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MIT Sloan Student Blog Archive

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February 05, 2008

I am on my way back to Boston after an exciting 3.5 weeks in “Hella” for my GLAB project. For those of you are like me, I found out that Greece is also called Hella. And Greek is called Hellena. GLAB was a unique and fascinating experience in many ways. I experienced working in a non-US environment and in a completely untraditional industry for an MBA – the fish industry.

I formed my GLAB team way back in April and included those Sloanies that I always felt like getting to know better but didn’t have a chance until now. Emi from Hong Kong, Akane from Japan along with Chris, a Chinese American and myself, an Indian formed the all-Asian power team.

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Our client was Nireus, a leading fish company in Greece, which was a new addition to GLAB’s long list of clients. Although it was a fairly large company, our project focused on an entirely new business and therefore had a startup feel to it. I landed in Athens on Jan 10th and had little idea what the next few weeks would be like.

Having done the ground work before getting to Greece, in the very first week we were communicating our proposed solution to the client. The client liked our idea and we focused on substantiating our hypothesis. Within a week, after numerous phone calls to fish industry experts, US groceries and supermarkets and detailed analysis, we came up with rather useful results and pinpointed recommendations. After a couple of weeks we presented our findings to the top management who were so ecstatic with our recommendation that one of the execs offered contract based assignments to continue working for them! We truly put our marketing, finance and other Sloan classes in action at Nireus 

But work was only a small part of all the fun we had. We saw so many places – Athens (and Akropolis), Meteora, Pilio, Sounio, Arachova, Delphi (remember the Oracle!), Galaxidi (see below, this was my favorite with its colorful houses and a beautiful view of the sea) and Aegina.

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We had tons of great food, enjoyed authentic Greek music, danced with many Greeks and smoked cigars along with them. We were also lucky to network with Alba, an up and coming Greek B-school.

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Our main host, Nondas, is a generous and kind person who truly made our “Hellenic” stay one of the most memorable ones for me. He is a top class photographer and made canvas snapshots of one of his pictures for each one of us! And I am sure he is the only host who has gone the extra mile to join us for a day trip along with his son to show us around Greece. Truly, Nondas is a perfect gentleman.

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It was certainly one “Hella”-of an experience. Great location, wonderful people, networking opportunities and a wonderful three weeks to make 3 best friends for life. Truly, GLAB is one of the highlights of my Sloan experience.

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Here are some quick tips for future GLAB-ers.
‒    pick your team early
‒    make sure you have similar goals
‒    pick an exotic location which none of your teammates have ever visited
‒    don’t be afraid to pick an industry you don’t plan to build a career in
‒    communicate often with your client
‒    make sure you over deliver for your client!
And the rest will be fun…

I am organizing a trek in March for two weeks to East Africa (Tanzania, Rwanda and Zanzibar). Can’t wait to get there! Before that I am excited about the final Sloan semester – great classes with Rebecca Henderson (Advanced Strategy) and Managing in Adversity (where students role play CEOs who faced adverse situations). But most importantly I can’t wait to spend the next few months with my Sloan buddies and get to know them even better.

October 09, 2007

Summer was fun!

Typed on Sep 15th, uploaded on October 9th
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Its been a while since i wrote here last time. Summer had been a hectic time. I left for my 1st summer internship right after my exams to Wellington, NZ.

It was a fantastic experience both in terms of work and fun. I worked with a friend from HBS for a mobile advertising startup. While the client was clear about the project objectives, they gave us a lot of latitude in developing a strategy to enter the US. And oh my NZ is such a beautiful country and the people have a really high quality of life. I didn't know that the country had so many vineyards and such a wide collection of wines. I stacked up a case full on my way back.

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I spent the second part of my summer working for Booz Allen out of New York. They served the interns fairly well and fed us well. It was also a good learning experience in terms of effectively solving hard business problems.

Since returning in August, it has been wildly crazy. I am a pilot and my core team is phenomenal. And its amazing to see the energy of starting school. I would certainly recommend being a pilot since its a great opportunity to get to know the first years.

Personally its going to be a super busy semester in spite of all my efforts to slow it down. In short, the opportunities here are so irresistible that  conceded to my temptations.

This sem I am busy with several things - fantastic line up of classes (system dynamics, GLAB, power & neg,early stage capital), leading the VC conference, a TA and an RA, getting speakers for the first ever manager bootcamp, starting a cool forum in the Boston region focused on mobile industry, and thinking up a couple business ideas. And to all that: look for that dream job.

Between all this I want to make sure I travel to at least a few countries before I finish B school. Like I said before this is the best way to get to know your classmates.

Well got stuff to do now. So I will talk to you all in a few weeks.

May 04, 2007

It has been such an incredible, fast paced month! So much has happened since I last wrote an entry here. The India trip was a hit, four student run conferences, met with so many new speakers and business leaders, traveled to Jamaica and Brooklyn, and then at the AdMIT Weekend it suddenly hit that I just have a little more than a year at MIT Sloan.

The India trip during spring break was definitely one of my all time favorite trips. During our eight day trip, 34 Sloanies visited Delhi, Agra, Bangalore and Mumbai. In Delhi we met with the Railways Minister, Lalu Prasad and Mr. Sudhir Kumar, the brain behind Indian Railways' turnaround. I was highly impressed by the warm welcome and reception that they gave us at the Rail Bhawan. The meeting was a great insight into the functioning of India's government, particularly Railways. In Delhi, we also met with Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office.

