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« August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

Parlez-Vous Francais?

Posted by Rebecca on 26 September 2008

One of the main reasons I applied to London Business School is because of its global ambitions, of which the language requirement plays a very important role. Everyone is required to speak at least a second language.This can be a very ambitious goal for Brits and North Americans, but I have many classmates who are picking up a 3 or 4th language “just for fun”. Why stop with just Portuguese, English and German? Why not learn Japanese, too?

Originally I had ambitions to learn a new language from scratch.  Sometime in April while I was working in Dubai I thought it would be cool to study Arabic.  In August, inspired by the Olympics, I got excited about learning Mandarin.  Then September rolled around and the reality of both the workload and all the great electives on offer set in: do I really want the most stressful part of my MBA experience to be the language requirement?  So I decided to be a lazy Canadian and brush up on my French instead. 

Je suis desolée, mon amour, mais je ne t’aime plus.  Je suis infatuée avec Jacques Cousteau.*

In order to meet the language requirement, you must pass a test for Level 2 in any language you choose. The definition of Level 2 is a bit ambiguous, but at a minimum you should be able to talk to native speakers without making a total fool out of yourself (note: this could prove challenging for me as I sometimes struggle with this in English).   

Excusez-moi, madame.   Vous avez un morceau de jambon entre vos dents.  Un moment – je vais vous aider.*

The school offers elective courses in most languages or you can choose to pay £1000 for each course.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend an elective credit on French, so my roommate Dan (another Canadian) suggested an alternative: take classes through Alliance Français and try to pass the requirement early.

L’habit ne fait pas le moine, mais les talons hauts font la femme.*

Enrolling in classes required writing a paragraph (topic: talk about a recent trip you took with a friend.  My friend and I went to la piscine, we ate une baguette, rode le Metro and we also watched Amelie), and have a brief conversation with an instructor. He talked for about 5 minutes, of which I understood very little, and then looked at me expectantly.  Only two words came to mind: 1) Something close to "zut alors".  2) D’accord.   With that I ended up in French classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Pamplemousse. Pamplemousse. Pamplemousse.  Pamplemousse.* (seriously, one of my favorite things about learning French is having a legitimate reason to use the word “Pamplemousse”on a regular basis). 

Clearly I have some work to do.  My advice for any “monolingual” people applying for next year is to start studying now or take an intensive language course over the summer.  It will save you a lot of time and money once school starts.

*Apologies to all the French speakers for my appalling grasp of your language.  Hopefully I’ll improve!

Innovation...

Posted by Krish on 25 September 2008

- a word we keep hearing everywhere these days. Innovation in management, innovation in energy, innovation in technology etc. etc. etc. However, I can't imagine our life without constant, positive change. It's one of those things that continues to make our lives better and more interesting each and every day.

Here at London Business School, we have a club for pretty much anything: finance, entrepreneurship, venture capital, consulting, private equity, sailing, golf, rugby and so on (phew!). A new addition, as profiled by Vipul a few weeks back, is the Innovation Club. Truth be said, it isn't really a formal club yet, but we did have our first introductory meeting today to discuss potential goals, vision and strategy. While I've stopped getting surprised at the International diversity at the school, the breadth of professional backgrounds still doesn't cease to amaze me -- we had students who had worked in Advertising, Technology, PE, Banking, Consulting and even a couple from the World Bank.

Ideas were shot left and right across the room and we arrived at a promising list of events and activities for the term and the club's immediate future. If you're at school and haven't joined the Innovation Club discussion group, you're certainly missing out on what promises to be an exciting organization. No one can deny the power of innovation and its place, right on top of every company's agenda as they try and navigate today's tough economic and environmental challenges.

I've been rather lax...

Posted by Nick on 23 September 2008

I've been rather lax with regard to my blog posting.  When I was researching schools, I would follow some bloggers' blogs almost religiously and I found myself getting annoyed/disappointed when they would stop posting or post intermittently.  Being a blogger myself, I understood only too well how difficult it is to post on a regular basis; sometimes you are too busy and sometimes you just lack inspiration.  That said, I made a promise to myself that once the MBA started, I would keep posting on a regular basis because I know how much reading others' blogs helped me.

