Dreaming of Picasso

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hopes, Heartaches and Sour grapes

As the deadline for releasing the Haas EWMBA round two admissions decisions approached, I went back to my long lost addiction - browsing the businessweek forum. Having gone through the traumatic waiting process, I felt that I could empathize with potential applicants. As expected the Haas EWMBA thread was abuzz with activity.

Let me begin with hearty Congratulations!! to all of the newly admitted applicants. We are all rejoicing with the hope that this will lead us to better opportunities.

But a lot of people did not get the news they hoped for. The ugly side of B-School admissions is that no matter how much one tries, there will be some applicants who will not make it. I have been dinged, and it was the Stanford application. The way I looked at it - you cannot win every battle - but with persistence you will probably win the war.

Given that there were dings, there were also the rounds of emotional outbursts. While I can understand the pain of the ding, a public emotional response to me is the equivalent of the kids on American idol who curse the idol judges - makes TV entertaining but doesn't reflect well otherwise. I hope that applicants who feel strongly about the unfairness of the admissions process should wait before scheduling any feedback session, especially if they want to apply to the same school again.

Lastly, Best of Luck to all the waitlisted applicants.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Best of Luck Haas EWMBA R2 Applicants

Just wanted to wish the best to all of the Haas EWMBA round 2 applicants. The results will officially be out on June 1 2006. However, based on personal experience and the BWeek forums, the adcom will most likely start calling on Tuesday May 30 2006.

The waiting is hard..But it is about to get over soon.. Best of Luck!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Haas v/s Tepper

Bay to Breakers is so much fun!!

I ran the Bay to Breakers yesterday, and I was able to complete the course in 1:34:49. To be really honest, I quite did not run the entire course but I am extremely happy with the outcome. This was one of my goals and I have never ran this distance before. However, this was one of my 2006 New Year resolutions, and I am happy that I completed it. I am also extremely happy with my time, mainly because I did not have time to practice.

Now back to some MBA related content.

An anonymous reader asked me what where my reasons for choosing Haas EWMBA over Tepper Flexmode. I used the following criteria to arrive at my decision for choosing Haas over Tepper.

Alignment with future goals:
I wanted a general management program with focus on international business and business strategy. Apart from courses, Haas provides an excellent array of choices in both of these areas, all the way from activities like business plan competitions to international visits and conferences. Tepper's international business focus is mostly in eastern Europe and they did not have anything special worked out for flexmode participants. So Haas won my heart here.

Classroom environment:
When I attended a class at Haas, I found the people engaging in discussions and after the class, there was a general level of excitement and enthusiasm. I did not find the same to be true for Tepper. Since the classes are video-conferenced, the camera only points to a person when a student asks a question. I found a lot more of the "lecture" style of teaching and consequently I found the students surfing on the net. This difference could be a result of the fact that the class at Haas was in marketing, whereas the Tepper class was something related to statistics. The whole video-conferencing experience did not gel very well with me. So once again, Haas seemed better.

Networking possibilities:
With a class size of approx. 240 students, and a solid alumni base in the bay area, Haas was a clear winner. While, the Tepper network is not as strong, most tech companies do respect the CMU name tremendously. However with a class size of about 50 ( including folks from Lockheed etc), and the fact that Tepper Flexmode is a relatively new program, I was not sure about immediate networking gains in the Bay area.

Class Diversity:
I really believe that one can learn as much from the classmates as they do from the professors. I have a engineering background myself, and work with engineers on a daily basis. While I have tremendous respect for engineers and their brain power, I want to learn from people who are in different areas and from a different background. I spoke to about 6-7 people from the Tepper flexmode program- all of them were engineers. The total class size I think was 12 or 13 people, roughly about 50% of the students were engineers. At Haas, I found people who had engineering backgrounds but they had transitioned to things like product/people management etc. There were also other people doing things like supply chain, retail procurement, risk assessment etc. I know that in Bay area, there will be a larger number of people with engineering background, I just felt that Haas did a better job with recruiting diverse students.

Career Services:
This was a tough choice. It seemed that Tepper had a career services for students who wanted to do something completely different as well students who wanted to progress further in their existing area. Haas seemed to provide career services primarily for people who wanted a job change. Haas has added some additional resources for part time students this year. In the end this was a 50-50 with no clear winner.

Class Schedule:
My company officially supports my education endeavors _but_ when crunch time approaches, people quickly forget about others personal commitments. With Haas, I have the choice of attending the class over the weekend. At Tepper, the classes are from 3:00-7:00. Given that I have flex schedule, I am positive I could have managed to attend school in the afternoon, but given the reality of work (and the fact that I have travel from time to time), I felt the Haas' choice of attending class over the weekend was better.

Having said all of this, Tepper is still a great program in many respects. While it was a better fit than most other places, I was lucky to have a choice in this matter, and ultimately chose Haas. I think I will post a similar evaluation for Haas v/s Duke.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tips for Admitted Students

My meeting with the "Tina"- the Haas Alumnus was awesome. After having done one casual lunch, I am truly tempted to do more. Here are some of my learnings after the meeting

- Waive Core Courses
Tina mentioned that consciously chose to waive some core courses, and that allowed her to take additional electives. She mentioned that this allowed her to take electives in areas that she was just "curious" about. Later in her career she found that these "extra" electives made her comfortable in taking up additional responsibilities that led to her career progression.

-Mix up the groups
Typically, people want to work with people who they like. The problem is that in a workplace, the teams that one works one is "assigned". Try to mix up the groups so that - 1 - you meet more people, and more people = better network, and 2 - you get the experience of working with a very diverse group of people, and this makes you an effective team player as well as a leader.