In Agra, I was blown away by Taj Mahal (yes, my first visit, although I am from India :)). But one should definitely check out the MIT Sloan we created at the Agra fort.
Agra fort

Next stop at Bangalore: The city has changed dramatically since I last visited in 1999. It was more crowded than I had ever seen it and the traffic jams never ended. We stayed at the beautiful Infosys campus. We were lucky to meet with Narayan Murthy at Infosys and have a Q&A session with him. Later in the evening, Shouvik (Sloanie!), CEO of Adea, threw a wonderful reception with ethnic Indian dances and musical performances.

Adea
However, my favorite stop in Bangalore was at Narayana Hrudayala where we met Dr. Devi Shetty who showed us around the intensive care unit at the pediatric heart center. It was a touching moment for me to see the incredible work he is doing for the poor of the world — just amazing! The other hot stop in Bangalore was Parikrma, a non-profit education model for providing world class education to the poor.

The last city we visited was Mumbai where we met with ICICI and visited Adi Godrej's palatial home. But the best part of Mumbai was when we played cricket with kids at Dharavi. The noise and energy those kids had could silence any other cheering team!

Adea
As an organizer of the trip it was amazing to get a closer look at my country and experience the wonderful things that are happening there. It was exciting to see the incredible pace of growth and the progressive mindset that prevails among many of the people I came across.

Coming back to Boston was not easy after such an exciting trip. But the moment I got here things started to roll again. In the second half of the semester I am taking a course on China and India by Prof. Huang, one of the few experts studying both the countries.

I am a big fan of listening and learning from speakers that visit MIT Sloan. This month alone I had the opportunity to listen to Clayton Christensen (of Innovator's Dilemma fame), Carol Bartz (ex-CEO of AutoDesk), Desh Deshpande (founder of Sycamore Networks and many startups), Nick Negreponte (the guy behind the $100 laptop), Bob Metcalfe (of 3COM). There is so much to learn from these people about leading and managing high technology companies.

Every weekend over the last four weeks, we have had a student run conference. It started with the BioInnovations conference, followed by the Private Equity Symposium, the Latin Conference and the first ever Sales Conference. I wish I could attend all of them but at MIT Sloan you have to make your choices — I attended two, and guess what I did the other two weekends? I went to Jamaica and BKNY!

During a long weekend, a bunch of us escaped to Jamaica (yeamon!), and chilled out in Port Antonio at a beautiful villa near the ocean. And another weekend I was out to New York on a “Brooklyn Trek” (yes BKNY!). It was a beautiful spring day as we casually walked around the Brooklyn neighborhoods. Honestly, these trips are the best way to learn more about your classmates, and form long lasting friendships.

Brooklyn
And between all this, we hosted the Class of 2009 during the AdMIT Weekend. It suddenly struck me that I just have a little more than a year at this place. There's lot more to do and so little time :).

April 01, 2007

Inspired by other student journals on the MIT Sloan website, I got excited about writing one to share my own experiences. I hope to write at least once a month about life at MIT Sloan from my perspective.

I cannot believe that the spring semester is half over. So much has happened during H1 — meetings with CEOs as part of the CEO Perspectives course, working on a business idea for New Enterprises and Innovation Teams, the Venture Capital competition, step dancing for the MBC C-Function, and so much more.

No other form of learning compares with listening to and questioning the experiences and vision of CEOs of real companies. The CEO Perspectives course offers a wonderful opportunity for a weekly close encounter with a CEO from renowned companies like Southwest, JP Morgan, and Bellsouth. During a dinner with John Swainson, CEO of CA, I asked him how he approaches firing people, arguably, one of the toughest things a manager has to deal with. It was revealing to learn how his response was consistent with Jack Welch's views — “the person being fired should never be surprised that it is coming, otherwise you have failed as a manager.” It is stimulating to learn from their experiences and to see how these CEOs are such different personalities, yet have a common set of characteristics that has helped them achieve enormous success.

I am also taking two other experiential courses — New Enterprises and Innovation Teams. During the E&I Silicon Valley Trek we had visited Santa Cruz vineyards. From that visit, came the idea for our New Enterprises project — to help small wineries reach out to the wider U.S. market. Besides thinking about the various aspects of creating a startup, it is amazing to get easy access to advice from fellow Sloanies who are wine experts.

Innovation Teams is a course offered by the Deshpande Center where a team of engineers, MBAs, and other backgrounds are trying to find a viable market for an exciting MIT technology. Besides the opportunity to work with cool MIT technology and a diverse team, it's also a great place to hear from successful entrepreneurs and MIT gurus like Bob Langer. I am privileged to be working on a project headed by Mike Stonebraker, often credited to be the founder of databases.

Another highlight of H1 was the VC Competition. It was a great experience getting into the shoes of a VC and deciding whether to fund a particular startup or not. Although we did not end up winning, I learned so much about evaluations and deal terms. I also learned a good deal about some cool companies, met with VCs and entrepreneurs and made good friends within and outside MIT Sloan.

Now let's talk about the other side of MIT Sloan. You have to check out this video  of the steps dance that we did during the Minorities, Black, and Caribbean C-Function.

Step dance group
My step dance guru and fellow Sloanie, Dwane Morgan, taught us these swanky step moves. And as though I didn’t get enough dancing, I enjoyed dancing away during the Brazilian C-Function, undoubtedly the best C-Function this year.

I am typing this log on my way to India — 34 of us are visiting for a week. Besides checking out the Taj Mahal and the nightlife, we plan to meet with government officials, leaders at big and small companies, a hospital, and a school. I am proud to organize this trip and show the best of India to my Sloanie friends. Stay tuned — I’ll share about my experiences from India in my next blog entry.

Drummers at the Brazilian C-Function