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November 22, 2008

Second year at MIT Sloan

Long time no see!

Yes, I admit. I haven’t been as diligent about my blog as I should have been. And now so much has happened in the last few months so it’ll be an exercise in prioritization for me to pick up several highlights!

Being a second year at MIT Sloan:

Let me start by saying I really miss the graduating 08 class exemplified by the fact that I was still referring to them as “second years” at the start of the term. It was either that or I hadn’t been able to adjust to being a second year just then! Other than the fact that we were the old folks now, second year once again started in full swing. I was at school a bit early since I’m a pilot for the 2010 class and let me explain what a “pilot” at MIT Sloan is. During the first semester of first year at MIT Sloan – which is referred to as core – each student is put in a team of 6 or 7 where they do all the team projects together. And each team is assigned a “pilot” who could be summarized as a “second year mentor” who helps with all the facilitation activities during Orientation but goes on to being a mentor/friend for a lot longer than that – (I was at the wedding of my own pilot who graduated 08 this past weekend : )). I am personally piloting for the Atlantic Petrels – GO PETRELS! They are an exceptional and diverse team of 7 with backgrounds ranging from engineering to finance to media and broadcasting. It’s been great piloting for them and this Sunday we’re doing our second pilot+team get together!   

Bridging the gap between second and first years:

There are a lot of events that bring the first and second years together. One of the events that was specifically designed to join first and second years among their respective Oceans (cohorts of around 65 students) was the “Ocean Mixers”. Ocean Mixers which was a great example of the collaboration between the Student Senate, Student Activities Board and the Student Affairs Office at Sloan was intended to facilitate inter-ocean “mingling” between the first and second years. So we designated specific places for each ocean where the first and second years could get together and meet each other. Speaking to my own ocean’s gathering – the Atlantics – I can say that it was a lot of fun to both get together with the 09 Atlantics and get to meet the 10 Atlantics!

Turkey Trek:

Those were a few highlights of what I’ve been doing up to now. These days I’m embarking on something I had wanted to do for over a year – organize a trek to my home country – Turkey! Ali (09), Cenk (10), Erbay (09) and I are organizing a trek to take fellow Sloanies to Turkey over Spring Break. After going to the Japan Trek last year, I understand once again and this time personally how much effort goes into the organization and the good thing is that we have a great team of organizers and a group who is more than excited to go! We will be visiting Istanbul, Ankara and Cappadocia on our visit. And the amazing thing is that the Turkey trek is not the only one being planned for spring break, there is 6 more! Namely Brazil, Thailand, India, Israel, South Korea and Japan (and I hope I didn’t leave any out!).

Try and keep warm (I know I am…) and see you in December!

April 06, 2008

SIP and Spring Break in JAPAN!

Long time no see!

So much has happened over the last few months that it is going to be a real challenge to try and capture some of that in this little blog!

SIP

Just before Spring Break, we had the usual one week SIPs – the Sloan Innovation Period. I had written about this before but in short the idea behind SIP is that unlike the 13 week long semester, Sloan has a 6-1-6 semester where during that one week in the middle, students are exposed to workshops with industry speakers and also the cutting edge research from world renowned faculty of Sloan. One of the research seminars that really stood out for me was one called CSI: Economic Investigation. How to Uncover Race and Gender Discrimination, Discrimination in Healthcare. Professors Doyle, Rigobon, Stoker and Suri talked about their own research in very different areas and showed us very interesting and counterintuitive ways of uncovering underlying information from pure data. It was a brand new experience and actually it was after this SIP that I understood why MIT Sloan consistently ranks the highest on any kind of management survey on “research”.

And a leadership SIP that was very interesting was under the name of “corporate governance: will it work this time?”. The instructor was Michael Armstrong, the former AT&T chairman and CEO and a current Director of Citigroup. Since I had no previous knowledge on the subject, this one and a half hour interactive lecture for me was very educational. Mr. Armstrong talked about the function of boards and its committees in companies, regulators in the finance industry and how they interact, and the job of a chairman. Hearing Mr. Armstong’s perspectives on these, who has been the chairman and has sat on the board of countless institutions was amazing.

Spring Break in JAPAN!

