Saturday, December 27, 2008
To be honest, it doesn’t surprise me that some couples are former during an MBA. It is a very intense experience where we get to know each other very well. MBAs spend many long hours with each other in group work and doing many different sporting and social activities (already described in this blog) and travelling for holidays or projects.
MBAs usually have many things in common. Most of them are ambitious, hard working, well educated and the MBA admission acts as a filter to create a group that despite being very heterogeneous, it has many values in common. Therefore, relationships during an MBA don’t surprise me at all. In fact, I had heard stories before about MBA sweethearts and seeing couples being formed during the MBA was normal and not surprising.
However, there was something that did surprise me about the couples that were formed: I am part of one of them!
Looking back, I went for the for the MBA completely open minded regarding my career, job location and all those things but quite frankly, the idea of finding a partner never crossed my mind. I was seeking for many things by signing up for an MBA. This wasn’t one of them.
Sometimes we can only find something when we’re not actively seeking.
I’m very happy I found what I wasn’t looking for. I must say this was a great year that changed my life. This whole year was definitely much more than an MBA!
Monday, December 22, 2008
On the 8th of September 2007 I was one week away from starting my MBA. I was still in my home country and had many expectations and some goals I wanted to achieve with and after the MBA. In this blog, I listed most of them so I could go back some day and compare what happened with what I expected.
A bit more than a year has passed now and in this post I want to do that exercise. I will list again my expectations as of 2007 and will comment on them as of December 2008.
This is a very interesting (and nostalgic) personal exercise that I hope can help some of the readers too. So here it goes:
Looking back at my expectations, it seems like I achieved almost all of them with distinction. It's actually very rewarding to look back and see how things turned out to be in all items. If you are thinking of doing an MBA, as I was in 2007 maybe this will help you make up your mind!
This topic is one of the most important ones for someone doing an MBA, and shame on me for not posting about it before!
I guess getting a good job is one of the main reasons to do an MBA. We all have the expectation of landing a great job in the end and most of us have the expectation of changing careers and industries and usually an MBA is a great means for doing so.
Unfortunately, the world has changed really fast. When we first started the MBA, we all were living in a different world. The economy was doing well and the expectation was we all would have jobs at the end of the MBA. As time went by, we started to realise the world was changing. We all were in the middle of a crisis with an uncertain duration and unforeseen consequences. Finding a job under these circumstances is harder. But it is even harder when you are changing industries, which is exactly most people enroll in an MBA for.
I started my job hunt around February 2008, which is rather late. I should have started before and I advise everyone to start as soon as possible. Obviously, it is hard to know what we want a month into the MBA. And I had many areas that I wanted to explore and investigate a bit more. I applied for many different things and was called for some interviews and I guess I used some interviews to practice and to know a bit more about some companies.
Job hunting can be frustrating. Sometimes we get interviews sometimes we get rejections and we don’t even know why. It is very important that you check your CV and Cover Letter with friends and colleagues so you don’t get myopic. Many times I was under the impression I had the perfect profile for a vacancy, but the ones who got called were the ones with totally unrelated backgrounds. So, sometimes it is a gamble. And we need to keep our hopes high and not give up, as it is very stressful too.
In the end, I had job offers from banks and consulting firms. Having been a consultant previously, I decided I wanted to try the banking industry. Joining a bank in a middle of a crisis is a risky move, but I thought it would be interesting to see a crisis from the inside.
So right now, I’m working in Canary Wharf, London, for one of the biggest banks in the World. I joined one of those MBA tailor made programmes which will allow me to have rotations in different functions and different countries across Europe. It sounds interesting and it has been a learning experience so far. Let’s see what the future holds!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sourcing the IP is not easy, especially if you have particular interests. The process is the same as the GCP. If you really want something in particular, you really have to go for it and try sourcing your own project. The list provided by the University is decent but doesn’t cover some areas of interest.
I was torn between doing something in the financial services (asset management) or digging deeper into the renewable energy industry, following my GCP. Fortunately, I was offered summer internships in different industries such as asset management, consulting and even not for profit.
