Dreaming of Picasso

Monday, January 30, 2006

Stanford and paranoia

During the past week, there has been a flurry of activity in the BW Forums about the Stanford interview invitations. The status of my application changed to "Your application is complete and currently under review" about two weeks back. As the invitations started coming out, I went back and read my applications again. Prospective applicants : this is _not_ a good idea because the moment I read it, and mentally correlated with all the glorious stats on the BW Forums, I started thinking that my application could have been better. Then I took a step back to think what could I have done different, and the best thing I could come up with that some of the paragraphs could have been "crisper".

I do think that I have put my best foot forward..but that doesn't seem reassuring any more. I have been trying to reason that Stanford was a long shot for me because I fall outside the traditional age range(> 30). Ah well !, the $230 donation to Stanford has been made. On a more positive note, I like to visit Cantor Center of Arts and most likely will continue that in the upcoming years, and I hope that some of this money will go towards it.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I have been tagged by IWillMakeIt !!

Four jobs I've had in my life

  • French Fry maker @Steak Escape
  • Requirements Engineer
  • Research Assistant
  • Software Architect

Four movies I can watch over and over

  • Legally Blonde 1
  • As Good as It Gets
  • American Beauty
  • The Net

Four places I have lived

  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Calcutta, India
  • Bombay, India
  • Cupertino, CA

Four TV shows I love to watch

  • Desperate Housewives
  • Monk
  • The Amazing Race
  • Survivor

Four places I have been on vacation

  • Prague, CZ
  • Hong Kong, CN
  • Seville, ES
  • London, UK

Four of my favourite foods/drinks

  • Lychee Pearl Tea
  • Katsu Don
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Ghirardelli Chocolates

Four websites I visit daily

  • Msn
  • BusinessWeek
  • meebo
  • a9

Four places I would rather be right now

  • Walking through the Prado in Madrid
  • Sipping Mai Tais in Bora Bora
  • Watching a musical or opera
  • Looking at the otter exhibit in Monterey Bay Aquarium

Four bloggers I'm tagging

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The "Fit"

When I first started looking at MBA programs I kept hearing about a good "fit". I honestly didn't know what "fit" really meant. I had looked into the rankings and everything, but I really did not get the "fit" part that people (like alumni) kept talking about. Recently, I attended the Anderson information session and it just hit me that after 8 months of looking around, I guess I have my definition of what might constitute a good "fit".

1. Does the MBA program align with my career goals?
I have some idea of my career goal. I have heard several times that going through an MBA is an transformational experience and consequently I am sure some of my career goals might change. If one does not have a good idea about the one's career goals then in my opinion it is difficult to judge MBA programs.

2. Can I see myself with being a part of the "current students"?
This was a make or break decision for me. A part of the reason for pursuing an MBA is to develop my network. Different schools have different personalities and if ones personality matches, I believe it is possible to effectively leverage the network.

3. Does the marketing "fluff" thrown during information session add up?
For example, if an MBA program advertises that their alumni has made strides into senior management then I tend to believe these statements when I some examples of that especially in alumni panels. This was extremely necessary for me because I was looking at part time programs and I wanted to see what people did after they graduated.

4. What is the excitement level of the people I meet from the school?
Excited and enthusiastic people a big plus. Do I really need to say more.

It took me a while to get this figured out. Once I did, it became a lot more easy for me to identify the buzz behind the "fit".

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Don't Cry for me Argentina...

I had promised myself a trip to South America if I got into one of the four MBA programs. Since I have the admit from Duke, it is now time to plan my trip.

Timeframe- Last week of March 2006 for 8-9 days - Why then? Because ticket prices increase after 3/31 ( or so my research says).

Argentina and Uruguay

Cities in Argentina:
Buenos Aires, Salta (?), San Carlos de Bariloche(?)

Basically, I want to see the Andes, so I am researching a place to go ( preferably offbeat). I have tentaively narrowed down Salta and San Carlos de Bariloche. I must admit though that this is based on some limited reading about the places, and I am still hunting for any other possibility.

