Sunday, September 09, 2007

What have i been doing?

Well, though i have been seriously considering applying to BSchools since Jan this year, i was not able to get done with GMAT till last month. One of the primary reasons for that is my loss of passport. Following is an excerpt from one of the mail's i sent to my friends early may:

"I have been involved in a series of Unfortunate incidents of late (Sounds like a movie title isnt it?)

I realized that i lost my passport when i decided to book for a date for GMAT and have been subjected to the revelry of the red-tape in India since then, running from pillar to post (read police station to passport office), standing in those cheerfully long queues for just about 3-4 hrs a day, getting my application finally accepted.
Got done with another wonderful process called Police Verification...

Oops forgot to tell ya that i contracted one of those beatiful things called "Chicken Pox" in the process, raising serious doubts about my immunity levels. My mum wrinkled her nose at least once in a day since, as to how could her lad grab this thing again at 25 when he successfully did it twice when he was 6 and 12 month old respectively. And she thought that was the end :)

We have an expression in Telugu which when translated into English literally would mean "A cocunut falling on the head of an already troubled and moaning fox" was what my condition could be equal to :) Though i amnt as wily as a fox."

I should have researched about my schools and goals meanwhile, but lazy thing i am, i spent my time singing and dancing like that darned grasshopper. Due to some arcane reason, Ross and Darden were stamped on my mind since last year. I was invloved in a few community activites too, at least one thing that i am satisfied about. GMAT got done on August 13th and it has been almost a month since. I took almost a week off revelling in my stellar score. Though i knew score and GPA are just two minor factors in the admission, i could not help but take a break. The gravity of the whole process struck me when i started researching schools by late August, by when few of my fellow applicants completed their first drafts!! I landed up choosing

Tuck - Quaint location, small class size, wonderful alumni network, great product strategy courses and talks with a few seniors from my alma mater at Tuck

Chicago GSB - Great City, Good Brand in Asia/Europe, wonderful career opportunities, flexible curriculum like my alma mater's, September 5th Information session at Bangalore, Consulting opportunities abound

Darden - I knew i will be applying to Darden since last year :) small class size, case based pedagogy, Dean Robert Bruncer, few class mates got admission for this academic year

Ross - Strong technology roots of UMich, hawkeye, Multi-disciplinary focus of the curriculum

I ruled out London Business School for now, as i do not have time to squeeze it into R1, given the snail's pace of my progress to-date.

I sent the recommendation links for Tuck and requested my manager and PL to work on them. I am yet to send my 3 annual appraisal sheets, stories that i would want them to quote, my career goals essay. I sat down to do that but ended by blogging :) Since my manager sits at my company's HQ at CA, it may be slightly difficult to co-ordinate things, but he thankfully agreed to take it up. I worked very closely with him for the past 3 years and he knows the worth of the work i did and the impact i created. I am confident he can articulate it in the best possible manner. My PL recruited me into the team and has been my mentor since then. After all the attrition that has happened in my team we are two most senior members of team in India.
I will request my current manager in India for the recommendations i will be submitting for the sub-sequent schools.

At the essay front, I am still grappling with the career goals essay. I need to complete three more for Tuck and the "shoes" essay for Chicago GSB soon and send these essays for review.
On top of all this, I am leading a community leadership initiative in my company and directing about 20 people to work for the NGO i am currently involved with.

I hope i land up with some progress by my next post.

Simba visited my blog and left a comment and boy! i am honored :). Thanks Simba, that was mighty nice of you.

Simba is my guide to the MBA world, hers was the first 'MBA journey' blog that i started reading more than two years ago. She is a phenomenal writer and a role model, inspiration and motivation for me. I am sure anyone who followed her journey will agree with me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Darden?

I think I have no more second thoughts to apply to Darden. I stumbled on Darden's Dean's (Robert Bruner) Blog a while ago. The concern that Darden has for International students is laudable.
Read about the Visa Situation for Darden's International Students in Robert's own words.
Following has been the phlisophy of Darden and when put in Robert's own words again feels like, yes this is "my call".

