MBA Peregrinations

Charting the course of my travels through the MBA experience.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Communism to Social Democracy & Economic Repurcussions of the EU

These were the main topics discussed during the speech by Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus yesterday. He described how the surge of political activism came about quickly once communism fell in Czechoslovakia, but that setting economic and monetary policy was an extremely difficult task in the transition. Maintaining calm during a period with currency devaluation and skyrocketing inflation was a significant challenge. Privatizing companies, educating consumers, and fostering entrepreneurship in a previously communist state took time and effort.

He also went on to vocalize his dissatisfaction with the EU and how it bought about severe economic limitations between its constituents and the rest of the world. While the recent trend of various economies has been liberalization and privatization, he believes that the EU has taken a step backward by supranationalizing and integrating the economies of the European countries.

Describing the U of C as Klaus' "intellectual home" (Klaus being a big fan of free markets and Milton Friedman), both Dean Snyder and Gary Becker echoed some of these thoughts. The place was teeming with secret service agents, and the classroom was packed, with other U of C students and Czech nationals in attendance. President Klaus' speech was a good one, but more of his passion and personality came through when the audience asked him questions about his experience. At one point, he got very excited when describing the short-term effects of the economic changes and grabbed a marker to draw an inflation curve on the white board... only at Chicago ;)

Sunday, April 23, 2006


is what I'm feeling after a weekend of partying. Last night was a particularly late one rife with liquid sustenance, hookahs, loud music, and general debauchery. Did I mention that it was the unofficial ending to Admit Weekend? ;) At Chicago GSB, we work hard and play hard.

Onto reading for classes and rehydration.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why I Chose Chicago GSB

Admit Weekend II is happening on Friday & Saturday, and given my involvement in DSAC, I'll be spending a lot of time interacting with admitted students. After hosting Vatsa last week and preparing for AWII, I was reminded of my decision process and a rather long message that I had sent to a fellow admit about a year ago. She was undecided, and asked me to articulate my reasons for choosing Chicago GSB. To give you a bit of background, at the time I wrote this, I was interested in consulting and perhaps remaining in the Healthcare industry. Here are excerpts from my response (in no particular order of preference):

- Strength in consulting: In 2004, 22% of GSB students went into consulting... GSB is on par with other top schools for consulting placements. If you haven't already done so, take a look at the employment statistics provided by the GSB and compare them to those of [other program].

- Strong emphasis on analytics/business fundamentals: The power of the GSB brand is that people assume that you have strong analytical skills. This is advantageous for a career in consulting and strategic management (what I'd like to do long term).

- Flexibility: I really appreciate having the ability to take classes and interact with 2nd year students. I believe that your network is strengthened not only by the same alma mater, but also having interacted with 2 years worth of graduates. The flexibility also means that you can take whichever classes you want to take, and not be held to a structured class curriculum. This is a positive and negative - you have to decide how much structure you want in the program. Having a structured class curriculum may not necessarily be a bad thing for those of us with a non-business background that wouldn't have the first clue about what to take. On the other hand, [you could be] taking courses in the structured class curriculum with hard-core finance majors who can wax poetic about black-scholes while you're still trying to figure out the basics on options...

The nice thing about flexibility is being able to take classes like "Law and Economics of Health and Health Care Markets" through Harris. Additionally, there is a certification that I am considering. I don't know how interested you are in the public policy side of healthcare, but take a look:

- Career services: I have heard that GSB Career Services, simply put, kicks ass. I don't know how they compare to [other program], so I would suggest contacting them and talking to them about your specfic goals. I've been in contact with Julie Morton (head of Career Services), and here is a bit of what she has sent to me re: healthcare and career services in general:

"with regard to healthcare: i think you can most certainly pursue a successful career from here into healthcare. we have strong relationships with many of the big hc firms -- i'm sure you've heard that karen katen (one of the frontrunners for pfizer's head...) is an alum; baxter; lilly; wyeth; glaxo -- we have recruiting relationships with all of them.

we also have strong relationships with firms that consult to the hc industry and also finance ppl who cover that industry.

more importantly, i think the gsb does a great job at getting students "armed" to own their job searches. sure, we have lots of leads and support, but you'll develop skills and tactics to realize your own search."

- Size/Location/Facilities: I went to a very large undergraduate school (30,000 undergrad & grad students strong), so I was perfectly alright with attending a graduate program with a smaller number of people. However, I didn't want something too small. While I think a smaller program definitely fosters a stronger sense of community, a larger alumni network helps more in the long term. Will you be able to build your own community among the 550 at GSB or feel more comfortable with the [number at the smaller program]? I also wanted to live in an urban environment with plenty of culture and a strong public transport system (tired of driving around the bay area), and so Chicago location appeals a great deal to me. Lastly, when I say "facilities", I mean the resources and not just the building itself. It is a nice, new building but that's not the point. I like the fact that only graduate students are in the Hyde Park Center. Undergraduates are fun and do infuse a certain amount of vivacity into a location, but if I'm paying so much bloody money for a graduate program, I'm going to be selfish and want a building/program/career services/computer labs/etc. dedicated to me...

