Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Done Done Done!!!

Can't believe it, but I'm finally done! Last exam finished about 1 hr ago, now it's a frantic rush to pack and say "zai jian" to Singapore and "bonjour" to France.. this past two weeks have been crazy, managing exams, final projects, packing, and trying to have to balance. Unfortunately, I think my balance is 2 weeks of nothing but studies, and then 5 days of nothing but relaxing, and then back to the regular schedule...

I think I'll miss this place already... I'll post some pictures of my "Singapore life" sometime in the near future...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pre-exam philosophizing #2

I noticed for the first time that the shower stall in my apartment, has clear glass, and not frosted glass. Isn't that wierd? At least if it was frosted, and somebody had an emergency, they could still use the bathroom if they needed to.

Wonder if I've never noticed it because it steams up when I normally use the shower...

Pre-Exam Philosophizing - #1

P2 exams are here again, and so I've been frantically studying for 6 exams. And we have only 1 day off to study, so that meant starting early... ie, last weekend.

It was about 10pm, and I was at school, walking back to my "office", and through the glass, I saw a nice dinner party in the outside courtyard. Then I understood what it was like to be in an aquarium. Except the question is: Which is the aquarium?

Was it me in the aquarium, wondering about the lone student who was at school at late hours on a weekend, while people having dinner were looking into the school?

Or was it them, enjoy a nice dinner outside, the life that I could be having, and it was me, peering into the aquarium, watching these people enjoy their dinner?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Economy Hits Summer Internships

Number of positions applied to thus far: 10
Number of positions with first round interviews: 3
First-Pass Yield: 30% (although one interview was with a very prestigious firm)

Number of first-round interviews "in the oven": 1

Number of positions with 2nd round interviews / offers: 0
Final-Pass Yield: 0.00%

Am I being too picky? Or should I not be so desperate? Or should I just take a 2 month vacation? The only such time I'll ever have so much free time?

Monday, April 14, 2008

I love Singapore

And it's not for the reasons that you think. Ok, Singapore does have really tasty dishes, but the reason I love it so much is because it's INCREDIBLY EFFICIENT. More so than the US (can you really believe that?)

I had a Maxtor external hard disk that I bought from the US, and it went bad on me as I arrived in Singapore. I was afraid that I'd have to return it to the US for a warranty exchange, but decided to look into options here. Turns out that Seagate (the parent of Maxtor) is based in Singapore, and there's a local address for RMA returns. This past Friday, I took a cab to the building, did my warranty return, and was told to wait about 2-3 weeks. (Interesting side note: This place was completely full of pallets of hard disks, seems like it's a regional distribution center for Asia, if not North America)

Today (Monday), I got an email from the company that my new hard drive will be shipped to me by Tuesday.

Incredible! I was seriously prepared for a long wait, or at most, logistical issues since I bought this in the US, but the service was beyond my expectations

Just like my experience opening my bank account here... They needed only a few documents, and within an hour, my bank account was open. I made a wire-transfer from the US, and it was credited the next day. That's faster than it takes for me to make domestic wire transfers between banks in the US!

One interesting thought: once Singaporeans (or expats in Singapore) get used to this type of high-quality efficiency, it must be so painful to move to other Western countries (eg, France), where things move at glacial speeds...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Learning about Wooster at INSEAD

As one of the few Americans at INSEAD, I often get a lot of flack from my other compatriots, because I come from the midwest, while nearly everybody else is from the coasts. But recently, coming from the midwest has been advantageous. Believe it or not, we actually had two case studies about companies in Ohio.. I was completely shocked, because I knew about both of them. The first case was about Lincoln-Electric, a welding supply company in Cleveland where my friend Mike Ohlsen did an internship during college. The case discussed LE's unique compensation strategy, where employees on the factory floor are "paid for performance", based on piecework. Apparently, many business school cases have been written about LE's unique compensation program. The professor even showed a clip from an early 90's episode of 60 minutes, where they went to Cleveland, interviewed the factory workers and the CEO. One of the clips showed the old-school Ohio auto plates... it made me homesick.

The second case that was covered, was about... RUBBERMAID! My dad's employer, the company that gave me scholarships to CWRU, and what was the proudest company in Wooster, Ohio, my hometown. Rubbermaid pretty much collapsed in the 90's after raw material costs rose rapidly, and they were unable to pass the cost to their largest customer, Wal-Mart. The accounting professor was talking about Wal-mart's ability to pressure its suppliers, and showed this excellent clip from Frontline, where they went to Wooster to interview Rubbermaid executives and visited the plant where all the machinery were being sold off to Chinese competitors. It was an interesting discussion, because in class, I explained that I was actually from Wooster, and that my family has a close connection to Rubbermaid. To which the professor said "I feel bad for your town... I think it's better in Singapore. I grew up in Bethelhem, PA (home of Bethlehem Steel), and it's a similar situation there".

This week, we'll be studying Newell, which acquired Rubbermaid around the late 90's, and as an assignment, we have to decide whether Newell should acquire Rubbermaid or not... a very touchy subject for somebody from Wooster.

I'd really suggest watching the clip #2 about Rubbermaid on PBS's website, it's a part of a series asking "Is Wal-mart good for America?"

Now, someone may ask, why is Ohio suddenly a hotspot for b-school cases, when everybody else in the world (and perhaps even in the US) thinks that the midwest is all boring and farmlands? Probably because the Midwest has a lot of examples of companies that were the top of their industry years ago, but with global competition, have been under a lot of pressure to survive, which makes for great b-school cases.