Saturday, October 20, 2007

Time to get focused

Up until now I think I have tried to enjoy all Cambridge has to offer, that is, enjoying great social events, getting to know all the new people and all that. I have been doing my assignments and homework but that’s pretty much it. Still, it seems like I have no time to do so many things I’d like to do!

But today I had an 1:1 finance coaching session and I think it made me think about my goals and what I should be doing by now. The thing is recruitment for financial institutions has already started and within a couple of weeks some application periods will be over. It’s a little bit odd that everything starts so soon. We barely had time to learn anything about finance and we are already supposed to be preparing for interviews. I think that is the disadvantage of the one year programmes. We have little time to figure out what we want and even less time to prepare ourselves for all the crazy recruitment processes.

So I’m now trying to get a bit more focused and I hope to start sending some applications soon enough. I guess the partying days couldn’t last forever, right?!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Prisoners' dilemma

Most people with an economics background have heard of the prisoners’ dilemma. It is a very widely spread example of how people will end up in the worst possible situation because they didn’t cooperate and just behaved selfishly. It’s used to demonstrate that maximizing the individual happiness may lead you to a position that is not socially optimal. The story is simple: Two burglars are caught by the police and put in separate cells. Each one is told that if he confesses he will be free to go but the other burglar will get 2 years. If they both confess, both will get 1 year in prison. If no one confesses, they are free to go because there is not enough evidence to persecute them. It is obvious that is better for both not to confess and go free. The thing is they can’t communicate and each one knows that if the other confesses, the other will be free and he is going to get 2 years. The conclusion is that they both confess if they are rational.

This is only one of the games that are used in Game Theory, a subject of Economics that uses simple games to model people’s behaviors.
Anyway, the point is many people know how to solve these games and that is not hard. But few people have actually been in the position of the players and played with limited information.

That is exactly what we did in a course called Management Practice. We were divided in groups of four and we played a Prisoners Dilemma against other groups that were in different rooms without communication for 10 times in a row and it was very interesting to see the outcomes.
Everybody in the class knows the game but still there were lots of different outcomes. Some groups started cooperating since the beginning whereas others started to compete since the beginning. Others changed strategies somewhere in between. We were allowed a meeting with the other group at the 4th play. It was interesting to see how groups agreed on cooperating but still broke the deal and others didn’t.

The point is, one thing is solving the game assuming everybody is rational. Other thing is actually playing it and being in the game’s conditions and seeing that people tend not to play rationally and to add emotions and prejudices to the game. Many people feared for their credibility after the meeting and kept their word of cooperating. Some people saw the exercise as just a game. Others looked at the other groups as their class mates and they didn’t want to hurt them. Others just wanted to do “the right thing”.

It was a very enlightening experience and I must add I enjoyed it and it sums up the spirit of this MBA. It’s about seeing things happening and applying them to reality rather than just look at the books.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One month

I’ve been in Cambridge for a month now and i’m still loving it. For those of you who think Cambridge is a small and boring city, I must say you are mistaken. It is a small town and it might be boring in other circumstances, but not for doing an MBA.

There are always lots of things going on, and when we are not in classes there are always so many things to do. Pub gatherings, dance classes, thematic parties, college events or punting trips….is so hard for me to attend everything I’d like to that I must say is highly unlike anyone will have time to get bored. But even if you do, London is 45 minutes away.

Anyway, classes have been interesting and the work load is steadily increasing. There are many readings to do and some cases to prepare. There are also some assignments and we are already thinking in our Cambridge Venture Project. Besides, all the Special Interest Groups that have been created have been really active and there are always career events happening.

Up until now I’d say the main difficulty is being able to cope with the amount of information that they give us. For instance, I always take some time during the weekend to go through my schedule for the next week so I won’t miss anything important. It’s hard to put together so many events (including parties or special college events). And the week is very dynamic because there are always many unexpected events happening so we really need to know our schedule.

And of course, that’s why I’ve been writing much less in the last days. However I’ll try to write more often and add some daily life stories too.