Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Brothers Ambani

And now for the most ridiculous item of the day.

A fascinating battle is underway in India for control of the country's largest private sector company, Reliance Industries. The feud is between two brothers, Mukesh and Anil, who are sort-of equal partners in running the company founded by their late father, Dhirubhai. Seems like the elder brother is making moves to become the sole decision making authority and in the process sidelining his younger brother by, almost stealthily, stripping him of his powers. This is a very high stakes battle, and these guys are smart to boot - Mukesh is a Stanford MBA and Anil a Wharton alum. A google search should present all the gory details.

A side story that I find very silly is the involvement of all kinds of religious gurus in efforts to broker peace between the two. Sillier still is this snippet from an email sent by Anil Ambani to 80,000 employees today:

“Over the last week, I have visited our holy and revered temples at Shreenathji and Tirupati Balaji and prayed for peace and tranquility for all of us and for courage to preserve and enhance the glorious legacy of our beloved [founder] Dhirubhai Ambani."

I'm sorry, but the last thing I want to hear from my CEO is that he's off touring temples and churches praying for blah-di-dah for me.
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chicago non-update

Just checked my Chicago status and it is still a mystery to me. There are people on BW whose status has turned to IC - In Committee - but I am still an R - Received. But, not sure what kind of received. They've got my money, that much the status tells me, but the rest of the stuff - transcripts, test scores, interview - are still at a No. Seems like the next step is for all of these to go Yes at some point, and then a week or so later the status changes to IC. What happens after that is still in the realm of the unknown.

Assuming that an application will not even be considered until all of the information has been bundled together and verified, which should really be as simple as printing the application since everything has been submitted online, I can safely say that my package is quite some ways from even getting in front of a reader. Slow, slow, slow.

Ah well, we are still in November and decision day is almost seven weeks away. So, no worries. I only wish there was more insight into how the process works. Then again, I may just be pampered by the way Wharton works :-)
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Monday, November 22, 2004

Color me Bad

Ever notice that there is an option for people to rate posts on s2s. It's a 5-star kind of system, and i presume the more the stars the better the rating. I really hadn't paid attention to that until I noticed a couple of weeks ago that a few posts of mine were all rated 1-star. Now, they weren't flames or anything, just simple answers to questions. I've been sort of looking for that ever since and I'm convinced there's someone on there who's either a demented soul or confused as to how many stars mean what. There are so many informative posts that seem to be ranked 1-star. What prompted this little rant is a reply I saw by Catherine (WYKim) to a poster who asked if it was OK to reapply in R2. She said yes, that she was an R2 reapplicant who is a student now. And it gets a 1-star ! Also noticed the same for posts by meg and classy wishing good things for an applicant who didn't get an interview. I know I'm just being picky, but hey it's monday morning.
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Friday, November 19, 2004

The Wharton Interview

a warning before i start - this post is going to be mostly incoherent and all over the place. there are way too many thoughts running through my head. tread with caution.

i had my interview last evening with an alumni. the first person i talked to after was my sis' and i told her that i thought it went ok. told her a couple of my interviewer's comments and she said it sounded like a great interview. my roommates said the same thing, and i repeated the it-went-well mantra to some people i emailed. i went to bed feeling content and got a great night's sleep.

i did a detailed post-mortem this afternoon and, as I thought back to the things I did-not-have-a-chance-to-say, could-have-said, and should-have-said-better, realized to my horror that it was a complete disaster. i should probably mention that i was caught in some very bad traffic and showed up a few minutes late to start with.

the past hour or so i've put the good and the bad together and come to a very different conclusion - there is no way I can even begin to judge this interview on a up/down scale. this just wasn't that kind of chat. the only thing i am certain about at this point is that my interviewer was an absolute master of his art.

let me start with the questions i was ** NOT ** asked:

why MBA?
why Wharton?
why now?

yup, you read it right. i was NOT asked any of the questions that an interview is supposed to be all about. and you know what, i think it's bloody brilliant !