I've decided to take a crack a "Day in the life" post.  The difficult thing about this however is that each day in the life of an MBA student is so varied that it is difficult to write about a typical day.  The best approach to this will probably be to write a series of these; the reader will then be able to see how different each day can be.

So, here's my last Thursday in detail -

7:00 am - alarm goes off.  During the first two weeks of school, I had absolutely no problem getting out of bed.  I think that was due to the excitement aspect of being back in school again.  Now the excitement has worn off and I'm cursing the alarm clock.  While eating my cereal, I read CNN.com and FT.com to see how much more of the financial world has collapsed today.  Crazy stuff going on!  I make a mental note to start looking at alternative careers to finance, because the prospect of getting an internship in finance this summers seems rather dim.  Quick shower to wake myself up, and then its time for stats.

8:00 - 11:30 am - Sit in front of Excel trying to determine the statistical model that predicts store profits for a fictitious retailer called Store24.  The possible variables include management tenure, crew tenure, number of local competitors, sales, etc., etc.  After a few hours, of trying to figure out which root power gives the better adjusted R squared value for our model, I pack up my computer to head to school.

11:30 - 11:45 am - Walk (quickly) from my flat in Saint John's Wood to campus.  I love the walk... St. John's Wood is a beautiful area and along the way I pass some Middle Eastern shops which I buy stuff like hummus in.  Today though I'm in a hurry, so I pass by quickly.

11:50 - 12:30 pm - One on one CV review session (oops, I'm 5 minutes late!).  After being given instruction on exactly how the "London Business School CV format" works, everyone in our class prepared a new and improved CV (or resume as we say in the US).  Career Services is one of the most important aspects at any top MBA program, and at London Business School they are top notch.  I sit down with a woman from career services and we go over my new resume achievement point by achievement point.  She has lots of constructive things to say, and I go home with a CV covered in notes.  I'll have to prepare a second version for another round of "CV surgery" so that I can have a really good CV to post on the school's portal.  The student CVs will all be visible to employers starting sometime in October, so it is important that we get this right.

12:30 - 2:00 pm - Lunch and bit of a break.  I buy a sandwich from The Bite and sit outside in the quad eating and chatting with classmates.  I use some of this time to reply to emails via my trusty new iPhone (I'd say 2/3 of the class has one... we're all followers apparently...)

2:00 - 3:15 pm - I head over to the Fairbairn Conference room in Plowden for 1hr15mins of "Networking Skills".  Now, don't get me wrong... I see what they were trying to do with this, but most of the students felt that it was kind of a waste of time.  Basically we were told that networking is important, that we should do it, and that we should start doing it now.  Hopefully the next session in October which actually focuses on specific skills such as how to properly introduce yourself, inject (and remove) yourself from a conversation, etc. will be better and more interesting.

3:30 - 6:00 pm - Lorenzo from my study group has booked a meeting room over in A-wing for my study group.  We spend the next 2.5 hours discussing our data analysis for the stats assignment and decide on the best model to use and how we intend to split up the report.  I repeatedly curse myself for not opting out of statistics... all I had to do was take an exam which I would have easily passed having been an engineer, but at the time I thought my stats were pretty rusty, so I'd better re-take the class.

6:10 - 7:00 pm - I cross the street and walk over to the gym.  2000 meters on the rowing machine (that thing finds muscles I never even knew I had), and a few weight machines later, I start the walk home to Saint John's Wood.

7:15 - 8:00pm - get home, shower, change... I've got a date tonight (yes, the MBA still leaves time for romance...)!

8:15pm - arrive at my date's house.  She's cooked dinner for me and her flatmates, all of whom are either lawyers or bankers.  The four of us spend the evening discussing the crazy things going on in the financial world.  The bankers speculate as to whether they will have jobs in the near future or not.  Again, I make a mental note to look into alternative internships to finance. 

Well, that's my first "Day in the life of an MBA student".  I hope it helps you get some idea of what we do in school.  I'll follow this up with others that will give you a better idea of how varied our days are.