After an eventful month of June, I ended up taking an internship with one of my dream institutions: The World Bank. I’m an economist so I always had the World Bank in high regard and the prospect of working in its headquarters in Washington D.C. for the summer was really exciting.
The internship was a really good experience. I worked with the Energy Unit and the internship allowed me to see how people work in the World Bank and how their work impacts thousands of lives throughout the world. It was a great opportunity to meet fantastic and interesting people and to travel in the United States and Canada.
I don’t think it could have gotten any better than this!
Things have changed a lot since the 13th of June. I am now living in London and about to start working in one of the biggest banks in the world. My class mates are scattered all around the globe. Fortunately, there is still a very good community of MBAs in London, which helps making living in a different city much easier.
I have received many emails asking about careers, IP and so forth, so in the next couple of weeks I’ll try and pick up the pace to update the blog to provide some inside information regarding all the issues I’ve been asked.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
What that means is that from now on many of us will fly to many different places and some of us will not come back to Cambridge at all. It is a very strange feeling and it is amazing how fast this year went by.
The MBA Class of 2007
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Here’s the link. Check it out...it will be a big and great event!
And today I want to focus in one of the most important sporting events in the MBA Calendar: The MBA Tournament (MBAT). The MBA is a tournament held in HEC, France and brings the Top European MBAs together to compete in many sports. The event lasts for 3 days and it is lots of fun.
Obviously, being one of the smallest MBAs, Cambridge still has little chances of winning the whole thing, but our participation was very decent. We ended up in a mid of the table position after having very good performances in sports like rowing, sailing and even football (we reached the quarter finals!). But more than sports, the MBAT is a great networking event where we can meet people from the top MBA schools in Europe.
It also translates de philosophy of some schools. LBS is clearly there to win and they look very professional in their impeccable matching uniforms. They had more than one team for most sports! Rotterdam school of management is very colourful and cheerful. Cambridge is very collaborative. Even though we didn't practice for most sports, everyone was willing to play everything and help each other out in forming teams for all sports. Most of us played more than one sport and believe me...that was tiring! Oxford is…well…I’m not talking about “the other place”! :)
Rivalries and jokes aside, I highly recommend attending the MBAT. It’s great fun, very healthy and a fantastic break from the crazy world of the MBA. And if you go you might see some of the most amasing live salsa performances that you will ever see. I still can’t figure out how on earth do they have time to practice and become so good! If you like, check some of the following links. They are very worthy!
SAD Bocconi (The winners): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YecYyGnK1E
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Today seems to be the perfect day to talk about something I’ve been asked many times by prospective MBA students: jobs and how the job market is. Jobs are a crucial part of any MBA, as most people do an MBA either to change jobs or to get promoted. As the MBA reaches its final stage, everyone is pretty much focusing their energies in finding a job. But the important question everyone who’s thinking how doing an MBA is: how is the job market?
Sadly, I have to tell you the job market is not doing very well. In particular, the investment banking industry is not recruiting as it did before. Due to the credit crunch, many investment banks are actually downsizing and, obviously, not recruiting. This is particularly relevant as a significant part of the MBA students aspired to get a job in this industry. The other main destination of MBA students is consulting. Consulting is not suffering as much as banking, however some of the main consulting firms are recruiting less or postponing their recruitment agendas. Again, these are not great news for MBA students.
Despite the not so encouraging news from these industries, it seems like there are still many opportunities out there to be harvested. Most MBAs get a job from the open market and not from the MBA Leadership Programmes so not everything is bad. If you like statistics, I’d say by now around 20% of our MBA class has secured a job. It’s not a great number but there’s still plenty of time to go and most jobs are actually found closer to the starting date. As far as I know, it’s a bit below last year’s number, but not dramatically below. So it seems this is just the way it is.
I’m part of the group that still doesn’t have a job. However, I think the open market should not be underestimated. Like I said, most MBAs get their jobs on the open market and not on the fancy programmes that recruit on campus.
Does this mean this is a bad time to do an MBA? I would say there is no bad time to do an MBA. Some years ago getting a job would probably require less effort than it requires today, but it seems like an MBA is still a very valuable asset to have and the networks that are built here should not be underestimated either.
