Farmhand - Stanford GSB 2008

An insiders view of the Stanford GSB class of 2008

Location: Stanford, United States

hitching a ride across the galaxy with my towel

Monday, October 30, 2006

and i need to watch out!

I just noted the high frequency of the words “incredible” and “suck” in my blog entries. Ofcourse, I am going to blame this on contemporary American culture. J

Note to self: improve thy English!


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Listening to interesting people this week!

This week I had the opportunity to listen to three, rather good speakers and this highlights the joy of coming back to college, the level of intellectual stimulation is so high, that its incredible.

Ofcourse, I would have posted this earlier, but the mid terms kinda held me back a little.


Speaker 1: Finance minister of India: P Chidambaram (an HBS alum too)

This is a man who is in charge of the budget of the entire nation of India. This is a man, who in India is surrounded by 100 cops and is completely inaccessible. This is also the man with whom we shook hands and quizzed him on the logic of subsidizing oil in an economy. The opportunity to meet him at a SCID ( presentation, with less than 75 people around was incredible. The man spoke about the plan of the nation, its challenges and options for the future. Ofcourse, as can be expected with politics, not everything he said was unbiased and clean, but the opportunity to meet this man face to face, in such a small gathering was great (yes, there was a lottery thingie to get in, I got lucky cos it was one day before the mid-terms and a lot of people dropped out) You can watch his presentation on the link above too.


Speaker 2: Azim Premji, CEO Wipro

This was a man, who had to go back from his Stanford undergrad back to India, when his father died and he had to take over the family business of manufacturing vegetable oil. Two decades later, he transformed that company into one of the largest software/BPO firms in India, which is growing at the rate of 35% a year! While he was not the best of presenters, he gave us some incredible insights into the transforming nature of the India economy and what the hard facts where.


Speaker 3: Dr. Eli Harari, CEO Sandisk

This was a man, who had never fished in his life. But after graduating from Princeton, with a PhD. In solid state physics, decided to make a new type of fishing rod. The idea failed and his wife urged him to focus on his core skills. It worked ! Turns our that the topic of his thesis was the basis of flash memory technology. And the rest if history ofcoure….

He spoke at great length about his success and failures (this man was 43 when his last company failed, so he was not a young upstart)


The bottom line, these presentations are so intellectually stimulating and refreshing that it would suck to leave college in two years, and not have the opportunity to access such high quality forums again





Friday, October 27, 2006

MBAs - the biggest cheaters !

Some food for thought here. In some of our accouting classes, we have had a few remarks flying around like "dude, hang on! the ethics class is next quarter".

interesting read...


M.B.A.s: The Biggest Cheaters: Weekend - Yahoo! Finance

CareersM.B.A.s: The Biggest CheatersMarketWatchBy Thomas KostigenGraduate business students take their cue from corporate scandalsThe corporate scandals that have plagued Wall Street in recent history are setting a fine example for young students looking to make their mark in the business world: They are learning to cheat with the best of them.Students seeking their masters of business administration degree admit cheating more than any other type of student, from law to liberal arts."We have found that graduate students in general are cheating at an alarming rate and business-school students are cheating even more than others," concludes a study by the Academy of Management Learning and Education of 5,300 students in the U.S. and Canada.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

and mid terms are here already

And I can assure you, this place is not a country club. There is blood all over and its just getting worse. This is the worst part of being back at school!





Sunday, October 15, 2006

on clubs in business school !

I have learnt several things about clubs in business schools over the last few weeks, and my emotions have ranged from, wow that was a rip off to umm…wow…that really helps.


So, in the first week after college started, we had club day, the day when clubs put out stalls and you go and speak to them, find out what they offer, what plans they have for the year and then decide whether you will join the club or not. So, its rather important to prioritize, because there are many clubs, lots of very interesting clubs and you cant join them all. I went in with the mindset, Ill join 6  or so clubs and that’s it. There is another reason for this choice, CLUB MEMBERSHIPS COST MONEY, fees can range from 0-50$ (yes the wine club is very expensive). I landed up joining 9 clubs, the idea is to try them out and decide on the ones which I would like to be involved in.


