to speak on Thursday (sadly enough I didn’t win any tickets in the lottery so I can’t see him live) and on Thursday night there’ll be a clubs-fair, where all the student clubs will present themselves. For more information on the various clubs around, see this webpage.

On a more personal note, one of the highlights of the past couple of days has been the arrival of a big box sent to me by my parents which contained a few of my dear and precious books, some more towels (can never have too many towels) and two boxes of ‘hagelslag’ which looks like cake decoration, but which the dutch actually put on their sandwiches. Wooohoooo!

My team is gr8!

Today’s class (yes, I know it’s Saturday, occasionally we have classes and exams on Saturday) we had a great class: for UGM (Understanding General Management) we did a simulation for a start-up airline to see what would happen if we changed any of the 5 metrics we were given to toy around with. And it was great! Not only did our team work as a team which was great fun, but we won! After thinking up a strategy (which we then ditched when it turned out not to work, but according to the professor having a strategy is better than having no strategy) and a bit of fiddling with the program, our shareprice went up from $2 to $1000 dollars in ten years…. if only real life worked that way :-)

A bit more about our teams: each team or study group has 6 or 7 people in it, who work together on a number of assignments in the next year. In total about 30 to 40% of your grades are based on group work, so it’s very important to work together. We have quite a mixed bunch with regards to backgrounds and nationalities, but the chemistry is there and it works! Plus it always helps when you’ve got something to celebrate (in our case today we won a magnum bottle of very nice champagne). The study group will remain in this configuration for the next year, and you can’t divorce them.

I’m developing a bit of a cold…. this is not good. Let’s hope it stays this manageable and doesn’t go into fullblown cold mode.

Gentle nudge

A gentle nudge (or actually not so gentle and subtle) by KV to update my blog, so here I go.
Somehow I had this idea that September would be spent gently being eased into life as an MBA student, and I couldn’t be more wrong! The first week was Orientation and that was reasonably hectic-free, but last week and especially this week are gearing up to be quite busy :-)
Here’s how I spent my day today:

06.58 Alarm clock goes off and I try to wake up enough to be able to grasp what the newsman will tell me in two minutes;
07.30 A quick shower and breakfast later I’m at my desk reading the cases we’ll be discussing today; the plan was to do this yesterday evening but I didn’t get round to it;
08.45 Walk over to school with my housemate who’s in my stream to start class at 9 am;
12.00 Business Ethics is over and I thought it was really interesting;
12.15 After a quick check of email and Portal (London Business School intranet) and it’s off to the Entrepreneurs Club presentation. They tell us what they do, what events they organise and en passant try and recruit people for the club’s executive positions;
14.00 After lunch with a classmate it’s back in the lecture theatre, this time for Understanding General Management, again discussing a case; interesting stuff, but the lecture theatre is too hot and everyone’s drowsy;
17.00 A quick call to my parents to see how they’re doing, then another to my brother, and then it’s off to the Library
19.00 After several futile attempts at starting my Stats homework for tomorrow (yes, that’s right: tomorrow is Business Statistics…… on my birthday!!!!! Ugh) which were thwarted by the need to catch up with my email (have been negligent on that front), arrange a career coaching session and read which new clubs have been started, I decide to give in to KV’s gentle pressure and update the blog.
What the rest of the day will bring? I will at some point have to do some stuff for Stats (ok, not just some stuff, I reckon it’ll take me about an hour or two to do it), and catch up with my housemates. And sleep.

PS Great respect goes out to Al, who’s walking around with one leg in a cast, but still managed to climb the climbing wall last week at Away Day…. way to go Al! You rock!

PS 2 (sorry for the sloppy editing…) Want a little creative nudge? Have a look at the Imagination Prompt Generator.

PS 3 One of the tactics when procrastinating my Stats homework was to sign up for the upcoming Women In Business conference, for a program, check out this website.

PS 4 Businessweek has opened up a space for MBA bloggers, check this out.

Week 2 wrap-up

Wow, it’s the end of week 2 already! On the one hand I feel like time has flown by and on the other hand everything already feels so familiar, it’s spooky.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent in GLAM (see earlier posts) and Friday was Away Day. London Business School herded streams C and D into a fleet of buses and we were whisked away to a lovely countryside retreat. All day was spent running around trying to solve puzzles, overcoming fear and climbing in and jumping off high poles etc. All in the name of team-bonding. And it worked! It was a fab day out, if you want to see some pictures of streams A and B, have a look at KV’s blog.