what is the purpose of an interview? what does it add to my candidacy that isn't in my application? what does being asked about and telling the same grand story that i've written about really achieve? nothing very substantial beyond validating my stated goals and career paths, or actually seeing some passion, or making sure my communication skills are a-ok. identifying Fit seems like the most obvious purpose.

so, what was this guy trying to do?

i really think he was trying to find the answers to the three golden questions without my telling him what I think they are. a seriously serious endeavor. like every other applicant, i have a 'story'. it is crafted from several individual events over the years. 'i' believe that they are all interconnected and lead from one to the other and to the future. ask me a straightforward question and i will tell you the story.

but what if i am only allowed to describe each event in isolation, and the Why's, How's and What's associated with the event. will, then, the glue that's supposed to connect them become evident to an independant observer? that, if it makes sense at all, was what I thought to be the essence of my interview.

the first question was simple. 'tell me about yourself'. i was soon telling him about a company i had tried to start that failed. he stopped me and drilled into the reasons why it failed. what did i learn. why am i talking about this event. then we skipped to my current job and spent, oh, 10 seconds talking about what i do. he said the progression was evident on my resume. i did tell him why i chose the job though, which i thought he thought was important, because he jotted something down in his notes.

the next set of questions were on leadership -
>how many people do you lead now?
>what has been the biggest team you have led?
>what is your leadership style?
>how has it evolved?
>give me an example of how you have empowered people?
>give me an example when you had to adapt your leadership style to a situation?
>what have you done to bring about a change in the way your company operates?

a few career related questions, this was one of the few times the MBA was mentioned -
>what kind of job do you want right after an MBA
>when do you think you will start your own company
>what kind of company will it be, and what technology area will it address
>if you were in a startup today and it got funded next week and the choice was that or wharton, what will you do?

the last set of questions were:
>if you could change two things about your current organization, what would they be? >if you could change one thing about the way you work, what would it be?
>how many hours do you work? if you had a weekend off, where would you go and what would you do?
>inside or out of work, what has been your proudest achievement?
>what do you think would be adcom's biggest concern when evaluating your file?
>do you have any questions for me

two times we had a, well, difference of opinion - when talking about the validity/importance of schmoozing as a criteria for advancement in the workplace, and the importance of a manager's ability to blindly meet deadlines versus a concern for the people who work for him/her. it was interesting to see this dynamic in an interview. i have no idea what to make of it.

i felt that this interview was very different from the others that i've had. every other time there was an argument made around which the interview was constructed - XYZ is the reason I want an MBA from school ABC. that is typically the first question asked and followed up on. here, that argument was left entirely unstated - seemed like the interviewer wanted to make up his own mind about it piece by piece. in the end, i have no way of knowing what he thought, and it is pointless to ponder on what i think he thought.

i'll leave it at that.
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

third time lucky indeed !

i just read the most fabulous news - 3app's been accepted to HEC ! many congratulations my friend. this is perseverence at its finest. after having shared the pain of one ding season with you, i can imagine how joyful this must be. awesome. just f-ing awesome.

any chance you're going to swing by Cambridge before you get them french wondering what hit 'em ? this calls for many drinks.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

ah, kids will be kids

so, i walk over to the laundy place this evening before their closing time of 7 to pick up my shirts and suit trouser pair which was to have been de-stained. the guy who was at the counter yesterday was this kid of around 16 or so (or at least he looked that way) and he was there today too. that was good, because he recognized me and walked to the back of the store to get my stuff. after a few minutes i look inside and he's running all over the place trying to find my clothes. seemed like something was wrong. meanwhile, his dad (i think, it's a family joint kinda place) comes by and asks what the problem was. they go into a huddle and now the dad's looking all over the place. finally, he comes back and says that they are not done ! i'm thinkin' - this is not happening to me now. but it was. turns out, the kid forgot to tag the clothes yesterday so they didn't get around to servicing them until THIS evening.

