Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day in the life of Kent..
Taken from the real events (and times) of October 29th...

7:50am - Wake up before the alarm, but decided to go back to sleep and wait for the alarm to wake me.

8:30am - Alarm goes off... but decided to hit snooze

8:40am - Finally woke up for real, started to wash up, prepare myself for school

9:00am - Leave the apartment, walk to school, and on most days, I pick up a steamed bun (bao zi) at the coffee shop on the first floor. Today, I'm still full from yesterday's dinner, so I don't get breakfast

9:10am - Check the clocks at the entrance... 9:10am, go to my locker to pickup reading materials

9:15am - Check emails, read the online site to catch up on the news that happened overnight. (and hope that there wasn't any more financial damage on Wall Street from the night before)

10:00am - Start preparing for my interview on the next day, reviewing my resume, going over case questions, and comments from my last interviewers

12:00pm - Attend Global Strategy Management class, where we discussed the case about whether INSEAD, a European school, should expand to include an Asian campus.
1:30pm - Class ends

1:45pm - Grab a quick lunch in the cafeteria that's full of students just finishing classes, chat with some friends that just arrived from the European campus, and prepare for a 2pm class
2:00pm - Attend the Models for Strategic Planning class... class finishes at 3:30pm
3:45pm - Attend the Business Plan Workshop class until 5:30

5:30pm - Attend the Entrepreneurship day lectures, with a special session on "How to get a job in Private Equity", with 3 people that are already within the field.

6:20pm - received a call from a friend, reminding me that we're supposed to leave early for a surprise birthday party for another classmate
6:30pm - Entrepreneurship day lectures finish, went to the lobby to share a taxi to go to the restaurant for a classmate's birthday dinner

6:40pm - While in the taxi going across Singapore on the AYE, admire the incredible view of the Singapore skyline at sunset (on the left), while laughing at the jack-o-lantern that's hanging from the Singapore Flyer (on the right, but not pictured)

7:00pm - We're first to arrive at the restaurant, so we decide to buy a birthday cake for our classmate at the nearby mall. While waiting for a stoplight, I get "bombed" by a bird flying above. Yuck!

7:34pm - Our friend arrives at the restaurant for her surprise birthday dinner! Except, we're seated at the front of the restaurant, and there's these huge windows, so she could see us waiting there!

9:45pm - Leave the birthday dinner a little early with a classmate to go back to INSEAD for a 10pm interview call with the US

9:55pm - Arrive back at INSEAD, prepare for my interview with the US, but the interviewer re-schedules the meeting.

10pm - 11pm: Prepare for my McKinsey interview the next day, reviewing Case In Point, and lessons learnt from previous case interviews.

11pm: Take a call from a US recruiter for VC firms, talk about career goals and explaining my resume

11:30pm: Return back to my apartment
11:45pm: Iron my shirt for tomorrow's 8am videoconference interview with McKinsey New York
12:00am - Sleep! Need to get up at 6:30am the next morning to make sure I arrive at the McKinsey Singapore office by 7:30am.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Follow-up on Evolvence Capital

A few posts ago, I spoke about our video-conference with the people from Evolvence capital in Dubai/India. One thing I didn't mention: this was the first time I realized the power of the LinkedIn network. In the class, my classmate decided to lookup the guy we were speaking to (the founder of the fund). According to Linked in, he was already 3 degrees away from this founder. I decided to do the same, and found out that I'm also 3 degrees away from this guy as well. It was me, to one of the MPs at my summer internship, to his contacts, to this guy.

The power of personal networks is staggering - you may be already connected to people that you just recently met for the first time, through other people. Hopefully, my LinkedIn network will result in some job offers, given today's MBA recruiting situation..

Little Canon Camera, you served me well. Rest In Peace..

I typically carry two cameras around when I'm travelling, my DSLR, and a small Canon SD1000 for quick shots when I don't want to lug out the DSLR because it's too big. Well, something happened to my SD1000 while in India...

I normally carry the camera in a holster attached to my belt. Well, while in India, I went to go use the toilet, and the only one I could find was a squatting toilet, the type that is level with the floor, and common in Asia. Well, after I got up from the toilet, I saw my camera case slip off my belt, bounce on the floor, and into the toiletwater!!!

I was completely stunned... I didn't know what to do! Was it still there in the water? Or did it sink? What about the photos on the camera? Obviously I couldn't flush the toilet with the camera there.. so I decided to go for it and pull it out! (probably one of the grossest things I've ever had to do). I quickly pulled the camera out of the holster, and it still seemed dry, probably because the holster protected the body from the water. When I opened up the battery compartment, it was still fairly dry, with 2 little drops on the battery. So, I held out some hope. I let the camera dry out, didn't use it until I returned to Singapore.

Then, I tried to turn it on..... the lens extended, but nothing showed up on the screen, then an error said "Lens Error. Restart Camera". And no matter what I did, it always kept returning back to the error. Thus, it was dead. =(

It's sad to lose a camera, but at least I was able to retrieve the photos from the memory card. And, while it seems strange, it makes for a funny story. What would you have done? Gone for it? Or left the camera in the toilet? ANd the worst part was, as I was using the toilet, I noticed that my camera was pulling down on my belt, and I remember thinking, "must be careful that the camera doesn't drop..."

