December 31, 2007

Wishing you all a great new year! Happy 2008!

To all my blog readers,

Here is wishing a fantastic new year 2008 to all of you.

I hope it turns out to be super great. If you're looking for a MBA admission, I hope you get what you want (Harvard, INSEAD, GenkoChienKung..). If you're hoping for a great GMAT score I hope you get that (700, 770, 820..yep, someone once said he got 810 or something). If you're looking for a partner, I hope you get one too - a good man, woman, (or an inflated doll, depending on what you want). Hope you get to make lots of $$$ (assuming the dollar doesn't keep falling). Hope you get the job you're looking for. All in all, let it all turn out fun and successful!

And me? well, please be generous and gift me the following :)

That's just for starters! Assuming I'll have a job and that I don't have to open a food court stall in Singapore post INSEAD :P ...

in case some of you are wondering about my "many" posts at this time of the year instead of partying..well, turns out I caught a minor flu 2 days ago and am still recovering. It's annoying enough for me not to go anywhere.

December 30, 2007

The story of my corporate finance pictures

You can guess the story. I'm never going to be an investment banker.

December 27, 2007

INSEAD Singapore Update + Photos

This is a short update on my previous INSEAD Singapore FAQ, based on some other issues I remembered + a point raised by Res I(p)sa. And then, a few photos for your viewing pleasure :)

  1. While going to Fonty from Singapore is pretty much assured, from this batch onwards we're seeing that coming to Singapore, especially in P3, can be very difficult due to limited seats available. Singapore is smaller and therefore cannot accommodate everyone from Fonty.
  2. Housing in Singapore is hard to get and is expensive - it's became worse in the last year or so. If you plan to be in Singapore, look early, and look wide. Don't wait until the last 2 weeks to get a house.
  3. If you do any 1 term in Singapore + P5 in Singapore (so you graduate from Singapore) you get invited to apply for Permanent Residency in Singapore (Singapore PR). So if you are interested in Singapore PR, this is a fast way to get one :)

This photo is the main corridor on the way to classrooms (the classrooms are behind the photographer)

The view beyond the glass wall, there's a nice outer court where you can sit and have a beer.

More photos later!

December 25, 2007

INSEAD Singapore FAQ, Facts and Myths / clarifying doubts

There appears to be some confusion regarding INSEAD's dual campus structure - one in Fontainebleau in France and the other in Singapore. I get questions on this and recently I read some threads where some not-so-informed posters write what is sometimes utter rubbish without even bothering to find out the truth. This post is to talk more about INSEAD Singapore, facts about what it means to be in INSEAD Singapore and how it differs from Fontainebleau, impact on career, reputation, brand, professors etc. Hopefully next time some idiot posts his ignorance, you will also get a chance to read about it from a different angle. So, just to make it easier, I'm going to keep it in a Q&A format.

Q0. Is admission different between INSEAD Singapore and Fonty?
A. No. Admissions is centralized, you only specify which campus you prefer to start in. In some cases, you may not get what you choose - your admission is guaranteed but the campus is not. The idea is that this is "one campus two locations" and not two "distinct administrative campuses". I have class mates who opted for Fonty but were given Singapore. There are many, many people in my class (including me) who opted for Singapore as the first choice for various reasons. The admissions committee apparently does not even know which campus an applicant chose (adcom says this, and a professor who is in the admissions committee told us in class - I trust them). What that means is there is no quality or any kind of difference between students in the 2 campuses - both campuses are equally diverse, groups are formed in the same way (each class = 'n' groups where each group = 5 people with each person from a different country) and student bodies mix mid-way in the course.

Q1. Isn't INSEAD Singapore a separate institution from Fonty?
A. No. It's only a separate location. The dean is the same, many of the professors switch and teach different terms at both campuses - and this includes many star professors, the curriculum is the same, the exam terms are same, the fee is the same *sigh*, companies are not told which campus a student is in - they recruit from the common pool, both campuses apply and interview for the same jobs.

Q2. Isn't INSEAD Singapore a lower brand compared to original Fonty campus?
A. It's INSEAD - period. At the end of the course, you are an INSEAD MBA. Not INSEAD Singapore MBA. Companies don't really go around distinguishing between "oh wait, you're in Singapore campus,you must be a moron!" Where you are does make a difference in terms of how you approach your career move, not how you are perceived. Nearly 70% of the class switches campus mid-way. In fact, for P3 starting in January, we have more students in Singapore than in Fonty! Over 150 Fonty students are coming over to Singapore. Fonty is the bigger campus - about 2/3rd student population is in Fonty and 1/3rd in Singapore.

Q3. How does where you are impact your career?
A. If you want to focus on being in Europe, you should aim to be in Fonty in P4/P5. If you want to try for Asia, be in Singapore during the recruitment season (P4/P5). From statistics we got, in previous batches, 80% of Fonty ends up in Europe and 20% rest of the world. In Singapore, it's 60 Europe/rest and 40 Asia. Asian recruiters in general prefer to see commitment to the region, so if you are really interested in working in Asia you should spend majority of your time in Singapore campus. Starting in Singapore works very nicely - you get to experience this campus and if you want to focus on jobs in Europe, you switch to Fonty in P4/P5 (many do this - and everyone gets the chance to go to Fonty because it's a big campus).

Q4. What are the advantages of being in Singapore?
A. Depends on what you seek. It's a smaller campus, feels more cohesive, you get to know your class mates much better, you are in a great city, parties are "class wide" and everyone attends, paperwork to go to Singapore is super-easy, it's easier to meet/talk to companies that are located in Singapore, easier to do treks to Hong Kong, lots of beach countries around, and you can get setup easily in just 2 days. And you can go to Fonty whenever you want :) And most people love the place once they come here.

Q5. What are the advantages of being in INSEAD Fontainebleau (Fonty) ?
A. More companies come on campus to Fonty which means better chance to network, meet and see presentations (note that jobs are open to all, I'm only talking about physically being present to meet companies and in some cases, Interviews). Fonty provides closer access to London if you want to try getting there. If you plan to search for a job starting early in Europe, then it makes sense to be in Fonty. It's a much bigger campus (so I am told, I'm going in P4) and apparently has a very different feel to it. You get to be in crazy house parties, live in chateaus, and eat French food. You get to see Europe.

Q4 and Q5 point - remember, most of the class switches campus, so you can experience both and use both advantages. For e.g. you could do legwork and your own career search in Singapore until P3, go to Fonty for P4, do recruiting events, and return to P5 to Singapore. It's flexible and you choose what you want. You can be really focused and choose to remain in one campus throughout - and you will be a minority. Some are really adventurous, they do Singapore, Fonty and Wharton!

Some phrases you should not worry about

P1) "Do you think I should try for INSEAD Singapore?" - there's nothing like trying for INSEAD Singapore. You try to get into INSEAD and make a campus choice. If they put you in Singapore and you're super unhappy, you can always go to Fonty in P3, P4 and P5.

P2) "I'm not sure how INSEAD Singapore is perceived..." read P1.

P3) "Can I get a job in Europe if I join INSEAD Singapore"
see (P1), then read (Q3)

P4) "I read somewhere that there is this Asian school XYZ that is better than INSEAD Singapore!" - Sure. Go there.

Hope that helped!

December 18, 2007

Strategies for CV / Resume - top 5 do's and don'ts

My last post on Tips and tools to make an effective CV / Resume has been receiving a fair amount of hits and strangely enough, these (Number 1)  phrases (1st page) are (page 1) high on Google already - given the plethora of articles on resume writing. Odd. Clearly, writing an effective, well written CV / Resume is of great interest to people given the way the searches originate.