it was such a beautiful moment. i actually started to laugh. the dad and the kid both looked at me strange and i had to explain the situation to them. a round of apologies followed and i have been promised that they will be done by noon tomorrow. for added assurance, the dad said that he remembers taking a look at the trousers and that the stains are definitely going to come off. all i'll say is i'll believe it when i see it.

i also need a lint remover for my jacket and i was going to pick one up when i did groceries today - but they didn't have any (surprise !) on my way back i walked past this store called Pet Shop Girls - it's a pet supplies place. on a lark i walked in and am now the proud owner of an Evercare Veterinarian Pet Hair Pic-Up adhesive roller, which I was assured will do the job. It also doesn't hurt that it is 37% stickier than the leading competitor !

i have been asked many times why i blog. it is really for days like these. to preserve the memories of incidents that seem like they were scripted for a movie. only, this is very real and i'd like to jot it down so i can have a hearty laugh when i look back many years from now.
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Psychic News Update

This past sunday, a friend of mine dragged me to our neighborhood psychic. she wanted to find out about her love life and wanted me to ask about my mba stuff. i got a palm reading (read: the cheapest option at 20 bucks) and it was pretty cool. i was told that i was at a crossroads in my life but i'm holding myself back, that i am going to be very successful, i'm going to move away from where I live next year and there's going to be some heartbreak when I do leave. I'd like to think that's because i'm going off to attend an MBA program somwhere leaving my friends et al, but it may well turn out that i'll be deported back to india or some such.

Yesterday, i was getting a haircut and my hairdresser said that the psychic woman's husband was also a psychic ! she knew that because he came in once for a haircut. and it wasn't an ordinary haircut. the psychic wife had insisted on cutting her husband's hair, and it turned out so bad he had to show up at the salon to see if can be 'salvaged', in my hairdresser's words. The question I have is if both of you are psychics, won't at least one of you know that the haircut's gonna suck. Let alone the fact that a wife's cutting her hubby's hair.

Anyways, the reason I thought about this was because when my friend got her reading she was asked if she remembered any dreams because they were going to come true very soon. Could the psychic have her aura confused with mine ? You see, my friend doesn't remember any dreams, whereas I on the other hand vividly recall mine, especially those involving supermodels and the like. But I'm willing to believe the psychic was right in not making any predictions about my dreams, because for the last two nights i've been having nightmares about a Wharton interview from hell. the kind where i'm asked to crack a case, or go into excrutiating detail about my teamwork skills, and the worst - we don't talk anything about Wharton, but go down a list of every other school and I'm asked to explain why I don't want to go there. I'll find out soon enough.

With that, we return you back to our scheduled programming, a re-run of "Call me Miss: The story of Caesar and Cleo".
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Back to reality

now i have irrefutable proof that my stroke of good luck with the chicago deadline was just that - a stroke of good luck. things are normally destined to be otherwise when it comes to me.

i have my wharton interview in two days and i was going to drop off my suit at the dry cleaners' and i noticed something. over the weekend i accidentally let drop the cap of my car's fuel tank and it grazed my suit trousers and now it's left some wierd waxy kind of stain. i show up at the cleaners' and am told that it may not go away ! they are going to try their heroic best but i may be left suit-less come big day. actually, that should read good-suit-less. came back home and tried on my other suit and had to face up to the reality i'd been avoiding by storing it in the back of my cupboard - i need to lose a few pounds. so, the plan is thus. the cleaners close at 7 tomorrow and i need to get there before that to see if they could work their magic. If the answer is negative, there's a Men's Wearhouse in Cambridge that closes at 9:30. They have this charcoal grey suit that I think i'd look pretty dandy in ... but I digress. I really hope the stains go away.

the last time i interviwed at wharton, i drove all the way to campus. only, i had a little accident involving my backing into another car resulting in a broken taillight. and i discovered that i had packed two shirts, three pairs of socks, one neatly pressed suit, and no tie. had to stop at a friend's house in NJ to borrow one of his. i hope you get the drift.

another thing. i went to thank my recommender for her efforts with Chicago and she said that she can't help me with recommendations anymore. i didn't know what to say for a moment - turns out her laptop's dead and she'll have to return it and get a new one. she had all the work from last year and C on there. can things get any worse? i'm pretty sure they can, but for now i'm feeling pretty good about my snappy haircut.

oh, and that tail light - it's still not fixed. the current thinking is that i'll wait for my W decision before i do anything with it. i'd like my own things coming full circle thing to talk about someday ;-)
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Monday, November 15, 2004

Chicago Submitted

Thank god for women !

