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!