In this post, I'll cover some of the strategies on writing effective CV (Curriculum Vitae) / Resumes - and more importantly, what to be careful about so you're not wasting massive amounts of time writing what amounts to be a pretty confused, useless Resume. Of course, these are my view points and there is a level of subjectivity attached to it. Choose what works best for you.

The audience - professionals (engineers, designers, consultants, MBAs. I have no clue about doctors, nuclear scientists, assassins etc.)

My top 5 Do's and don't s (though not in any order of importance)

  1. Get your resume screened or reviewed by someone in the target sector and type of function you are targeting. If you are an engineer aiming to get into Banking, show your CV to a banker friend and not another engineer who might nod and say "it all looks great."
  2. Don't add objectives if you don't know what your objective really is. My personal take is that writing "My objective is to be a high performing part of your organization and use my skills to the fullest extent" is a waste of someone's brain cells and might make them a few notches dumber for the next 2 hours. I've read many such objectives in my career too - and they said nothing useful. Focused objectives, if that is what you want (at the risk of getting your Resume rejected because so such positions exist), can be useful. On the other hand, comprehensive summaries like " Over 4 years of experience in network engineering with high expertise in ABCD, EFGH, IJKL. Consistently among top 10% rated employees and top ranker in University..." could be a lot more effective in catching the eye of a manager. On a side note, that summary wasn't about me.
  3. Attention span of the reader is inversely proportional to length of resume (subject to floor length of 1 page). 'Nuff said. Keep it short and to the point.
  4. Over-reviewing -  Avoid the temptation of getting your CV reviewed 3,467 times. The review effectiveness graph, in my experience, is something like this - there is a sharp value add for the first 3-4 reviews, then - for the next 2-3 reviews you reach a refinement stage. Beyond 8 reviews (or thereof) there is a drop-off in value. The issue with too many reviews is that after a while, you begin to get very conflicting, often confusing view points. It will never be perfect - so once you feel the CV has improved substantially compared to the older one, stop.
  5. Always think from the view point of the hiring manager / recruiter - it's kind of easy getting carried away by our own virtues and brilliance and write eloquent prose while forgetting that the reader might as well get flogged on his/her bare bottom with a whip than read our resume. Short sentences. Numbers. No self-aggrandizing prose. Action. Results.
My Resume / CV won't get me a job, so I don't want to confuse the resume to be a "cool! this'll get me my job!" - it's only a way to get past that first person.

On a side note - we ended our P2 INSEAD MBA exams today, it's such a relief. It's been an incredibly hectic term that ended with some humbling exams - wait, I'll called "nuke-me-down" exams. I'm headed home tomorrow for a fine week or so of relaxation. Really looking forward to it, and here's happy holidays, Christmas,  new years to all the readers!

December 12, 2007

Negotiations - frameworks, methods and tools (and other future interests)

It's hard to argue about the importance of negotiation in both personal and business contexts. Negotiations play an inescapable part in our lives - whether with customers, vendors, partners, friends, cab drivers, vegetable sellers. A lot of us suck at it big time - I'm one of them. It's an area one could and should learn a lot about.

At INSEAD there is an elective called - well - "negotiations". Taught by one of the star professors - Horacio Falcao (read his bio) (Harvard law + INSEAD MBA) this is one of the most desired and sought after courses with the highest elective bid this time. Following professor Pushan Dutt's (another star of P1) advice, I bid my valuation and got the elective which is all about frameworks, strategies and methods of negotiation - something I believe is invaluable in the business arena. I am really looking forward to this course, which is taught in Singapore in P3 this time. I've heard that it is pretty heavy as well in terms of course load - and when combined with the rigor of Finance star professor Pierre Hillion's course of Applied Corporate Finance, I think we have a busy P3 ahead of us. Of course one cannot forget the fact that P3 is the time to start informational interviewing and start revving up recruitment efforts. When I go home in this break, I am indeed meeting some fairly top level managers in some large interesting companies back home. How did I get the casual informational interviews? I asked :) (it's true what they say - you never know until you ask. True in life - personal, professional...)

Exams loom ahead.Tomorrow we have accounting and strategy. My strategy for accounting is to do the strategy exam well to compensate for the stratospheric failure in accounting.

December 06, 2007

Tips and tools to Writing an effective CV / Resume

made some minor updates: Dec 08. Original version Dec 7.

Yesterday was the deadline to submit the CV (curriculum vitae, for the clueless - a.k.a Resume, or Bio-data) in INSEAD. I'm not going go dwell on why we do this internal submission and what it's purpose is and so on, but simply touch on the fact that it takes a lot of work to get a decent CV out. In my case, it could have easily run to 20 hours and with over 10-12 reviews.

The questions to ask before writing an effective CV / Resume are

1. Will a recruiter/manager with 60 seconds on his/her time find it appealing to shortlist?
2. Will the hiring manager find it compelling enough to call you?
3. When you show it to someone, do they feel it has weight?

These are not "meaningless" questions - many of us have been through recruiting someone else for our organization and the CV tells a lot about the person behind it. Badly written, obtuse and confusing resumes usually get the trash bin treatment. The same assumption holds true whenever you apply to well known organizations.

While the process was painful, when I see the end result of what it achieved as compared to what I had a few weeks ago, I can say I saw a lot of value in the process, however exhausting.

The key traits to writing a good, quality, effective resume takes work. The main points, in my learning for writing a good Resume are,


Does your CV tell your life story in a single page? Can you cover your education, experience, awards and interests in a single printable page? Trust me, took a lot of effort and here's a screenshot of mine.

2. Results driven Resume / CV

Structure every sentence to show what you did, and what it achieved. When I started, I was all happy about my fluffy puffed up self-important sentences that said nothing concrete. I got butchered by my class mate and career services reviewers. It took a lot of refining to get the sentence to the core - "I did <this> and therefore achieved <this>" A simple example is, say, you did program management. You could write

"Demonstrated program management skills by leading several impactful programs across the organization and showed skill and expertise in all the programs leading to high satisfaction"

or you could write

"Demonstrated program management skills by leading 4 programs worth $7M leading with >90% customer satisfaction and 95% business retention"

Some professional functions might me more qualitative, but in general for most of us it would do better to highlight results.

3. A CV Focused on its audience

The way the content is structured needs to be aligned to the mind of the audience. Is your target banking, consulting, FMCG, Hi-Tech? The same CV might not work - your core CV will need some slight modifications (not making up stories but highlighting those that you think are relevant to that field. Bankers would be least interested in your expertise of network architectures and ASP.NET skills. This means one might need 1 or 2 variants of a CV that have subtle differences in the message.

4. Review, Rework, Review, Rework, Rinse and Repeat

Make sure you are not blinded by your own biases at your CV ("my CV looks great, I don't need to ask anyone else"), and this means getting multiple people to review your CV. Also make sure you get the CV reviewed by native English speakers because it makes a difference.

5. Clean, neat, correct

It needs a lot of time to get a clean (well spaced, margined), neat (structure, positioning, paragraphs, bullets) and correct (grammatically) CV. While my CV is tailored closely to INSEAD format (which is pretty good when you get it into MS word and format it a little), I found this link quite simple and useful for those of you artistically challenged. I used some tips from there.

The entire exercise can come to help even later in life, because honestly I've never, ever spent this much time on a CV! (guess it took me to come to an INSEAD MBA to figure it all out!) And the next time I have to do it all over again, I'm hoping I will be a lot more effective and will know what to look for.