No, I am serious. I owe my Chicago application's on-time submission to the efforts of two women. My recommender kept up her word and, despite having to struggle with the GSB's recommendation submission system, sent in her rec earlier this morning. My roommate kept me focused, reviewed my essays, woke me up this morning after I had dozed off over an unfinished essay, and was a great source of support. thanks ladies, much indebted.

So, I am officially a candidate for the GSB's class of 2007. In the tradition of candidates, I feel the need to talk about the first thing I will do if accepted - change the damn online application. The one good thing about it, at least for me, was that it is a carbon copy of Wharton, down to the online trascript forms (though C's is a word doc and W's excel). Cut-paste was a breeze for most sections, including the extended resume. All the information was exactly what I had entered for Wharton. But, that's where the similarity stops. The essays have to be pasted into these boxes which convert every - and " to a ? wtf ! Also, the pdf version did not show any uploaded documents (transcripts and resume) so I have no way of knowing if they were even received and in what shape. And the final step is downright scary, as evidenced by some people on the BW boards. You go to a screen where there is a submit button that is greyed out if you haven't forked out the requisite bling. But, it seems that once you click on the credit card or whatever button, the submit button is enabled. So, you can actually submit before making the actual payment. Some guy actually did this and the option to pay the 200 bucks disappeared ! wow.

Fortunately, I went through the system smoothly. But, the payment deal is something else - it apparently takes two days to even confirm the online payment by credit card. jeehzuz. the current status on my app says submitted but everything else, including transcripts, test scores, payment as NO. And, according to my recommender she could not change her login information or some such, and then there was no way to know what the questions would be. There was a screen with a question that she had to answer and submit before she went to the next one and got the next question. boy, this thing sure needs to be upgraded to the 21st century.

anywho, I am relieved. I've actually re-read my essays and I can say that I didn't regret doing so.

i need to go off and get some serious sleep. the plan is to stop by Newbury Street to pick up a couple of gift cards to a fancy spa for the ladies.
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Friday, November 12, 2004

Snow falling on Cedars

actually, there are no cedars around, just some bushes and stuff :-)

but, there is snow ! it's snowing right now in boston, the first snow of the season. beautiful. i'm a big fan of snowy days, kinda appeals to the romantic in me. also brought back memories of the first snowy day last year - I was at Tuck having lunch with my friend after my interview. time does fly !

while on that topic, for those interested in Tuck, seems like the recruitment scene there is sizzling. my friend who is a second year has three consulting positions already and final interviews for two more very very cool opportunities in NYC. i've known him since eighth grade and so very happy for all his success.

and talking of successes, many congratulations to megami
for her(?) Harvard and Wharton invites. that is very impressive indeed.

best wishes to everyone still waiting for the W invites. last year, a lot of invites went out in the last two weeks, no reason why it won't happen this time around also. i've seen a few posts of resignation on s2s - it's way too early for that. cheer up, and here's hoping good things come your way.
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Thursday, November 11, 2004

the gods them be smilin'

i just had an un-f-ing-believable crisis. one of my chicago recommendations has been submitted, but due to circumstances (entirely within my control btw), i had to scramble to find a new recommender for my second rec. this evening. at 5. for tomorrow !!!

i literally ran to one of my recommenders who has given me recos last year and asked if she could do a rush job - she graciously agreed to do so provided the questions weren't too iffy, and wanted to see a hardcopy of the reco. so i run back to my office and log in to print for her and see this message on the Chicago website:

