Oh Carolina!

My journey through Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Beginning…

The journey I started on that fateful Saturday morning in June 2006 when I left my wife and one year old daughter behind in Florida to begin ASW finally came to an end last Sunday with the graduation ceremony. The ceremony was a very memorable event for me with my daughter all over me in most of the photographs.. I had several friends and family fly in from all over the world to celebrate my final degree. (My wife still thinks I’ll return someday for a PhD... I think not) I had a lot of surprise attendants and feel very proud to be surrounded by loving friends and family members. I think I may have received the award for the loudest cheer when my name was called. What made it even more memorable is that my brother also graduated from Duke MBA the same weekend. You can imagine that it was all celebration galore for us the entire weekend. Since the ceremony was at night, I had a party during the day for my guests and took them to the school’s official reception after the big event.

For those that have followed the blog since my first post on April 1, 2006, I hope you have enjoyed reading through my fantastic voyage “through Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill”. I also hope I’ve been able to give you an idea of what a great school this is. I enjoyed my time here thoroughly, made new friends and I kid you not when I say this is the most valuable (and expensive) education I’ve ever received (..and I’ve spent a substantial part of my life in school).

While others choose to morph their B-School blogs into another topic, I’ve decided to treat this like any other formal project in the real world where there must be a beginning and a definite end. This officially marks the end of the blog. While I will no longer post on my new experiences in the real world, I will keep my email active and will be glad to answer questions from anyone considering Kenan-Flagler or any business school in general. I encourage international applicants with limited information about the intricacies of the US MBA especially to take advantage of this. I have every reason to be thankful for the B-School experience. I learned and experienced a lot, got the exact job I want, in the group and city I preferred. I made great friends across the spectrum and have become a better person in more than one way. The years ahead promise to be exciting and filled with challenges and I’m ready to take on the challenges of the real world. Maybe someday I’ll reference this blog in the media.

To my loyal readers, live life to the fullest, don’t be afraid of the unknown, and know what is best for YOU given your unique circumstances. Till we meet again in the blogosphere.

Forever yours,

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back from spring break

I just returned from a wonderful spring break to start the very last lap of B-School. I use the word wonderful because the break was a combination of a lot of play and learning experience. I decided to sign up for an exchange opportunity to Mexico that was very cost effective and fun-filled. I got together with some of my classmates going on the exchange and we decided to have a two night stop at Cancun. It was a very fun experience and I got to see even the most conservative of the bunch let loose. We spent most of the day either on the beach, checking out the Mexican cuisine or just shopping. Nights were spent checking out the night life and boy do those guys know how to party. There were a lot of undergraduate students from the US that were absolutely going crazy. Two nights was by no means enough but it got us started with the Mexican experience.

We proceeded to Mexico City for the exchange program tagged “Doing Business in Latin America” at Instituto Panamericano de Alta Direccion de Empresa (Herein referred to as IPADE). We were joined for the 4 day exchange by students from Darden Business School and IPAD in Peru. We were lodged at a very cool hotel in a nice part of town. Although Mexico was nothing as pretty of touristy as Cancun, it reminded me a lot of Lagos. I saw brands and models of vehicles such as Peugeot and the old line VW bug that I have not seen in a long time. The buildings have tall gates and barbed wires with water tanks sitting atop them. Driving was slightly crazy and it was perfectly ok to haggle prices on any item to be purchased. Simply put I felt at home. I also found that the Latino culture and challenges to conducting business were similar to that of Africa in many respects. The business culture is more relaxed and as one of our speakers mentioned business and pleasure in Latin America is one and the same. We attended classes with students at the host school. Some classes were in English while others were in Spanish. We were handed headsets to listen to interpreters who did a fantastic job of keeping up with the speakers’ pace. I felt like one of those guys you see on TV at those United Nations conferences.

We worked on a lot of cases highlighting the unique challenges of either trying to take a global brand to Latin America or attempting to globalize successful Mexican businesses. Ok enough about work already. We visited a few companies and the best visit of all was the trip to Bacardi. Yes Bacardi. After the obligatory PowerPoint presentations and factory tour, the company threw open their bar. Needless to say, we all got happy! They provided lunch before we hopped on the bus to attend a soccer game between a Mexican club and a Peruvian side.

One of the things I enjoyed while in Mexico was that soccer was ALWAYS on TV. Our group had excellent seats at the stadium right behind the goalkeeper. There was a little drama while getting admitted into the stadium with our counterparts from Peru. The police escorted them to a special section of the stadium seeing that they’ll be supporting the visiting team. After the game, they were again escorted back to the bus and encouraged to leave ASAP. It was hilarious.

I will strongly recommend this or similar trips to anyone applying to Kenan-Flagler or any other business school. It serves as a great reminder that there is another world out there beyond just your immediate region. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Never Say Never

We’ve been back in school for more than a week now and it’s back to business as usual. I spent the first week checking out all the classes I got into trying to decide what to add/drop. This Mod, I decided to go for all the soft core classes that are sort of the sine qua non for every MBA. I’m taking Sales, Organization Effectiveness (Think HR), Project Management and Negotiations. It occurred to me that of all the popular careers post Business School, no one puts emphasis on a sales career even though many of us will eventually end up with revenue generating responsibilities. Negotiations has turned out to be a very interesting class. There is a lot of role playing and I find myself getting quickly absorbed in the characters. The class is a mix of both first and second year students, which makes it even more interesting.

