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MBA

July 4, 2012

I realised quite recently that I have been eerily quiet on this front about the fact that I have been on my MBA journey since last August, almost as if I am trying to avoid the topic. Which I am not, by any measure. It is just that the experience has been all-consuming and so involving, the way I have chosen to undertake it, that it has been hard for me to step away from it and state a few words about it. I still hope to do this over the next few weeks, particularly to address an area that I have discussed at length with various classmates, admits, potential applicants etc – Why do an MBA? Is it always sensible? Is it relevant anymore? And the most tricky question of all – is it a good investment of your time and money? But that’s for another day.

Before that, might I alert you to a venture that has been most interesting and novel at the same time – my most unusual summer internship, for which I have teamed with 5 of my MBA classmates and set up a full-time strategy consulting firm for the summer. This is a concept unique to London Business School, now in its 11th year, and it is an excellent training in entrepreneurship and consulting and everything in between – pitching, sales, negotiations, presentations, client management et al. Furthermore, it is not everyday that you get to add value to established businesses who have such excellent infrastructure within. Past teams have worked with awesome brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Roche, BP, Allianz, BT, LinkedIn, UBS, Virgin, Heinz, Hertz and many more. We have signed on interesting clients this year but we still have some capacity to fill for the rest of the summer so do look us up. Our projects tend to be priced between £15,000 – £50,000 – aka, we are a bunch of professionals with some formidable consulting and professional services experience within our group, not a student outfit looking to gain experience for free. I have to state this bluntly to ensure the discussion starts off on the right note 🙂

Here are some details:

Team Brochure: Here – note that we operate under the LBS brand and are well supported by the school and therefore benefit extensively from access to rich databases, alumni, faculty et al. We also receive some excellent advice and mentorship from a top-tier strategy consulting firm. Trust me, you would be paying significant premium for such resources at any other point of time. After all, we do call ourselves ‘Tomorrow’s Strategy Consultants, Today.

Website: http://summerconsultingteam.com/ (put up by yours truly, quick and dirty, in true start-up fashion, so do reserve your judgement :D)

Team Mascot/Maverick/Jester: Here – really, what else did you expect? 🙂

Do note that we don’t exclusively work on UK projects; we are able and willing to travel internationally for projects.

Damned if we do…

November 17, 2011

…and damned if we don’t.

For decades, the society at large cried itself hoarse about the myriad reasons why women were not suitable to break the glass ceiling in the corporate world – not qualified enough, not driven enough, not willing to put in the hours, going for the ‘wrong’ sorts of jobs, not quantitative enough in our skill set. And then our generation of women ticks off all the right boxes as we go along.

And apparently, now the problem is that we do not take enough breaks or learn to relax. The article states:

 Today, 53% of corporate entry-level jobs are held by women, a percentage that drops to 37% for mid-management roles and 26% for vice presidents and senior managers, according to McKinsey research.

And then promptly goes on to blame women for not sorting their lives out. I do not debate the fact that my generation of women drives itself hard – God knows this is true, as I sit up at 1.33am rushing this post to get back to YET another case competition during my MBA which is littered with numerous examples of me taking on way more than I need to. What I do take offense to is that we get no credit for it, and are instead punished for it. Has the author considered the fact that there could be larger forces at play here, possibly even the same ones which have kept women out of boardrooms and executive management since time immemorial? It’s hardly like women were placed equally with men and then the Millennial women came along and spoilt it all!

Honestly, some days, I wonder if I should spare myself all this angst and turn housewife and watch daytime TV. But I’m too much of a Millennial woman and Type A for that. I’m seeing this fight through, and making my best attempt at breaking that ceiling – wish me luck! The ceiling is yet to be fully defined, but I’ll get there…

But seriously, since when have the promotion decisions included factors like ‘taking a break for personal reasons’, ‘going for a walk’ or ‘to go out for a lunch’? I continue to be baffled.

Excuses, excuses

September 5, 2011

My credit card had recently expired and WordPress emailed me to let me know that I would need to update the details to renew my domain registration. And that’s when it hit me how long it had been since my last proper post on this blog. That is not to say that this is a proper post. Just a quick note to mention that I have also started writing on the LBS blog and I have, therefore, yet another excuse for the lack of updates here 😛

The wedding…

September 5, 2011

…was an enormous success, by any standards. Two weddings. Eight events. Three cities. Friends who flew in from around the world.  We didn’t hold back.