Later on, I will spend some more time on a follow-up posts on some of the more subtle points in writing good Resume's and some of the important "do's and don'ts for an effective Resume / CV". Right now I'm in the panic-state of exam preparations with just 4 days left, so we'll see when I can get the next tips and tools follow-up!

December 04, 2007

Time flies like an arrow

My INSEAD MBA is about to be 2/5th over - exams start next week. It's crazy how fast time flies here ... it was as if we just began P2 yesterday and here we are, hurtling through the term into the next exams. P2 has been rather crazy - it started slow but rapidly picked up pace with tons of case work, CV work and now exams just around the corner with classes right up until the exams.

In P3 we will have lots of people from Fonty invading Singapore (and we will do the same in P4, P5 at Fonty). I'm looking forward to finishing the exam and taking a break...

December 03, 2007

Fun filled Desi Week

Another facet of the diverse INSEAD MBA is that we have a tradition of "national weeks", where a week belongs to a country, group of countries or even a continent and the week has many themes where students from the specific group/country represent their regions in different ways.

In the last few weeks we had had The Korea-Japan week, Aussie week, Africa week - and the last week was "desi" week. (A "desi" is someone from the Indian Subcontinent). It was a great fun filled week, with the t-shirts, dinner, party all sold out, well attended and very well organized by all those involved in it (Good work, guys/gals!)

The event was sponsored by Merrill Lynch (thanks!). Yo, Merrill Lynch, come hire more INSEAD grads!

* yup, I drew the poster.

November 29, 2007

Century! Journey and GMAT Recap

This is the 100th post since this blog started! On June 08 2006 I decided to bite the GMAT bullet. The posts in June 2006 were focused on GMAT preparation. On Aug 26 2006 I finished my GMAT, and on Aug 28, I wrote a post on GMAT quant traps - a post that many have found useful. After that, my posts focused on essays, schools of interest, application process, the INSEAD interview pre-selection post. Then, in Jan 2008, came the news I was waiting for - the admit.

Since then there have been numerous posts on INSEAD, which I will not repeat. So far, it has been a worthwhile journey. As you embark upon yours, I hope it will be as well.

Those who are preparing for GMAT, I have 3 points to make.

1. It's a lot about timing and calm under pressure. Never let a question take away more than 3 minutes of your time, move on.

2. SC gives you the best return on invested time. The GMATPrep test is the best preparation tool.

3. A good score is useful for top schools. While a high score won't necessarily get you in, a low score will very likely keep you out. Do not underestimate the exam.

Do well!

November 27, 2007

Continuing on recruitment /salaries post MBA

Turns out my previous post on recruitment in international schools (INSEAD/Wharton/Chicago and so on) vs. IIMs and ISB turned out to be very popular. Apart from large number of hits and surprising quick ascension on Google (who could guess that giving "iim insead" on Google gets my link right at the top..!), I also have emails to clarify questions.

This is a short post but one to clarify the question of post MBA salary ranges. To my knowledge, the salary reported on Indian media on IIM / ISB is CTC, i.e., cost to company, which includes a whole range of items apart from base salary - like bonus, car, education allowance, and everything else that could factor in. The salaries typically quoted by the above mentioned international schools (I can say for sure for INSEAD) are "base salaries", for e.g. 2006 Europe base salary average was around 85,000 euros = ~125,000$. And this is NOT CTC. All the joining and future bonuses, and any other allowances are outside this salary. The base range can be up to ~200,000 euros =~300,000 USD.

Hope that answers the question(s).

Alright folks, in a few hours I must be all suited and booted up for the mega Monsoon ball here at Singapore. I hope to have a blast of a time! updated note: oh yes, I did.

update: A note as a response to a couple of mails and a comment. The posts have nothing to do with quality of students, it's only about clarifying processes and statistics. The danger with excessive hype is that it puts immense pressure on current students (due to unfair comparison, and I've read students comments to that effect - "what, you did not get 50 lakhs?"), it gives an incorrect picture to prospective students and clouds their judgment, and it distorts the reality of competition.

November 22, 2007

exhausting week

Wow. This week has been exhausting with insane amounts of work and next week promises to be worse - with a combination of case work, social activities and a big trip coming up at the end of it. In a way, this is teaching me how to do time management better than ever before!

I'm hitting the bed early tonight, need to catch up on some sleep and recharge for tomorrow.

November 19, 2007

Managing activities - Clubs, events, sports, cases..*tiring*

One of the standard refrains from MBA students is the amount of workload. It's true in most schools, and more so at INSEAD simply due to the compressed nature of the course. Let's take a simple list of all the things I will be doing this week

  1. A bunch of case submissions (we have about 25 case submissions in the next 4 weeks, and each case requires a decent couple of hours of work)
  2. Studying all the mandatory materials for the next days class
  3. Sending in my creative substance to a major event happening next week (more details coming soon)
  4. Participating in 2 club activities
  5. Running 2 clubs (I founded one, and am leading the other in Singapore)
  6. Participating in 3 different career services events (not recruitment, these are more about development, strategies for searching etc.)
  7. Playing soccer against the other section ("we'll kick your @ss!")
  8. Completing my CV - which takes insane amounts of work. That's a topic for the blog. Getting an effective CV / Resume in place within 1 page is incredible hard work. All the reviews and all the's crazy. If you are a new intake, get a basic CV in place before you land up here or you'll spend tons of time doing one.
  9. Bidding for electives in P3. We can bid for 3.5 credits, there are many interesting electives but unfortunately we can only get 3.5.
  10. Other sundry personal work I need to do - like booking flight tickets for travel, hotels, blogging, meetings, eating, sleeping...
Tiring. But I'm lovin' it. I would hazard a guess that it is similar whether in Wharton, Columbia, Stern, Chicago or any other school.

November 17, 2007

Sitting Duck -- Or a Duck sitting in the class.

In my last post, I mentioned the INSEAD Dash. Here is a pic that describes it's spirit. You can only imagine how distracting (and funny) it is to be sitting in a class looking at a big fat ducky. And then imagine how hard it must for be for the professor whenever he looks at that section of the class. Not only does he have to deal with a whole bunch of weird outfits and super ugly cheerleaders ;) he also has to look at a BIG DUCKY in the eye!

In a way, this describes the spirit of the class and INSEAD. Lot of fun, lot of work. I'll tell you more about some other amusing practices we have. But that's for later.

November 15, 2007


This is a short post, and I will hopefully add a few pics later. But today, we had the INSEAD Dash, a hilarious "run" from Heritage (the condo complex where most of us stay) to INSEAD, wearing really ridiculous dressed as disgusting cheerleaders, hot nurse outfits, a dumb birdie...what not. And then those who are dressed up funny sit in the class with the same outfit - distracting and entertaining.

There are a few INSEAD traditions I will probably write about later..

November 09, 2007

Thanks, Zanat0s (a.k.a. Stefanos!)

Thanks, Stefanos, for mentioning my entry on recruitment style in international b-schools vis-a-vis Indian management schools. Your own story might be an interesting supplement on how motivated job searches can lead to interesting outcomes.

For other aspirants, to just get an idea of how networks can be leveraged, read his latest entry.

We are coming to a close of Africa week, and Desi week preparation is under way. This week (and the next 2 weeks) promise to be full of activities apart from tons of case work and group assignments. To those NYU Stern people, your professor (who is currently also teaching OB at INSEAD) Doug Guthrie is very good, his opening class yesterday was fun. And we could tell that some of our class shenanigans (we have interesting class behavior  - all in fun and good spirit) took by a bit of surprise (pleasant ones, don't worry).

