Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A peek from the dark side (Kellogg Fall Quarter 07)

If I say its been an eventful 3 months since my last post, that will be an understatement. In fact, it will be a bigger understatement than saying that the sub-prime loan crisis is not treating the wannabe Investment bankers very well or that GM's 30 odd billion accounting goof-up might come back to bite them in the ass. I am very tempted to keep going with such pearls of wisdom, but I guess you all get the point. So with the kind of trust that can only come with naivete and inexperience, I am going to assume that there are still some readers checking this blog or a few who haven't deleted this feed from their bloglines, I am going to narrate the story of my life in the last 3 months.
Last week of August:
Even before school started, Kellogg students embark on team-building trips around the globe. I went with a group to New Orleans where we clubbed some Katrina rebuilding for the Habitat for humanity with some good old partying in the French quarters. It so happened that when we were staying at 'Camp Hope', it was the 2nd anniversary of Katrina. So Anderson Cooper flew down to our camp to do a special on Katrina, and we formed the backdrop. Long story short, I got my 3 seconds of fame and appeared on CNN! New Orleans was a ghost town and it was shocking to see how the town has not recovered at all from the tragedy. Unfortunately, the rest of the nation has conveniently forgotten the event and moved on. Everywhere we went, people came up to us and thanked us for coming down to help rebuild the city. It was very touching.
September:
September is CIM time. CIM stands for 'Complete Immersion in Management'. It is a series of events geared to act as a logical break between your work life and start of school, where your resistance is broken down and new friendships are forged. Students are divided into different sections with weird names like the 'bucketheads', 'cashcows' or 'poets' and there is a healthy inter-section rivalry with a points system, not unlike Hogwarts. There were cheering contests, skits (where I played 'Dipak Shakur', a cross between the rapper and our beloved Dean Dipak Jain), weird sports (dizzy bat anyone?!), treasure hunts etc. Within a week, we knew all our section mates at the least, about a 100 of them. We also got our first exposure to the quality of the Kellogg faculty with a pre-term course on Management and Organizations. The course was characterized by a lot of student interaction, video clips and even a complete movie (12 Angry Men). It was probably the best teaching I've seen in my life. The CIM came to an end with the formal CIM ball, held at the end of September at the Field Museum. It was the perfect way to end an eventful month.
October:
Just when we were getting used to the partying and socializing, the reality of business school hit us flush on the face. Suddenly, I was in the middle of 4 courses (Turbo Finance, Strategy, Accounting and Factory Physics 1) with a ton of assignments, projects, team meetings etc. My calender was filling up fast and I didn't have a moment to stop and think. Around this time, I realized that I-Banking was not for me and decided to focus only on Management Consulting and High-Tech product management as career options. Very soon, companies will start making their way to campus and you had to know what you want to do. If you tried to do everything, you will be burnt out. I also got selected to be an interviewer on the Kellogg Admissions Committee.
Despite all my complaints, I was enjoying my courses. While Turbo finance was whizzing by at breakneck speed, I learnt how things like how to build discounted cash flow models, about efficient markets and that derivatives have nothing to do with calculus. In Strategy, we were applying models like Porter's five Forces to study long-run industry structures or to evaluate factors that affect competition within industries, like competitive advantages and value propositions. The cases (Home Depot, Coors, Enterprise etc.) were extremely interesting with a lot of student interaction, and the professor was brilliant. This is turning out to be my favorite course this quarter.
Amid the chaos, we still found some time to entertain outselves. There was the weekly MMM 'thirsty thursdays' and the friday evening TGs (short for TGIF) with various themes. The highlight was the Drag TG hosted by the GLMA (Gay and Lesbian Management Association) where teams from various sections contested for free tickets sponsored by Orbitz. There is something very touching about straight guys shaving their legs, coloring their nails, humping on stage in front of a faculty judge panel and doing everything to embarrass themselves in public (dirty dancing, santa baby, spice girls, shakira...) just for a couple of trans-atlantic tickets!
November:
Before we realized what happened in each of our courses, our midterms were on us. And it was back to more scrambling and clutching at the straws. I somehow got through these, but my performances were nothing much to write home about. Some were good and some were miserable. Never mind, there is more to B-Schools than just grades! A bunch of us decided to start a new initiative called 'India Insight @ Kellogg', with the aim of providing a channel for all 'Indianness' in Kellogg (Indian students, faculty, speakers, India-related research etc.). The output will be a comprehensive web portal and a publication to be released during the India Business Conference next year.
November was also the time for Diwali and my 30th birthday! My wife celebrated my passage into the 30s with a combined Diwali/Birthday party, and it was a good opportunity to catch up with a lot of old friends. Kellogg also hosted the annual 'bollywood Bash' with performances by students, food and open bar, and a dance floor with a DJ playing the latest desi dance music, and even a dhol guy to boot. If I thought things would ease up after the midterm week, I was wrong wrong wrong again. We were hit with some huge assignments. It was getting increasingly hard to schedule group meetings what with everyone's packed calenders. In my infinite wisdom, I also decided to participate in the BCG Case Competition and put together a team. Unfortunately, we weren't able to spend enough tinme together on it and could not make it through the hotly contested competition (3 teams out of 50 odd). It was a great experience nevertheless.
What was a hectic schedule became even more brutal when all the recruiting companies started coming to campus. There was a whole bunch of presentations and receptions to attend and schmoozing and networking to do. Networking is a huge part of recruiting in business schools, and who you know really matters here. I've also been having one-on-one coffee chats with representatives from various consulting companies, this is another way of getting to know the company a bit bitter while also building relationships.
Finally, the madness seemed to subside last week with the impending Thanksgiving break. For the first time, the school has decided to give the entire week of for Thanksgiving, which explains how I can afford to sit and type out such a long post.
This is but a very superficial account of my life in Kellogg so far. I will need to write an entire book to go into more detail. I have chosen to pick my activities and club involvements with care, rather than spread myself thin. So I guess I'm in a slightly better position than some of my classmates. But it has been a very interesting ride so far. After the break, we will head into the final lap for the quarter culminating in our final exams in December. I can already taste the winter break! As usual, I hope to keep this blog a bit more regular in the future. But as usual, I might be wrong.

4 Comments:

Blogger Rachit Chandra said...

c2c,

Great to have you blogging again. Kellogg sounds fun!

Rachit
2006A7PS012

11/20/07, 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow , u r truly an american.Travelling to new orleans is certainly travelling around the globe for the americans who think that their country is the globe and the rest of the world is a dirt.Kudos to u and your sub conscious americanism and of course you are bcshool boy , u have to put out such buzz words.

12/3/07, 3:09 PM  
Blogger c2c said...

Anonymous - A little bit judgemental, aren't we? Although I don't need to honor this with a response, I would like to clarify what I said. I meant that Kellogg teams fly to all parts of the world - India, Iceland, turkey, Dubai, Latin America, you name it. I went to New Orleans because I was limited by my visa status. That said, it turned out to be a great learning experience. There were no buzz words involved in my blog, my only intention was to provide a decent picture of life in Kellogg for those who might be interested - which clearly does not include you. Another thing bschool teaches is to get your facts straight before you start passing judgements - you clearly have a lot of room for improvement here.

12/3/07, 7:06 PM  
Blogger OnCloud9 said...

lol - and fall was still the fun part of Kellogg
what will happen if you recount the winter quarter? :)

4/10/08, 1:57 AM  

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