Dreaming of Picasso

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The answer is ...

Yes, I have decided to continue blogging for now and I intend to continue blogging as I attend Haas, UC Berkeley. I probably will be posting at a lesser frequency than before and I will try to focus on MBA related issues - especially ones that are probably more specific to part time MBA's.

Unfortunately, I have a Accounting test coming up and I still cannot get debit and credit right. I got some serious studying to do. I am glad that I am doing this _before_ the MBA program starts. On other MBA related news, my deposit check has been cashed by Haas, and once I have completed my statistics requirement I know that I will be attending Haas for sure :).

Now it is time to get back to studying...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Should I continue blogging ?

Recently, I have been wondering if I should continue blogging as I start my journey at Haas. Originally, I was not even sure if I will be able to continue blogging past a month or two. But as time passed, I not only enjoyed having an outlet to rant and rave, but more importantly I also found an extremely supportive group of fellow bloggers and readers.

Blogging in general has enriched my writing skills ( so I think), and it also helped me make some friends. I try to provide a spin on information from the perspective of a part time applicant, and I personally have not found other sources for similar information. I also enjoy blogging in general and I still feel _good_ when someone leaves me a comment on my posts.

That being said, I have amassed a lot of responsibilities of late ( or who knows - it is stuff that no one else wants to do), and that leads to more work. But it is not the time at work that I am concerned about, it is the amount of background knowledge that I sometimes need to get the job done efficiently and this is what concerns me. I am spending more and more time analyzing competition and analyst commentary. All this extra reading is spilling into my already meager non-work hours. Of course the reason for my shortened non-work hours is that I am taking two classes and they have their share of homework and assignments.

I am still on the fence about this topic. Will take the weekend off and deliberate a bit more.

BTW: This post is being finished as I am in a two hour conference call that spans 4 continents and 8 countries.... damn these people are still talking.. I got to throw in my bits so that my views are now heard.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Money Money Money...

Getting an admission to an MBA program of your choice is one thing, paying for it is another thing. As a part time student, I think it is important to seek out employers support because a certain degree of financial support can really help. Although, I realize that this process is probably different for most companies, as I have tried to persuade my management for financial support I have learned a lot of things. In today's post, I will try to highlight some of these learning.

- Plan your Accomplishments: In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to do an MBA. Although my exact job description did not leave too much of leeway for direct business related activities, I always consciously thought of ways to impress upon my management that I would be a very good addition to the "middle" management. After sometime I noticed that my managers were expanding my role, and soon I made my manager put items in my future development plan that would make align with my MBA plans. This is a good step because these accomplishments help out when asking for recommendations also.

- Declaring your intent: I had made a tentative decision in my mind that I would explore the option of part time MBA along with the option of considering full time MBA. I have consciously tried to work my MBA angle in various conversations over the years. But last year, I was having a performance review and I had an objective of " Finding ways to increase revenue for my product". As I discussed this objective, I took it upon myself to "remind" my manager the direct business related decisions that I had been involved with and how an MBA would help me be better. I was pleasantly surprised that she was supportive and wanted to actively pursue the idea.

- Getting a sponsor: I knew that when asking for money, one needs to have support. I tried to build not only a good relationship with my immediate manager but also actively seek feedback for personal improvement , and work on it. By sharing my development objectives with my manager, I tried to create a situation in which my manager would feel more like a mentor and when her endorsement is requested, she could provide it in a full hearted manner.

- Creating visibility: For any company to shell out cash, they need to see the value of the investment. Like business schools that evaluate GPA, GMAT, Essays etc to evaluate the potential of an applicant succeeding in an MBA program, the stakeholders in the company need to feel that the money they are putting in your development is worth it. I have tried to create opportunities to get more face time with senior management whenever I can - atleast to the point where they at least recognize me by name and where I work ( I work in a _large_ company).

So where does my situation stand? Well, we get approvals for each academic year. Typically, the support is in the range of 50-100% of the costs for a particular academic year. My proposals are now being evaluated at the executive level. From talking to other folks ( and my manager) it seems like only a handful of applications are reviewed at that level and most of the proposals will get some financial support. I will get the final decisions about the support sometime in month or so. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Getting a 100% support for the first year would be a great way to start the program.