-Get involved
Part time applicants usually have a hard time balancing -Life,Work and School. Tina strongly urged me to get involved in at least one club. This allows one not only to expand the network but also communicates very positively to potential employers, because this signifies excellent time management skills.

In a nutshell, I thought these suggestions were very valuable because it gave me a sense of how to make most out of my MBA experience. I am wondering if other bloggers are also planning on doing some informational interviews, because this can be a great source of information for all of the admitted students.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Earlier this year, I had outlined that one of goals was to know other people in my company who are doing new business development. I hope to venture out to new business development and strategy post MBA ,and I am trying to network with individuals in my company for the time being to get a better understanding of the skills and assess my own gaps.

While the full time folks have the option to do a pre-MBA internship and the regular internship, the part time folks usually don't have that luxury- or more specifically at this time I don't have that opportunity. I plan to use the informational interviews not only to know more about different opportunities but also to know more people in areas where I want to be in the next three years.

To that effect, I have scheduled my first meeting, this Wednesday. The person is a Haas alumnus and that definitely helped me break the ice very easily and get in the calendar. I am really looking forward to this meeting. Hopefully, I can get some ideas about how to transition to a new role.

Last but not the least - Laptop update: It is still being worked on. I am redoing all my homework and labwork, so that I can meet the new extension date that I had requested from my instructor.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Depression Hits

Today, was one of the bad days that got worse with every passing minute. First, there were ongoing issues at work, and they kept comming and comming - one, two, three, four, five, and then finally the most dreadful of all things happened, my laptop died. Apparently, my hard drive is bust and now the IT guys dont know whether they can retrieve the data out of the dead drive. The laptop has a whole bunch of my work stuff that has not been backed up and most importantly a bunch of homework that is due tomorrow is on that drive.

I am officially depressed today...

Monday, May 08, 2006


First tidbit:
Marina , Brownoski and I went for some good ol' wine tasting at Napa over the weekend. The day began with a great picnic at V. Sattui. We took advantage of the $10 deal and visited 6 wineries - Casa Nuestra, Clos Pegase, Silver Rose, Zahtila, Calistoga Cellars, and Bennett Lane. The wine was great but the fish at Silver Rose was the most memorable part because these fish love to drink Chardonay. I am serious the koi fish were just going wild for the wine. The trip ended with a great BBQ at Everett and Joe in Berkeley. Thanks to Brownoski, I now know of a fabulous BBQ joint in Berkeley.

Second tidbit:
I have finished the recommendation letter for Bob. I spent a good amount of time on it and I think I have accomplished all the objectives for the letter. Initially, I thought of submitting it but I am going to wait overnight before hitting the submit button.

Friday, May 05, 2006

MBA Update and more about bob

This week, I did two things MBA related
- Filled up the "Statement of Intention to Register" for Haas, UC Berkeley
- Filled up the online form for Tepper to let them know that I will not be joining their class

But more importantly, I had two rather interesting conversations with Bob - the guy who has asked me to write recommendation letters for B-School.

The first one was a bit edgy. Bob thinks that he is a very competitive candidate because he has a great profile( Gmat in mid 700, GPA close to 4 - very well known public university), so feels that he will be a great catch. I explained to him that my research had indicated that essays, extra curricular activities, and recommendation letters are equally important, and that great stats do not always translate into admissions. I also explained that to do a good job, I would like additional input to write a good letter. I had a feeling that this meeting did not go very well.

Yesterday evening , he dropped by and mentioned that he had been doing some additional research and he will be spending more time researching the US Schools. He plans to apply to Insead for the time being, and he did give me additional material to help me craft a decent letter.

Anyways, now I am twiddling away with the recommendation letter. Writing a recommendation letter is not easy.

Monday, May 01, 2006

How not to get a recommendation letter

Last month I was approached by one of my team members -"Bob".- He wants to apply to B-School and wants me to write his recommendation. Although I have not officially announced my B-School plans to my team in general, I suspect that the folks do know about my plans to attend B-School. Anyways, last week, he stopped and told me that he has decided to apply to Insead and that I need to finish up by May 10. Now here are some things that one should do if they don't want an effective recommendation letter. Bob is doing all of these things and as much as I want to write a good letter for him, I honestly don't think that the letter will be good enough.

- Don't give your recommender time to write
While I would love to help him, my schedule happens to be really packed for the next week. I will be finishing up the letter in time, but it would have been nice if I had more time to write.

- Don't explain your resume
While I have worked with Bob over the years, I am do not have any clue as to how some of things mentioned in his resume actually translate to anything worthy of putting in the letter. More specifically, his resume is full of technical accomplishments but I am actually having a hard time remembering exemplary leadership contributions.

-Don't give any background of your school
Although, I know of Insead, I really do not know what the core values of the school are. I think that if a recommender can add another dimension that relates well with the core values of the school, the recommendation letter has an added punch.

-Don't give any sample letters
No, I am not asking for a draft but some example of what type of letter is needed. European schools have a slightly different format and I wish I did not have to go and research what format/content to use.

-Don't explain your goals or objectives
In my opinion, one should provide a draft of the essay so that the recommender can align some of the answers where relevant. For example, if the leadership example mentioned was something that I could comment on, it would make the overall application a lot more powerful if I mentioned this in the letter.

In any case, it seems weird to be in this position, and I have set up another meeting with Bob to get clarification on some points. I really hope this works out for him ...