Cities in Uruguay:
Montevideo, Punta Del Este(?)

The plans are still being crystallized, and please feel free to leave travel tips, and suggestions.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fuqua likes me

I was driving back to my office after lunch and my cell phone rang. I peeked a glance on the caller id to see the call was from 919-***-****. I knew it was the call from Fuqua. The call was from the adcom and the magic words were spoken - "You have been accepted to Fuqua". I will be getting my admit packet early next week.

I was really thrilled to hear this great news and I took an impromptu half day off. I am happy that all the essays, the rewrites, the painful GMAT preparation, the application fees and the time away from friends and family have finally paid off. I am so excited!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Knock Knock

Knock Knock..
Who's there?
Email from?
Email from Tepper inviting you to an interview.

That was a _quick_ response from Tepper, considering that the submission deadline for round 2 was 1/9/2006. I did submit my application on 1/4/2006 but I was still pleasantly surprised with the invitation. The interview has been scheduled in Palo Alto on 2/10/2006. It is scheduled to be a 30 minute interview.

I am happy that I got this interview for two reasons:
- I really liked the school and an interview invitation makes one feel good
- I can stop obsessing about my Haas interview and quit analyzing all the things that might have gone wrong.

I did managed to update the Clear Admit Wiki with my Haas interview experience. I will probably end up updating the accepted.com database also very soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Application Status: File Under Review

The online status of my Haas online application has changed from "Interview" to "File Under Review". I complete my interview today and lets say it was not what I had expected.

The interview started about 15 minutes late ( I had checked in 10 minutes before ) and interview lasted exactly 30 minutes as indicated in the email. The interviewer introduced herself ( just mentioned her name and thanked me for coming) and then proceeded to explain that she would like to leave some time at the end for questions, but mostly this is would be a one sided conversation. She had two/three questions that she wanted to ask in the 25 minutes or so we had. The two questions were
- Just go through the resume, tell me about yourself and highlight some examples of leadership from the resume
- What are your short term and long term goals

For the first question, I through my interests, a little bit about my volunteer work with museums and then it was off to explaining work. I gave three examples of areas where I took leadership and what the final outcome. I plugged my promotion and the fact that I have survived over several layoffs and the encouragement from my management to pursue the MBA. I also mentioned what I saw my limitations were and why an MBA would be useful.

For the second question, I gave my short term and long term goals. I knew time was running out so I tried to also mention that some of the things at Haas like its global management focus, have a social outlook etc were integral to my long term goals.

I definitely feel that I did a whole lot better than the Wharton Interview but I missed out on mentioning the great community at Haas. When I look back, since only two questions were asked I have this uncanny feeling - did I "hijack" the interview? I honestly don't know, the more I self analyze the interview, the more I feel I could have done better.

Well, now it is a done deal... Best of Luck to me. Decisions will be announced on Mar 15 2006.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The joys of a long weekend

I have been meaning to take a day off in which I would do nothing remotely related to an MBA. So yesterday, my boyfriend and I decided to do the day in the city. It started with a lunch at Asia de Cuba and ended at the a small French restaurant -Le Metro on Divisadaro. In the middle, we took detours to the Asian Museum of Art and the De Young museum that I had been dying to go to since it reopened in October 2005. Anyways there was a slight dent in the plan. We wanted to go to the Russell Peters show at Warfield but the tickets were sold out completely. I like trying out new restaurants this time of the year thanks to the "Dine About Town" event held every year at a relatively reasonable price especially during the lunch. The Asian Musuem of Art had a special exhibit about 18th century painter from Kyoto. I was really intrigued by the relative simplicity of the techniques used by the Japanese artists. Unlike most western techniques of art in the 18th century (like romanticism) in which paint is used all over the canvas to get the details of the subject, the Japanese painters left most of the canvas in its natural state.The paintings were extremely realistic. I had planned for the "fun" day into my schedule so that I would not feel guilty about skipping interview preparation.

