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This blog has moved

Posted by Adcoms on 07 September 2010

After 4 years, we decided it was time to give our blog a makeover.  Please visit our new look blog, complete with a fresh group of London Business School student bloggers from our MBA, Masters in Finance and Masters in Management programmes at London Business School student views.

The new site retains all of the content found on this blog, along with a few new features that we hope you’ll enjoy. We look forward to welcoming you to the new site, and hope you continue to follow the London Business School student experience!

If you link to this blog, please adjust your links accordingly.

We have moved to http://blog.students.london.edu/

 

Exchange - Half Way

Posted by Vipul on 27 February 2010

I have been on exchange in India for almost 2 months now. It’s been a very interesting and different experience. I certainly am happy that I came here. My main aim in coming here was to look for work in India. Through a reciprocal agreement with London Business School, ISB allows exchange students to appear for placements. I have had a few interviews and am pleased to say that I am treated as an equal here in every aspect. I haven’t found a job yet, but that’s just a matter of time.

I have managed to squeeze in some travel. In a last minute decision (90 mins before departure!) I caught a bus to Bangalore and spent the weekend with an old friend. I was very impressed with the quality of life in Bangalore. It’s a beautiful city. Then I spent 5 days with my family in Uttar Pradesh. The work load here is heavy, but you can always find some time for the important things. I even managed to see Ooty in the Nilgiris (Blue Mountains) in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. There’s nothing like sitting with the locals and eating curd-rice off a Banana leaf in a beautiful hill town.

The parties at ISB have been good, if a bit subdued. Everyone is in placement-mode. Hence not many people actually turn up for parties these days. Still, I have to praise the Student Life Council for a stellar effort. The odd thing is that parties don’t actually come to life before 2AM. Talk about culture shock! There was a huge party thrown by the dean to celebrate ISB’s elevated ranking in the Financial Times. That was amazing!

I am staying in a 4-bedroom apartment or ‘quad’. All my flatmates or ‘quadies’ are local ISB students. They are the best bunch of people. I have done a lot of great partying with them. They are very accommodating and very willing to help me settle in. They are excellent friends! I highly recommend living in close-quarters with local students while on exchange.

Despite all the learning and fun here, I do miss life at London Business School. I can’t believe I’m missing Tattoo!! I even missed the Tech Summit! There’s nothing like life in central London. It’s such a lively place – Hyderabad sure can’t match it. I really like ISB, but I can’t wait to be back in London in April and hang-out with all my great friends from London Business School!

24 Hours of Exchange

Posted by Vipul on 05 January 2010

Disclaimer: I wrote this piece yesterday - but had trouble posting it. Here it is, untainted by my experiences of day 2.

It’s been 24 hours since I arrived at the Indian School of Business. The experience has been interesting so far – quite a contrast to London Business School. Here are some of the things that struck me.

All the support staff address me as “Sir”. This embarrasses as much as it lifts the ego. It’s like I’m a guest at a hotel. I went to boarding school in India and I have done project work with IBM in India – but never have I been called “Sir” except in hotels (and in airlines, but only when I travelled business class).

The infrastructure here is something to write home about. The campus is HUGE. I actually had to lug my suitcase for almost half a mile when the taxi driver dropped me off at the wrong “student village”. There is one excellent buffet-style all-you-can-eat for 90 Rupees (£1.20) restaurant, 2 round-the-clock cafes, and a department store on campus. I have heard wonder-filled stories about how nice the swimming pool and the gym are. In fact these stories have inspired me to set an alarm for 8 AM so I can go see the Gym. There is housing for all students (more than 600 I believe) on campus. I have a bedroom in a 4-bedroom apartment. It is air-conditioned and a maid comes every day to do the dishes. Getting my shirts ironed cost me Rs. 2.50 (yes, 2 rupees and 50 paise). I’m presently “connected” to a gigabit lan network, which unfortunately doesn’t work on my laptop any more. The bad thing is, I’m being forced to use Windows as my operating system. Overall the infrastructure appears way better than that of London Business School.