I need to do a post on our professors some time.

November 03, 2007

INSEAD Americas office - New York

We'd heard about this from Frank recently. This should be a good move for the coming years to increase brand awareness in US and also help more INSEAD students tap into the US market. Before some one asks - no this is NOT a new campus. This is more like a relations office.

So many case studies to submit next's going to be a busy weekend.

October 31, 2007

Recruitment / Placement : IIM / ISB vs. International Schools

update:Turns out this post needed more follow-ups, here is an update post covering salary ranges, base salaries and other such matters

I receive a fair amount of e-mail from my blog readers. Many pertain to application evaluation/essay evaluation. And some pertain to recruitment and similar career related questions - and several of these are from potential Indian applicants.

This post is to summarize some principal possible differences between recruitment in the top Indian business schools like IIM/ISB vs. top International schools (typical FT top 10 or M7 + LBS/INSEAD). Keep in mind the following

  1. I can write about IIM / ISB experiences based on what I've heard and read. I haven't studied in one of them previously (yes, many IIM grads do study MBA again in international schools) but I do know many who have, including a sibling.
  2. I haven't started the recruitment season at INSEAD yet - it starts next April for me. But I've seen quite a bit so far. So if this post needs an update later, I will do so.
So, compared to the Indian Institutes, what are probably the principal differences?

  1. Recruitment is a long cycle - The process of finding a job can takes months, sometimes 4-6 months. The process involves substantial amount of career coaching, CV polishing, schmoozing, meeting with recruiters, follow-ups, attending cocktails and networking sessions, and then finally rounds of interviews. Jobs are not a "given", the idea is you learn all the skills needed to "earn" one.
  2. There is no "placement week" with "zero day placements" and everyone getting jobs in 2 days - There is a recruitment season which lasts 2-4 months, but nothing stops someone from looking for jobs much earlier.
  3. A lot of graduates get jobs outside career services / campus placements - A pretty high percentage - often as high as 30% (could be more depending on the year, school etc.) get jobs outside placements. They do so for variety of reasons - but the most important one is that search for the right job in a company of interest. Getting jobs like this is again a long process that involves lot of research, networking and persistence.
  4. Astronomical salaries are usually outliers - Yes, someone from Columbia this year got half a million. Many from INSEAD do get high salaries. But keep in mind that these are statistical "outliers." They do not represent typical salaries. When I read many reports on IIM/ISB I read about many "1 crore" salaries which translates to over 250,000$ base salary for associate or 3rd year analyst positions. I might be wrong, but such salaries from banks may be specially given to IIM / ISB students because I don't think any of the international schools get such salaries on a regular basis. I don't know. But the typical average in most of the top schools is around 110,000 USD.
  5. You are often pitted against those from other top schools - There are many interesting jobs and positions often open only to a select set of schools. What that means is you are not competing for it with just your class mates, but also with those from the other top schools - you compete on a whole new level. Without mentioning names of companies, I can tell you there are specific roles that companies open only to the typical FT top 10. The flip side is you are competing with all of them. Most of the companies recruiting are high profile and have access to the best talent around the world, so they're not standing in a queue to recruit you.
  6. Job placement is a whole lot about specific roles and fit - A lot of placement is for specific roles and positions. This makes fit very important. There is very little of "we'll come in a bus, pick a bunch of grads, and then put them anywhere in the organization." I can say that this is a critical difference between lot of international blue chips that come on campus vs. Indian company style recruitment (of which I can speak of with considerable experience).
  7. Placement is truly global - jobs are offered around the world, and often in very interesting management rotations that take you to multiple countries.
Does it mean that it's a hopeless case to get a job? Most of them get great jobs in interesting companies and with pretty good salaries. But you need to work really hard to get them. In the process, you become a whole lot polished as a person. And this is a reason why some schools don't really worry you with grades (INSEAD doesn't) so you can focus on all the other critical skills you should be polishing as an MBA, and it's not all about theory and books.
updated note: needless to mention, these skills should come to aid later in life when you are job searching on your own as well.

At some point later I might post some interesting jobs that get offered. If you have a correction suggestion to make, please send in a comment and I will make necessary changes. I hope I answered a few questions and cleared some doubts about how recruitment typically works. This is not just for INSEAD, as I said, it holds for many other international schools as well.

update:Turns out this post needed more follow-ups, here is an update post covering salary ranges, base salaries and other such matters

update: Here is a post on Consulting recruitment at INSEAD and for those who think about GMAT Relevance in interviews, here is my post on Relevance of GMAT Score in Consulting recruitment

October 29, 2007

In memoriam

Of a dearest friend.
A wonderful human being.
A fellow participant in dreams, hopes and fears.

Will always be missed. Forever.

October 14, 2007

Imperfect combinations

When you combine a regular flu / cold and a late night party with strong long island tea (it's not tea, I assure you!), what you end up with is a miserable next day. As other fellow bloggers have mentioned, it's getting pretty stressful with exam preparation - they loom right ahead, next week.
No matter who says 'grades don't matter' and what not, when you see interim test results where the average score out of 25 was 22 for a batch size of 150 (Singapore) you know that you better hunker down and get to work and avoid being the last dud in the class. The Z-score grading is evil in the sense you could get 80% on your subject and still be a *failure*
That's the thing about INSEAD - things move at warp speed, you're settling down, getting to know others, and you're drowned in events, parties, case studies, company presentations and before you catch your breath to study, the exams are here. P2 promises to be harder -  10 less days. I also put in my preference for bidding - I plan to be in Fonty P4/P5. As expected, there was a huge rush for Fonty people to come to Singapore in P3 to avoid winter...tough luck many got wait listed due to the rush - Singapore is becoming very popular now :) and a large number do the switch of campus.
I'm looking forward to the little break after P1 (4 days) and then we hit P2 - I also plan to travel a  bit in P2 (cambodia, vietnam on list)
(my next post is something I've been asked to address quite a few times by potential indian applicants - i.e. recruitment styles in international schools compared to the Indian biggies like ISB and IIM. It's quite different so I hope to get some facts across without the hype.)

September 30, 2007

Of learning/and my influential blog readers!

before I get to that, I stumbled upon this new INSEAD blog. - welcome, flyingalong!
So, what is it about learning and keeping an open mind? At INSEAD we meet people with a range of experience and from diverse functional backgrounds. We have engineers, investment bankers, commercial bankers, lawyers, consultants, reporters, sales managers, marketers, vice presidents, founders - name it. And then we have people from "every which" company - whether it is the usual suspects McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Roland Berger and then a multitude of other companies - Deutsche bank, Barclays, UN, Amex, Cisco, Total, Shell, Booz allen, Dell...and so on. The beauty of the mix is regardless of one's own experience, it is useful to hear other points of view. And then we have all these classes - Market pricing strategies, corporate finance, accounting, organizational behavior - subjects many of us are studying for the first time.
To me, this is excellent. You could be cynical and be critical of everyone and hate all your subjects or you could absorb the immersion constantly asking yourself "how will this help me next time." I chose to "unlearn" many things I did in my experience and understand how to do things better, how to manage people better, understand several new business concepts. When I look back at my experience, I can already spot areas where I might have done better with the tools I am equipping myself. Ultimately, it is about what we want to take out of a program - a closed mind is not one of them.
I am also researching my careers, and noted that there are people from my "target companies" who visit my blog. My dear readers, I may seek you for information and help sometime in getting to know your organizations better :)
In other news, I have also discovered, much to my consternation, that several wines and vodkas do nothing to me. I am not even a drinker - in fact, I barely touch alcohol except in some parties, but damn! And singapore is expensive - you don't want to get too happy during 'non-happy' hours or you'll leave with an unhappy wallet. It's so expensive it's almost criminal.
We've been having a bunch of activities - to name a few
* Australia/Korea/Japan week - loads of fun, BBQ, clubbing
* Deadlines for several banks - made many people run around
* Informal bar hopping/dinner events
* and huge loads to study
the coming week is very hectic and we have an interesting online game to be played between Fonty, Singapore and Wharton. Whartonies, here we come! The game lasts a week - and promises to be interesting. Provided we survive through all the activities and slogging as we get closer to the first exams. It's crazy, a month is over and it just whizzed by!