Luckily, I was able to find a half-decent deal on a camera here in SIngapore, so now I have a nice new SD1100, a newer model and 2 more MP than I had before.. and it comes with a fresh new case. Need to remember my lesson now and make sure i put my camera case on the other side of the belt where it's less likely to fall off!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Evolvence Capital videoconference

This last period, I took a private equity class, probably one of the coolest classes ever while at INSEAD. Private equity is a class of private investments, making investments in non-listed private companies, such as venture capital. The professor worked really hard to make the class very interesting and interactive. For this particular session, we studied a case where an ex-Abbott research scientist went to do his MBA, ended up at McKinsey, and left to setup his own Dubai-based, India focused life-science investment fund, and the case asked what steps he should do to startup his fund.

For the class, the professor actually was able to get the protagonist in the case, as well as an investment manager from his firm to do a videoconference with the students at INSEAD. The scene was exactly something out of a movie! Just like a scene in a James Bond movie where James Bond, MI-5, and the CIA are all working together to solve a problem. We had two huge screens, displaying a live video feed of Hari Buggana (the fund founder, based in India), and one of his investment managers in Dubai. They discussed what actually happened in the case, along with answering questions from the students.

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But the scene was just totally incredible– two huge screens, simultaneous video-conference between Singapore, Dubai, and Hyderabad. (see above) And – it was all run over Skype!

I really identified with the people in this case, because the protoganist was a research scientist that left to do an MBA, and one of the first people that he hired onto his team was a CWRU PhD in finance! After this class, we all wondered if our post-MBA life stories would become cases that future INSEAD students would study? (hopefully good stories, and not bad)
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Day in India

Like most of my travels, this one started out really hectic. It was the 2nd day of our break, and I was working on job applications. We decided to go out for an early dinner, but it took us a while to get our food, and by the time we finished, I had to quickly dash back to school and gather my things.

Arrived at the budget terminal, where I flew Tiger Airways for about US$250 to Chennai. I seem to always pick the wrong lines to checkin, because by the time I got to the counter, the people in the other lines had already cleared out, and they were pretty much closing the desk, despite me arriving 1.5 hrs early!

Apparently, there is a very small limit on carry-on items - 7 kgs or 10 lbs. They didn't check the weight until AFTER I had checked-in my luggage, and my backpack came in at 8kgs. She said I needed to reduce the weight, but I couldn't throw anything out! I only had a laptop, camera, and books from the library. After frantically looking for space and stuffing as much stuff as I could into my pockets, she just waved me on without checking again. Note: some laptops are already 8 lbs, 5-6 kgs!

From Shanthas Wedding - Chennai

When I arrived, it really felt like a foreign land. Lots of people waiting outside, but only a few taxi touts. Made my way to the counter to the prepaid taxi booth, where I got into a taxi that looked like it was from the 1950's. And, in true 1950's style, no seat belts in the back. Apparently, these Ambassador cars are the mainstay of the Indian market, and it's not that they're made in the 50's, they're still made now, but this style has become really popular. Just recently when the market opened up, then you started to see more newer looking cars.

Arrived at the hotel after a little bit of confusion. Prepaid my Rs3000 (US$60), and checked out the room. Not bad for US$25/night! Clean, fan + AC, TV with a kazillion Bollywood movies, and western toilet (important point for a later story).

From Shanthas Wedding - Chennai

Next morning, I had a fantastic breakfast. I felt that all the things I've learned from my Indian coworkers have all prepared me for this day. I went into the hotel restaurant knowing exactly what I wanted... vadas and idli, with a cup of chai, just like what serve at the former Udupi Cafe along Central Ave. In what became a common trend, the waitstaff guy seemed surprised that I wanted to order Indian dishes, and then would follow-up asking me if it was too spicy. My response: Spicy is GOOD! Total cost for breakfast: Rs100, or about US$2. Unfortunately, I was too hungry, and took the photo too late after I finished the vadas and idli, but was still working on a new plate of puri in the background. (upper left corner)

After that, I hit the road with my friendly driver Sagan. (or that at least what his name sounded like... I just kept on thinking Carl Sagan...)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just back from India

From Shanthas Wedding - Chennai

Just got back.. fantastic experience, more stories to come!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Going to India!

I can't believe it, it's the end of P4! Two more months, and I'll graduate! I have been so incredibly tired this whole period, trying to keep up with coursework, interviews, interview preparation, final projects, etc. And even today, our first day "off", I still found myself working on some miscellaneous items, and 2 interviews.

Did I mention how tired I am?

And now, I need to quickly prep for my first visit to India! My good friend/colleague from the office is getting married in India, and I'm visiting! Departing tomorrow night.

Some cool events that's happened this week that I'll blog about soon:

  • Visit of the Crown Prince of Bahrain to INSEAD (with pics)
  • Interviews
  • Upcoming trip to Geneva
  • P4 classes