There were a few things that mildly annoyed me today, but I’m pretty sure I will adapt to those. In the lecture this morning, people would regularly interrupt others. In a networking session, people would literally shoulder me out of their way to speak to the visitor. Communicating with the support staff in English or Hindi is a slight issue – but sign language always works.

The on-campus company presentations (called “PPTs (Pun perhaps Intended) – Pre Placement Talks”) fascinated me the most. They were in sharp contrast to the presentations back at London Business School. The invitation email asked me to dress in “business casual”. This made me nervous already. I have been forcibly conditioned to wear a suit and a tie and look super sharp in all company presentations. But I felt very overdressed in a simple business shirt and trousers combination, when I saw people walking in wearing sandals, T-shirts and jeans. It turns out that due to low attendance at some of these events, these presentations have been made compulsory. Every presentation is mandatory for a particular stream of the MBA class, irrespective of whether they have any interest in the company or indeed the industry. No wonder, the enthusiasm levels were somewhat varied. Also the style of asking questions seemed a bit different. For example, the first question from the audience was “Locations?” That’s it. One word. Go figure. I don’t mean to bash ISB or its students – it is a great school with very bright students. All I am saying is that London Business School does a better job of managing crowd interest in presentations.

The people here are very friendly. Its amazing how many people I’ve exchanged phone numbers with today. One my first day at London Business School, I was definitely struggling a little more. Last night I had someone walk half-a-mile with me when she found me wandering around lost, and guided me to my student village. My neighbour showed me around the campus. Someone else kindly took me to dinner and gave me the low down on electives. Everyone is generally very keen to be helpful and friendly. I’m not saying that London Business School is not a friendly place – in fact it is a very friendly place and the people are very helpful. All I’m saying is that ISB is marginally friendlier. This is my first impression.

Now as I finish setting the alarm and plugging in the mosquito repellent, I look forward to another day of lectures, PPTs and meeting great people. Oh and checking out the fabulous pool.

First Year - what an amazing journey!

Posted by Vipul on 25 July 2009



I can't help feeling a little nostalgic about one of the most eventful years of my life. The first year at London Business School has taught me a lot. I can now appreciate, a little more than before, the vast diversity of the world around us. I have learned to look beyond my first love, computer programming, and have discovered other very interesting disciplines. I have discovered Europe through extensive travel. I have made great contacts and awesome friends for life. I have basked in the glow of celebrities. I have experienced the crushing pressure of constant rejection and disappointment followed by the supreme elation of getting what I really wanted!

My study group has been the best thing about first year. We got along well from the start: right from the time we were clinging on to each other for dear life on top of a 20 foot pole. That was at "Away Day" in the first week of school, in a team building exercise. In March, we attended the wedding of one group member on an island off the Istrean coast in Croatia. Then we went to run the Geneva half marathon together. The icing on the cake, or should I say sugar on the pasteis, was the study group (+partners) trip to Portugal. We stayed at a group member's farm-house and thoroughly enjoyed his family's warm hospitality. Besides momentarily being the "westernmost study group in Europe" (at Cabo da Roca), we ate a lot of fish, swam the freezing waters of the Atlantic, lazed about in vineyards and partied till 6AM in Lisbon. Oh, and during the year, we did assignments together as well.

The hunt for an internship consumed my life for most of this year. It all started with crack-a-case sessions back in November. From just 3 hours a week in November to 12 hours a week in January, I and many other consulting hopefuls slogged through the Consulting Club's excellent case book. Milk Round in January was a festival of day-long back-to-back presentations, lots of fried food at networking sessions, and flowing business cards. I have to admit I slept through at least 1 presentation :). Then came the applications: the most I completed in a single day were about 5. After a few weeks of waiting, came the rejections! And more rejections. And more rejections. All but 2 consulting companies had rejected me without an interview. The 2 that hadn't, promptly did so after an interview. I had to fight hard to convince myself that it was just the recession and not me. But it was still crushing. So I decided to pin my hopes on Industry. My interview call rate was much higher, but still no luck! After more than 60 rejections (yes, 60 rejections) came the end of the first year. Summer holiday was due to start with no internship, but many interviews lined up. To my greatest surprise, in the first week after final exams, I got 5 internship offers. At least 3 of them were roles I really wanted. I was in a position to reject offers - the tables finally turned! It felt great!

