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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Uncertainty looms over my head but who cares!

Exactly, who cares? I am going on a break anyway! The uncertainty is about what I am going to do during PP2. Since I seem to be still exploring for an appropriate project with my sponsoring company, I don't have anything for certain. So, I brought out my dust-covered book of business cards from its hiding place amongst a pile of other 'when I was famous' items in the garage. And, what a pleasure it was to trawl through the cards, going back in time remembering the faces behind the names on the cards and reading where and how I got them. See, in order not to forget someone and also to use as a frame of reference, I write the occasion during which a card was collected on its back. So, shuffling through my cards, my mind wandered to the days when I was holding my nerves at the prospect of introducing myself to the heavyweights of British business, to the time when I was walking down the red carpet at the Hilton London Hyde Park Hotel wining and dining with the famous and the powerful, and then the other event at The Palace Hotel in Manchester photographing with a very special guest. And then, there was the time when, at Buckingham Palace, I bumped into yet more rich and famous, and powerful, personalities that led to some very interesting developments in my own career. Well, what a life...what a life I have had in such a short period. Short so far because, by the time I retire, it's going to be 75! :-)

Wind the tape forward... and here I am not knowing what to do next! But, it isn't and won't be the only time. I remember the days when, as a confident young lad of 17, I headed to a university city only to be rejected by every one of the colleges I applied to. Not because I had poor marks but because I had a few essential documents missing - these documents were in the post going around the country! It is good to be in positions like this as it makes you humble, and makes you realise that hard work and luck go hand in hand or one feeds the other. All colleges rejected except one, the best one (at least in that year, it was)! So, I interviewed with them and, voila, I was in! And, before I graduated, I had even served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Students' Union! Being rejected by the others truly was a blessing in disguise. So, am I worried now? Hell no! But, I sure do want to be thinking about other things when I am wallpapering and renovating our apartment. For those interested, I have just spent a full weekend putting up 10 rolls of wallpaper!

Changing subjects, we have a long weekend coming up and we are going to use the opportunity to go and meet a couple we met whilst honeymooning in Martinique many years ago. It would be nice to catch up with them and see how their child is growing up. And, we are heading further south to Millau. Why Millau? Because, it is where the world's tallest bridge is; its pillars are taller than Eiffel Tower!

The bridge in the sky!

Coming back to the book of contacts, I have sent a few SOS messages. A few bounced but others did not so let's hope I have a project soon! What is worth having is worth waiting for! ;-)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

PP1 ain't no walkover!

I think a lot of us, when choosing our tracks and electives for PP1, felt that it was going to be easier now compared to what we had been through in Core I and Core II. As it turns out, we were all wrong! I am in the Strategy Track and have mostly strategy related electives with a few others such as Business Plan Funding and International Negotiation. I was careful not to pick too many electives in order to avoid being sunk under the weight of the courses and still, I find myself struggling with three cases, two presentations, class-prep and what not more or less each week. The elective on Corporate Strategy and Development is in itself like taking two electives and we are currently working on analysing Total S.A. as an integrated company vs the sum of its parts. We are presenting on Friday to a couple of company representatives so we better get it right. What I do like though is that I am now using all the skills from the earlier semesters in evaluating companies, making decisions and moving forward, all rather efficiently. I like it that I can transfer what I learn in one class to another and examine companies in much greater detail. Talking of which, we are working on a case for Oliver Wyman as 'trainee' consultants evaluating the strategy of a company - OW promised to invite members of the best group for interviews and some in my group are keen!

My life has been revolving around work for the last few weeks including weekends with too many 8 to 8 days at HEC for my liking. I take grace from the fact that my schedule will be lighter from Nov onward. I must say though that I did manage to go for lunch with all my buddies from the September 2007 intake - good people and definitely fun to talk to. We also have a lot of exchange students now and they bring a breath of fresh air and differing perspective to the class. I was also at the World Bank in Paris the other day to participate in a live worldwide videoconference on Millenium Development Goals.

The last few weeks have also been quite tumultous for the company sponsoring me and I am exploring options to just cover my back. Most companies in this industry seem to undergo a radical shake-up every now and then and I am pretty sure it would have minimal impact on my situation but I need to be prepared...afterall, this is what I am good at! Risk spreading but not sub-priming! :-)

Finally, for those of you who visit this site regularly, you will realise that I've changed the song...hope you like it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Shining in the shadow!

There are times in life when I really am awed by the greatness of other people's performance. And today, I had such an experience! If you remember, I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that we had been selected to present to the CEO and CFO of Thomson S.A. Well, the day was today and we have come out with flying colours, and more! On Friday last week, we met our professors for one last guidance to improve our presentation as 'strategy consultants', and they told us to make a few changes here and there, tell a story and engage the audience. Just like Steve Jobs! And, we were wondering how...we ain't no Steve Jobs! Nonetheless, we agreed to the changes and practised hard. We had also dropped from three presenters to two presenters to control the flow and we timed our portions accurately.

We were second to present today and one of the esteemed guests had a lot of questions for the first group...questions that made us eye each other in fear (this is the closest word I can find though it wasn't fear as such) and amazement! During the presentation, I sent a special email to my co-presenter to say they must be testing to see how we can perform under pressure and that we should stay clam, organised and focus on the task in hand. We agreed.

I opened the presentation and introduced my fellow team members who worked hard to get the presentation done. I did my part, the first half, and I thought I did it well as I did not get too many questions from the guests. But, when I handed over to my colleague for her to present, everything changed. Out of nowhere, my colleague transformed into this semi-Steve Jobs personality and took over with a calm voice weaving a wonderful story of our strategy of the Thomson group. I was amazed and so was everyone else in the class. At the end, we came out shining, shining in the shadow of our colleague who took the game to a whole new level. Oh, am I pleased to be part of this TEAM!

We have been invited for breakfast with the CEO who unfortunately could not come today as a bird hit the plane he was on during take-off in LA and he got severely delayed. But, we are seeing him, and I am told the HR director, in November. Can't wait! :-) Bonne nuit!

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