Dedicated follower of fashion

OK. I’ll admit it. I *love* shopping. I do. Really. But there are some fashions that I just don’t get. Seeing two of them in a single day sparked this rant. Here’s the fashions I just don’t get.

* Toe-cleavage… doesn’t that just mean that you spent too much money on too little shoe? I mean, toe-cleavage? Really…

* Yeti-boots (see left). I have only one sentence: do people who wear these look in the mirror before they leave the door?

* Handbags so small they won’t even fit a sneeze. Why carry them around in the first place if you can’t carry anything in them? Nothing, and I mean nothing fits in there. Much more practical to get a boyfriend, and have him carry around your stuff. Plus the boyfriend offers other additional non-fashion related advantages.

* girls going out on the town in the weekend in the dead of winter without a coat. It’s freezing for pete’s sake. Goosebumps are not sexy. Neither is being blue in the face because you’re turning into an ice cube. Not even to mention the cold you will inevitably get walking around without a coat. Buy a coat. And wear it. Women suffer enough for fashion (think high heels etc) without having to be cold. Last thing I heard no guy was ever turned off by a girl who was wearing a coat. It’s just not worth it.

* Double-breasted suits. Honestly. Don’t even think about it, guys. Either you have a nice wide chest or you don’t. No need to pretend. [Edit after conferring with my male dedicated follower of fashion friend: apparently the only men that have any type of legitimate reason to wear double-breasted suits are Mafia. So they can hide their guns. If you’re not Mafia, don’t go there. Go to the gym.]

Happy New Year!

A quarter of the world’s population celebrated New Year’s yesterday, and I went out with my camera to capture the goings-on in London’s Chinatown. It felt like half of China descended on Chinatown, it was incredibly busy. So after taking a few shots (one of them here on the left), I quickly headed over to the Photographer’s Gallery in Great Newport Street to take a peek at how the pros work their magic. I think the Photographer’s Gallery (halfway between Soho and Covent Garden) is one of London’s hidden gems, and well worth a visit.

This week looks like it’s going to be a busy one (I’m testing IcalViewer, which puts my calendar on my desktop, so all of a sudden I’m looking at it much more often, maybe that’s why I feel busier ;-). Tomorrow night, I’m heading out to the British Library with a few friends, to go see/hear Oliver King speak, on the topic of creativity and design. On Wednesday night the Marketing Club is hosting a panel of 2006 students who did an internship in Marketing who’ll talk about what they did over the summer and how they got there. The Programme Office is also holding information sessions this week about the upcoming exchange programme options, and I’m getting all excited about going on exchange. Plus I’m going to have to fit in going to see Walk the Line, the biopic about Johnny Cash. I *love* Johnny Cash and his music, and can’t wait to go see this movie (which is kinda rare, I don’t go to movies often, the last one I saw in a cinema was Bridget Jones II)(yep, that is a long time ago).

What do you do?

Yesterday, in the midst of the Milkround Mayhem, there was finally an event for us, Industry people. Industry is the name that London Business School Career Services gives to people who are not going into Banking or Consulting. Apparently, we make up roughly 33% of each class. I personally don’t like the name too much… sounds like I’m going to work on a conveyor belt or wearing a hard hat. Anyway, yesterday we had a panel of Industry people come in and talk about what it is they do, and how they got there. There were people from Pret A Manger, Tate&Lyle, Avaya, American Express, WPP and Yahoo and I thought it was very interesting. A few takeaways:
* don’t bank too much on your MBA, a lot of industry companies don’t know too much about it;
* network your a** off, you’ll need the contacts later on, and you’ll get a good feel for the industry you want to move into and who the main players are;
* Industry jobs on the whole are not advertised months ahead, so keep your head cool as all the others are doing their banking/consulting interviews, you’ll get your opportunity later on;
* offer to do something for free/little money. At LBS we have to do a second year consulting project, and you could offer that to a company as a way of getting to know that company better;
* be conscious and aware of the pro’s and con’s of rotational programs: figure out what exactly they entail and think about whether that is what you want to do/need for your career.

For this year’s employment report (that includes figures on the fulltime jobs of the 2005s and the summer internships of the 2006s), go here. There’s some good news in there, but I’m not quite sure if past results in my case will predict accurately the future results ;-)


I guess I’m it… Farhan, here I go!

Four jobs I’ve had in my life
* strawberry picker
* newspaper delivery girl
* quality control in the Grolsch factory
* research assistant

Four movies I can watch over and over
* Oh Brother, Where art Thou?
* Cry Baby
* any Sissi movie
* oh boy… I’m not much of a movie kinda girl….