BTW, the observation tower at De Young is remarkable. The view of San Francisco is truly spectacular and if you are not into art, don't worry... the entrance to the observation tower is free. The usher at the base of the tower told us that on Saturday close 10,000 people visited it, and I am not surprised.

When I returned back home, there was a email from Fuqua waiting for me. It was an email from the adcom member I had spoken to earlier and she just replied to my "thank you" note. In a nutshell - I am still in the running.

I have been preparing for the interview and I have had two sets of mock interviews with some really good feedback. I am hoping that all goes well and hopefully I will not sound rehearsed during the interview. I plan to go through my essays/resume one more time, get my clothes in order, and try to get a good nights sleep. I have taken a 1/2 day off from work on Tuesday because the last thing I want is to fight some "fire" the moment I get into work. These sort of things seem to happen at the most inopportune moment . For example, the day before my GMAT, my boss sends me an IM for this urgent task that she needs some help with and it had to be done by the close of business day. I finish the task late into the evening but my whole plan to relax before the D'Day goes up in smoke. Thankfully the GMAT went OK.

In any case, I am still having a relaxing weekend. Since Monday is a holiday, I will be doing some more reading and preparation. I honestly feel a little bit of nervousness but I hope that it will all work out in the end.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

And I talk and talk more.....

As my interview with Haas approaches, I have been trying to work through my checklist of things to do.

I have managed to read the relevant sections of the Montauk book and looked through the typical questions. I also managed to do something that was not a part of my checklist - contact current students at Haas and get a first hand debriefing on their interview experience. Now I have to say that the students at Haas have been nothing but the most supportive bunch of people. I have received replies to all my questions and emails within 24 hours and the person I was talking to was kind enough to ask another student to help me out ( I did not ask for this but he said that he would be able to find someone closer to my background and this would give me an even closer "feel" for this process). The students have been very kind and generous with their time and I am absolutely thrilled about my interview at Haas.
I also talked with the admissions office to get a quick background about my interviewer. The person is a Haas alumnus and is also a part of the admissions committee. This is a good piece of information to have and I am going with at least 5-6 questions prepared so that I can choose the one or two appropriate questions at the end of the interview.

After talking to students and the admissions office, I will be doing my mock interviews with some close friends. I am taking fellow blogger - Sghama's comments to heart here because after my weird performance at the Wharton interview, I really do not want to take any more chances.

So as I keep on talking, I hope that in the end Haas will be listening and letting me into their program.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Another Fuqua Update

In a recent post, I had written about the application update email that I got from Fuqua. I scheduled a phone meeting as per the admission committee's request and had a 30 minute discussion on my application. It turns out that the admissions committee feels after review that I may be better suited for the Cross-Continent MBA as opposed to the Global Executive MBA. That's not too bad, but then, I went through a extensive pre-screening process in which I was literally asked to apply to the Global Executive MBA. The adcom has concerns about the length of my experience and said that with this experience we can admit someone only if they are a CFO of a company. Well, I am no CFO.. and I never claimed I was one anytime in my pre-screening questionnaires. So basically, I felt a bit misled. Consequently, during the conversation, when they repeatedly kept saying that they really like my profile for the Fuqua Business School, I am not sure how far that is true.

Anyway, now my application is going to be moved into the new pool of Cross Continent MBA applicants. I like the business school and their international focus in all of their courses. I hope that I get a positive response in the form of a real admission decision.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Step by Step

I took a quick break from my application process after I hit the submit button for the Tepper application. I am not sure that I will apply to Wharton West and if that is the case then I am actually done with my applications. I do have my upcoming Haas interview on Jan. 17th 2006. I really like Haas and therefore I have to start some sort of a preparation. Here is an outline of the steps, I intend to follow.

  • Collate typical interview questions ( use resources like accepted.com and anything else I can scrape of various internet messages)
  • Read the appropriate sections of the Montauk book
  • Read application materials
  • Read resume
  • Write down answers -especially the typical elevator pitches - Tell me more about yourself
  • Find out more about my interviewer
  • Prepare questions for the interviewer
  • Do mock interviews ( already scheduled)

Step by step, I hope to get as prepared as I possibly can be and ofcourse that includes figuring out the parking around Haas ( I always get so confused around that area and it takes me forever to park).