Some of the first year students have also started their internship interviews. I remember exactly where I was this time last year. It’s a nerve wrecking exercise. They all look very sharp & confident in their dark suits but I know how anxious they must be. I spent a considerable amount of time conducting mock interviews. The sweet part is when I get the call from them that they found my assistance very helpful and they got the offer. The very hard part is encouraging them to keep their heads up high when the news is not so good. Personally I think your ability to handle the disappointments and successes are part of what make you a well rounded MBA.

I had written earlier that I was not too keen on an exchange program. However, I just found one that is irresistible. I’ll keep you updated on thais later. Second year continues to be fun. Stay tuned…

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Greetings

Here's wishing everyone a merry christmas and a happy new year.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wrapping up Mod 2

A lot has been happening since the last blog. I’ve been able to take care of the whole recruitment thing. I ended up with a couple of offers and decided to go with the investment bank that made an offer for the exact group and city I was interested in. I am very excited about it as it provides the right balance I was looking for between my personal and career aspirations. Finally we can put an end to that as a subject of discussion.

I hate to admit this but I’ve mentally checked out for the year. The good news is that I should be pretty much done with all my classes by next week. It’s up to me to quickly work on my take home exams and get out of town for somewhere warm or procrastinate until the last minute and leave town on the 22nd. Many of my classmates are already making plans to leave town next week with many traveling abroad. I’ll keep my overseas trips till Spring Break and post graduation. I will also not see some of them again until graduation since they’ll be on exchange to other countries. People often ask me if I’ll go on exchange and my response is “This entire US experience is my exchange”.

We had a great program for some prospective applicants (IKF) last week and it was awesome. We kicked off with a social event for them at the home of the admissions director. The prospects also got to see us in our natural habitat. The event was wrapped up with a party at a club. It sure rocked. There’ll be the annual Casino Night this weekend. Without a doubt, I have now started really enjoying business school. Second year rocks!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

A peek at my classes

There hasn’t been much going on in the past couple of days that is out of the ordinary. I’ve finally had about a week to focus on classes. I’ve found this Mod’s classes particularly interesting.

Financing Deals has very good practical materials mostly because it is not a class that can be taught with a single textbook. It is very applied and the materials are from industry. We had a team present a pitch on why a particularly huge private company in North Carolina should IPO. My team will be making a presentation in the next class about Convertible Bonds. These deals resonate well with me because I covered similar transactions during the summer.

Private Equity has also been fascinating. We open up each class with the professor asking for volunteers to update us on any private equity related news from the financial press. So far, the class has covered a lot on how the different funds are structured and how the fees and such are shared. I sure will like to be one of those General Partners when I grow up! It also helps that the professor has more than 30 years experience in the Private Equity space. We had a special all-day session by Scott Rostan from Training the Street to cover the LBO modeling part of the class.

Advanced Financial Reporting is getting a little hairy now that we are in the realm of accounting for derivatives. Nothing ever seems straight forward when derivatives are involved. We have a great professor that is by far the biggest Beatles fan I’ve ever met. The class typically starts with a Beatles song, video or trivia.

I have a unique class tomorrow and Saturday. I call it unique because we only meet 3 times. Each meeting will however be for an entire day. It’ll be my first foray into sustainable enterprise but it still has a Finance twist to it. The class will focus on how to make an investment case incorporating environmental and social factors.

For my last two Mods in school, I intend to completely go out of character and go for very very soft core classes like Managing Diversity in the workplace, Negotiations, Corporate Governance, Power, Politics & Leadership etc. I will kick back, relax and golf from January to graduation day on May 11, 2008. It’s not like I’m counting the days or anything.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mod 2 in progress

Here’s a recap of what’s been happening since my last post. We rounded up Mod 1 and had just four days to relax. I made a quick dash to the Magic city and had a great time with my family. For the current Mod, I toyed with the idea of taking five classes so I’ll have only one class to take in my last Mod in school. I dropped it to just four classes since the current Mod is the mod of full blast campus interviews. I think my classes this Mod are the coolest… (If only the gazillion interviews will let me attend them). I’m taking Private Equity, Financing Deals & M&A, Advanced Financial Reporting and Investing in Sustainable Enterprise (Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy).

Speaking of interviews, I got my first full time offer (a sweet one too I might add) while I was on break…Wooohooo…It came from the career fair I attended a few weeks ago. The company had invited me to their office a few weeks ago for a two-day final round interview. Very interesting experience. More on this on another day.
The challenge now is that the firm is not working with my school’s recruiting calendar and will like a response within 3 weeks. That is certainly not going to work because I just started on-campus interviews and I intend to explore all possible options before making such a crucial decision. For now, I’m putting those negotiating skills to work to find a win-win position for us both.

I had two interviews last week and one of them got back to me on the same day with an invitation to a “Superday” at their head office yesterday. I really like it when companies have such a quick turnaround. It makes the process much smoother. I’ve never been at a Superday but let me tell you, it is a marathon! Interviews with 6 folks almost back to back. It was well organized and we got some breaks in between. We’ll see how it shakes out. A common theme among all the interviews is that most want to hear about what I did over the summer. The 100 hrs/week of work over the summer is really coming in handy now because I have A LOT to talk about.

We are having an Interview Immersion Day for the first year students today. It’s their first real exposure to mock interviews. From hereon, it’s going to be non-stop until they all become pros. Another interview on Monday, but I need to hit the books today and tomorrow. I have so many classes to catch up with.