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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A collection of videos...

Some players who are just fun to watch and admire.

Chinlone...a dance-cum-sport from Myanmar.

Thang Ta - A martial arts form from Manipur, India.

Things don't always go right but look on the bright side...

And, here's the player I would like to see training my son someday...

Finally, here's David Beckham from Saudi Arabia!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer Scheduled!

If at all there is something I am good at, but I am sure as an avid reader of my blog you know that I am good or trying to be good in many things, it is planning! :-)Planning to ensure that logistical, organisational, informational, supply and other issues are arranged and considered well in advance. Of course, I am also prepared to be flexible as things never ever fan out as planned but planning for most, if not all, eventualities helps. So, last night, I sent an email to my boss in London in a rather subtle tone enquiring about work-life balance issues and if I could work long hours Mon to Thu and return home on Fridays. Or, even work from Paris on Fridays! Surprisingly, he was quite understanding and more than willing to help and advice me on the matter. As it turns out, I had a good chat with him this afternoon, and he agreed to both flexi-hours and working from home, from time to time. Now, I would need to be available if important things come up but, otherwise, as long as I am performing, there are no hard feelings! This just lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. The funny thing is, since the company is this good to me, I want to work even more and contribute to its success! It is like what a friend once said to me - "The world is like a mirror. Smile at it and it will smile back at you!". Everything is a reflection of something else and good gestures evoke similar gestures in others. Following the chat, I booked my Eurostar tickets to return to Paris on short weekend visits. Ain't got no time to waste when Eurostar keeps bumping up ticket prices as summer approaches.

Now, I wish I could say that everything we planned is going well. The ongoing property renovation is falling a bit behind because we acquired the property a week later than planned due to some last minute changes by the solicitor. Which means it is not going to be ready for us to move in by this weekend. So, we either move to a hotel or stay in the dirt for a week. We renovated our last property partly whilst living in it and, trust me, it is not fun! I was thankful my previous company had a shower in the department! We shall see...

Last Sunday, we had a family BBQ to celebrate my son's second birthday and the smell of the food must have been very enticing as we saw a fox right outside the house in the middle of the day! Anyway, my son and his cousin were not to be bothered as they not only learnt to 'discover' the 'forest' but also how to get down a steep slope - bum on the grass and slide down but careful because mum and dad will not be happy! At least, they had fun!

As for courses and exams, c'mon, do you really want to read about exams and course work? Really? Alright then...the courses are progressing as usual but I am finding it hard to stay focussed and motivated these days. Perhaps, because I want to get to work soon! Honestly, I can't wait for my internship to start. But, I must say I am not alone in feeling this way. We were told that this period would be the toughest as this is when we are given the freedom to choose the track we want to pursue, the electives we want to study, apply for internship, IPP, etc and basically think and decide what we want to do next and how we want to fit all these in the big picture we are painting for our own future. So, for those who are relatively clear about what they want to do, it is not such a tough period! And, hence, the feeling of lumberness. So so...

Tomorrow, I have my French exam and I am also taking a Russian applicant on a tour of the campus. Looks like I get to take someone on tour whenever I have an exam (he he, it has only happened once before but the person I guided around turned out to be the sister of the current Justice Minister of France under Nicolas Sarkozy! Funny world, eh?) Alright, I think I have written enough for today and also made up for not having posted anything for a while. I now better go and work on my passé composé...bonne nuit!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

De retour en France

So, I am back! And, boy, did I enjoy it? It was intense, it was hardwork, it was both mentally stimulating and exhausting, it was fantabulous...and the view - just amazing! Imagine waking up every morning to find yourself overlooking Lake Geneva! But, all things do come to an end and I am now back here in Jouy-en-Josas. Having said that, it is great to be home!

I have also found a place for the summer about 5min away from work, and that's on foot. This should hopefully make it easy to work long hours when necessary and then leave early at times to run back to Paris. Things are slowly falling in place bit by bit and I should be all set by the 15th of July. Renovation is also going on at full speed and we are hoping it will be all done before we move in two weeks' time. Enjoy the view below...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh my...

Lots of things happening including a motherboard failure which I believe is a remnant of the thunderstorm we had in Jouy a while ago and the power surge that came along with it before I could power down my PC. It is now fixed but I cannot get any sound! Help if you know anything about it!

Apart from the exams we have had, I have also been spending a lot of time reading background notes, presentations and a 600 page book in preparation of my session in Switzerland next week. Despite already being familiar with the industry, it is amazing how much I don't know and how much there is to learn! But, it does sound like a fun event and I am looking forward to it...perharps it will churn my grey cells more than usual and test my lateral thinking ability to the limit but, hey, ain't it good to be stretched from time to time? :-)

In the meantime, I have decided to choose the strategy track for the first of the Personalised Phases (Sept to Dec this year). And come September, we will also be welcoming the next batch of MBA students talking about which, I am meeting one tomorrow who's coming on a house hunting visit. These are busy days as we have also started moving from Jouy to the apartment.

We have six hours of Organisational Behaviour today, again! I have just handed in my two essays on motivation and emotional intelligence. I was so keen on it I came an hour and a half early for the class...actually I came at 7:30 thinking the class started at 8am as always but nope, it starts at 9! Which is about now so I better stop blogging and pay attention to the teacher. Au revoir!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ensemble tout devient possible

Watch this video until the end to see what can be achieved together.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Deal Done!

