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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year Day!

It is not everyday that I can post on a Leap Year Day so I thought I would quickly write something! :-)

I have my last set of consultations this morning and afternoon. After that, I will try and squeeze in a visit to the Sears Tower before seeing a couple of friends on exchange at the Chicago Graduate School of Business and one who came on exchange to HEC. I will fly back tomorrow to reach London on Sunday...and to get a day's rest before travelling to Hamburg on Monday!

See you around...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

“Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality.”

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future...The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

- John F. Kennedy

Soon after clearing immigration at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, I got out into the cold, snowy, Chicago air, heading straight for the waiting Lincoln and onward to my hotel. And, unavoidable as it seems today in this country, my conversation with the chauffeur turned to politics and one man in particular, a man spearheading change with the message of hope. I won't say I have been totally ignorant of what has been happening on this side of the pond; in fact, I have been quite impressed by this man's speeches. Yes, I like Barack Obama's style. He is inspirational and surely has developed a strong image. Whether or not his speeches have matters of significant substance, and whether he will win the presidential race, I don't know and I guess time will tell, but I certainly would like my leader to be inspirational like him! And, I hope that he will deliver on his promises of change if he wins.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

We plant the trees for the next generation to enjoy the shade...

Things do fly when one is actively engaged in one's work but this week was certainly slow...I only had a handful of meetings and consultations and not much else was happening so I started writing my IPP report. I have to do it at some point so might as well start now! Perhaps, my heart was not at work as I had my family over in the UK. They came by train so I got myself a hire car, drove into London to pick them up and welcomed them by taking them for a very English pub lunch! :-) My wife had also booked a few days at a holiday resort in the south so that she could spend some time without having to worry about cooking and washing up so I spent a couple of days driving 200 miles each day just to get to work, 100 miles up and 100 miles down! Thanks to a friend who works for a large car rental company, I got a 25% discount and on the day I went to pick the car up, I was given the choice to upgrade, FOC, to any car I wanted instead of the most economical one I had asked for. So, of course, I picked a fine piece of German engineering that was twice, maybe thrice, as large and powerful as what I had booked. And, the gentleman at the counter forgot to charge for the child seat, and then didn't bother to do so when he did remember, so I think I definitely got very lucky with this hire car business! I just have to be careful that my clean driving licence is not tarred with a speeding ticket as the car takes off rather rapidly at the sligtest of pressure on the accelerator! 200 miles a day of pure joy, power and comfort! ;-)

The 'standard' quality of accommodation and food at the holiday resort was a little disappointing but, if we do return to the place and we are not sure we ever will, we will opt for 'gold'. Nevertheless, this week has been one of the best ever for our son. He was a bit young and short to go on a lot of the rides in the park but, for the ones he could, he did it with a relish. So, yet again, the smile on his face says that it has been worthwhile. It is also nervously pleasing to realise how much time and effort I am putting into making him happy. I wonder if it is guilt from not being there for him everyday, or me just being fatherly. Talking about work and life balance, I am in discussion for a role that will be half-based in London or Paris and half-based, or not based, trotting around 50% of the countries in the EU. If it works out I think I will choose Paris as my location with a few days a month spent working from London and most other capitals in Europe!

Coming back to what I was writing about earlier, we took our son to the Aquarium in Portsmouth yesterday and he was so excited to see the fish, otters, monitor, frogs and snakes on display he could have easily spent the whole day there. We also checked into the Ibis hotel in Portsmouth which, though small, was economical, neat and clean. Our son has also developed a strong liking for cartoons so we have decided to buy him a few English DVDs so that he can improve his English whilst watching cartoons. Right now, he speaks more French than English and if it continues, he and I are going to have what is normally referred to as a communication gap!

We came back to my little village in the countryside this afternoon and my wife and son will return to France tomorrow. And, I head off to Chicago on Monday so my next blog will probably be from the windy city. So long...

Below is a good picture of Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth linked from

Addendum: Now, this man certainly knows how to get a good ROI! Or, he is just plain lucky! :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Aced it!

London, Paris, Dusseldorf…now stuck in Dusseldorf!

I was in Paris last week from Thursday to Saturday attending my IPP lectures on Corporate Governance. Considering how much importance is being given to these matters since the likes of Enron and WorldCom came to light, I was looking forward to the lectures but with a bit of wariness on what one could learn in just a few days. Gladly, I was wrong as, I must admit, I did learn a lot. The professor, once a super lawyer for corporate law in New York, was well on top of current affairs in the field and came across as very sharp and intelligent. He started with a short lecture on corporate governance - the involvement of the board, management, audit committee, etc - and then proceeded to a lot of case studies. He was extremely good in keeping tab of who was doing what in class and randomly asked students to make a comment, either on the case being discussed or on a comment made by a fellow student. And, he picked a few of the 'quiet' ones who usually never bother to talk in class so it definitely kept everyone on their toes. I was also fortunate enough to have further discussions with him over lunch and drinks. He introduced himself rather modestly…as a semi-retired lawyer who does a bit of teaching but this is a man who owns a rather large nest in Manhattan, whose family members in France have been lawyers for centuries, and whose idea of a reduced workload is to get involved in ONLY five or six company acquisitions a year. The discussions were differently interesting! On the last day, we had an exam which was based on a case involving irregularities in financial disclosure and reporting. The class was split into different groups and committees and we were asked to role-play the case. Nothing like a hands-on approach to learning!

Being back in Paris has also been good as I managed to spend some quality time with my family and put, yet again, my DIY skills to good use by assembling a TV stand and a closet for our son. And, the couple I bumped into way back in April 2007 when the husband was planning on joining the September intake – he did join - invited us for a meal on Sunday…being in France, it only took us four hours for lunch! If you think the French only think of food, you are wrong as, on Thursday, I went to see my IPP tutor for a short discussion on my project and lunch but we never went for lunch! We had two and a half hours and we spent every minute of it discussing the details of my IPP! That’s one dedicated tutor I have!

Right now, I am at the Maritim hotel at Dusseldorf International Airport because my flight to London got cancelled. I came out here for two days of consultations as part of my IPP project and it has been a good experience visiting this particular site which is culturally and ‘functionally’ different from the one I have seen so far in the UK. And, whilst waiting at the queue to be put on a BA flight tomorrow and assigned a complimentary hotel room, I started talking to the gentleman standing behind me. He turned out to be a lawyer with an Exec MBA from London Business School so we decided to meet up for drinks, dinner and spent the evening chatting and discussing various issues relating to world economics, power and discrepancies in the developing world, and the differences between France and England over a second – the first one provided for free by BA was not enough - meal of Sushi! So, the flight cancellation has not been such a waste of time!

And, if you are wondering about the title, it is because I aced every subject I took last term, i.e. PP1, and could not be more pleased with my performance. :-)


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