September 17, 2007

X60 tablet update/Learning/3 of 2/subjects

When you join INSEAD, they say that you can do 2 of the 3 things - Network, party or study. Very true. The subjects have caught pace and it's becoming really difficult to do all three and most people are beginning to prioritize. You ask yourself the question "is this relevant? is this valuable? should I do this?" for everything and then decide. There are tons of things you can do here, and it becomes all the more important to decide what your time is worth.

Having said that, I'm actually enjoying the subjects - for the first time, I feel smarter when I read FT or WSJ. Some of the terms make sense. I actually feel like I'm learning something. We're covering broad microeconomic theories, use of statistics, fundamentals of corporate finance, organizational behavior and accounting. Everything is new to me and it feels to good to learn all that. The teaching started slow but is now really fast paced and it's critical everyone reads for the next day and does all assignments, or it's really hard to catch up. The professors are great - no surprises there.

INSEAD conducts huge number of exec education programs - these are also excellent sources for us to network with senior executives from influential organizations - Shell, Nokia and what not. We are given the opportunity to set up meetings with them, and I think it's a fantastic chance to learn details of organizations we are interested in. We also soon have a INSEAD alumni gathering which is attended by some real heavyweights.

In other news, I had written about my use of my tablet. I can tell you now officially that it works really well. I use it for all my study note-taking, solving exercises and it works like a charm. Here is a screenshot.

September 06, 2007

A day in the life of an INSEADer

Is a picture worth a thousand words?

INSEAD classes are formed into groups. Each group is of 5 people, and everyone in that group is from a different country, and often a different function. This is intentional. My group is great, so far we're getting along very well.

Like they say, it's all about networking. You get to talk to company representatives post presentation. It works well sometimes, and sometimes it doesn't. We've only started.

Ah, the parties! So many parties and so many bars...and so little time.And in the middle of all this, we have to study, do coursework, do homework, join clubs (lots of activity clubs), read mails, talk to loved ones, friends, attend presentations, network with classmates.

Hey, who said INSEAD was easy?

August 29, 2007

Busy day @ INSEAD - short note

Quite a bit to blog on 2 great (and interesting) days at INSEAD. I have a busy day tomorrow and need to sleep, so look to some larger update in the next 2-3 days.

A small glimpse -

  1. Great welcome speeches by deans
  2. Very interesting day with clubs and ensuing confusion (and an elevator pitch opportunity, pretty nifty and I got laughed at)
  3. Welcome gift and party from Bain next week, welcome gift and letter from McKinsey, a welcome presentation by AT Kearney next week.
  4. Diverse groups and friends - you really need to be here to understand what it means.
I also have a few mails that I need to answer, sent from "blog acquaintainces", I ask for your patience while I respond. It might take a couple of days.

More soon.

August 25, 2007

INSEAD, Singapore. Here I come!

It's been 5 days since I arrived in Singapore and settled to my apartment. The first impressions of the place and the campus has been very positive, and the interactions with many INSEAD-mates has been great. Things are looking up for the year to come.

Singapore is super-efficient and beautiful. The ease at which we got our mobile, Internet, apartment papers was testament to how Singapore works. You could just get all comfortable here and go nowhere.

Turns out I got me a great set of flat-mates too. One of them's done more in his relatively younger career (compared to mine!) than I did since I was born ;) The other too works for a large Brazilian retailer and focuses on strategy. Let me put it this way - I'm the dumb geek. We seem to be getting along very well so far and hope to keep it that way. I thought I could break the will of one of the guys by making him fail at something -- i.e. cooking some egg curry. But damn, he did that well too. Now I'm left eating my words (and the egg curry)

Over the days, we've met a diverse bunch of INSEADers. Consultants, bankers, engineers, it! And we've only met a small group so far. This is what makes it pretty amazing - just the ability to learn from such a varied set. My batch has people from 69 countries - I think. For someone like me, who had most of his career in the technology industry, this is a breath of fresh air so to speak.

Our apartment is pretty much a luxury condo. A lot of INSEADers stay here too - it's expensive (Singapore rents have gone up in the last 2 years and it's crazy) but a great place. Gym, Jacuzzi, three pools, in style for students! For new batches, my word of caution is to look for housing early. It is expensive, the agents are not always reliable and can up the rent based on the panic in your voice. You are also better off staying close to the institute and with others - that way you enjoy the experience more.

The location couldn't be better - 10 minutes (or less) walk to INSEAD. Affordable eateries close by, cabs are very reasonable especially when you share, the metro-train stations close by - convenient to do anything. The INSEAD campus is compact, and it is dwarfed by a mammoth - behemoth construction beside it called 'fusionopolis' which will eventually house aparments, multiplexes, malls and a new metro station. The INSEAD class of 2010 or 2011 should have a fantastic time. Once you get into INSEAD, it's very nice. Spacious, clean and very pleasant inside. I am yet to see inside the classes - we've so far seen the entrance, cafe etc and they're sweeeeet.

Is it all sunny? No downsides? Well there are a few little ones

  • Apartment rent is rather unreasonable and is the biggest expense. It hasn't been easy for people to get the place of their choice in a reasonable budget. Adding to the misery is the unwillingness of some landlords to give apartments to students, and difficulties getting shorter term contracts. INSEAD doesn't make or break the local rental market so there's really no bargaining power.
  • Be prepared to walk with an umbrella - it rainy in a jiffy and rains hard.
  • Pre-paid mobile isn't all that cheap. Post-paid phones require contracts.
No place is perfect. But so far - it's been great and I'm looking forward to orientation/start on Monday. I got myself a dapper suit -- wooohooo -- and hope to look all official during the dean's address.

August 08, 2007

After a long break!