Workshops, talks, lessons......

Posted by Pak on 21 September 2008

About 1 month into the MBA course, there are already plenty of workshops, career and club talks etc that filled up whatever free time-slots during the day that one has. Some are indeed very interesting, especially if one is clear about his/ her career goals.

For example, I just had a Business Communication workshop last Friday, which the School engaged an external professional firm to conduct for us. It was a 1 day workshop, from 9am-5pm. The ratio of trainer to students is 1:6, i.e. 1 trainer to a study group. I thought that was really good as a smaller group workshop allows each participant to practise more.

The workshop was really good. Each one of us gave a 2-3 minutes presentation, which was recorded by the trainer, and then the trainer analysed our presentation one by one, supported by techniques and principles for business communications. Then we prepared new presentations again with our areas of improvement in mind. I was able to put the recommendations into practice immediately and observed improvements immediately via the playback.

This workshop is especially useful for us, the 1st year MBA students, as we are going to have MANY presentations/ interviews in the coming future.

Now, the rest of the core courses are going to start in October. The timetable and assignment deadlines appear a bit daunting. But let's see how we will cope with that...

My new normality

Posted by Charlotte on 21 September 2008

I have now been at school for 3 weeks properly and already I have a whole new life which is in full swing. I know this because I’m currently surrounded by Stats books which say things such as scatter plots and correlation analysis and I’m getting it. Stats is a big thing for me. Many people have some knowledge but I’m in completely new territory – on Day 1 I learnt something which takes 2 seconds to do which could have saved me days in my old job using my homegrown Excel analysis techniques. Our month-long crash course in Business Statistics comes to an end this week but it hasn’t been all plain sailing. The major study group work so far has been in Stats and I have had to rely on my team a lot. It is a new experience for me to put my faith in the expertise of others but it is a great trust-building exercise.

The other side of my whole new life is the fact that all of a sudden I am an integral part of a big new community which is vibrant and lively and oh-so welcoming. I didn’t manage to visit London Business School before coming here so I had no idea that it was this close and I now consider myself extremely lucky for having picked this place.

The old cliché about starting school = nerve-wracking experience couldn’t be further from the truth if it tried. Every time I walk into the pub I see people I haven’t seen for the last day or two and it is like greeting long-lost friends. The only thing is that someone will then say “I am 95% Confident that I am going to drink tonight” and I will laugh! (And I see my old friends raising their eyebrows at the fact that I am now cracking Stats Jokes…)

2010's arrive!

Posted by Matthew on 20 September 2008

The 2010's have arrived. The campus is much more lively right now since they still have the enthusiasm of people who think that they will get summer internships. This is kind of cute still.

But it also means that this blog is now for the 2011's and beyond. And this unprecedented financial crisis created by a lack of liquidity in the markets that is diminishing the job prospects for 2009's and 2010's creates a definite opportunity for those planning to apply to Business School in the near future. First, academia becomes a pretty good place to shelter yourself from a horrible job market and create value in your CV and intellectual capital for 2 years. Second, people who truly understand what is currently happening and why will have significant advantages in the application process for Business School and more importantly, perhaps, for job interviews in the future.

All job interviews in the foreseeable future are going to focus on what is currently happening. In the few interviews that I have had since the end of my internship, it is clear that having a front row seat to the current events unfolding makes for great interview conversation and an opportunity to demonstrate an understanding. This is clearly the topic preoccupying most people in finance, consulting and industry. Nobody is being spared.

Not that this is all bad for us. Most of us have a had a very good time (2009's) and the 2010's will have a good (if not more stressful time) than us. But they should also permanently enter the job market on an upswing which is the best time to enter. Unless of course the $700bn bailout of the US financial system doesn't work.

But in the meantime, I am going to focus on the positives of the current situation -- the pubs have a lot of great company in the mornings now with all of the "available" bankers getting an early start at the early to close British pubs.

What does it feel to be an alumna?

Posted by Martha on 20 September 2008

Better than I thought. At business school, I thought alumni came from a different, cold, and very distant world. I thought as an alumna I would feel gone from the action, away from where important things were happening (aka business school).