If anyone knows about resources/steps that I should be including, please do leave a comment.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tepper Flex Mode

I have got some emails asking about what's this Tepper Flex Mode MBA. Actually it is pretty simple, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you get to attend the Tepper MBA program right from here. The classes are help 2 times a week in Moffett Field,CA and they start at 3:00 Pacific and go up to 7:00 Pacific. Why 3:00 in the afternoon one may ask. It is because the actual classes are being taught in Pittsburg from 6:00 Eastern -10 Eastern and the classes are broadcast using video conferencing technology.

That immediately raises concerns about how interactive will the classes be and is it helpful. My opinion on this is that it is fairly interactive and for me it really does not make that much of a difference because most of the work I do is in Virtual environments ( lots of webex and netmeetings). For someone who is not used to working in a fully distributed environment, it would be worthwhile to sit in the classes before making the decision if this mechanism will work you.

The networking opportunities will be limited primarily to the fellow classmates, which would be around 20 people. Some of the activities like the study abroad will not be possible ( unless your employer gives you 8 weeks off).

On the positive side, they have lots of avenues to do specific independent studies. In my opinion, that is a big plus because I can choose specific topics that relate to my daily work and use them. As far as industry related seminars and networking opportunities, they do have regular sessions in the evenings and since I want to stay in this area, I think those opportunities will be invaluable. One of the problems with any part-time program is that between work and the course work, there will be little time left. So that absence of clubs and other activities is something most part time students tend to forego.

Given my objectives, it is a good fit- I like the school, the students seem excited about the program, and the faculty seem to love the school. This is a tricky program and in my opinion one would have to sit in classes, visit the CMU-West campus and decide if this is the right program for them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tepper is DONE!!

The Tepper application has now been submitted and I also saw that my recommenders have submitted their letters. I sent the additional documents yesterday and hope that they will reach Pittsburg by Jan. 10 2006.

The Tepper application took me the least amount of time to prepare because I was able to rehash most of the material from my Haas, Fuqua and Stanford applications. One of the things, that I realized as I completed my first two applications was that the actual application takes a lot of time to complete. This was especially true for me because I have more than eight years of work experience and it took me a while to dig in and get the appropriate nuggets of information for the application. I also realized that the questions in the work history section seemed to vary a little bit from one school to the next. Some of them wanted web sites, other wanted emails and fax numbers for contact persons, and I actually ended up creating a special document that contained all factual information about all the places I had worked. This approach really helped me fill up the application fairly quickly without worrying about typos etc.

Last but not the least, a sincere thanks to all my recommenders and friends for helping me get to this point.

Now that I have some time, I plan to write about the Tepper Flex-mode MBA in the next post.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome 2006 !!

Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope that 2006 brings my fellow applicants the good news in the form of the "divine" phone call from the respective adcoms.

I had a pretty eventful 2005. Some of the highlights include
- Traveled to London (UK), Prague (CZ), Karlovy Vary (CZ), Hong Kong (CN), and New Delhi (IN)
- Bought my new condo ( that included two months of harrowing house searching and getting offers rejected)
- Participated in a race ( 2 mile course)
- Got elected to my HOA Board of Directors ( I realized that I "do" have leadership potential when I managed to get my fellow homeowners to go to city council meetings and present issues with the city)
- Took the GMAT and got a score higher that I had expected (I usually suck at standardized tests but this time it was different)
- Applied to B-Schools
- Attended one of my very special friend's wedding in Montana
- Started my blog

Some of the things I would like to accomplish in 2006
- Get admitted to one of the places I applied (Preferably Haas)
- Travel to South America
- Run a half marathon
- Identify at least 5-6 people doing new business development in my company and get to know them

I have received some email/comments about the Tepper - Flex mode program in mountain view and I will post a blog entry about the same shortly. Now it is time to speak to my friend and get feedback for the Tepper application.