Monday, January 28, 2008

2008 Global MBA Rankings

Today the Financial Times publish its MBA Rankings. I must say I am very pleased to announce that The Judge Business School came 10th in the world. It is the first time in history that this MBA makes it to the top ten and it is even more significant because it is one of the youngest programmes of the rankings.

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

Football weekends

I have been receiving many emails lately and one of the main concerns people show is how is live in Cambridge and what is the actual workload. So the best way to answer to those questions is writing something about some of the activities outside the lecture room. And football is one of them!

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


The Global Consulting Project (GCP) takes place between March and April for a whole month in full time. It is our opportunity of conducting a consulting project in an international environment and it was one of the reasons I chose Cambridge over other business schools. I believe a hand-on approach is essential and we have to leave the lecture rooms and actually do it in order to learn in a real life context.

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

A taste of Lent term

I’m now having a taste of the Lent term. Michaelmas term was hard and completely packed, especially in the end with all the assignments to hand in. But until now, I’d say there is a big difference between the two.

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

A different weekend

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

Two more to go

Accounting and Finance are over. It should be a happy thought but the Accounting exam was so hard everyone is a bit freaked out. Anyway, there’s nothing we can do now and let’s just pray.

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

Exam week

A great deal of marking process in the Michaelmas Term involves exams. The other part has to do will all the assignments and projects we have to hand in. But for some courses, the exam accounts for 100% of the grade. That’s the case of Accounting, Finance and Marketing.

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!

On my way

It’s now 23:51. I’m on the coach from Heathrow to Cambridge. I’m back in England after almost three weeks away. It’s a strange feeling to be back but it is also very exciting. I’m sure this Lent Term will be full of events and many thing will happen. Michaelmas term was great and so many things happened. But now is time to define everything, send job applications, choose electives, choose the Global Consulting Project.

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

Round 2

The last days of holidays are fast approaching. The Michaelmas term ended on the 14th December and we have exams on the 9th and 11th January. It seems like a lot of time, but the truth is many people, including myself, took some time to travel. Nonetheless, I got almost two weeks at home.

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

Enterprise Tuesday

There is much more to the Cambridge MBA than the MBA itself. MBAs all over the world cover the same kind of subjects in barely the same way. So, what is the difference? Some people have asked me what makes the Cambridge MBA so special. My answer is, by doing the MBA in Cambridge, we were granted access to many resources and networks that are simply priceless.

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!