But, yesterday was my first day in Dubai and have already met with a good friend of mine: Neville Crawley. We were in the same stream during the MBA and together studied Mandarin symbols for hours. In addition, I have already reached out to a few other business school alumni, with whom I am likely to meet within the next few days. Yesterday I realised I trust these people significantly, I feel strongly connected to them, and I feel at home with them - all of us foreigners in the same city.

I might just be too excited about starting full-time work, but today I feel very happy, proud, and -must accept- relieved to belong to this network of people. Today I think being an alumna is awesome!

Later will tell more about Dubai and life in consulting after an MBA and oil rigs.

What do you want to do post-MBA? Consulting or Finance? Entrepreneurship or Family Business?

Posted by Vipul on 18 September 2008

I, like most MBA students, am tired of asking and answering this question.  We MBA people need to think outside our frames and come up with new questions. But humour me for a moment by reading my rants around this topic which is so vital to the existence of the species –Studentea NoLifeus.

Like many of my peers, I’m still undecided. So I’ve signed up for almost all professional clubs and their events. I’ve been to events organized by the Innovation club, the Venture Capital club, the Media Club and the Consulting club. I missed out on the Finance 101 sessions, as I was too late in signing up (that’s what I get for not buying an iPhone!).  Over the next week, I am scheduled to make an appearance at the Emerging Markets Club, the Technology Club, the Industry Club, the Family Business Club and the China Interest Club. Sounds like a lot of information? Yes it is! But that’s what I get for being undecided.

The good news is that London Business School is very supportive of people like me. These club meetings tend not to clash with one another. So it is possible to attend all of them. Further conversations with career services, teaching staff, alumni, recruiters and fellow students help a lot in weighing the pros and cons of different career options. I am confident that by November I will have picked a path!

You may cynically comment, “In a month at the school you should have achieved some level of clarity!” Guess what, I have. The first thing “Self Assessment” told me was “Stay away from Finance!” And no, this does not reflect or imply a co-linearity (with or without the confidence intervals) between current market conditions and my professional values. I was told that I am more inclined towards a life of Entrepreneurial Creativity and Technology Focus. However the assessment did not say much about my analytical skills or how well I’d fit into Consulting. That was a little disappointing, since Consulting is high on my list of potential careers.

But all is not lost. I have attended 3 events organised by the Consulting club so far. And honestly, with every event I have felt that Consulting is a good choice for me. The first event was an introduction to the Club and its activities. The second was titled “What is Consulting”. The speaker, an ex-McKinsey consultant, gave a thorough analysis of the profession. The idea of working across industries, geographies and functional levels in the client’s organisation is very appealing to me. It is exciting to be involved in all the different parts of the process of creation, whatever might be getting created. And having worked as a technical-consultant (IT) previously, I can relate to most of what a management consultant would do on day-to-day basis. I can definitely handle the travel!

The third consulting event, which finished just 2 hours ago, was a presentation by A.T. Kearney.  They are corporate partners of the London Business School. What that means is that they work closely with the school in developing consulting skills among students, and in hiring consultants from the school. Every term A.T. Kearney hold an event at the school: The Global Prize (case study competition) in autumn, Team Dynamics in spring and KRISP on KAMPUS in summer. They hold a number of ad-hoc events like case-cracking and speaker series.

One interesting thing I learned from the A.T. Kearney presentation is that they do not send different types of work to different countries. This is great news for me, because I intend to work in India post-MBA. Many companies use India as a dumping-ground for back-office type work. It’s good to know that A.T. Kearney serve local clients and perform the full range of consulting tasks in India. In response to my question about this, they said that their premium fee structure is does not justify using countries purely as cost saving centres. The other bit of good news that I can infer from this is that most international strategy consulting firms in India would probably have a similar stance. I guess I will find out for sure over the next few weeks.