Having nearly completed my first year, there are many other aspects that I've come to appreciate about Chicago GSB, but these reasons still hold true. And there are certain myths about the GSB that have been dispelled (we're not all finance majors or quant jocks, nor are we antisocial or inept at interacting with others). You'll notice that I removed the name of the other program from this post, and I didn't make any judgement calls about the other program being better or worse. I did this for several reasons. One, the references to the specific program don't add much value in the context of this post since the post isn't about a direct comparison. Two, I didn't apply to that program, so I had no basis for judgement call or comparison to begin with. And three, although the decision process is a comparison game, there are certain tradeoffs no matter where you go. In comparing top tier programs, the quality and reputation is so high that the other metrics you use are not as clear cut. A good example is the size of the program, and how different-sized programs make for different (but not necessarily good or bad) experiences. IMHO, it's also best as someone affiliated with a program to talk about the merits of the program rather than be concerned with others. I want an admit to come to Chicago GSB because of what the program can offer, rather than worry about where other programs may fall short.

Now that I've relived the past, I'm looking forward to the future and meeting the admits at AWII!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Making Amends

Spent the weekend (erm, actually, the last 4 days) not doing any reading or classwork. Time to make amends... after I procrastinate a bit further by writing this quick update.

Friday, I met up and hung out with visiting blogger Vatsa, who has a big decision to make. After answering his insightful questions about the GSB and life in Chicago, I got a bunch of guys to wrestle him to the ground in the WG and tattoo 'GSB' on his forehead - I figured it would make his decision easier. ;)

Spent Saturday sleepin' in and then loungin' around all day before heading to the Big Bhangra Blast. It was big, there was plenty of bhangra, and I did have a blast. My shoulders are sore.

Finally, the Japan trip article has been printed in ChiBus, so you can read all about it here. Oh, and there are a few pics under "The GSB Japan Trip" as well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Econ at the GSB

Its a good thing that I love HPC, because I spend so much bloody time here. Despite having class on 3 days, I usually end up on campus every day of the week. I suppose its inevitable with 4 classes, 3 study groups, official involvement in 3 student groups, unofficial involvement in a few more, LPFs, and those one-off activities that you just don't want to miss out on.

So as I had mentioned previously, I'm truly enjoying learning this quarter, and there is already a frontrunner for my fave class. I may be a geek for saying it, but I think economics is fantastic. I had minimal exposure to it in undergrad - yours truly was a techie, not a fuzzy (nor an itchy or scratchy) - but I'm currently taking my 3rd econ course and well on my way to a concentration in it. Definitely not something that I planned before getting here, but the courses are so interesting that the concentration is inevitable.

I can't wax poetic about everything here, but when it comes to econ, Chicago is solid. There are some heavy-hitters among the faculty and there's interesting stuff going on, but more importantly for me as someone with little background but a desire to learn, the professors are fantastic teachers. A good professor is key to enjoying any topic; its an added bonus when you have a stellar prof for a topic you love. I had to bid some serious points for my prof this quarter, but he's worth every single one. Any guy that makes me laugh at 8:30 am is golden.

In other news, Saturday night is the highly anticipated BBB - Big Bhangra Blast. Every year, SABG organizes this event, and its one of the biggest on the GSB campus. There is a sizable South Asian population at the GSB, and I expect the vast majority of that population to be present and hungry for some beats. I've also spoken to quite a few non South-Asian GSBers that are planning to attend. Though they're hungry for something else. Apparently the catered Indian food is a bigger draw for many of them, but I'm sure they'll change their minds when the music starts... ;)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Back to the grind... but I'm lovin' it.

Back from Japan, and it took about a week to recuperate from the jetlag. I was dependant on a strong cup of coffee at 3pm everyday to prevent falling over in class (needless to say, there wasn't much academic absorption the first week of classes). So the trip was great, met some new folks (GSBers and people in Japan) and reconnected with others.

The three words that pop into mind when I think of this trip - vending machines, karaoke, and shrines. These certainly don't do justice to the full experience, but they were quite ubiquitous during the trip.

Rather than launch into full detail, I'll wait until the article on the trip gets printed in the upcoming issue of ChiBus. Suffice it to say that I had some interesting experiences during my week... but no regrets. ;)

At the beginning of Week 3, and I'm loving school this quarter (erm, more so than ever) - taking 4 classes again (but without the added weight of recruiting) and enjoying learning (what a concept). And I'm actually making it out more often. I went to the gym for the first time in longer than I care to admit, and it felt fantastic (after the pain subsided). I'm also socializing (translation, hitting the pub) more often and hanging out blowin' time in the WG. Its also the last quarter to hang with the 2nd year students that, simply put, kick ass. Advice to incoming students - get to know 2nd years in addition to your fellow 1st years. I'm still tight with some 2nd years that I met during Admit Weekend, and they are fantastic (not to mention really helpful).

Today, I attended a talk by Jim Mullen, CEO of Biogen Idec. He gave a great synopsis on the economics of healthcare and valuation in the biotech industry. Last quarter, I missed way too many interesting talks because of my hectic schedule. And yet, the opportunity to attend these types of events are advantages that top-notch institutions afford. So I took advantage of it and am hoping to do so more often this quarter.

In other news, after a mild winter, spring has arrived in Chicago. Flowers are abloom and its supposed to get up to 21 C today! Not that I'm going to be outside to enjoy it since today is heavy on meetings, but its nice to know that the gloves and marshmallow coat can go to the back of the closet. As Duran Duran asks, can you taste the summer?

Before I sign out, I wanted to get a shout out to Clear Admit for the BoB nom. Imagine my surprise to find that people outside of 1 or 2 other GSB bloggers actually read my rants. Thanks guys!