I've been out of action for a long time. Returned to India to bid good bye to my job and started making preparations for leaving to Singapore.
Recently, my fellow blogger DTLF too wondered where I was - "wake up!" she/he said! So I'm waking up..sort of. Well, where I am right now, free-riding in my dad's house, we don't have broadband and dial-up is bloody slow. That, along with a lot of running around tying several loose ends, has kept me away from the blog. But I will be back soon once in Singapore from Aug 21st.
There were a few interesting things though - apart from being amazed at the incredible rate of change in my city after coming back with a gap of 3 years. So I was trying to get myself a really small education loan just to bridge the initial month or two until I could some of my money out of fixed deposits etc. Not that I desparately need it, but I figured I would not touch all m life savings and instead use a little loan. The Indian banks certainly operate interestingly (I've never taken any kind of loan, so this was kinda new to me). Here's the gist of it
a) They won't give me a loan, but only to my dad! So here I am, well employed for many years, far wealthier (relative terms, don't start imaginin' me as a tycoon on a yacht) than my dad, and I can't get a 10,000$ loan! Maybe they will even expect me to walk into the bank holding my dad's pinky finger.
b) Tons of paperwork, close to 14% interest, and they want me to pledge a property as collateral. Riiight..I should pledge property worth several times the loan.
c) Official-1 says one story, official-2 says another, and one of them categorically told me "We don't fund correspondence courses!" hmm...I now have to suffer the belittlement of INSEAD being turned into a third rate correspondence course! I never said that to him, but something about me on the phone must have sounded like I was super dumb. Duhhhhhhhh.
So I finally gave up on that. Perhaps I will have to beg a friend or two of mine in US to sign me up for a IEFC loan. Let's see.
In other news, I also took the career leader test. My experience was a better than DTLF (who was mighty pissed...pissed is an understatement really). I answered the questions quickly and went with my gut feel. I have to say that the results were pretty accurate about how I feel/want to do barring a point or two. Anyway I'm not too worked up about it - I want to go with an open mind. Though at this point I am reasonably clear I will not bother about getting into finance/banking. Not too much fun sitting with someone 7 years younger to me and getting my ass kicked ;)
My last day at work was nice. It was great to meet many in my team, who reported into me but who I never saw. What suprised me was the warmth I received, and it was a nice send-off after meeting several senior managers/CEO. Feels good to walk out with a good relation.
We also had a good alumni + new admits reunion at my town. I was impressed with the alumni, all doing well, and I have a great set of class mates. It was a pleasant harbinger of things to come. If I get time, I'll write more about it. Couple of us have already met several times, and so that tells you that the vibes are good.
Housing in singapore has been a b*tch. Rentals are over the roof, and it took a lot of running around (so to speak..though it was all on email/phone) before we finally nailed a place in Heritage, which looks pretty cool and very close to INSEAD. I wanted to be close to the school so it's easy to do a lot of activities and might as well have a great time in the limited period.
So that's about it for now. More soon when I have time, or once I reach INSEAD!

June 24, 2007

funny - dean's list video

heheh - pretty funny..
Given that there are many bankers, consultants, VPs, economists and what not in my class, a poor sod engineer like me can abandon all ye hopes of becoming a dean's lister... ;)

what an awful, awful day yesterday

The events went something like this (I had to visit New York for some consulate related work - they give out the necessary papers only between 4:15 and 5:15 PM)
1:20 PM - reached New Haven railway station, took at ticket for the 1:57 train to grand central new york
1:41 PM - took a snack a dunkin donuts, checked the time on my cell phone
1:50 - headed to track to catch the train
1:52 - realized that my cell phone was no longer on  my waist clip - panic
1:52-1:54 - ran back tracing my steps, cell nowhere to be found
1:55 - mentally calculated cost of missing the trip vs. losing the phone. Got the phone as a refurb and was only 50$, so it was Ok. Sat in the train
2:00 - train still in station..strange..then someone announces 'this train isnt the grand central train, please exit'
2:02 - realized the GC train was cancelled, and next one at 2:33 - oops, too close for comfort to reach NYC
2:33 - train leaves to GC
4:30 - arrived at GC New York
4:45 - still standing in the damned taxi line - no frikkin taxis!!
4:50 - finally got a taxi, now navigating through horrendous peak hour manhattan traffic
5:05 - taxi somewhere close to consulate, but stuck in traffic. I jumped out of the cab and decided to sprint
5:10 - reached consulate,gasping, huge damned line outside the consulate! WTF?!!!!!
5:11 - some lady says 'there is no line for XYZ go in!' - moronic consulate officials hadn't bothered to inform
5:12 - got in, only a few people ahead
5:16 - got what I wanted...what a damned relief after a crappy day
6:15 - still waiting for a darned cab, leg hurting, hungry, tired, pissed
9:30 - home. crashed. have a lot of 'moving' work to take care of this week because we're leaving next week...
The phone's gone. Sad. It was a nice Windows mobile phone I got really cheap...

June 20, 2007

Why not to do startups..and future topics

I did not say it, he did. Some time ago I made a post on Why MBA, do Business. For anyone drawing conclusions on the post that 'going on your own is bad' -- I suggest you actually read the article. 
Trolling through different forums and posts, I realized that there are a few things I want to write about
a) The MBA 'sense of entitlement' and the engineers' 'frog in the pond' mentality
b) Twisting statistics - I want to comment on certain statistics that are quoted over and over again with little regard to the underlying truth
c) My take on my uncertainties post MBA
d) Some cartoons! Damn - my Tablet is going waste!
Right now I'm tired - have a lot of work to do at home as I plan to leave the US.

June 14, 2007

Ah..the fear of grades

I wasn't exactly the class topper during engineering (though I must say I did rather well in my pre-engineering academics). There were other diversions that kept me busy :D All this talk of INSEAD being intense..and me being out of school so long... damn..I wish I don't flunk my classes!

The one good thing is I don't need to show my frikkin' report card to nobody, I mean nobody! Hah!

I got my Microsoft OneNote 2007 - but I remembered that my X60 does not have a CD/DVD drive. So the experience has to wait a little.

June 09, 2007

Updated:Lenovo X60 Tablet PC w/ Windows Vista Review Part I

update 1: Remember that Lenovo X60 comes with different screens - the typical screen is SXGA+ which gives high resolution of 1600x1400 (for some the font would look too small, but gives lot of screen space). The issue with these screens is that they're not clear to view from any angle, and they are hard to use in sun light. You could alternatively choose a XGA+ multi-touch/multi-view which would let you use your fingers on the screen and tap it, and also make it easy to view from any angle and in sun light. I chose SXGA+.

update 2: Why not X61 instead of X60? Well, apart from the fact that it's a couple of hundred $$$ extra, the reviews I read and heard don't place the Santa Rosa processor much better than my current Core 2 Duo. In the absence of a compelling reason, I'd rather use those dollars elsewhere

update 3: I find the whole ability of lazing on my couch and just tapping on the screen so much easier. Tablet usage is definitely better than tapping on keyboards for everything.

Recently I blogged about my list of gadgets and tools for school. I got my Lenovo X60 Tablet PC with Windows Vista about a week ago. Screenshots are posted below as well. I purchased it directly from Lenovo during the Memorial day weekend sale and got some additional % off thanks to Visa card deal, and this was pointed to me by fellow INSEAD blogger Byoost.

Shopping Experience

The online shopping on Lenovo is good, though some of their 'help' tips during customization are pretty useless. But the check-out was quick, and my shipping date was supposed to be around 1st week of June. Ultimately they actually shipped a lot faster - within 3 days of buying, instead of the expected 1-2 weeks.

First impressions

Lenovo (IBM...) notebooks have that solid, black polish look to them. Very business like and I prefer it that way. Thank god I did not have to open the box to see a frilly laced pink colored notebook. The feel is sturdy, the keyboard is pretty solid, and there are many functional shortcut keys available.

The battery was part charged when I opened the box, and I could get started right away. The initial setup takes some time and multiple re-boots as the disk image gets loaded and configured (Windows Vista Business). Then Vista walked me through creating users, fingerprint recognition (cool) and some customization and then I finally connected via Wi-fi to Internet and I was on my way.

Experiencing the Tablet

The monitor swivels to the opposite direction and folds over to become the tablet. Though the monitor is only 12.1", it actually feels surprisingly 'large' and clear (SXGA+ high res screen) when you use it like a notebook.