Four places I have lived
* London, UK
* Den Haag, NL
* Groenlo, NL (my hometown!)
* Groningen, NL

Four TV shows I love to watch (back when I still had a TV)
* Gilmore Girls
* What not to wear
* Oprah
* News

Four places I have been on vacation
* Grand Canyon
* Edinburgh
* Tokyo
* Montevideo

Four websites I visit daily
* London Business School portal
* Yahoo
* Bloglines
* Guardian

Four of my favourite dishes
* mom’s boerenkool/zuurkool/stamppot
* french toast
* pancakes
* ice cream!!

Four places I would rather be right now
* Groenlo
* Paris
* Madrid
* nowhere, pretty happy here

[addition: I’m adding one more ‘four’]

Four books I loved reading:
* Po Bronson, What should I do with my life
* Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road
* Claire Tomalin, Samuel Pepys: The unequalled self
* John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Four bloggers I am tagging

Fools in love

Love and careers. They’re very similar. Very similar. Uncannily similar. Do you follow your heart when it comes to matters of the heart? Or make a sensible choice? Use a matchmaker, take advice from your friends, or just fall head over heels in love no matter what anyone else says? Do you approach that guy (slash girl) directly or do you use a friend to tell them you like ‘em? Do you fall for the jock that every girl (pretend you’re a girl for a minute here)(or think of a cheerleader if that’s your thing) fancies and chases? Or do you go for the geek in the back no one looks at twice that turns out to be a great guy (or if you’re so inclined: girl) and the love of your life? Do you like speeddating, blind-dating or do you go out with guys (slash girls) that have been referred by friends? Is it foolish to want to marry someone after 3 months since after all that’s just the hormones speaking and should you wait a bit and see if you truly love someone? Do you play the field and date around before you settle down or just take whatever you can get? Or do you play the field or just throw yourself at what you think is your big love? What do you do when the sparkle goes? Hang on in there or leave and find another?

All these questions I’m now struggling with to a greater or lesser extent. Not so much in my love life (although maybe I should worry more about that too ;-), but very much so when it comes to my internship, my first job post-MBA and well, to be honest, to the rest of my career. I have a fairly good idea of the things that excite me (ideas, art, people, feel like I can do my own thing) and things that don’t make my heart sing (strict hierarchies, large organisations that feel like large organisations, and being in the same place day in day out), but that is not getting me any nearer to a answer to some burning questions.

Call me romantic, but I want to fall in love. Head over heels in love. Swept off my feet in love. No more ‘I kinda like this’ but ‘I want THIS! I can’t bear to live without it!’. So today I went to the BP presentation (a.k.a. the speeddating events a.k.a. Milkround) and I actually kinda liked it. Toyed with the thought of applying. Then thought ‘NO! Stop! I don’t really want to work at BP, their core business is not the love of my life. I don’t want to do something I kinda like. I wanna do something I love!’. Then a thought crossed my mind. Am I just being foolishly romantic in holding out for my one true job-love? Maybe I should play the job-field for a bit, see what’s out there before I settle down and say yes to my one true job and tie the knot. Take a few more of these speeddating things (i.e. Milkround). Chase that jock-company that everyone wants, get my heart broken a few times before I settle down with a geek. Use the matchmaking service called Career Services and find a suitable job (notice the word ‘suitable’, which can or cannot be the job of my life). Maybe just take a blind-date with a company and hope for the best.

There is so much conflicting advice that I get from different people (both when it comes to love and careers!). Go for a big company job to get the name on my cv and then move on to a job I really want to do. Go follow my heart and do the job you really want to do. Take a job that will fill a gap I have in my skillset and then move on to my love-job. Start up your own company now or you’ll never do it. I’m so confused… I don’t what to do anymore. I can’t figure out what the best strategy is, and the more I ask people, the more confused I get, because the more conflicting advice I get. The one thing that is sticking in my head is something that two people have told me that sounds like good advice: do something that you wouldn’t have done without your LBS MBA. But that still doesn’t rule out all the options mentioned above! Maybe I should just marry a blind-date and pray for the best….

PS Thanks to a certain classmate, who will remain anonymous, but you know who you are when you read this, for being my sparringpartner on this one!

[Edit 1. Just now checked the messages on LBS’s intranet, and found this link to a great post on just the topic I’m talking/ranting about in this post]

Jumping into the deep end

Unfortunately, I’m nowhere near jumping into this particular pool (see left), but I sure do wish I was!