Besides consulting, I am inclined towards the Technology industry. Being a techy (almost) by birth, I have developed a passion for everything computer related.  Yes, I know, I am perpetrating a stereotype, but one has to be true to oneself! I found that what the Media club had to say overlapped a lot with what I imagine the Technology club would say (when I see them soon). So I might just remain a member of that club – at least till I pick between consulting and technology! In the meanwhile, to develop my knowledge and contacts in the IT Industry, I have joined the organising committee of the Global Security Challenge (http://www.globalsecuritychallenge.com/) – more about that in a later blog!

So, the next steps would be, 1) Attend more club meetings, 2) Form a team for the A. T. Kearney Global Challenge, 3) Meet a career advisor to discuss my thoughts, 4) Attend the “Networking Mindset” session tomorrow and 5) Buy Consulting Club Merchandise!!

Statistics...Party Time!

Posted by Kobby on 18 September 2008

DISCLAIMER: I spent a few days writing the following blog. Last night, I went to put it up, and discovered a pretty funny coincidence: my fellow blogger, Rebecca, had written on the exact topic I'd chosen and posted two days before; must be the water we're drinking here. Frankly, I found her piece more interesting than mine, but I figured 'What the heck. I spent the time to write this, I'll post it anyway.'

Before classes officially started this term, I hadn't sat in a classroom in over four years. So it was with a tentative eagerness that I approached the first days of class. This tentativeness only got worse when I picked up my class schedule for September term and realized that my first class in business school was going to be Business Statistics.

Now, I don't care what word you put in front of it, statistics is statistics; and all I know is that it completely kicked my butt all over undergrad - and I majored in Math. As if that wasn't bad enough, the course was broken out into five six-hour blocks. At this point, I might have been forgiven for presuming that with 30 hours of stats, September 2008 would not be one of my brightest spots. It was against this backdrop that I walked into my first MBA class, and into the domain of Catalina Stefanescu, Ph.D.

So it came as a bit of a surprise - albeit pleasant - as we delved deeper into the course, that I was hanging in there. By the end of the second class, I had a significantly deeper understanding of statistics than I ever had in three different undergraduate stats courses - no exaggerations here. I'm certainly not a pro yet; but it sure is great to understand what the heck you're doing when you're using a t-distribution to calculate the standard error of a sample of data. I'm sure a lot of this is because I've finally been able to connect hitherto disjointed concepts floating about my noggin. However, I also credit the faculty, whose direct application of theory to real business scenarios makes the subject more tasteful palatable and succeeds where others have failed in getting me to understand this material.

Thus far, I'm impressed with the general quality of teaching at London Business School. Sitting in lecture theatres here has been a meaningful experience. Not only have I learned the material, but I appreciate the benefit of learning by experiencing practical applications of theories. I'm thrilled to discover that so far, LBS is offering exactly the type of learning I want and need for myself.

London Business School launches MBA TV

Posted by Adcoms on 16 September 2008

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our brand new series of videos. MBA TV provides viewers with a window into life at London Business School.

Experience our MBA first hand as you are guided through the academic year and learn what it means to study a world-class MBA in such a vibrant city.

Features will cover the School community, curriculum highlights, major campus events and club activities. From fly on the wall reporting to up front interviews you will gain access to staff, faculty, alumni and students.

In this first episode we feature the new Class of MBA2010 as they meet each other during Orientation.

We hope you enjoy this first installment. If you have any comments or suggestions on content for future episodes, please post them here.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Posted by Rebecca on 15 September 2008

I don’t get along well with Greek letters. I am terrible at anything involving them (no matter how hard I try) and I usually don’t have any fun, either.  Math is a classic example.  I once accidentally enrolled in advanced calculus for engineers and pre-med students - it was the most harrowing experience of my life. Some people freak out at the sight of bugs or vermin, but µ ≥ β is what sends a chill up my spine.

So needless to say, I had to resist the urge to vomit when I saw our class schedule for the month of September: 5 full days of Business Statistics. 9 am – 5 pm.  I prepared for the worst, but was pleasantly surprised after our first day of class.  It helps that our professor, Kristin Fridgeirsdottir, has managed to make statistics practical and interesting, using examples that are relevant to what we’re reading in the news (e.g., polling for the upcoming U.S. presidential election).  She also has a great sense of humor, which keeps us awake and laughing.  The class format helps - it’s not 8 hours of straight lecture as I originally feared, but broken up into four segments: 90 minutes of lecture, 90 minutes of exercises in our study group with a PhD student, lunch, 90 minutes of class discussion, and finished by a 90 minute workshop in the computer lab. 