Corporate Finance exam is over and I am now looking forward to tonight's big party at the Piano Bar on campus. Some individuals from the September intake are soon finishing their time at HEC and will be heading off on exchange programs, Individual Professional Project, etc., etc. So, tonight's party is like the last farewell...for now, that is! As for my intake, i.e. the Jan intake, we are in the middle of choosing our tracks for Personalised Phase I (Sept to Dec 2007) and it also appears that quite a few of us will be interning in London this summer.

Today is a special day...and we have just returned after a celebratory dinner in a Japanese restaurant not too far from here (Japanese food takes my wife back in time on a nostaligic journey and reminds her of the time she spent there!) - the big news is we have finalised the deal on the apartment. :-) So, we are now proud owners of an apartment and renovation to flip the property around starts tomorrow. Wish us luck...I am now going to prepare for the crazy party - free drinks, I am told, for crazy clothes.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

How to hire the best people...

Below is the start of an article written by Marc Andreessen, cofounder of Netscape Communications Corporation and internet pioneer. He discusses the rational behind hiring people to build a successful corporation and you may find a few surprises. As someone with both a PhD and an MBA (expected in 2008!) and I confess, a whole bunch of other abbreviations, worthwhile or otherwise, I find the article interesting and enlightening. And, surprise surprise, quite realistic! Enjoy reading it...

How to hire the best people you've ever worked with

There are many aspects to hiring great people, and various people smarter than me have written extensively on the topic.

So I'm not going to try to be comprehensive.

But I am going to relay some lessons learned through hard experience on how to hire the best people you've ever worked with -- particularly for a startup.

I'm going to cover two key areas in this post:

Criteria: what to value when evaluating candidates.

And process: how to actually run the hiring process, and if necessary the aftermath of making a here to continue.

PS: Management Accounting exam on Monday went alright but it was just too long. I think 95% of the class did not finish the three questions we had. I guess strawberry picking is not the best preparation mode but the third question was all about joint costing a crude oil refining process and I got too engrossed in the question! I was so interested in the technical details of the question I eventually ran out of time... :-)

Tomorrow, we have our Corporate Finance exam. I am going to analyse a well-known French oil company, fourth largest oil company in the world, as part of my practice. And, it will be useful for my presentation on Monday for the French class. Yes, we have to do presentations in French as part of the compulsory language training course.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Srawberry picking over job/process costing!

The sun is shining, the weather is great, and priorities keep changing. What a wonderful life! For those of you who did not know, there is a farm less than a mile from HEC where one can go and pick fruits, dig for carrots and radish, and visit the farm shop to buy fresh dairy and agricultural products. Apart from knowing that we are getting fresh fruits and vegetables, this provides a great opportunity for children to learn about farming, see the animals, and just run around in the fields...and that is just what our boy did when we visited the farm yesterday and he has not stopped running since! They had a BBQ feast going on too so we also stayed for lunch. Yes, I had a tinge of guilt sitting, relaxing, in the sun enjoying the BBQ with a cold drink in hand while I could have been indoors, job costing and all, but I figured a day in the sun like yesterday was worth the investment. More so since we are leaving Jouy-en-Josas at the end of this month and may not be able to find time to visit the farm again. And, as we were out already, we also decided to go watch the show jumping competition going on at HEC by the name of JUMP HEC, a competition between all grande ecoles in France.

The field and the landmark water tower around HEC

Plenty of strawberries to pick

The farm shop


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Friday, June 01, 2007

A melangerie of courses...personal branding...

In the course of this MBA, I have attended a multitude of courses and have often wondered if I will ever need some of them or learn anything from them. Like, for example, we had a session the other day on Personal Branding and the art of writing a bio and some in the class questioned the need for it. I once ran a personal website which was very well maintained, if I may say so, and very well meta-tagged. So much so that individuals searching for the company I worked for ended up on my homepage (you may think this is great but it actually crashed my site as I ran out of bandwidth). And I got headhunted twice when recruiters searching the web for a defined set of technical skills landed on my page. So, obviously the subject of personal branding interested me and I was willing to give up an hour or two listening to the presenter/coach just to find out more. I never thought about the lecture again until, that is, this morning when I was asked to submit a bio for the session in Switzerland. I had one from before but it was outdated and for a different purpose altogether that there was no point submitting it. I still enjoy the same hobbies but my professional career has evolved quite a bit. So, instead of revising for my Management Accounting and Decision Making exam on Monday, I spent the morning writing a bio that depicted me, today, correctly without sounding cheesy. And, as you can tell, I am spending my afternoon blogging about it so Management Accounting, I see, is slipping away slowly. I better get focussed.

Nonetheless, I now have a professional bio that focuses on my areas of key strengths (subject area, technical and organisational skills, etc.), work experience, educational background, professional memberships, and a short snippet on personal interests. And, if you are writing one, I suggest looking up for bios of other well-known individuals in your area and then developing a set of items to include in your own bio. Remember that writing your bio will also help you prepare your 'Elevator Pitch' and, as the coach said, a bio is just one of many brand "touch points" and you need to give it due detail and time. I have sent mine for feedbacks to a few individuals and I am sure I will get a few comments.

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