Today there was another first for me: playing touch rugby. It’s not the male ‘I’m looking very angry and I will tackle you as soon as I get the chance’ game, but a friendlier version. And I loved it! I don’t know if I’ll join the Women’s Rugby Club, but I’m seriously considering it!

This week will see the last day of GLAM on Monday and the start of Understanding General Management (UGM), Business Ethics and Business Statistics. And of course my birthday later on this week!

Second week of London Business School

And I’ve run out of catchy titles for posts…sorry for that, I’ll try and be more creative next time.

Some excellent posts by other 007 bloggers on their experiences, check out KV and Futureguru‘s entries, which I think give a good view of what London Business School is like so far.
For me personally I’ve enjoyed the second week so far which kicked off with me running the Hydroactive Women’s 5k last Sunday in Hyde Park, together with 22,000 odd other women, all for charity. It was so inspiring seeing all these women rally together.
Monday my stream (Dream Stream) had the day off which I spent hunting around London trying to get practical stuff sorted out.
Today was our first day of classes (although not proper classes, core courses don’t start til October). First up was Managing Organisational Behaviour, which required us to fill out (yet even more) surveys, which I thought was really interesting. This was followed by an afternoon CV workshop, which I thought was really good and helpful, albeit a bit densely packed with information. I don’t know how I managed to write a decent cv so far without all this knowledge!

So far things have worked out extremely well. I love my housemates, our flat is great (9th floor with great views over London), the lectures and sessions have been interesting, and I’m looking forward to the start of GLAM (Global Leadership Assesment for Managers… or something like that) which should teach us more about leadership and the different leadership styles. One thing I’m less looking forward to is Statistics (aaaaaahhhhhh). Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to grit my teeth and get on with it. Everyone has said that we’ll be busy the first term and I think I might be getting a preview already. There are so many things to do before term has even started yet! The first clubs are starting up, reading for classes has started, thinking about what I want to do when I grow up (if I grow up??) has started and I’ve taken the career leader test. This test was devised at Harvard and is used by a lot of MBA students worldwide to find out what they’d like to do. My results are pretty bang on the money, I must say.

Other things that I liked so far:
* free gym in the basement of the fitness centre, which offers personalised advice, fitness classes (for a nominal fee), and massages (woohooo!) for a nominal fee;
* library: the library’s fab. All the stuff you could want or need, both online and hard copy. Plus very friendly staff;
* careers service offers a free career coaching service which I’ll definitely use.

Things I don’t like so far:
This is going to sound awfully mushy but not a whole lot. There’s a few people that I could do without but other than that no negatives to report yet.

Wanted to share a few websites with you:
* Monobo is still in beta, but useful already I think. It’s a website for MBA’s by MBA’s from several top schools. Tons of information on there.
* This page talks about using Backpack (about which I’ve raved before) for taking class notes.
* If you love art and are visiting the New York Museum of Modern Art soon, check out these MP3 tours.
* Fastcompany pointed me towards this site about ways to generate ideas. If you can’t find a way that works for you on this site, it won’t exist!

Day 3 of orientation + new London Business School blogger

This morning we had an introduction to career services (it’s never early enough to start wondering about what you want to be when you grow up ;-), which I really liked. Graham Hastie, the manager of Career Services is an allround nice bloke who seems to really know his stuff. I’m overwhelmed and impressed by the amount of resources available to us to help find the internship and then the job we’re looking for. I’ll be needing all the help and guidance I can get since I don’t want to go into consulting and probably i-banking. Strange thing is: I’m actually looking forward to figuring out what I’d like to do and chase it, even though I realise it might be hard work and frustrating at times since I probably won’t follow any of the traditional MBA paths.
Second thing on the agenda this morning was a talk by Mohan Mohan, executive in residence at London Business School. He used to work for Proctor and Gamble and his advice can best be classified as how to find out what you want to do with your life. I liked him and the talk he gave. I think MBAs get wrapped up so much sometimes with trying to find that £200,000 pound i-banking or consulting job that we forget what it is that makes our hearts sing. And I am a firm believer that if you want to be succesful in what you do AND live a fulfilling life you need to be doing something that makes your heart sing, at least for a majority of the time you’re doing it.
On an London Business School note: there’s another LBS 007 blogger on the block, Futureguru who’s written a very good post on what Orientation is like. Welcome to the gang FG!