I’ve been getting a few questions about the application essays and especially about two questions on the LBS one:
1. The one that asks the applicant about the kind of activities they want to get involved in on campus
2. The one where you have to specify what your career goals are.
On both of these I think I can shed some light, or at least my thoughts.

On question 1: a lot of the things that make LBS and its social/cultural/work-life special (Tattoo, the student clubs, the Santa Claus Pub Crawl, Sundowners, cheap Japanese lessons etc) are organised and run by students for students. In looking for next year’s intake, the adcom want people that will actively contribute to that campus life. Will you run a club, start up a new one, represent our School at MBat (the yearly MBA olympics in France), organise crack-a-case sessions, tap lager at Sundowners, organise the next Media Summit, get a big-whig PE hot shot on campus or be the academic rep for your stream? For me, the most important part of any b-school is its people, the students, staff, professors and alumns, they make or break the school. It’s great when you get that electricity going where ideas flow freely and people learn from each other or just have plain good old fun. Let the adcom know that you won’t just be a consumer, but instead a rainmaker.

On question 2: There are basically two tacks that you can take in b-school. You can either dive in at the deep end and explore the unknown, or stay in the shallow part of the pool and deepen your knowledge. For some people b-school education will be about deepening skills they already have and moving back into the same industry with a better filled toolkit (but not exchanging it for another) and an increased rolodex. For others, including yours truly, b-school is about broadening your scope, and trying out as many new things as humanly possible, getting a brand new toolbox filled with brandnew tools, and change careers. The one is not intrinsically better than the other, but they are different when it comes to writing your essays. Figure out where you are with regards to the toolboxes (fill your old one, or get a new one) and that will give you your backdrop for your essays. One note of caution: even though a lot of people come to do an MBA to change careers, when it comes to convincing the adcom you’re the cream of the crop and they want you in their MBA, pick a career path that you can actually make happen. Telling them you want to be the first MBA in space might not get anywhere in terms of admissions (even though you might still land up on the moon!).

[edit 1: bought Carl Honore’s ‘In praise of Slow’ yesterday for 1.50 pounds at Bookends (opposite Foyles bookstore on Charing Cross Road)(great bookstore with great prices)(especially chuffed since I walked into the Blackwell’s right next door to Bookends and saw the exact same book for 7 books. On sale.) and finished it. Liked it. But read through it too quickly. So much for praising slowness!]
[edit 2: yes, yes, I know. Think before you write. So you won’t have to add edits. I know. There’s just a huge gap between knowing and doing.]

Bad, bad, bad

[this post was largely inspired by our Marketing prof (who hates being called prof) Duncan Simester, on loan to us from MIT, or visiting from MIT depending on how you look at it, who makes marketing… well…interesting. His favourite phrase is ‘bad customer’. OK, now that you’re all set, here comes the actual post]

OK, I forgot my train of thought. I had this brilliant blogpost in my head during yesterday’s Marketing class (not that the class wasn’t interesting, on the contrary, it inspired a whole host of new thoughts), and then somehow I lost it. Didn’t write it down and lost it. Forever and ever. Bad, bad Suzy.

I’m feeling better now, the cold has run its course and I’m back in the saddle. Good thing too, since I’ve started feeling a tad guilty about not putting on my suit and relentlessly hunting down an internship. So I made a list of 10 people/companies that I’m interested in or want to talk to (the people, not the companies), one for every week of this term, and I’m going to get in touch with all of them. And the best thing is: I don’t have to wear a suit yet. Bad, bad suit.

The Milkround is still raging on campus (providing ample opportunity to ogle all my cute male classmates in suits) and I’ve seen the first cases of Milkround fatigue (‘please just let this be over and someone give me a job’). Since I’ve not yet been to any presentations, I can’t report back on the exact goings on (see Al’s blog for more, he does wear a suit on occasion), but I’ve heard that some of the presentations were ace, and others lacked pizzazz. Bad, bad companies.

Next week, there will be an Industry Panel on campus (for those of us interested in what LBS calls ‘Industry’ which means any job except a job in banking or consulting)(and which I think sounds like I’ll be working as a production worker on some conveyor belt) (bad, bad Career Services, can someone please come up with a new name?), which should be interesting and about which I’ll report back. As the attentive reader might have guessed, I don’t want to land a job in either banking (that would be bad for the bank AND for me) or consulting (been there, done that, got the t-shirt), so I’ll be headed for that Industry category. So does that mean that I’m no part of Milkround at all? Well, no, there are a number of ‘Industry’ companies coming onto campus, but they start as of next week. I’ll be heading to the BP, Shell and Google presentations, and yes, will wear a suit for that.