So using my own medicine, now is the time to apply massively to the open market, be patient and be prepared for when the opportunity comes!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
My first impression was that I was watching one of those concerts like Pavarotti & Friends, where a big start calls his friends to do some singing together. The principle of this course is the same. Lord Dennis Stevenson brings some of his friends to talk for 20 minutes each. In that time, they are supposed to summarise their entire careers into some hints and tips for us.
The concept looks very interesting and I must say it is interesting. 20 minutes is the perfect length. Whenever we start getting bored of the speaker, it is over. And the speakers are very diverse and interesting people with some good insights. Even listening to the obvious tips is interesting as it reinforces their importance. In a way, it reminds me of the Enterprise Tuesday (already mentioned in a previous post) but more diverse and shorter.
After the session, there is a get together at the restaurant next door with nice food and drinks, giving us the chance to speak with these people. Because it is in a restaurant it also means we finally get good food (yup...the food served after recruitment sessions at JBS is horrible!)
Believe me, if I’m praising a course that is taught at a Friday night, the thing must be pretty interesting!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Almost two months have gone by since I last wrote on this blog, but I’ll try to make an update in the next weeks.
But let me start with the end. Yesterday, the Easter term has started. The Easter term goes until the 13th of June and it is the last term of the MBA. It is amasing how time flies here. Not long ago I was just starting and now the end of it seems so close. Yesterday many prospective students where here for their interviews and it is very funny to think that roughly one year ago I was in the same situation, and now I’m almost done.
Anyway, the Easter term has started and despite the unattractiveness of the idea of having classes again, it is nice to be back and seeing everyone again after one month of GCP. Because the GCP involves companies all over the world, the last month was spent with my GCP team and part of it was spent outside the UK. So being back is nice.
The Easter term seems to have a different structure from the previous ones. For starters, there are no exams, which is quite nice. Secondly, the course courses last roughly for a week. After these core courses, we have some electives but in general they last for 6 hours only. So it seems like I have some very light days form the second week of May onwards. That looks nice, but I guess things are designed like this so we can have more time for job search. This is also the term we’re supposed to look for jobs in the open market, which takes a lot of time.
I’m looking forward to this term, but most importantly, as most people in the MBA, I’m looking forward to finding a job soon. So let’s see what happens. In the meanwhile, I’ll try to update the blog some of the events that happened during these last two months, namely during GCP.
Just as a side note, I’ve been receiving many emails from prospective students. I’m not always very fast to answer but I try answering to all your queries. Also, I’ve been asked to post more often, so I’ll try to do so...if time allows me!
Friday, February 1, 2008
Cycling only has two disadvantages for me. One is the rain. When it rains it’s not that pleasant. Fortunately, despite what people might think, it doesn’t rain very often in Cambridge, so this problem is manageable. And when it’s really pouring…oh well…I just walk with my umbrella.
The other disadvantage is shopping. It’s not very easy to go shopping in a bike. It is ok when I want to buy small things but when heavier things are need, it’s just impossible. Recently I just start buying things through online shopping and I must say it’s great! It’s very convenient to select whatever I want online and have it delivered to my door. Obviously, they charge a delivery fee. But it’s also true on average things are cheaper at the bigger supermarkets so the difference is price actually compensates for the delivery fee.
And it makes my life so much easier! So in case you're wondering how we manage shopping with our bikes, that's the way it works :)
Monday, January 28, 2008
More importantly, there is an upward clear tendency in the last years. From 35th to 15th to 10th in three years is quite impressive. Add to that the fact it was considered 3rd in the world by Forbes and 7th by The Economist and it seems JBS is in the right track.
It is always good to realise that we made good choices. And I’m convinced choosing Cambridge over other schools was definitely a good choice. Being in the Top 10 is a very significant fact. It is very good for the school as it will attract more applications in the future and it is great for the current students, who immediately gain extra recognition. This fact is even more impressive if we have into account that there is a tradition in Cambridge of not for profit and entrepreneurship. These two career paths usually penalise our MBA relative to others.
So for those of you who are still deciding which school you should choose this piece of information can help you making your mind!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Even though we were very busy most of the times we got to play football almost every weekend. I guess that’s not too bad for a bunch of busy guys. And believe me, sometimes we really need some will power to get out of our cosy beds put our shorts and t-shirts and face the lovely 5 degrees Celsius of Cambridge.