Not only do the stat days pass by pretty quickly, but I’m actually learning something, too. I used to be highly skeptical about regression.  In my previous job as a management consultant, I noticed that new MBAs attempted to use regression to answer every single problem - we called it “Regression Aggression”.  But now I’m starting to see how statistics could help shed light on relationships in our daily life:

·         The further away your apartment is from campus, the higher the probability you will be late to class (1 tube stop = 1 standard deviation)

·         There is a strong positive correlation between total daily beer consumption and average weight gain

·         57: the mean number of clubs each student has joined so far (skewed slightly by an outlier who joined every single one)

·         For every bank that fails, an additional 100,000 people will apply to business school next year (95% confidence interval, +/- 12,893)

I’ll be sad when Business Statistics finishes on Friday. 

And survey says...!

Posted by Joyce on 14 September 2008

“Congratulations, you are remarkably well-suited for a successful career in... [insert target career you’ve had your sights on since starting your MBA].”

Well… something to that effect.

Most of us come into the MBA with a certain level of self-awareness. That is what got us here in the first place, right? Now what, might you ask, would two hours of online surveying tell you about yourself? Well, I have just completed ticking off responses to a deluge of probing questions about my strengths, weaknesses, values, and interests as part of the Career Leader assessment. True to what we were told during our Career Services Orientation, here were some tools we could use for self-assessment and introspection—a critical factor when it comes to landing that dream job.

The survey results, not so surprisingly, didn’t hold many surprises. But before you discount the practical value of such surveys, let me tell you what I did get out of it. For one, it was an absolute pleasure reading such a glowing review about my strengths. For another, I have never seen my weaknesses so eloquently described that they hardly seem to be the severe flaws we tend to think of them as.

The value, as I see it, is not that these results will reveal some startling insight you never knew about yourself. Most of us already know ourselves very well implicitly (and the quality of the classmates I have met so far confirms this.) Rather, what you might get is a nicely-packaged set of words, clauses, and phrases which perhaps express your capabilities better than you could articulate on your own—especially under interview anxiety. Upon reaching the last page of the survey, it struck me that I was holding a precious document filled with killer interview-prep material.

My advice: Do the surveys. Then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

A day in the life

Posted by Franco on 13 September 2008

Another Saturday morning that came after a week filled with Clubs presentations, meetings with alumni, assignments, cultural exchange, new friends and London.This week I found how amazing is the support that LBS network offers. In fact, this network is just an e-mail away, no matter in which region of the world the person who you want to contact lives. They will no hesitate to help you if you ask for help or guidance.

Yesterday the rain visited London again. After a sunny day, rain met me near the Big Ben. I was with some friends from the programme: Tomoki and Tadahiro, from Japan;Janser, from Brazil;Juan Camilo, from Colombia;Santiago, Andres, Alma and Maru, from Mexico and Padvel, from Bulgaria. We spent the afternoon walking through London, talking about topics not necessarily related to the MBA programme, learning from each other, until the sunset. It was great! Those kinds of experiences are the ones who inspire me.

Another Saturday, time to go to sign up with the doctor and finish the Council Tax. But most important, another chance to enjoy, learn, see and share with others and from others. Just another day in London, and it is great!

Cheers

A summer in finance......

Posted by Stuart on 10 September 2008

This summer has seen a complete and final transformation from my pre-MBA existence. Gone are the daily "ward-rounds" and clinics in the field hospital and in place is the daily morning meeting at 7am followed by a day of catching up with the markets, building/tweaking excel models and speaking on the phone to investors and companies.