[edit 1: bad, bad Suzy for not being creative enough to come up with another ‘bad, bad XXX’ at the end of the last paragraph.]

[edit 2: good news: another new LBS 2008 blogger on the block: welcome Wheels! Dude, you 2008s have got quite the blogging community going already!!]

Even the weather is feeling under the weather

Feeling a bit under the weather. I guess sticking 325 people in the same room in the dead of winter with all these bacteria flying around is sort of asking for trouble. One of my housemates caught a cold, and has passed it on to me (or maybe I caught is somewhere else, who knows). So I’m trying to lay low, which is a bit hard with two assignments needing doing (Managing Organisational Behaviour’s audit of a company and another Finance groupcase, this time on M&A, and I’m the projectmanager for that one). And even the weather has been looking a bit like it’s under the weather lately. And I guess the nice thing about feeling under the weather, is that it’s just nice to complain and moan a bit (that’s why the English weather makes for such good smalltalk material). I guess I’ll just have to whip out my tried and trusty medication-against-cold-and-moan-for-when-you’re-feeling-under-the-weather: ice cream! In particular Haagen-Dazs, my favourite.

Our first week back in this term zipped by. It’s strange how quickly you get back into a routine. One exception was Sundowners (our weekly drink-schmooze-catch-up extravaganza), normally on Thursday between 6 and 8 pm, it was now moved to Friday 6 – 9 pm. That way the execs that are in residence only every other week on Fri and Sat can come and hang out as well. And I’m happy to report I did just that, I hung out for a bit with Farhan and some of his exec buddies (they had me fooled for a while, just cause they’re execs, doesn’t mean they’re all grown up), which was fun.

The Milkround is by now well and truly underway, and the first panicky messages are starting to appear on Portal (when is the deadline for company ABC? Why can’t I find the application for company XYZ?), and I’ve already seen some Milkround-fatigue. One presentation earlier this week was attended by over 150 students, for a company (that shall remain nameless) that only offers 2 internship-spots. I caught a little bit of that bug and have gone out and bought a suit (haven’t owned a full suit in over 2.5 years). Pinstripe and all. Not that I’m changing my mind on doing Milkround (although I will go to some presentations later on in the season: BP, Shell and Google), but I figure that at some point I’ll start interviewing too, hence the need for a suit.

Close, but not a banana

Or, how a Finance lecture on M&A can be fun!

Yesterday saw our first lecture of the second term (very optimistically called ‘Spring Term’… we’re in the dead of winter!) which was the continuation of our Finance I course that started last term. And I loved it. It was an interesting subject (M&A) and I like professor Cocco’s teaching style, dry with the occasional touch of sarcastic humour. Main take-aways: in M&A you really only need to remember three words, synergies and pre-emptive move.

This morning we had our first lecture on Operations and Technology Management (OTM) which I really liked too. This semester is shaping up to be a good one.

The suit-parade has started on campus with the first of the Milkround recruiting sessions today: Citigroup is coming this lunchtime and Deutsche Bank tonight. I’m having a field day, cause I *love* guys in suits (it’s like art, they’re nice to look at)(does that sound sexist in any way shape or form)(h*ll, what do I care about sexist, it’s a compliment :-) and there’s a lot of people dressed up that I thought for sure weren’t interested in banking. I reckon there’s a couple reasons why people attend these sessions:
* they are genuinely interested in these companies
* they are not sure what they want to do so they want to gather information (although I’m not sure that you’ll find what it is you want to do by going to these presentations)
* they want a free lunch (that is technically speaking not a free lunch, we learnt in Finance that there is no thing like a free lunch, I reckonn we’re paying 40K pounds for those lunches!)

For those of my colleagues that are going to these presentations, and even more importantly to the receptions afterwards, a few words from my own experience being on the other side (ie the party that is being wooed, not the party wooeing (spelling?)):
You’re talking to a person, not a company
This person woke up this morning, had breakfast, put on a suit and went out. Maybe they’re having a bad day. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse. Take it from me, it’s much nicer talking to a person who thinks you’re a person, as opposed to a person that thinks you’re a company. This person might want a drink, or to talk about something not directly related to their job. Keep that in mind and you’ll make a much better impression than elbowing your way in only to ask the same old question that everyone asks and which answer you can look up in the company brochure. End of rant.