Every year the MBA gets to play in the league. Obviously, we are older, slower and clumsier than most undergrad teams. Therefore it comes with no surprise that our performance is not the best. However, for the first time in history, the MBA07 actually won a game! I suppose that’s something to be proud of! :)
But despite what you might think, this is not only about 14 or 15 guys that come together to sweat for one and a half hours. It’s much more than that. We have cheerleaders!
That’s right. Cheerleaders! Some people from the MBA (mostly our female colleagues) go to the trouble of going to the pitch and support us while shouting some swear words at the other team (well…not sure about this last part though). But the best bit is that our supporters not only shout a lot but they also bake us some cakes for us to eat after the games, as a consolation prize (and boy, do we need it!).
For me, this says a lot about the spirit of this MBA. I suppose these are the type of things they have in mind when they say this is a collaborative MBA.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
There is a list of possible projects given by the University but we are free to try and get a project by ourselves in a specific area. This is where all the hard work starts. As far as I’m concerned most projects on the list are not very interesting to me. Maybe because of my consulting background, I’d rather have something really different and try it out.For that reason I started search for projects with some people from the MBA. Turns out it is really hard to get to key contacts and even when we do, it’s not easy to convince them. I would think having 5 highly qualified MBA students for free during a whole month would be attractive to everyone. Apparently I was wrong. It seems if the project is in a different country, companies start to get concerned with travelling expenses (which they are responsible for). So my advice for any future MBA student is: start working on the GCP really early. Ideal time would be November, otherwise it will be very hard to secure what you want.
Fortunately, I just got good news. The seeds we launched a couple of months ago brought us back a very cool GCP. So after a long process of searching and contacting people, I believe I will be able to work for a whole month in an industry that I really think is interesting.
I suppose it is part of the MBA to go through stressful moments and have many things running in parallel. But I can assure you that it is quite frustrating contacting more than 20 companies and get the same number of rejections. I think this was a good test to our determination and luckily being persistent really paid off.
Later on I’ll post some more details about the project and obviously I’ll post my experience during the GCP. But for now, it is time to celebrate! I got the GCP I wanted!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
For what I’ve seen so far, Lent term has many many assignments to hand in but these assignments are smaller. So it seems like there was an exchange between size and frequency from one term to the other. In the first term, assignments were bigger and more complex, including the Cambridge Venture Project. This term assignments are smaller, usually consisting of one or two page reports, but we have an average of two assignments per week in the next weeks.
The timetable is also different. A typical lecture day during Michaelmas term would start at 9.00 a.m. and would finish at 17.30 p.m. except for Wednesdays where the afternoon was free. This term, it seems like there are more slots free. Also, there are some factory visits scheduled during the week for Operations Management.
Also, the subjects have a shorter duration. We start with some courses now but in some week’s time, some will end and some electives will begin. So the timetable seems a bit messier and confusing but it should also be more interesting.
As far as readings are concerned, I don’t think the volume is very different. But I’m under the impression this term the learning will be much more case study based than it was last term. Last term we got the basis and the lectures were very much like regular college lectures. Now it seems like the courses are more discussion oriented which makes it more interesting but also more demanding in terms of pre readings and preparation.
I guess the timetable seems to be lighter because we’re supposed to have a much more active job search this term too. Let’s see if I have the time to keep updating this blog!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Exams are over! Now there’s a full weekend of celebrations ahead!
It’s a funny feeling to have a whole weekend with no work or assignments to do. I don’t know what that is because since the MBA started I never had one. It’s not like there is loads of work every weekend but there’s always something to do. Either work group or career related things or even sports activities; there was always something in my mind for every weekend since mid September. But not this weekend. Well, that’s not entirely true, as we have to choose our Global Consulting Project and many of us are trying hard to get interesting projects outside the list that is available.
Nonetheless, many people are flying away to spend the weekend away. Also, this weekend is the ski trip for those who are going, which is not my case.
