Saturday, January 19, 2008

India makes history again

India have done it again. They have won the cricket test match against Australia in Perth and have stopped Australia's victory march of 16 tests again. They did it first in 2001 in Kolkatta and again today but this time it is sweeter because this victory has come in Perth - Australia's stronghold for years. Perth is among the world's fastest cricket pitches and Australia hasn't lost a test here in a decade. Last time they lost here was to the pace attack of West Indies which boasted of stars like Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop. The fact that this Indian bowling lineup is probably the most inexperienced in years makes the victory even more remarkable.

After the debacle in Sydney, where India lost the match in the last over, this is a great victory. This will match the next test more interesting.

Go India, Go..

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ghosts of Term One

Even though we are into our second week of the second term here at HEC, we are still doing first term's work. We have two first term assignments spilling over in the second term - an individual paper on sustainability and a marketing case to be done with first term study group. Both these assignments are due tomorrow and I have had a really hard time with the marketing case. We chose a case of marketing a Japanese style high-tech toilets in France and this case has proven to be difficult but very interesting. We have not been able to conduct a detailed market research because of lack of time and resources. We have to submit our recommendations tomorrow and as of now, we have not been able to decide the target market segment and the right promotion strategy. Hopefully, we will be able to sort things out after a final brainstorming session today.

Apart from this, our academic classes started today. We have Corporate Finance, Management Accounting, Business Economics and Strategy as our main subjects in this term. Because of my interests in Finance and Strategy, I am keenly looking forward to these subjects. Our professors in this term are also veterans - Corp Fin is being taught by a proff who is an investment banker, Economics will be taught by an ex-head of an investment bank and Strategy proff is also very renowned.

Things are heating up on other fronts also - MBAT team is meeting regularly to coordinate MBAT events, Indian contingent is meeting to hold India week in March, I am working with a group of participants to start a new initiative to hold sessions on understanding the economies of different countries and doing a SWOT analysis. Apart from this, people have started getting interview calls for internships. From the look of things so far, this term is going to be harder than the first one..

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Trip to Rome

I spent my recent vacation in Rome and Barcelona. Because of the winter, we wanted to go somewhere south in Europe and it being Christmas time, Rome was our first choice. We also chose Barcelona so that we could spend some time at the Beach.Our first stop was Rome.
Without getting into the details of logistics, I will write about the main places we visited.
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Vatican City - A trip to Rome cannot be complete without going to Vatican city. The smallest soverign state in the world, this is the seat of the Pope. There are 2 main places to visit inside Vatican city:
1. St. Peters Basilica - This is perhaps the holiest place for Christians. This is built on the burial site of St Peters, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and who according to legend was entrusted with the task of expanding Christianity. This is where the Pope performs the Christmas midnight mass and we were lucky to witness that. This was once in a lifetime moment for us. Inside this basilica, you can see many of the famous Christianity related historical sculptures and frescoes by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphel and others. The most famous work inside this basilica is "Pieta" by Michelangelo, a sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after he was crucified.
2. Vatican Museum - This contains many famous works of art and sculpture which belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Sistine Chapel, which contains the world famous fresco, "Creation" by Michelangelo is enroute to the Vatican Museum. We were unlucky not to get inside the museum because of a 2km long waiting line :(
Fontana di Trevi(Trevi Fountain) - This is the most famous and largest of the fountains in Rome and legend has it that if you throw a coin in this fountain, you will return to Rome. It is huge and really beautiful.
Piazza di Spagna( Spanish square) - This is a really beautiful place to be in summers. Close to the main square is a set of steps called the Spanish steps which connect Piazza di Spagna with Piazza Trinita dei Monti. This is a must see spot in summers when you can see flowers lining these steps. We could not see the real beauty of the place is it was December
Colosseum - If you have seen the movie Gladiator, you must know about Colosseum. This is where the gladiators fought - with other gladiators and with animals. This place is now mostly damaged but can still hold your imagination if you stand inside it and imagine the battles that took place centuries ago
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of victor Emmanuel II) - It is situated close to Piazza Venezia and is a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. It is built of pure white marble and features majestic stairways, tall columns, fountains, a huge equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. This monument also has a museum which contains many artifacts related to World War 1 and Italy's military history
In general, Rome is a small city with friendly people and delicious pizzas. The city contains many fountains and squares and over 900 churches.If you are a lover of art and/or history, want to witness works of Reniassance period and Baroque style, Rome is a must visit place.

Second term begins

Our second term begun this week and the week went by so fast that I can't believe its weekend again. The biggest difference between term 1 and term 2 for me is that I have moved to the campus for term 2. So, no more 2 hour commute daily. It is such a big difference living here, in campus. I can do so many things now; I played squash this week after a gap of 6 odd months and thoroughly enjoyed it. Today, I played basketball in evening and then went for a movie with friends.

We did not have any academic classes this week - we had sessions dedicated to Communication in Action in which we had communication professionals working with us to improve our communication skills. Apart from that we had sessions on Project Management and couple of sessions with Alumni where they gave us feedback on our career plans. It was a good way to start term 2 I'd say.

I think this term is gonna be tougher than first term, not in terms of academics but because in this term people would be busy working to get internship offers. I can already see people working hard putting in applications for banks and other industries. It is not easy for people wanting to get into finanace because the industry is mainly based in London and the competition is very tough especially in the wake of the recent financial crisis. I have also applied to some investment banks, have had first round interview with BNP Paribas and am anxiously waiting to listen from other banks.

Our academic classes begin next week and we also have two big submissions due from the last term - Individual Sustainability Project and Marketing Case submission. It's gonna be a tough week I am sure.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

End of first term at HEC

My first term at HEC ended in December. In terms of number of days spent, the term lasted for a little over 3 months (100 days to be precise) but in terms of the knowledge gained, I was introduced to a lot of new concepts and it might take me years to grasp them completely.

It was a great experience being part of the diverse batch that my class at HEC is. The classmates were cooperative, the proffs supportive and the course structure was top-notch. We were exposed to most of the main disciplines that business requires - finance, marketing, supply chain and accounting. Additionally, we had a new subject -Sustainable Business Development which helped us understand the issues of sustainability and we spent a lot of time in class brainstorming on how businesses should be sustainable - not just making profit for its shareholders but benefitting all the stakeholders concerned, including planet.

I was lucky to have already had an overview and understanding of all the subjects, thanks to my reading habits and my previous work experience. Some of my classmates were completely new to the world of finance and it was good to see them keep up with the rest of the class after an initial struggle.

We also had a lot of fun along with the academics. We fought hard with each other during MBAT elections, had a great time celebrating Diwali and were thorougly entertained by the various events organized during the Japan week. Another highlight was the parties we had in Piano bar - which included normal drinking/dancing parties and the informal salsa training session. One such memorable ocassion was the Latin fiesta where the party continued till 3 AM and only a handful of people turned up to attend the 8AM Statistics class :)

If I were to summarize my firt term experience at HEC, I would say that it was a humbling experience. When I joined HEC, I used to think that I know a lot about business but in the last 3 months I have realized that there are more things that I don't know than what I know.

Am signing off now wishing you all a great year ahead and hoping that my coming year is as exciting and fruitful as the last few months here were.