When you use it like a Tablet with the Wacom pen, a small 'input panel' appears by the side of the screen. You use this to input text to any area that requires text. I was surprised by how good the handwriting recognition was, right off the bat - I was able to write quite a bit and it got most of it right. The tactile feel of the pen on the screen feels quite solid - it doesn't feel like you're sliding the pen on glass, there is a certain amount of 'feedback' so it feels like you're writing on a soft paper. Browsing around also works well (as long as you aren't typing way too much and have most of what you need configured in RSS feeders - I use Google Reader and in your bookmarks).

I like to doodle once a while, and this makes it a whole lot simpler. By using Paint.NET (which is a really good free drawing program) I can now draw what I want, and it works really well. Once I get Microsoft OneNote 2007, I will be writing the part II of this review to cover how it feels to take freehand notes (which is one of the prime reasons for getting this notebook).

Landscape/Portrait mode

One very cool feature is that the tablet has an inbuilt gyroscope - so let's say you're working in portrait mode and you turn your tablet to landscape orientation - the device automatically recognizes that you switched orientation and re-orients screen display.

There is also a button below the screen that lets you switch orientation. A dedicated button for 'Thinkvantage' (Lenovo support suite) is available to access a lot of system update/maintenance tasks.

Getting Extra RAM
Typically, you get notebooks with 1 GB RAM, sometimes configured internally as 2 512MB chips. This is a dirty trick that can waste your money - a lot of notebooks have 2 memory slots. So let's say you get it by default 2 x 512 MB = 1 GB. You want 2 GB, then you have to throw both current chips away and get 2 x 1 GB. When you customize, make sure you choose the option of 1 1-GB memory chip so you have 1 slot empty for the other GB.

I chose 1 GB default config. I did not add another GB on Lenovo site because they really rip you off, almost 100+ $ for an additional GB. Instead, just go here and order a cheaper 1 GB SO-DIMM DDR2 memory yourself, and install it. The booklet that comes with Lenovo tells you how to install extra RAM. It's really easy to do so don't need to run crying like a little girl ;) You'll get the new RAM at less than 50% of what Lenovo tries to rip you off with.

I also got myself a Tablet Sleeve so I can carry it around like a notebook and use the screen without having to remove it from the sleeve. Nice.

A few other observations/things you should know
  • I ordered it with Bluetooth added because I could then use it to sync with my phone. Don't want to add more external peripherals.
  • Keep in mind the tablet does not come with inbuilt optical reader, you need to order it separately and it can be expensive. I've chosen to just get a cheap external burner as I don't need to use it that much.
  • Why Vista? well, I'm bored with XP. I did not want a Mac (I actually own a MacBook Pro which I'm selling now). And I kind of like Vista - Aero interface looks good and it's easy to use.
  • I downloaded Google Pack so I get some of my more often used programs.

For now, I'm happy with the purchase, but I'll have a much better perspective on the whole Tablet usage thing once I get Microsoft OneNote 2007 which is supposed to be really good. It's on the way from Amazon and should be here soon. I'll write about OneNote and its usage on the Tablet sometime next week. Until then, uh, nothing.

June 07, 2007

Another career report analysis / Google stand on US immigration

I also discovered that fellow blogger Million Dollar Spatula has a consulting-focused analysis of the latest INSEAD career report . Perhaps one of advantages of going to INSEAD is a relatively large alumni - with 900 grads out every year, and in every major corner on the world, it is an advantage for those who know how to leverage on it.
For those pondering the woes of work permits to US, here is a post on Google official blog - turns out 70 potential Googlers couldn't get in because they lost out on the H1 lottery. 
I got my Lenovo X60 tablet -- a review is due soon. Love the machine.

June 05, 2007

INSEAD Career Report 2006 / Stanford and Wharton comparison

INSEAD released its 2006 career report. For those considering INSEAD as a potential school, or an alternative to top US schools due to visa, immigration issues, this is an interesting document to study. This was a report I was looking forward to as well (as a future student). For my reader's benefit, I've put in comparisons (where possible) to Stanford GSB and Wharton. I have also included a link for the London Business School (LBS) 2006 report.

What I like about this report (and the preceding one for 2005) is the level of detail it provides. You can see the distributions by segment, geography, minimum, maximum salaries, geographical spread - information that really helps make a fair assessment (unlike how media hypes up selected salaries of some ..ahem.. Indian schools..) of what you are in for when you graduate.

Any school should provide career statistics this way. A fair, detailed comprehensive view of job reports. I'm sure many other big schools do too (I haven't seen many this detailed though). Some interesting stats for those who are too lazy to read the report. The numbers in maroon-bracket-italics are for Stanford GSB and those in Blue are for Wharton.

  1. 92% finding jobs within 3 months, and Graduates working in 50 countries in over 300 companies - talk of diversity. 408 companies recruited.(97% within 3 months, 13% outside the US - but it does not make much sense to check international % of US schools anyway) (94%)
  2. Almost an even split between Finance (29% ), Consulting (35%) and Industry (36%). Those interested in Consulting will see that INSEAD continues to be very strong (Finance 36%, Consulting 24%, others 40%) (Finance 22%, Consulting 32%, others 45%)
  3. 40% of the class changed sector, geography and function all at once. UK continues to be the strongest attraction for non-Europeans. Nearly 80% changed function (65%)
  4. Overall average salary was ~107,000$ and sign-on bonus of 20,000$ (110,000$, 20,000$. BTW Harvard is also 110,000$ for 2006.) (100,000$, 20,000$ though of all three Wharton has the highest salaries on the upper end). Note that I've excluded medians that include other discretionary salaries.
  5. Of interest to Indians - even though there is a buoyant economy back home, only 15 of the over 100 Indians actually returned home. The range of salaries of the 15 is from 7L to 75L with a median of nearly 30L. Among Indian companies I saw only Thoughtworks India, Infosys and Infosys Consulting..not sure of which other company recruited.
  6. Of interest to those who want Consulting as a career - McKinsey selected 48, Bain 30, BCG 27, Booz Allen 14 (all excluding those who were sponsored by these companies).(no information available) (53, 32, 28, 15 - but Wharton has not reported how many of these numbers are actually sponsored by their companies) The new market favorite Google recruited 3 from INSEAD and 5 from Wharton. Man, they're tough.
  7. The report provides a lot of detail on Geographic spread, how different nationalities switched their country of work, salaries by function, medians and ranges - all interesting details.

So what does this tell us? INSEAD career placement is roughly the same as other top schools - with one exception - the diversity of job locations is much higher. And INSEAD is very strong in Consulting. LBS numbers are close to INSEAD, and does lend credence to the notion that INSEAD is stronger in consulting whereas LBS in Finance. But you have to keep in mind that while this notion may come about when looking at %, when you look at absolute numbers they're probably similar (I did not get into that detail).

The fact is that with an annual graduation number of nearly 900, and salary reported is spread across 50 countries with widely ranging compensation disparaties, maintaining such averages is pretty hard. In comparison, Stanford and LBS, for e.g. had about 1/3 the number per year. Wharton is more comparable with nearly 800. Harvard would be as well.

For your additional research

  1. INSEAD 2006 Career Report
  2. Stanford 2006 Career Report
  3. Wharton 2006 Career Report
  4. Harvard 2006 Career Report
  5. London Business School LBS 2006 Career Report

Hope that helps!

If I got any of the numbers wrong, please let me know and I will be happy to correct it.

June 02, 2007

older applicants / candidates for MBA / business schools

(PS - I drew the cartoon above with my new Lenovo X60 Tablet PC which kicks @ss, a review is coming soon!)

This post is about older MBA applicants. Those who are over 30, have over 9-12 years of experience, and are wondering about applying to business schools.