Clubs are divided into two types, social and professional. So while the wine club and the eat club allow me to meet fellow GSBers in very informal settings, the Private Equity (PE) and the consulting club, allow me to meet folks in a very formal setting, where I can hone my skills to pursue a desired career. The PE club had its first session recently, as their activities are divided into three categories, educational, networking and social. This gathering was an educational lecture form the officers of the club, called PE101. It was indoctrination for people like me, who are members of the club but have little to no idea about what PE is all about. It was pretty much a classroom lecture like setting, listening to folks who have worked in companies like KKR, and it was incredibly eye opening. Also the pizza over the lecture was really nice. The next few weeks are packed with evenings with bbq kickoffs for various clubs, so that should be rather interesting.


The summary, join clubs, its not just for social reasons but there is an interesting educational aspect associated with them, especially for career switchers. Also prioritize ruthlessly, after a few meetings, I am going to decide which clubs I am going to focus on, else ill be spread too thin with my personal and educational requirements.



Saturday, October 14, 2006

and now the academic side and the FOAMY side

So they make some of these MBA programs sound like country clubs. Anybody who tells you that is smoking something they should not be! It all started off as a bit of a maniacal rush. DAY1 of class, we had to come in prepared with cases, DAY2 we had assignments to turn in. And your truly was sitting on his ass till Sunday evening, and then I called someone to find out, if they fancied going to a bar, and they were like…sure..once im done with the case and I panicked totally (ofcourse two weeks on, I have learnt the art of prioritization and panic attacks are less frequent now)……


So here is the deal, they work you to death in first quarter (especially when you don’t take exemptions like me). But one soon finds their rhythm, with study groups and other things, but you still need to be on top of your game. It feels like I just started, and we have midterms next week (woohoooo for the quarter system)…


To prevent myself ending on a gloomy note, I think it would be great to introduce you folks to the idea of FOAM – friends of Arjay Miller, an ex Stanford professor, a legend in many ways. In his honour, you can join a group called FOAM at college. Every Tuesday FOAM folks meet up in a bar of the area (Tuesday, cos we have no classes on Wednesday) and then indulge in a fair amount of tippling. Members of foam have access to unlimited amounts of beer and non members (like myself, who do math of cost benefit, based on attendance percentage and drinking habits) pay for their own drinks. FOAM also organizes the annual VEGAS trip, which is supposed to be super cool !


Okies…gotta get back to doing economics, take the turbo class in econ only if you feel really comfortable with math..else go for the regular option





Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stanford Pre-Term

Coming back to college @ Stanford was a very strange experience. Going back to the same place, but older (and definitely not wiser) was extremely strange. The undergrads seemed to have gotten younger than I remembered them to be. Going into Schwab (the residential housing complex for MBAs) was strange. I would always cycle past Schwab and we would treat it like the fortress in the Stanford citadel. It signified the elite of Stanford, and suddenly now I was in this fort, and guess what, it did not seem all that elite as I made it out to be.

The Stanford pre-term lasts for a week, in which we are taught various things. I am going to highlight a few of them

1) The first team / group building workshop

This felt like attending one of those self- help workshops. 379 of us in an indoor basketball stadium, sitting in benches (sometimes a bit too close for comfort) and one super psyched dude running up and down taking names, insisting that I speak to people ahead and behind me, almost making me want to stand up and go hallaluyah ! We did lots of interesting group building exercise. However, in the end, we were divided into team and each team had to produce a product. It was a bike assembly thingie. We took it rather lightly, and though we did it in the allotted time, it was definitely not upto the technical / engineering standards that I am used to. Next we know, the customers of our products walk in. They are high school kids from various counties in the area, selected by the local YMCA chapter, brought in to collect their product. Gosh, you should have seen us scramble for those spanners then, to make sure that every nut and bolt was tightened (we found out later that they would be checked by professional mechanics ofcourse). The joy on the face of those kids, as we handed them the bikes, along with a helmet and a lock, made it sooo worth it. It was an incredible feeling, to watch 65 kids walk out of that room, each with a bike in their hand and a BIG GRIN on their face !