After SIP week we were off to spring break. I traveled to Japan with around 220 other of my classmates. Yes the number doesn’t have an additional zero by mistake or anything it actually really was over 200! Adding to the excitement of traveling with over 200 Sloanies was the fact that I’d never traveled to Asia before so I was really looking forward to Spring Break coming after a very busy first part of the semester.

After a 14 hour! flight (not even counting the transfers…) which would have been devastatingly boring if it hadn’t been for the 50 or so Sloanies who were on the same flight with me, we landed in Kyoto.

Some of the highlights: In Kyoto, we visited the beautiful Golden Pavilion, best known temple in Kyoto and highly likely in Japan, too. It was built in 1397 to be a retirement villa for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, one of the well known generals in Japan. We also visited a very beautiful traditional “Japanese garden” in a Buddhist temple and at every point from the temple that we looked; the sight was an amazing picture as if out of a postcard. Another highlight in Kyoto was the sumo fights! We were lucky enough to be visiting during the national tournaments and I bet we were a sight to see ourselves – cheering and shouting for (or mispronouncing for that matter…) the names of the fighters we were betting on... Turns out I have a natural tendency to pick winners; bet 6 times (among Sloanies of course!), never lost and made 600 yens! I know $6 is not much but hey it was enough to pay for my beer : )

Asumo

After a one night of traditional dinner (accompanied with geishas) in Kyoto, we headed off to Hiroshima. Hiroshima was far but very worth the trip because when we got there we not only visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum but also had a chance to listen to the talk of one of the survivors of the atomic bomb. I think that was one experience that none of the 200 Sloanies who sat in that room will ever forget.

And Kyoto was where we got introduced to Japan for the first time. One thing you notice on the streets immediately is the vending machines, but they are practically at every corner, every 10 meters you can find one and they even serve hot cappuccino! And Japan is the home of the “green tea ice-cream” that I grew addicted to, it was so delicious… And another addiction I developed (I think im speaking on behalf of a number of Sloanies here) was karaoke! Our wonderful organizers took the bulk of us to a karaoke place where you get into these small rooms of about 6 people, then… well the then part is a different experience for everyone I guess. You can enjoy sake and Japanese beer and sing along to what your peers are singing in a very mild manner or… just as likely you might take out that inner rock star in you : ).

After making a pit stop at Hakone (famous for its hot springs) for a day and seeing the beautiful Mount Fuji (highest peak in Japan) on the way, we arrived at Tokyo. After Kyoto’s calm atmosphere, Tokyo was definitely a big change with its amazingly fast pace. In Tokyo we were lucky enough to arrive during the time of the cherry blossoms and I’ll let the pictures do the talking for that.

Cherry3 Cherry4

The fashion districsts in Tokyo are very numerous. There is one area that is very characteristic of teenage style, another where you can find the world renowned designer brands (in the biggest stores that I have ever seen them in!) and many more. Just walking on these streets can take one whole day… - no wonder Tokyo is named as one of the fashion centers of the world.

And I have to tell you about our 5am breakfast with raw fish, what did we do? Of course we went to the fish market! At this early hour is when the fish get auctioned off and sold to wholesalers who sell the fish to the restaurants. After touring the market for about an hour, we went to the best sushi bar on the periphery of the market and I had the freshest and the best sushi I had ever had.

Well before I wrap up this insanely long post there is one more thing I have to say. I know I’m speaking on behalf of everyone when I say thank you to all the Japan trek organizers for doing an amazing job, especially given the fact that we were over 200 people, we’ll never know how they managed to make everything run so smoothly : ) You guys did an awesome job!

Oh and by the way, the opening series were being kicked off in Tokyo while we were there and our love of Sloan and red sox was enough to get us famous!

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/03_26_2008_fans/?p1=emai

January 01, 2008

Wrapping up core

I have to admit I haven’t been on top of my blog as I should have and yet again I have Sloan’s amazing pace to blame for that (please refer to second blog : )). But I haven’t forgotten my promise of posting pics from our European C function so here they are, check out the talent both on and off stage please!