I was lucky enough to get an excellent role in an early stage company. I couldn't have asked for a better role. I am doing a strategy project in the IT&T industry for a start-up!! The job profile just couldn't be better! I can now truly get my hands dirty! This will be a great summer! What this experience taught me is that I don't want to stray too far from the IT industry, and consulting is not the only role that is fun! Not to say I won't try to get a consulting job for full time, but I will do my best to stay close to my IT industry.

When I was about to quit my job as a tech consultant and join London Business School, I was skeptical about the value of the MBA. I felt that quitting a stable programming job (which I loved), a good salary and a fantastic life in Australia for 2 years of studying un-understandable business mumbo-jumbo and living like a pauper didn't make any sense. I felt like I was "selling out" and giving up on a profession I loved. But I'm telling you, subjects like Discovering Enterpreneurial Opportunities, Marketing and Operations & Technology Management completely changed my point-of-view. I can now see that the MBA will truly allow me to leverage my tech skills and take my career to the next level. I can see myself enjoying a full time role involving formulating marketing strategies or managing technical operations. In fact, I am thoroughly enjoying my current internship project which requires me to formulate a business development strategy! Besides, I'm getting a chance to improve my Mandarin and Spanish and learn some Portuguese on the side! The academics at London Business School are adding a lot of value to my personal development. I am very glad I decided to do this MBA.

The other cool thing about the first year experience has been all the famous, important and interesting people that I've met. The Innovation Club organised a talk by Nick D'Onofrio (Exdcutive VP of Innovation and Technology at IBM). The Aditya Birla India Centre at London Business School brought in Nandan Nilekani of Infosys. The India Business Forum brought in many famous and intelligent people for the annual summit, including Dr. Rakesh Mohan (Deputy Governor Reserve Bank of India). There have been talks by many other famous names, and I don't have enough space to list them all hear. The entrepreneurship faculty organised a dinner with members of the Young Presidents' Organisation where I met the past president of the Richmond Tigers (Australian Football club) and we made Boris Becker wait in line for a table at the restaurant. And I queued up at the stage door to Oliver, stopped Rowan Atkinson before he could board his taxi, and got his autograph (life is downhill from that point).

After the eventful and exciting year, I now truly look forward to second year. There will be all the fun electives, some spare time to work part-time, second year project, exchange to Hyderabad in India, and much more travel around Europe :)

Fostering Creativity!

Posted by Vipul on 12 February 2009

Ding Ding Ding! No, there’s no ice-cream truck driving up Sussex Place. It’s the sweet sound of … internship rejections. Surprised? I am too. First, I was surprised that so many companies rejected me. Later, I was even more surprised at myself for not feeling too bad about it. I was (and still am) targeting consulting firms for the Summer. But all these rejections mean that, if I don’t get a consulting internship, I can experiment with starting out on my own. There will be no guilt for not trying to land a secure job and there will be no opportunity cost!

London Business School is just great at inspiring creativity. The first year core subject, Discovering Entrepreneurial Opportunities (DEO), has really got me excited about trying new and daring ventures. Yesterday the deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, Richard Hytner, spoke to our class about creativity. We did a number of exercises that forced us to challenge the norms. He introduced us to some fantastic tools for fostering creativity in our study groups. I particularly liked De Bono’s Hats. I left the class feeling very excited, despite having received two internship rejection emails during the class. I was excited about totally wild ideas: “back packs with beer warmers (yes, this is England)”, “flying without airports” – to name a few. It was really cool to see how creative a bunch of accountants, bankers, doctors and consultants can be.

How will I keep the creative juices flowing? Definitely get my study group to do the Hat analysis of our DEO Trade Show ideas. Get the innovation club to hold wild-idea brainstorming sessions (they can be hilarious and can generate some awesome actionable ideas). Keep attending highly inspirational classes like DEO and Managing Organizational Behaviour (MOB). And, if I can find a good idea, start a company over the summer.