Campus MBA Only--Round 1 Application Deadline Extended

An unscheduled update of our application payment system will commence at 11:00 p.m. (CST) on Friday, November 12. This update will not allow us to accept applications through the 12:00 a.m. published deadline. Therefore, in good faith we are extending the deadline for submitting Round 1 applications to Monday, November 15, at 12:00 p.m. (CST). We are sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your interest in Chicago GSB.

you've got to be kidding me ! this is yogi we're talking about - shit like this doesn't usually happen with me. then again ... maybe i'm due for some lovin-from-the-dude-above.

sweet. glazed apricots filled with mascarpone and almonds sweet.

i owe it to whatever forces of nature, or unscheduled payment system updates, that conspired to give me this break to kick some serious ass on this application. will do.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

many thanks

An odd thing happened last week. I was in a bookstore with my roommate looking for some travel literature when she picked up a work of Cicero. I told her that my favorite quote was a Cicero. But, I could not remember the exact words at the time. I'm thinking so much about schools, essays, and applications I am getting forgetful of the small things.

I shall be remiss if I forget to thank everyone for their supportive comments on my blog. I am normally a very social person and it is frustrating sometimes not to be able to share the angst and the joys of this process with my friends who I meet everyday, who are also co-workers and do not know I am applying. This whole application process can get pretty lonely at times. The blogging community has been a great companion along this journey and I am very thankful for that. It's hard to put into words, but there have been times last year when the words of support from perfect strangers were all I had for comfort. And, other times when they have added to my joy. I just wish the best for everyone out there, hope all of us end this quest with admits to the schools of our choice.

Oh, and the Cicero quote: There is no duty more obligatory than the repayment of kindness. Thank you Google.
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Monday, November 08, 2004

Admissions Status Update

woo-hoo-hoo !

I just got an interview invite from Wharton ! I did a little dance thing in my office as soon as I saw the subject of the email, and my co-worker sure looked puzzled :) What a wonderful way to start the week. Am i allowed to say that I am happy for myself? 'coz I am.

For those waiting for invites, I hope you read Alex's post that they have only sent around 40% of their intended invites, so there are a LOT of invites left. Good luck, hang in there, and hope your faces light up with smiles soon.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

All quiet on the storm front

The floodgates seem to have been opened for the Wharton interview invites this week. There wasn't much action until last friday. But it's been raining invites since monday AM. The good people who office at Huntsman have sent an invite the way of my favorite brit blogger, Britchick. Many congratulations for the invite BC, and best wishes for your interview.

Of course, as the title of this post might suggest, all I have received from them is nothing. Yet. It's only the third day after October, and there are fifteen more rotations of the earth to be completed before I even consider contemplating the utter pointlessness of the universe. Come to think of it, I might have to ponder the above regardless of what W does after I go see the new Bridget Jones flick at a 'special preview' on the 18th. I must add that despite living in the world's greatest democracy - which, some might argue, is a point deserving of its own debate - I am not going to the movie of my own free will.

And, try as I might to follow Mark's good advice, I find myself unable to resist the occasional temptation to sit back, raise my heart rate, and take a peek at the online boards only to, umm, raise my heart rate a little more. Amongst all the talk of invites, and re-applicant invites; and probabilities at this stage of invites, and re-applicant invites; I came across a very interesting post:
"What i struggle with is whether or not its presumptuous to assume i'll get an interview this year since i had one last year ... "
That touched a raw nerve. While it is usually left unsaid, I must admit that a big reason why I am so calm is an expectation, almost an its-not-if-but-when, that because I had an invite the last time around applying in R3, and I have hopefully only added to my application since, I should get an interview invite. We'll have to wait and see how that pans out.

It also helps that I am preoccupied by my attempts at creative writing for my Chicago essays. As the entirely-too-long sentences and non-sensical-grammar of this post indicates (or should it be 'indicate' - i did use 'sentences'), it's not going all that great. Well, off I go to rectify that.
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