Here are my five short thoughts for such applicants

1. Apply to schools which have higher average age intake - European schools like INSEAD, IMD are more welcoming. Harvard, Stanford are known to favor younger applicants. Columbia, Chicago and Wharton seem to be more accepting. Going to class and sitting with 95% others who are 8 years younger than you isn't exactly a utopian setting. It's important to have many who are within the 3-4 year range age as your own.

2. Don't assume experience will offset a poor GMAT - As an older applicant, you need to demonstrate mental agility and also contribute to the top school's higher average GMATs. A lower GMAT will hurt chances. A strong GMAT is one way to show you are as sure footed as the diaper-wearin'-2-year-experienced baby next to you ;)

3. The more experience you have, the greater is the expectation of leadership roles in your career. People with technical backgrounds and little vertical growth are at a disadvantage. If you are contemplating on applying to MBA in a few years, then it is time for you to start looking at getting leadership positions. My assessment is that when you have 1-4 years of experience, the adcoms look at potential. If you have 4 to 6/8, then signs of emerging leadership. Beyond 6-8 then you must be a proven leader.

4. In your applications, focus on showing strong business/managerial track record. Use numbers where possible. Paint a picture of business achievement. I don't think the ad-coms really care if you are an expert in multi-processor/multi-threaded architecture and can code assembly language while looking at Jessica Alba with one eye and Carmen Electra with the other. Cut the technical crap and save it for Slashdot.

5. Have the humility to accept that the chocolate-chewin'-4-year-experience kid next to you will probably know a few things far better than you do.

'Why MBA at this stage' is a question that might be asked. Interestingly, both my interviewers never asked that. But if you are, then be prepared.

Good luck!

May 30, 2007

The startup that never was.../and a future of promise

Some time ago, I posted about 'Why MBA, Do business'. Several years ago, my friends and I hatched an idea to 'do something on our own'. The 'dot crash' was looming but hadn't happened yet, and it seemed like a cool thing to have our own company. We all were engineers from good institutes and good company pedigree (Motorola, CISCO, IBM...)

It never happened, and in hindsight, and here's why. It's sort of easy for many to look at these points and say 'boy, you were stupid', and that's why it's called hindsight. You don't see it when you're in the middle of it.

1. Too many cooks - Look around. Most successful ventures have one or two founder(s). Not four. Not five. You might have a great team of 5 but often there is/are one or two at the top. A mob is not exactly the right one to take cohesive decisions. We teamed as five friends! The rationale was we were bringing in different skills - and the problem was the same as putting five managers in a room - not much is going to get done. But get one effective manager and five top notch engineers/other team members and a lot will get done. We ended as five individuals with their own opinions, time pressures and priorities. The inherent understanding was that we were all partners, and this pretty much killed quick decision making.

2. True passion is not part time - For various reasons, we did not want to quit our day jobs. I believe that if you want to do it right, you have to do it full time. Same with MBA. Same with your own venture. Part time makes it extremely hard to manage - and in our case, with 'too many cooks', it became close to impossible to make tangible progress each week.

3. "Buying land without knowing what to build" - It doesn't make a lot of sense buy an expensive tract of land in the middle of a city and then wonder whether you want to build a mall, parking lot, apartment or a public toilet. You make investments with a purpose. We got gung-ho about doing our own thing, and then starting thinking of what we really should be doing. Wrong. I believe you need a purpose. You are either solving someone's problem, or you have an idea you are convinced (and are passionate) that it will work. The trouble with not having a strong purpose to start with is you spend hours debating what can even be done, without getting anywhere. The greatest reason is that no one had a deep, convincing argument that one specific idea was worth pursuing. When debates result in no particular answer, the enthusiasm dies.

4. No investment, not 'invested' - If you are putting your money, or are working on someone else's money (assuming you have a concscience), then you are invested in the idea. If you want to work cheap, put no money and hope something works - you are not invested in it. All of us wanted to get things done cheap (hey, barrier of entry is low, so let's try it really low!) and that meant no one had that overriding desire to get things done.

Self venture is hard. I have friends who have gone that road. I've participated in such discussions. And I've worked for a company as an early employee and watch it grow from less than 100 to 5000. It's a lot of work. One of my interests post INSEAD is to seek such entrepreneurial opportunities through venture funding and see if I can get a like minded classmate. But this time it will not be part-time - if I were to get into it, it's all the way. Otherwise I won't at all. If nothing, INSEAD has many alum who've done it their way, I would love to talk to them and hear from them.

(Seth Godin wrote some entry about how MBA is probably useless and all the super talented people should instead do MBA from his 'business school' - which is learn by venturing. If we were to draw an analogy, then 90% of grads from his school would have no jobs after graduating and the other 10% would be several times richer than any MBA grad. But in any case I still don't get the 'this or that' approach.)

May 27, 2007

Class of 2008 and 24 at INSEAD

The following takes place between 7:00 PM and 8 PM
(somewhere in the forests of Fontainebleu)

necro: "D.T.L.F can you download Frank Brown's latest whereabouts to my PDA and also the schematics of his dinner restaurant along with names of the VP's from Google who are with him"

DTLF: "But..necro..that isn't right, you're not allowed to tag behind him..."

me: "Dammit DTLF, don't let Antonio know and I won't do anything embarassing, I promise! I give you my word!"

DTLF: "Bharath, can you pull up our satellite feed and send necro the schematics and Frank's location?"

Bharath: "Why does necro want to know where Frank Brown is?"

DTLF: "Don't ask me questions Bharath, I trust necro more than I trust Wolfowitz! Just do it!"

Bharath: (Yahoo whiz an' all but hey the computers are crappy slow -- the images and text scroll on the screen all the time...) "OK here they are, I got the list of his guests for the evening, it includes several senior VPs from McKinsey!"

DTLF: "necro...we have what you need. Now go to the garden hose near where you are and plug in your PDA and we'll download the data for you!"

necro runs to the garden and plugs his PDA to the rubber pipe and downloads all the data.


DTLF: "necro, thermal imaging shows that there are 7 apart from the dean, and they are near the center tables. Our satellite is also picking up heat from their business cards which are all placed on the table..."

necro: "copy that! I'm moving in...ask Bharath to download some pepper into my PDA!"

DTLF: "copy that! Bharath - send some pepper to necro's PDA now!"

necro sneaks to a car parked nearby and forces the passenger to listen to his life story....after the passenger passes out of boredom, necro plugs the PDA to the audio jack and downloads pepper. He then collects the pepper pouring out of the antenna slot.

necro :"I'm ready to make the move, ask strawberrytints and byoost to take up the perimeter and no one move until I say!"

DTLF "roger that!"


(next episode on what happens, next time!)

all I know is I want Jack Bauer's PDA - it does amazing things.

May 23, 2007

Who is Necromonger?

so here's a little about myself.. (each text refers to the image below it)

I was born here. A little village away from everything else.

Almost all my childhood vacations were spent here, in my father's ancestral home. My cousins and I ran amok the fields, mountains and streams. It was mischief unlimited inc.

Most of my schooling was here (prior to high school and engineering)

And then I did my engineering here, great 4 years, lots of ups and downs, and friendships that have lasted ever since.

Somewhere along the way, and after that, I've lived in these places

and now, I'm headed here...

and then perhaps here,

or perhaps here?

and after ... I don't know where I will be, but I first want to visit this,

and later, after paying all my school fees, making big bucks, I want to own this island and build my mansion there and chill...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

So, there you have it. All about me.

Minor update: June 2008! - so about an year ago, I wrote about who I was. time has passed, and it's now time to say where I am headed next. Check it here.