Now off to bed, to rest before my big consulting interview :)

Managing Global Teams – insights by Infosys

Posted by Vipul on 19 November 2008

Today, Jitin Goyal (Vice President and Head of Banking & Capital Markets Group) from Infosys spoke to members of the Technology and Emerging Markets clubs about managing teams that are culturally and geographically disparate. He had some interesting insights and gave us a true feel for what it’s like to work across continents. This theme is very central to the diversity values that London Business School strives to instil.

What are teams at Infosys, and most global IT companies, like? There will typically be a large client in the U.S. or Western Europe. The client will be supported by CFGs (Client Facing Groups) and Consultants in those countries. The consultants will typically work in close contact with delivery teams in countries like India, China, Mexico and even Canada. This global model, along with its many advantages, creates some problems. How do you get people in Japan, Poland and California on the same conference call? How do you get Portuguese speaking programmers and French speaking consultants to communicate effectively? How do you break cultural stereotypes? I’ll give some examples here, but if you want the full low-down on Jitin’s talk, drop me an email.

What does “6 AM Pacific” mean to you? Jitin reckons that’s the best time for conference calls! Since it’s day time in most of the World, except for Pacific islands, people in all countries can join the call! This also means that people in Australia will have work pretty late at night, while people in California will have to brush their teeth while talking. Does this mean one has to work from 6 AM to 11PM? No, it means that work has to be divided into small chunks done throughout the day. You could take a call from 6 to 8, then go eat breakfast with the family, and arrive in the office at 10. Perhaps, leave the office at 4, pick up your kids from school, and get back to online meetings at 8 from home. Flexibility is the key!

Get a first life! Facebook, Myspace, Second Life, Skype, Instant Messaging – are all very central to our lives. Companies like Infosys are realizing the potential of these tools and are increasingly using them to encourage employee teaming and communication. But we must learn to take a step back from time to time.I personally get the jitters if I haven’t checked facebook for 2 hours! If we get too involved in virtual reality and ignore real-reality, we can get into trouble. Jitin quoted the case of the man whose wife divorced him because his SecondLife avatar was having a virtual affair!

In conclusion, Jitin pressed home the point that global teaming can be challenging but is being managed well by companies like Infosys. For those of us considering careers in consulting or even general management at global firms, the lessons from Infosys are invaluable. Infosys is a NASDAQ listed company with 100,000 employees across 26 countries. Visit their website: http://www.infosys.com. To stay up-to-date about more such events, bookmark the tech club blog: http://lbstechclub.blogspot.com/

How would you like your November?

Posted by Vipul on 02 November 2008

Double-decker buses are honking, dogs are barking, cold rain is falling, study-group mates are wrestling in the courtyard, Airbus A3XX’s are mysteriously missing from London skies and Papa-Smurf is having a hard time washing off the blue body paint. Suddenly, a loud scream pierces the air. It’s an MBA student hurling himself 160 ft through the air, at the mercy of mother-gravity. Today is your typical November day.

My predecessors tell tales of November. This is the month when study-groups witness their members engaged in hand-to-hand combat over task allocations. Multiple assignments are due. Final exams approach. And, if you were smart (or stupid) enough to volunteer at a club, chances are you are organizing some conference or party. In short, November is a very stressful month.

As Jann said in her blog, the key is to take a deep-breath. To that end, November was welcomed by multiple parties. The Monitor group hosted Sundowners on Thursday (3 hours of drinking). The class of MBA 2010 hosted Halloween on Friday (4 hours + after party till sunrise). And the India club hosted a Diwali party on Saturday (4.5 hours + after party till sunrise). Hopefully these have washed away the cobwebs of October and we can start afresh in November (…yeah right! Talk to the guy with the nasty hangover).

More de-stress events are on in November! A de-stress day where the school is offering free 15-minute neck & shoulder massages has seen school servers experience a massive load of email requests. My study group (and I recommend every group does this) is getting together for a home cooked meal to kick off November and reaffirm our fraternal love for one-another. The Rugby club is going to INSEAD to pummel them on home-turf (together with a band of supporters who will, no doubt, increase the alcohol demand in that part of France). The women’s rugby team is off for a weekend in “sunny” Glasgow. Some of us might try and catch some sun in the Canary Islands (“sun” means any temperature above 10 degrees Celsius).