And the web community would be mighty proud at the wedding blog I put together – looks like I have picked up a thing or two from all those start-up events, after all 😉

Skipped honeymoon to head right back to London to start this. My life never ceases to be exciting 🙂

Not dead…

July 22, 2011

…but in the midst of planning a rather big, fat Konkani-Hindu & Malayalee-Christian wedding thingamajig…two weddings, three cities, eight events and a bridal trosseau that takes my breath away every time I think about it.

Wedding(s) in two weeks – I am sure you will excuse my absence here, meanwhile 🙂

Oh, and wedding gifts here, please 😉

International Women’s Day #100

March 8, 2011

I have generally avoided spouting views publicly on women, gender equality and feminism because my take on the situation has been evolving over the years and is far too complicated/confused to be summarised in a pithy post. I am averse to claiming membership to many of the existing feminist camps because many of them adopt stances too extreme for my taste; on the one hand, my ‘one-of-the-guys’ status amongst friends makes me cringe from the divisive men vs. women debate and on some days, I cringe at the phrase ‘one-of-the-guys’ – does my status as a woman who enjoys relatively equal rights as men make me any less of a woman?

However, as the 100th IWD comes to a close, I must mention one observation that has baffled me repeatedly in the last few years. Many of us women denounce the inequality of power and money but continue to foster a culture where woman continually choose to be nurturing, pretty and demure over brainy, highly paid and assertive. Even amongst the most ‘feminist’ of my friends and acquaintances, I see a tendency to encourage amongst their female friends lesser-paying humanities and arts studies, rather than higher-paying science, engineering or finance professions; please don’t theorise about left- and right-brained nature of male and female intelligence – a lot of that is constructed by ‘nurture’ in my opinion. Many of these ladies are quick to quit high-paying jobs leading to positions of power based on a whim that they’d rather try something different. If I hear of another instance of a girl giving up on her PhD plans or lucrative career to move for love or marriage, in irrational ways that many men would not, I will retch!

I have attended several ‘Women in Banking’ and ‘Women in Finance’ events where senior management express frustration at the trend of women choosing to drop out of races while they are winning. Through my boyfriend’s MBA class, I notice highly capable women holding their careers back to suit their partners’ whims. Many of my male friends are a lot more understanding about my choice to stay within banking for purely mercenary motivations. Of course, there are many systematic issues to blame – the lack of work/life balance in many of the highest paying jobs force women into a position where they have to choose between career and motherhood, for instance. Another cultural issue with women rising in male-dominated corporate world is the brand of politics and their appetite (or the lack thereof) for such power games. But even so, why do women, who have had all the opportunity in the world, choose to work in lesser paying and less powerful jobs? Especially in their 20s, when women have fewer/no constraints in terms of juggling household and family responsibilities, why do they not gun for more ambitious jobs? In other words, why am I more likely to find women in obscure activist groups protesting against Goldman Sachs’ compensation policies as opposed to women heading up executive boards in GS and making real changes in compensation policies?

These are not victims of circumstances, but conscious decision-makers opting to take the lesser share of the pie – why?

PS – This is a rant based on personal and anecdotal incidents, so no links to any major studies this time, I’m afraid! I expect some brickbats about how the world is inherently unfair to women, etc, which I do not deny, but the question I raise is about the conscious choices.

Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu?

February 5, 2011

The week of the Royal Wedding is rather well-timed, in the midst of a plethora of public holidays and since Ritwik and I have not been invited to the wedding (how rude!), we are considering making a quick trip – an 11 day holiday with a mere 3 days’ of leave? Yes, please!

From the moment we conceived this plan, we have been agonising over the choices – should we be climbing Machu Picchu in Peru or Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania? We decided to go for a physically active holiday because both of us expect to be relatively fitter than usual between our personal training sessions at the gym, my half-marathon in March and training for a good time at the British 10k in July.