On related news, I have managed to fill out most of my BoB award ballot. Given the amount of searching I had to do, I will be adding some quick links on my blog to point to some of the posts that I consider having good information for prospective students.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quantitative Preparedness

I was listening to a podcast from mbapodcaster on the topic of quantitative preparedness before entering an MBA program. As I mentioned in previous post that I planned to enroll in some classes. I have enrolled in a statistics and accounting at a local community. It has been a _while_ since I last did any sort of academic stuff. The podcast made an interesting comment - that knowing a topic and being able to follow it in a newspaper is one thing but having to do regular homework and solve problems that test specific aspects of the topic is another deal. As I do my homework for my classes, I definitely agree on this point. The podcast is sponsored by MBAMath , and they offer an online class for admitted students - costs about $149 (promotion price $99 ).

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no affiliation with MBA Math and I have no idea about the content and the effectiveness of this course.

I am actually feeling good having made the choice to go back for these courses. For me, I have to get used to juggling work and study so I think this is a worthwhile exercise. Although, I have to admit, my workload has been increasing significantly in the past couple of weeks. I begin early in the morning ( meeting with European colleagues) and go late - till I literally dart out of the office to my classes. This study work combination will require some serious time management. I may consider taking a class on economics over the summer - this will depend my enthusiasm levels and I also don't want to get winded down before I start the real program. That's all for now, and now I have to finish my Statistics homework that is due tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2006

BoB's and more ...

I finally got some time to go through the BoB Ballot. I have had a really hard time putting name on the various categories. I have truly enjoyed reading blogs of almost all the nominees. Axechick and Marina were the first 2006 applicant bloggers I started to read. Bloggers like Sghama, Pupstar, IMWI, and Forrest have cheered for me, and bloggers like MBAJ, Tycoon, and Sorebrek have made me laugh during the painful waiting period. I have read the accounts of Brownoski and LaserlikeFocus only to realize the pains of waitlists.

The nominated bloggers (Vatsa, NoKeating, Benny, Azaka )and a whole lot others (MBA Cutie, wheresmydessert, Anand) made a rather agonizing application period a lot easier. Thankfully my boss still thinks that I have been diligently working while I was actually reading blogs at work to keep me sane. Thanks guys.

That being said, I want to read the other blogs in the nominee list and hopefully, I will be done soon. Following pupstars lead, I will also accept cash, check and barter for my vote.

Any takers?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Choosing Admission Consultants

I have been having this intense discussion with a fairly close friend on how to choose an Admission Consultant. He has a decent GMAT ( 80+ Percentile in Verbal and Quant) and is a reapplicant. While I do not want to debate the merits and the moral values behind the use of these services, I do feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding about admission consultants as fellow blogger Axechick points out in her post. Having been an confidante in this process, I will try to highlight some of the questions that one needs to ask to select the right admission consultant. I want to reiterate that I am _not_ supporting or disapproving of the use of consultants but like any service there are a wide variety of choices and applicants should make informed choices.

1.Style of working:
While admission consultants will _not_ write essays for you, they will give you critical feedback. Some folks like Sandy are known for their tough love approach while others probably have a different approach. Find out the style of feedback that will be delivered and if that communication style will suite you.

2. Target schools:
It turns out that a lot of admission consultants have a history with a set of schools. Mbaprepadvantage folks have some extensive background at UCLA. The Admissions Advisory Group folks have an extensive background at Stanford. Have some idea of target schools as this might help you narrow your choices.

3. Amount of Service:
There are different levels of service. ClearAdmit for example provides only hourly service which will allows someone to customize the level of feedback they desire. Stacy Blackman like several others provides comprehensive services that include everything from helping select colleges to helping with essays and interviews.

4. Previous Success:
If you believe that the past is any indication of the future, then make sure to ask for references. My friend was able to talk at least 10 existing students from three different services. Although, not everyone felt that using the services was the best solution, but all of them were in top 20 schools.

5. Evaluation Session:
Most admission consultants will provide a evaluation session for free. There are some exceptions like Admission Consultants who charge a nominal fee for this service. A evaluation sessions allows an applicant not only to ask the questions but also gauge compatibility of mind set.

6. Workload and Turnaround time:
Find out the expected turnaround time when working with a consultant. Some consultants are may sign up a large number of applicants and may not be able to devote the amount of time during the application deadlines .

There are other notable admission consultants like Linda Abraham and Alex Chu, who have tirelessly contributed on my favorite addiction site -Businessweek Forums. I have also religiously followed the blog on ClearAdmit, and found Stacy and Linda's blog useful. The Wiki on Clearadmit and the interview database at Accepted.com are also extremely useful resources provided by the respective admission consultants.