2) The Derrick Bolton presentation

This man is absolutely the most dedicated man that ever, and I repeat, that EVER existed. His level of commitment to the program is awesome. Hours before he was off to Mumbai, to interview a bunch of folks there, he gave the new class of admits, some very interesting information about the statistics of admits, interesting facts about our admits, and funny letters of recommendations about them (some not so positive, so makes me wonder, why we sweat so much over all those things) Almost, all of us got an indirect mention in that speech (no name, just references like, one of your classmates aspires to be the attorney general of Israel, the only problem, his wife, also a fellow admit, has the same aspiration). This man had us on split ends. I don’t want to reveal more about the contents of his speech, because I think it would deprive those individuals who join this college later, of an incredible first DB experience.

3) The organizational behaviour class

We had our first OB class with Prof. Margaret Neale. This woman is awesome. This was a five day course, on teams and group dynamics. We did lots of interesting exercises in and out of the class (again, I would prefer not to disclose the contents of these exercises). These OB folks normally know what they are talking about. Learnt more than I wanted to in this class.

4) The San Francisco scavenger hunt

After parties almost every night (including disco bowling + 80s party), the last event was a scavenger hunt in SF followed by a huge dinner with lots of drinks. We were running around the city, and boy we have some pictures, that I hope, remain in the GSB and never come out of the college….awesome drinking and partying

So…that what first week at stanford. It does sound awesome, but it was exhausting as hell. I was so tired after the pre-term week. Next blog post: the nightmare from hell – preparing for cases, first week of classes….uggghhh


Monday, October 09, 2006

The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists

came across this article...highly recommend that you read this

The Top Ten Lies of Venture CapitalistsVenture capitalists are simple people: we've either decided to invest, and we are convincing ourselves that our gut is right (aka, “due diligence”) or there's not a chance in hell. While we may be simple, we're not necessarily forthcoming, so if you think it's hard to get a “yes” out of venture capitalist, you should try to get a conclusive “no.”

Signal Without Noise--by Guy Kawasaki: The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Before coming to Stanford

So after getting admitted to Stanford, you get all these wonderful phone calls and emails from the entire community. In this plethora of communication, there is also a very undesirable letter (or atleast a mood dampening letter), which comes from the academic committee. The basic point of the letter is to remind students that the MBA program is also about academics and not just about partying and networking. It includes rather sobering sentences like “we know what we are talking about, as we have been doing it for a long time” and “your interests are best served by doing your pre-reading”. So to highlight a few of these things


1)       DO the EXCEL WARM-UP. It will really help you a lot, especially for those of you who do not do a lot of excel stuff on a regular basis.

2)       DO the SUGGESTED PRE-READING – especially on subjects related to backgrounds that you are un-familiar with. For example, I have no idea about what goes on in Financial Accounting. I have found the initial classes of financial accounting less intimidating because of this pre-work done

3)       STUDY FOR THOSE EXEMPTION EXAMS – this was my biggest blunder and I am paying the price for it now when I have to sit in a statistics class and agonise over Venn diagrams. Trust me, its not worth sitting in a class, where you know 80% of the subject matter. Try exploring other classes and hence study for those exemption exams


Those are about the only tips I can offer. Oh, wait…there is one more. Start curbing your spending habits a few months before you quit and actually join college. Its hard to transform those habits overnight, and I am finding it EXCEPTIONALLY HARD to change my spending pattern, as I was not thinking about it.


That’s it for this post, the next post is going to be about the Stanford GSB pre-term, the first week, first thoughts and impressions.







Saturday, October 07, 2006

And we are back

Ok folks, so from now on, I am going to blog atleast once a week about my Stanford GSB experiences. The last few months have been crazy, totally nuts. I was on four continents, 7 countries, and then moved over to the bay area, found a house, got used to sitting in class again…too many emotions…and hence an equal number of blog entries to come…

So over the next few days, please expect the following blog entires


1)       Preparation before going to stanford GSB

2)        Pre-term (1st week) at stanford GSB

3)        Start of classes and how it is to be back at school after 5 years

4)        What makes Stanford the most AWESOME B SCHOOL EVER !!! and the interesting people I have met so far