The reasons for our dilemma are as follows:

a) Machu Picchu – amazing history, a completely exotic country and continent to both of us (I’ve never been to South America), a chance to practice my rudimentary Spanish speaking skills, great food, a physically less gruelling experience and therefore more achievable. But, an expensive flight and a long journey (>20hrs of flying and stopovers) to a place where there is so much else to see too, but we can’t combine those in this trip because of lack of time. Would it possibly be better to combine this with a trip to Brazil for the Rio Carnival in Mar 2012?

b) Kilimanjaro – highest peak in Africa, a personal challenge that I am adamant on achieving, amazing location, would be a testament to physical fitness if we complete this, the physically gruelling experience would be quite a test of spirit but we could be biting off more than we can chew, the proportion of those who reach the Uhuru peak is apparently smaller than even the already unimpressive figure advertised by the travel agents. I wouldn’t want to risk falling ill/injuring myself before my upcoming exam and wedding soon after! And I have a less than great track record with dealing with acclimatization at high altitudes. This is a lot more expensive climb but a shorter and cheaper flight to get there. We have reconciled to the fact that this trip wouldn’t allow us the time to check out the safaris or a relaxing getaway to Zanzibar after the climb. Also, we are not getting any younger, so should we do this now, or should we keep this for later and train up well in advance? Also, Apr-May is the rainy season, not a good time of the year to climb.

Decisions, decisions! Any input from you, perhaps?

Sangria

February 5, 2011
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Threw a much belated housewarming party last weekend and much jello shots, sangria, freshly shaken (but not stirred) cocktails, canapes, cheese board, cold cut platters et al were had. Several people commented that they liked the Sangria in particular so I’ve decided to note down what I put together to make it; there’re a million Sangria recipes out there already, why not add one more to them? 🙂

1 large or two small apple diced into small pieces (should be manageable in a small glass!)

1 crunchy pear diced like the apple above

A fistful of blackberries

Half a lemon thinly sliced

Half a clementine thinly sliced

1 bottle of Rioja Rojo

An equal amount of fizzy lemonade

Two shots Gordin’s Gin

Two shots of Cointreau

The addition of gin flabbergasted the Brazilian amongst us but it makes the drink less fruity/girly, I think, and the Cointreau and blackberries add that warmth to make it a nice winter drink rather than the summer drink that it is usually considered to be.

And good lord, are we already a month and a bit into 2011? :/ Pass me some sangria, please!

‘Too Big To Fail’

January 28, 2011

..by Andrew Ross Sorkin should be made compulsory reading for anyone in the financial services/banking industry. The pace of the book, just like that of life during the time of Lehman’s collapse, is incredible and indeed, the book proves to be ‘too good to put down’ at times. It is an excellent portrayal of the unintended consequences set into motion by the best intentions and of the risks of excessive hubris in one’s own way of thinking. While the book is written by someone who’s kinder to the characters of the drama than members of the general public would be, it does raise interesting philosophical questions on the fairness of risk borne by the collective society while rewards are always personal.

I foolishly picked up a very angsty book, ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being‘ by Milan Kundera, to follow the treatise on finance and I’m plodding through it reluctantly. Next, I would like to read a book which examines the financial crisis from the a non-banking perspective, i.e., an analysis of how the credit crunch and the following financial crisis were an inevitable result of changing social and economic value systems and spending habits. Any recommendations, folks?

Return from the Dead.

January 21, 2011
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About time I posted something here, I thought.

Happy New Year and all that, folks.

I don’t do New Year Resolutions. I find it stupid that people use the calendar as an excuse to delay self-improvement. The change in the calendar year does not necessarily make any of us a stronger, better, thinner, smarter person – every day can be the start of a good thing, why wait till the beginning of the next year?

That said, there are a few things I’d like to implement in the short term, nothing to do with the turn of the year, assuredly. I’d like to scale back a bit more on my incessant connectedness to the Internet and exist more and indulge more in the physical world, especially with respect to expressing my thoughts and  views. On that front, a leather jacketed diary has been acquired and a daily entry has been making its way onto its lined pages. A quaint activity these days, it would seem, but some things, especially personal, are best written privately than in cryptic posts on personal blogs (which this one doesn’t purport to be, in any case). Also, I hope to resume what used to be a regular habit with me which somehow got lost along the way – sending birthday cards by post. My laziness and resistance to the work involved has grown significantly over the years; sometimes, I even manage to buy a card and write out the greetings and then forget to post it! I hope to rectify this situation from this year, starting today with my Dad’s birthday card.

And as an over-arching theme to the above and other things I would like to work on, I would just like to write more – online, offline, about topical matters, about personal matters, personal communication, etc.

Off to post the greeting card now, ta!