So I guess this will be a different weekend. A weekend where there’s nothing to do at all other than relaxing or maybe doing some shopping or enjoy the enormous quantity of pubs Cambridge has to offer. There’s also a lot of catching up to do with my colleagues after this winter break.
So this will be a different weekend…
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tomorrow is time for some Organisational Behaviour and Marketing. Two exams with four questions each from which we should answer two. I don’t know if it is the excitement of the term to come or if it is just an ageing problem but I’m finding this studying and focusing thing a bit too hard. And apparently I’m not the one only.
The good news is by tomorrow at lunch time the exam week will be over. And to celebrate that there are already two pub meetings adjourned: one in the afternoon after lunch and the other one later on in the evening.
I have the feeling it will be a very long day for our livers….
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The exam system is quite different from the one I was used to. Firstly, I’m not used to doing exams of different subjects in the same day. Not only they are in the same day, they are done at the same time. For instance, Accounting and Finance are two different subjects but evaluation is made through a 3 hour exam with a part A (accounting) and a part B (finance). Not only it is a bit confusing but it makes time management absolutely key. There’s no point in doing a perfect finance exam if I spend 3 hours doing it and do nothing in the accounting bit. So I think exams are one more thing I’ll have to adapt to. And a hope I can adjust fast, because the first one is tomorrow :) For what I’ve seen so far, exams aren’t of an impossible difficulty level. The main issue is how to manage time. And apparently, some exams are meant not to be finished. This approach can be a bit frustrating at times especially if you are not native in English….i just have the feeling it takes me even more time than it would if it was my first language.
Anyway, Accounting and Finance will be on Wednesday and Marketing and Organisational Behaviour will be on Friday. I’m sure Friday night will be a great time to party as we will official put an end to the Michaelmas Term :)
As we are all trying to encourage each other, I think the main idea that we’re trying to pass through is that marks don’t get you a job. They sure don’t, but it’s always a nice feeling to perform well!
I can’t believe Michaelmas terms has finished so fast. It’s weird. On one hand, it seems like it went by way too fast. On the other hand, I feel like I did more things in three months than I did during the previous two years. This feeling is especially interesting regarding people. I’ve known my colleagues for less than three months but this is all so intense that I have the feeling I know them for years.
I’m sure the Lent term will also be very intensive and many interesting things will happen. Right now I have no clue of what kind of stuff I’ll be writing in two or three months. Lets hope it’s all good and exciting news!
Friday, January 4, 2008
All I can say is that being at home again was really nice. The term was very intense and everything went too fast. It was good to recharge, rest, eat good food, sleep and see my family and friends. Having some time evaluate everything was also good. Lots things happened and it’s really good to have some time to think about what happened and how to approach the next term. I don’t think it is very easy to adapt to this new lifestyle, to a new country, to new people and to new cultures in such a short period of time. So I see last term as an adaptation period and I believe this term will be even better in terms of taking advantage of all the good things Cambridge has to offer.
I think it will be interesting to see how everyone is doing and how they will approach the rest of the MBA. As far as I’m concerned, I guess now is the time to focus in the job search and in defining exactly what I want to do after the MBA.
So, I guess I’m ready for round 2…. Let it begin!
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
One good example is the Enterprise Tuesday. What is the Enterprise Tuesday?
The Enterprise Tuesday occurs once a week, on Tuesdays (go figure!). It is a special type of conference where the guest speaker is someone who created his own company or someone that helps others to create their own company. This is very interesting because by attending we can learn from people who actually did it. It is very different reading it on books or learning it in the classroom from a teacher or listening to who actually did it. That’s Enterprise Tuesday.
There were many interesting guest speakers this term, some more inspiring than others. But Enterprise Tuesday is something more than just this. It is held in the Engineering Department of the University of Cambridge and after each session there is a fantastic opportunity for networking.
Basically, MBAs and Engineers are put together in a room (with food!) and they can talk to each other and help each other developing ideas and trying to create new projects.
Now imagine being able to talk with PhD students that are doing research in applied fields in one the best universities in the world…chances are you can find someone with a crazy idea that might be the next Google or Youtube ready to be harvested.
So, if you seek a future as an entrepreneur, Cambridge is definitely the place to be!