I hope that this post helps future applicants make effective choices if they choose to use the services of admission consultants.

Monday, April 10, 2006

3 things I could have done better

Before, I go ahead and list the things I could have done better, I would like to thank the folks at ClearAdmit, who have nominated this blog for the BoBs. Please feel free to read my posts and vote for this blog.

First, I would like to say that I am extremely happy with my admission results. That being said, I feel that I could have done some things better.

3. Prepared more for GMAT.
Although I got a 7xx score, I felt that I could have done a bit better. You can beat the GMAT and it is totally worth a honest try. Things like GPA cannot be changed but the GMAT can be.

2. Planned ahead of time for my MBA.
This was not a smart move on my part. One day( literally) I was talking to my boss, and I said that I wanted to do an MBA. My boss sounded supportive and asked me to get an admission to a b-school, and then approach her for financial support. The next thing I knew, I was taking the GMAT and attending info sessions. I wish I had more time to make my extra curricular acivities a tad bit more streamlined and also better organized for the essays.

1. Actively Networked with Alums
I was able to do it for Haas/Duke/Tepper. I just did not develop a good enough relationship to get a unsolicited recommendation from a Stanford alum. Who knows this may have atleast resulted in a interview call from Stanford.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Statistics Statistics

I am finally enrolled in a Statistics class. The Statistics class is a pre requisite for the Haas EWMBA program. Haas provides a list of classes but there are almost always questions on this topic (or atleast I had some). I will be summarizing some of the findings and options that are available to Round One admits and Round Two applicants.
  • Waiver Exam: They are held twice a year. There is one coming up on May 6. Pass this one and you are ready to go. This is cheapest option. Just buy the suggested reading material study and take the waiver. There is no cost to take the waiver exam.

  • Take a class: There are several approved classes that are available in the bay area but there are some small caveats - Don't go for the online version of the classes as they are not approved (unless someone gets special permission from the Haas). The spring semester for a lot of the local community starts in January so for someone looking at this options become slightly limited. I am aware of two colleges that are on the quarter system and the Spring quarter will start on Monday. It is not too late as one can go and attend the first class and get added to the classes. DeAnza college has a variety of evening classes and Foothill college has one class. The summer classes like the one at Evergreen college may also be a good option, especially for round two admitted students. This is next expensive option. The cost of the class is about $100 and the cost of books/calculator is about $200.

  • Take a online class: The approved class is offered by the UC Berkeley Extension. This is probably the most convenient and is the most expensive option -$705. I think that the cost of the book is additional.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was keen on the taking the classes because I did not want to be stressed out for the waiver exam. But now, I just need to make sure that I follow the class regularly and finish with a B.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Haas Reception

Yesterday, I attended the reception at Haas for the EWMBA admitted students. The evening started with some finger food and a nice opening speech from Dean Tom Campbell. Dean Campbell outlined some interesting stats about Haas and the Student body
~ 40% of incoming students had advanced degrees
~ 500,000 living Berkeley alumni more than any other school including Harvard, Wharton etc.

One of the things that I came to know out of this reception was that as of last year the part time students have the same access to career resources and on campus recruiting as the full time students. This priviledge is extended to all the part time students irrespective of the level of support from the employers. This was a big distinguishing factor from Duke, where if a student is supported by the employer( time or money) then the student would have to get written permission from the employer to participate in campus recruitment. Good for me, I am choosing Haas.

I also had an opportunity to talk to Dean Campbell 1X1 for almost 5-6 minutes. He was downright friendly and we spoke a bit about his political background. I was also very impressed with the fellow admitted students. While a lot of them were from the high tech companies, they were not Engineers. In fact, I met only two engineers out of the 20 odd people I talked.

All in all, the reception was great and my $1000 deposit is now in the mail.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Quaterly Review

3 months have elapsed since my resolutions for 2006. It is time to do a status check.

- Get admitted to one of the places I applied (Preferably Haas) : Status - Done
- Travel to South America : Status - Done
- Run a half marathon : Status - Planning to register for Bay to Breakers
- Identify at least 5-6 people doing new business development in my company and get to know them: Status - Started

I have identified three additional things that I want to work on for the rest of 2006
- Become more effective and efficient in meetings
- Develop 2 contacts with people outside of my company who are involved in business strategy in my industry.
- Run a second marathon/half marathon.