At HEC Paris, mvlti svnt vocati, pavci vero electi!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Strategy, Spring Break, and Potty Training!

What is strategy? So asked Monsieur Porter. Is it about winning? Is it about staying alive in a cut-throat business environment? Is it about knowing where to go next? Is it about finding out where the next big step should be? Is it China? Is it India? Is it about out-performing your business competitors? Or, is it about sustaining a competitive advantage over other similar businesses by being different? You judge! But, these are some of the things that I have been pondering over for the last few days and why not? Afterall, I have an exam on Strategy tomorrow! But, the subject has been of great interest to me perhaps because my analytical mind likes analysing, obviously, business cases and understanding what businesses do really well, where their key stenghts are and what they should do next in terms of both business and corporate strategies. Of course, there is the usual industry analyses including the Five Forces of Porter (supplier power, buyer power, internal rivalry, substitutes, and potential entrants), followed by an analyses of the firm's strategy and competitive advantage (is what it does differently giving it a competitive advantage?). Is it gaining advantage from being able to offer a great price differentiation or is it offering something unique that has great value? It is value versus cost. So, here we are, three beautiful days in the country coming to an end with a study of business and corporate strategies. Personally, we have also been making some strategic moves; having spoken to the financial advisor, we are now pretty sure of owning a property soon. If we do move away from France, it will be an investment as we expect to see some economic growth in France (after a zero growth in Q3 of 2006, it can't go any worse, can it?)! There is change, perhaps political change, in the wind. And, we also need somewhere to live!

Next week is spring break and I was looking forward to a week of potty training my son (yes, such is the exciting life of a dad but, trust me, it is for good!) but it now appears that I will have to take a short break, during the break, and travel to London to meet my new boss, discuss my internship projects and lay the groundwork for what we are going to work on. This will help me in hitting the ground running when I start in July. And, I am also going to use the opportunity to go and explore some of the places where I may stay for the summer. There are three options; stay with a friend, rent short-term, or stay hassle-free in one of the university residences which are generally open to outsiders during the summer. I am not too keen to bother my friends (not for two months!), and renting short-term in an ideal location is not going to be easy so I am thinking of getting a studio or a room in one of the student residences. Most students will be gone so it should be fairly quiet and these residences are quite central and cost much less than renting. I also expect to be home in Paris most weekends. So, we shall see. Now, where's that website on how to potty train a child in three days...

Changing the subject completely, the weather has been really lovely recently and I do feel that spring has arrived. Flowers are blooming all around, days are brighter, and there are more hours of daylight to do better things than sit in front of a computer and blog! :-) I hope you like the pictures below.

Spring has arrived!

The number of windmills dotting the French countryside has definitely shot up in the last five years or so. Expand the picture to see what I mean.



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