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=mit+sloan+euro 

So what has happened in the last 2 months? A lot as you might expect. First off we had the charity auctions of each first year ocean and the second years. You might already know but during core (the first semester of first years) the incoming first year student body at Sloan is divided into 6 cohorts, called oceans. These oceans take all classes together (except the one elective between marketing or finance). And each year, first years within oceans and second years as a collective group do a charity run for a charity of their choice. We, as the Atlantics, chose the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinsons's Research and raised over $5K. And did all of the oceans have some hilarious donations… Ranging from “a soul” (yes that is right, soul as in someone’s soul!), to not falling asleep in any class for a week to growing facial hair to the winner’s selected style for a week and a lot more. Well, with so many worthy donations it is not a surprise that the total amount for all of first and second years was an incredible $88,133!

After the auction, during the last month, I came to learn one thing about Sloanies and that is we are all multitaskers. The beginning of the resume drop deadlines for a majority of the companies coincided with the submission of our OP project reports (where each core team works with one company of their choice during the semester on a change initiative the company is facing). Coming into the 8:30am classes to see the sleep deprived eyes of my classmates and the feeling of “I am not alone!” was really an unforgettable memory : ). Kidding aside, it is at these hectic times that I feel the Sloan culture the most. Being not a particularly skilled resume writer!, I don’t remember how many times my resume got reviewed and refined by my classmates and fellow second years. If you ask for help, there is always someone to come through for you at Sloan.

And a great way to wrap up the semester was the Talent Show on the last day of classes, which is one of the many events that the Sloan Activities Board organizes. Yes, as you can see from the pictures, we Sloanies are talented and are not afraid to show it off! : ). http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=mit+sloan+talent&m=text .

From action painters to rock bands to stand up shows to tap dance groups, we had it all! As an officer of the Student Activities Board, I was involved in the organization of the Talent Show which was one exciting experience. I had acted during high school but I never knew how much effort goes into backstage and preparations. It was a busy schedule for me trying to juggle that with the resumes, projects and getting ready for finals but definitely worth it. And you’ll see how much fun the audience along with the performers had all throughout the show from the photos. Sloanie talent: truly remarkable!

Quick reflection in the spirit of posting on new year’s day: I definitely have to start exercising! Feel like the only expendable thing throughout core was that and sleep, a deadly combo if you ask me so now that the core is over and “hopefully” I’ll have more time on my hands, those two are my new year’s resolutions!

I want to end my post by wishing everyone an awesome 2008! And stay true to those New Year’s resolutions : )

November 04, 2007

“SIPs, Midterms & C functions” - If only days were 48 hours!

It has been over a month since I’ve posted on my blog and you can understand the reason from my title! Sloan has once again proved to be so full of opportunities that one could only experience all if days were 48 hours.

First let me start with SIPs. SIP stands for Sloan Innovation Period. The idea is that unlike the 13 week long semester, Sloan has a 6-1-6 semester where during that one week in the middle, students are exposed to workshops with lots of experiential leadership learning from outside industry speakers and also faculty. I personally think that the idea behind SIP is great and if some of the workshops could be improved, SIP could be a great differentiation point for Sloan as mentioned in one of our Senate meetings.

My SIP experience was a pretty good one and I really bid for the workshops I wanted to get in which turned out to be a good call. And that actually is another area where SIP could be improved because there is a certain number of SIPs you need to take in order to graduate and that results in us bidding for workshops we are not interested in but will only help us fill up the credits. The school and the senate are working on ways to find solutions to this.

To start off, one of the best SIPs I took was called World Class Public Speaking and it was given by the Toastmaster World Champion, Darren LaCroix! It was experiential but moreover, he also gave us guidelines as to how to better our presentation skills. He showed us his first presentations and his championship one for us to see the difference. At the end he asked for volunteers to go and give a presentation and gave critical! feedback. I gathered my courage to go up as well and my presentation was far from perfect which was even better because I found his feedback very useful. Hopefully, I can use some of his tips to be a more effective presenter.

Another SIP I enjoyed a lot was “How to be a great leader”. In this SIP that took one whole day, I learned a lot. I learned the way different leaders in government or private sector employ different methods of moving their people and organizations forward. It was also filled with small hands on learning activities which I found to be both useful and fun. I would recommend anyone who didn’t take these classes this year for the next SIP period.