When I explain this to groups of prospective applicants, virtually no one walks away. Instead they ask, “Tell us more; in what ways is Darden demanding?” I think that three factors explain most of it:
**Case studies, not textbooks and problem sets. Cases require a lot of reading and are usually ambiguous. You can feel like you are floundering at times. There are no right answers (but there are many wrong ones.) And every case requires an action recommendation. If you’re used to rote learning, the combination of ambiguity and pressure to decide will stretch you. But that’s the point: every day, managers must take action in the midst of ambiguity. Real business life does not conform to sterile textbook problems. Case studies are great training for professional life.
**Active participation and the “cold call.” At Darden you are evaluated continuously. About half of your course grades will derive from daily class participation. Without warning, the professor will ask a student to begin the discussion in each class—this is the “cold call”. You are expected to come to class prepared each day and to participate actively in group discussion. To say what you think, defend your ideas, and make actionable recommendations can be uncomfortable for many people. But these demands mirror professional life. The feedback you receive on your ideas is immediate and compelling, a daily jolt of energy that lets you know how you are doing. Many students deliberately choose to attend Darden because they want to grow in the ability to communicate, think on their feet, and learn the discipline of effective professional preparation.
**Obligation to others. Any strong community like Darden’s makes demands as the price of participation. You will belong to a study group from which you will gain important insights and to which you will feel an obligation to contribute. The same goes for your section of 60-some students. Clubs, friends, roommates and family will make their demands. And UVA’s very successful honor system creates a community of trust and demands honorable behavior. If you want to play strictly by your own rules, Darden will not be your cup of tea. For its part, Darden will invest a lot in you--there is a great deal of support to help with Darden's demands: study groups, mentors, tutors, and very ready access to faculty members. This aspect of Darden will teach you how to contribute to and lead groups, how to get timely help, and how to help others grow.

I do not think i need any more reasons.


Last few months have been a whirr. The best part could be the single yet visit Amar and I managed to the Chidren's Lovecastle Trust, Bangalore. This is actually in relation to my previous post The Light. CLT works with Digital Study Hall to create content that supplements the Government School education in about 40 villages in Bangalore. Its a wonderful Organization and am very excited to contribute something tangible to it.

Apart from the above, what kept me busy for the most part of the last few months has been the dreaded GMAT. After the debcble of the CAT last year, i decided that i had to take GMAT. Though an MBA abroad was always my first preference, i decided to take CAT because of monetary reasons. Somehow i was always not quite comfortable with listening to lecture with a bunch of fresh college grads. In any case, after visiting Stanford last April, i subconsiously developed a deep urge to hear those bells chime for me :). So here it is, I am finally done with the GMAT with a score of 770 (Q51, V44). To the uninitiated, those are the raw scores on 60 that GMAT gives. Q - Quantitative, V - Verbal. This is about 99 percentile as per the official score sheet. I also seem to have scored a 6.0 on the Analytical Writing Ability part!

I am done also with another dread called TOEFL. I dont know why would somebody need to take TOEFL when the GMAT itself demonstrates the Verbal abilities of a candidate. Some say, Indians can get a TOEFL waiver from MBA Schools, after all English language is the one good (or bad??) heirloom the Brits have passed on to us. Some other say that all schools may not graciously agree to waive off this requirement. Anyway, i scored a decent 112 on 120 in the TOEFL iBT, with minor hiccups on the "Speaking" section.

This is just the beginning and a fairly decent start, if am permitted to think so :). I need all the energy i can muster for the next few months to brave through the admission process. But, i am definetely not feeling smug, as i am very aware of the fact that, however stellar the scores are, schools wont even give a rat's ass :), if there is no story to tell. So...Miles and Miles to go. At least, I am almost done with short-listing of the schools, will post information on the same soon. But the sketch looks like:

1. Kellogs
2. Darden
3. Ross
4. Tuck

I am also thinking about London Business School and Insead. Need to research on these schools more.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The light

I could not stop myself writing this post and clip this picture on my blog. This is unarguably the best picture i saw in my entire life.

This was clicked by Randolph Wang. One of the pioneers of the Digital Study Hall (DSH project. He was an assistant professor at Princeton and is now living in India implementing DSH to uplift the dismally ignored state of the Primary Education in India.
More information about DSH can be found here.

More about this picture in Randolph's own words, picked from the DSH public archives:

I just returned from, arguably, the best school trip we've ever had!
And this picture is probably the most poetic of anything we've seen :)

We came to a BETI village school to see an evening school. We had heard about this for a while, but this was the first time we saw it.