Goodbye to the world of military medicine and hello to the world of bulge 'bracket' finance! For those thinking about the summer in this rather different cultural environment a lightning round of top tips:

  • Believe what the year above and alumni tell you. The job you will be doing in the summer is the same job that most have been doing for the 3-5 summers before you. If they say you will be working 6:30am-7pm then it is a reality. If you are looking to IBD the 3am finishes and 9am starts do happen. Think Powerpoint, Face Time and being at the beck-and-call of the MD. Of course this is second-hand information on my part (having been on the markets side all summer) but a pretty consensus opinion from colleagues the other side of the Chinese Wall
  • Make a good impression. It may seem that getting the internship is the first step on a road towards a clear offer and guaranteed career change but this is only about 20-30% of it. Be keen, turn up (just) before the boss and leave (just) after. Points win prizes and brownie points are not earned by coming in after the rest of the team or leaving before. Obvious I agree but some people forget.
  • HR can make or break you. A positive opinion from HR may not make a big difference, but a negative one will definitely count. They are your ally so treat them as well as the MDs and VPs
  • Enjoy the experience, work hard and remember the bank is also there to sell itself to you - take part in the socials, events, drinks and dinners - it is the easiest and best way to network!
  • If you have an offer, celebrate, relax but then the hard decisions really begin. Career Services have posted around 50 new jobs in the past 48h for the full-time recruiting so don't just throw the acceptance letter in just yet

Overall I am happy with my decision although the second internship is starting to bite and taking 'days off' from the internship does not go down amazing well with employers! If you really want to keep your options open then think about doing different roles completely e.g. finance/consulting. But bear in mind this is one of the last chances to have a 'proper' Summer.

That's all the words of apparent wisdom I have for now. I look forward to other's experiences and if you want to know more just remember those that have trodden the path before as they are generally a good source of independent advice!

Melbourne is hot for Innovation

Posted by Vipul on 08 September 2008

The ingredients for innovation are: Openness, Collaboration, Multi Disciplinary thought, and Globalization. This was the central theme of a talk by Nick Donofrio, the executive vice-president of innovation and technology at IBM. On Sunday the 7th of September 2008, Nick spoke to members of the Innovation and Technology clubs at the London Business School.

Many years ago Nick estimated that we will live in a world where billions of people will use trillions of devices connected to the internet. Right now, two billion people are connected to the internet, but only about 200 million devices. So there is great scope for being innovative in creating and connecting new devices. Moving forward, devices will be connected in a “value-driven” manner and will largely be unseen. Your fridge might tell Tesco that you need more beer, and you won’t even know!

Another field of innovation is social programming.  IBM is a company of 400,000 employees. There are many efficient processes in place for managing them and the company is doing well. What happens when IBM expands to an employee base of 1 million? How do you manage a company that large? Topcoder (http://www.topcoder.com) employs the mmorg model for expanding its employee base. People from all over the world signup and compete for work. Their ideas and their code is compared against those of others and the best man wins! So, perhaps, in the future, the 1 million employees will be self managing, social beings. The gamers of today may well be the CEOs of tomorrow!

How does IBM capitalize on these innovative ideas? They have an executive VP of innovation! And they have a great focus on enabling innovation. For example, there is a program called the ThinkPlace. It is an intranet site that all employees have access to. Employees are encouraged to post their ideas there. There are full time moderators, who are responsible for assessing and replying to posts within 2-3 days. All this correspondence is visible to other employees, so there can be no cheating! Good ideas are passed along to people who can enable their implementation. The employee who came up with the idea, normally gets paid for it (if it’s good enough) and gets to work on its implementation.

IBM makes it a point to think laterally. IT consultants need not always be from an IT background. It is about T-shaped education versus I-shaped education. It’s about being able to think across disciplines, while specializing in one. And this T-shaped model has never been more important! IBM, like many big companies, uses its global wealth of intellect very efficiently. To do that, one has to be able to think outside one’s frames of mind!

The best part of the afternoon was when I introduced myself to Nick and told him that I used to work for IBM Australia. He said that he was pleased to meet me, and that if you want to be innovative, Melbourne is the place to be (note: NOT Sydney). So the message to take away is: think laterally, think globally, share your thoughts and move to Melbourne!