Yes, one week where we had sort of a break from the hectic classes and right after that, Midterms! We had three in one week which I thought was just brutal… It was also a big test of efficient time management which I guess I did OK!?

During all the SIP and midterm week, one huge thing in my life was co-organizing the European C Function. What are C functions I hear you saying : ) the c stands for cultural where on 2 or 3 Thursdays of the month, all of the Sloan school and their SOs gather in Walker Memorial (a huge space perfect for parties and gatherings) for a couple of hours of dining, drinking and being exposed to different cultures. Co-organizing the European C function was one of the best experiences I’ve had since coming to Sloan. Though my sleep average dropped to 4 hours a night, it was definitely worth it! In the c function, on the yummy side we had food tables from 10 different European countries, European wine and beer. On the content side, we had flamenco & belly dancers and on top of all that, the Eurovision song contest! I feel the need to explain Eurovision to non-Europeans : ). Eurovision is a song contest like American Idol but the difference is that European countries are represented and each performing country is voted by the other countries. So we had a somewhat similar version of that in our c function where Sloanies from different countries went on stage and we even had judges from other countries critique them. That was just plain hilarious to watch : ). At the end of the night, all the hard work was worth it as I saw my fellow Sloanies going crazy on the dance floor and coming up to us to say how great an event it was.

I’ll post the pictures in my next blog (just to keep the suspense : ))

 

September 06, 2007

“From the Bosphorus to the Charles River…”

Have to say it is kind of nice and eases the homesickness to settle in a place that at least resembles in its appearance to where you came from. Coming from a city situated on both the continents of Europe and Asia and that looks out onto the Bosphorus of the Marmara Sea made me think of this as I was staring out of my plane to the Charles River at 8 am when we were about to land. <>


Why staring? Basically because I was trying so hard to keep my eyes open. The journey that should have taken a total of around 20 hours with the connecting flight ended up continuing to 40 hours with my flight from JFK being cancelled, me changing airports, my luggage getting lost (obviously due to the fact that my luggage didn’t change airports with me!) and me not getting any sleep during the process! All the while the single line going through my head was “What a way to start my first journey to the
US!”


I have to admit that coming to the
US for the first time in such an eventful way (in the least of words…) was adventurous but everything, fortunately, went uphill from there. Having only one day to shop around for basic needs, it was a very fast start into the Pre-Term for me! But for someone like me (and probably a majority of Sloanies : ) who has adopted the work hard, play hard principle it was much fun! Getting a refresher on the topics of the courses we’ll soon be enrolled in during the day, attending social events during the evening and partying into the night made me understand perfectly what Sloan was all about, though it also kind of resulted in me not being able to wake up to attend the first of the morning classes following the first day : ). One other thing I realized was that it would have been a much wiser move to arrive a week before Pre-Term since I had to settle in at the same time that I was doing all the above, meaning that I literally had not one minute of spare time. But don’t take this as a complaint because I absolutely loved it! Meeting in person, the people whose experiences I’d read about and been amazed at on Sloanspace was altogether a great experience. I wasn’t sure about coming to the Pre-Term but now I’m glad I did since it gave me the opportunity to meet and spend quality time with many of my classmates.

Just as the whirlwind of Pre-Term was over, there came the storm of Orientation! My personal favorite during the Orientation was the Warren Center  where we spent the day out in the green doing physical activities that incorporated team and leadership attributes. It was absolutely a very good way of getting acquainted with my core team with whom I had met less than a day ago and I really felt that we grew as a team throughout the day, moving from the raft that didn’t hold up in the water (thanks to my lovely design!) to the maze where we got filthy rich and made a cool $29 mil. : ). It was also great warming up to our oceans (GO AT-LAN-TICSSS!) in case studies and sessions.

 

Before I finish my blog I have to write about the GSC Orientation activities I attended to get to know Boston, which exceeded my expectations especially on the Harbor Cruise on Sunday. It was pure luck on our part for the harbor to be on Sunday just before the Labor Day because I watched the biggest firework show I had ever seen. The show that went on for more than 10 minutes was just spectacular!

 


Now that the long weekend is over, I look forward to writing about my experiences on first days of actual “school” and the transition from the “soft” launch to the “hard” one. Stay tuned!!!