PS The title of the post is a quote from Prof Cocco.

And we’re back in business

It’s like Christmas break never happened. It’s Monday morning 11.20 and I’m already up to my ears in Finance again. And to be honest, although my first instinct is to moan and whine again (since that what I’m supposed to do, right? You moan and b**ch about going to lectures, that’s what students do), but then I stopped my own thoughts in their tracks and realised that I actually like getting my brain into gear again :-) Lectures, assignments, readings: bring it on!! What can I say, I’m a geek.

Today also sees the start of the hunting season: the Milkround opens for business. The Milkround is a uniquely English term describing the companies coming onto campus for recruiting and everyone’s getting antsy. I’ve heard from last year’s first years that it becomes quite hectic and people will at some point go nuts. Since I won’t be doing a lot of Milkround recruiting I will try and keep a cool head.

Earlier in the week I visited the Wallace Collection, a charming museum a few minutes walk behind Selfridges. It reminded me of a large junk-attic, in the best possible way. It shows you how if you have a large (and splendidly magnificent I must admit) house, too much money, too much time and an interest in art, what can happen. I loved the layout of the house, the opulence of the furnishings (think rich reds and blues, boudoir-style), and of course I was particularly interested in the Rubens paintings in the collection. My favourite painting in the collection was not a Rubens painting, but this painting by Philippe de Champaigne.

Yesterday I went to ‘The Three Emperors‘ exhibition at the Royal Academy, which showcases fabulous artwork, robes, statues and calligraphy from the period of the Qing period. I was lucky enough to go with a friend who’s from Hong Kong, who could tell me a lot of the background and translate the Chinese characters and that added so much to the experience.

A short article in today’s Guardian shows one of the reasons why art is so important: it lowers stress levels! See ‘Stressed workers enjoy art for heart’s sake‘.

In Praise of Slow

I haven’t read Carl Honore’s ‘In Praise of Slow’, but I’m honoring the principle. This Friday is my first class (Conflict Management) but before that I’m hanging out, reading (the goal for 2006 is to read more books than in 2005, which means at least 34 books), walking through London, NOT shopping (no money), and going through museums. That’s one of the things I love in London, there are so many good museums, some of which are free. Today I walked down from Marylebone where I live to the Tate Modern, which is housed in an old powerstation on the South Bank and houses the modern art in the Tate Collection. On the way I snapped the picture on the top left of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I like these days… taking it slow, nice and easy. No pressure, no assignments, lectures, rushing around. But I realise all too well that I only like these days because they contrast with the days of lectures, assignments and rushing around like a headless chicken.
Things are slowly getting back to normal again as friends are coming back from their xmas breaks, and we’re slowing starting to meet up again, and I’m even thinking about doing some Finance reading this weekend!

[edit 1: the picture on the right was snapped using my mobile phone, and is Rachel Whiteread’s structure in the Turbine Hall, called EMBANKMENT].
[edit 2: ok, one more picture, I took my digital SLR back from its hibernation at my parents, so now I’m a happy snapper again].

Welcome 2006

Here’s a warm welcome to 2006, which started with a bang: a group of friends from LBS and I went to see Big Ben turn twelve and to watch the fireworks that were staged from the London Eye. I’d seen both of these before on the telly, but never in real life, and it was fab. The fireworks were so beautiful and innnovative, I completely forgot to put my hands over my ears (and for me, that is a BIG thing, I hate the noise of fireworks). I just stood there, occasionally uttering phrases like ‘D**n, this is great!’.

Today, on the first day of the New Year, another first: I visited a Sikh temple (in Southall, the biggest outside India) with a friend. He’s Sikh and told me all about Sikh religion, the history and the customs. I was very impressed, the atmosphere was so serene and peaceful, and no one thought it strange that I, a European girl, was in their temple. A lot of things, such as the beautiful stained glass windows, reminded me of my own catholic upbringing. We finished our visit in the communal kitchen with a very tasty Indian meal and the experience left me floating on a cloud of serene-ness the rest of the day.

On the way back from the temple, I picked up a copy of the book 500 Ways to change the world, which is the book version of a bunch of good ideas that people have sent to the Global Ideas Bank. Ideas vary from ‘give dogs number plates so foulers can be fined’ to ‘play piano in the park’ to ‘let happiness be a nation’s measure for succes’. I love this book and can recommend to anyone wanting to think about answers to common problems in a different way. Check out the Global Ideas Bank blog for more information.