It was 6:30pm. Dusk was just settling in. The entire village was starting to gradually fall into darkness. Except for one dim but warm yellow-reddish light bulb from under one thatched roof (powered by the same battery that powered our TV).

This was our "school." Little kids, with books, under the moonlight, from all over the village started to walk into the "school." It seemed entirely business as usual to them.
They sat down. The teacher flipped on the TV. For the next 1.5 hours, they had an English lesson and a science lesson, and we were absolutely astonished by the level of quality instruction we saw.

The teacher and the TV in this case probably formed the best "team" I'd seen. She was pausing and resuming the TV throughout, but she was so in command, so confident, assertive, playful, natural, that you could be easily forgiven for forgetting the background she had. But what was perhaps even more remarkable were the kids. They clamored to answer every question, to volunteer for every act, and most amazingly of all, they got the answers right most of the time! The participation was deafening for the entire period and they literally wore down us adults first :)

I took time to step back from the school house and receded into the darkness that was the rest of the village. It was quite a magical moment :) There was this single orange dot in the distance, under a thatched roof, under a silver moon. And there was a cacophony of the TV "teacher", the "real" teacher, kids screaming answers, and lots, lots, lots of laughter, echoing in the night sky.

Randolph already reserved a place for himself in heaven for thousand years to come with just one picture of this kind :) Most importantly he reserved for himself a place in the hearts of thousands of these kids who are going to reach a place they deserve, like you and me.

Most remarkable thing is that, i worked with and saw a few NGOs that are doing wonderful work with respect to the upliftment of Primary Education, but by far, DSH is the only one that is scalable, obviously because of the amount of research that went into it and with best minds like Randolph's at work, i hope the much hyped pompous statements like "India Poised/India Shining" are going to come true.

So what is our own HRD minister and governement doing all along? Worrying about shoving a hand-ful of OBC students into the IITs and IIMs, ignoring the "BETI"s of the world to be taken care of by Randolph. What an irony!!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

A picture is worth thousand words

Dedicated to all the waves that touched my shore!

Monday, January 01, 2007

The year that was...

Let this New Year usher in all the happiness that you were deprived of the previous year :)
Its the time to introspect, A full year has gone by and i would like to list out things that i learnt/did through the past 12 months

I seriously do not remember anything worthwhile that happened in January, excepting that on the December 31st, 2005 i had a group of friends at my place, they got drunk and puked all over the place! One of them slept the whole night partly on the mattress and partly on the cold winter floor! One almost killed another of my friends but for my intervention :)
Otherwise, I was stuck with work and weekend visits to Parikrma all through January.

Early February, I attended a Business Visa interview for visiting the US at their consulate in Chennai. I remember being humiliated to see the way some of my fellow Indians were treated. But hell, there were rows and rows of people queing up to peer at Uncle Sam. The interviewers are Humans too.

I was off to California in March. I still remember the plush green carpets adorning the floor of the Singapore Airport during my transit.

I stayed at Belmont and had a chance to wander around the Silicon Valley. I liked the way every occupation is respected in the States. You give the same respect to the room cleaner as you give to a cab driver or a receptionist in a hotel. Obviously being a pedestrian through a larger part of my life, i enjoyed the respect given to the people on the foot by the people on the huge fancy cars on the streets of Belmont. I remember (after coming back to India) standing infront of the Christ College in Bangalore and waiting for the torrent of the traffic infront of me to miraculously give me a way. It took some time for me to realise that, i have to wade through this quagmire myself by showing my palm to the angry people in the Santros and the bikes.
I visited Los Angeles, but my visit was restricted only to the Universal Studios and the Disney Land. One of the best memories i have from this visit was the half-day that i spent at Stanfornd University.

After coming back from US and after getting inspired by my room-mate, I finally attempted the impossible, I joined a moderately posh Gymnasium called Zone. Its 5 min walk from my house and i for the first time in my life realised how harmful those innocent looking pizzas are! I lost about 12 pounds and am in the process of losing more of that flab.

I met my sister after about 2 years in July. Though i had to accompany her all through her shopping spree in Life Style, Hyderabad Central and Shopper Stop (Effectively spending about 8 hours a day staring at overly enthused teenagers drooling over stuff that shouldnt cost them a quarter of what is written on the price tags) it was fun.

I started to prepare (perhaps prepare is too strong a word!) for what is voted as one of toughest competetive exams in the whole country, CAT. I used to spend a lot of my time watching T.V than the books. I did not fare well. But as i mentioned in one of my previous posts, CAT is not that big a deal. Though i am not going to make it, i realised one thing, I do not need to look at those guys who will get those coveted calls from the IIMs with awe. With a little bit of effort (and should we include the blessing of lady luck) i would have been there. I am a staunch believer of this little bit of wisdom that "Everything that happens in one's life happens for the better". Hoping that i have more in store in my life.

In November my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl "Anchita" and my mom has been at Sydney with her for the past 3 months.

At work front, I started assuming more responsibility, taking decisions, interacting with people from a host of countries. Technically i may not have learnt a great lot, but otherwise, i feel i learnt a lot. On a slightly darker note, i had to bid good bye to three of my close friends and team mates. Another of my very good friend's brother passed away. May his soul rest in peace.

And this new year, i spent quietly on contrary to the ruckus last year :) I was watching Audrey Hepburn's "Roman Holiday" one more time as the clock struck 12 with another friend who came to spend the New Year Eve with me.

Wishing every one a very Happy New Year once again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Niece Dear

Sound the trumpets
and beat the drum.
To celebrate the birth
of a new little one.

A precious life
to cherish and love.
Sent to you
from the angels above.

Destined to bring you
happiness and joy
How blessed you are
it's a Girl!


My dear little niece was born today morning 8.39 A.M Sydney time. Happy Birthday dear!
P.S: the poem wasnt penned by me :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I trip, I fall..I rise and I fly

CAT 2006 was a disaster. It was an extremely easy paper when compared to the standards set by the IMS SIMCAT papers.
I was under the garb of preparing for this exam for about three months now. Excepting the guilt when i was watchhing the T.V that i was doing something that i ought not to and am not doing something that i ought to (studying!!), i havent done much in improving on my weakness which primarily has been speed.

CAT has always been a suprise to anyone taking it. Perhaps the IIMs want it to be that way, occult, always changing colors and jolting the test taker. How much ever the coaching institutes brag, not even one test that these guys design come any nearer to the original exam. No offense to the coaching institutes though, these tests are good in their own but nah..either too difficult or too easy but do not have the subtle touch that CAT adds to each of the questions.

CAT 2006 had three sections. A superb Verbal section (BTW, i did not do well here), an extremely easy Quantitative section and an averagely difficult Logical Reasoning/Data Interpretation section. I was stuck at a pair of questions in QA that has a typo in one of the choices. I as it is have these perennial doubts on the authenticity of my calculations, i checked, re-checked and cross checked effectively spending those precious minutes that could be used for solving the other questions. Then i did the verbal section with my mind still peering at the disaster of the Quantitative section (by then i realised that Quant had been too easy and people would have fared far better), This section involved reasoning in every Question and my rationality was partly still looking back at the Quantitative secion leading to another reeling disaster in the Verbal Section. Now there is not much time for Logical reasoning and with two past disasters there is no prize for guessing that another would follow.

But i knew i had success within a whisker but i did not care to take it. The stakes here are simply too high. A couple of mistakes and you would land up in an abyss. While i have great respect for this exam and the people who do well in it, I do not think i am any bad just because i could not solve two more problems under sweat. I am not sour but i am not sure how well can this test gauge the preparedness of a person in becoming someone who could transform a business. Having work for about 2.5 years in the software industry in a great company and 0.5 years in a startup as an intern, i have much better a perspective about business and entrepreneurship than a kid from an IIT who could do math faster than i can. I do not know how easy/difficult is GMAT when compared to CAT but i have great respect for the admission process in schools abroad because schools there do not stop you from applying even if you have a measly score (as per the indian standards 700 is considered a decent score) in GMAT. They look at the holistic traits of the person than a myopic view that IIMs choose to take.

I know i can do better next time with CAT with a little more preparation (and obviously some more confidence), but i guess it isnt simply worthy enough to spend days to improve on my speed in Math/Reasoning. I rather spend my energies in doing more constructive. On the personal front, i need to start going to the Gym, resume cooking and need to concentrate more on my career.

It was good trying to bell you CAT but i guess i have to move on with my career and not brood over your craftiness :)

Hey, I amnt even feeling down anymore. Its a good sign of the erosion of my erstwhile sensitivities.

I trip, i fall..I rise and I fly