Despite the gloomy-omen of unseasonal snowfall in October, November won’t be as bad as we make it out to be! Just get out there and “take a deep breath” (--quote attributed to Jann--). Also, let me reassure you, no one has committed suicide - some of us went bungee jumping today

Observations on the Indian skill shortage

Posted by Vipul on 08 October 2008

The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) aims to promote business and professional ties between UK and India. Its members include a wide range of business people from the two countries. The advisory board includes our very own dean Robin Buchanan and other, dare I say less famous, personas like Richard Branson and Arun Sarin. The council held a session at the London Business School last week where the topic of discussion was the skills shortage in India. We heard from a highly successful firm of architects, a HR consulting firm, a social recruitment firm and of course a tech-consultancy. This is a short summary of the salient points discussed.

There is a shortage of skilled labour in India. Sure, colleges churn out hundreds-of-thousands of graduates every year. But how many of them are architects as opposed to engineers? How many are historians as opposed to MBAs? Even among the engineers and the MBAs, not many are seen as being good communicators or creative thinkers. (Btw, I’m an Indian Engineer reading for an MBA – so excuse me for using cliques). And to compound the problem, there is a high rate of attrition. One of the speakers found that in India people are often teased by peers for staying with one company for more than 3 years. In my personal experience, 6-10 months seems to be the amount of time most Indian IT workers at lower levels like to spend with one company.

Companies are realizing the ramifications of this situation and are implementing programmes to tackle it. TCS and IBM, for example, invest a lot in employee training & development and have formal career advancement programmes for employees with different career aims. But a lot more needs to be done at University level. Students, who went to intern in India under the UKIBC banner, report that the Indian education system seems to “knock creativity out of people”. Companies need to partner closer with universities and make clear what they want in employees. Once the university system adapts, high schools will also adapt their methods to produce the right university students. Demand will ultimately shape the quality of supply!

The council is setting up a “Next Generation” programme aimed at getting British university students involved more closely. For us MBA students, this is something to watch out for! Check out the council’s website: http://www.ukibc.com/ and join the India Business Forum at the School if you are interested in this sphere.

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!!

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!

Pre-MBA socialising

Posted by Vipul on 06 September 2008

Just a quick note on the social activities I was involved in within the London Business School community before starting the term.

Early April 2008, I posted a note on the discussion forum inside the portal. The title was "Are you in the Southern Hemisphere?". I got many responses from people in South America. I was a little disappointed by the lack of responses from Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Anyway, the point is, I was traveling to South America and NZ in June and wanted to meet fellow admits. This way, I got in touch with a whole bunch of stellar people!

Late April 2008, Al Danks (an Alumnus) organized a dinner for the London MBA community in Melbourne. It was a great way to meet 2 of my fellow admits from Melbourne: Pranav and Richard, and at the same time socialize with the Alumni community.

Mid May 2008, At the recommendation of Al Danks, we (Pranav, Richard and I) went to a talk by Dr. Lynda Gratton (http://www.lyndagratton.com/) on her thought-provoking new book "Hotspots". The main idea is that organizations tend to have areas (or hotspots) where creativity blooms. Have a look at her website! Met many other Alumni and industry representatives there.

Early June 2008, Juan Antonio, Juan Pablo and Adolfo (All MBA 2010 students from Peru) bought me the best pisco sours in Lima! Then we went to a concert by a Peruvian fusion band. All-in-all it was an interesting, pisco filled night. Juan Antonio still insists on reminding me of how much I drank!

Late June 2008, Luis (MBA 2010 from Chile) picked me up from Santiago airport and drove me to his family house in Viña del Mar (not to be confused with Valparaiso!). I sampled Carménère - a very smooth wine produced largely in Chile (originally from France) and Abalone (called 'Loco' in Spanish) - an incredibly tasty sea snail which was, until recently, banned in Chile. Then we hit the casino and stumbled home at 4AM. Luis was nice enough to let me displace him from his room.

Next Day, Sebastian (another MBA 2010) met me in Santiago and gave me the grand tour of the city. We capped the evening with fantastic pizza and wine in Las Condes. Few days later, Sebastian took me to a trendy night spot, which served $5 martinis!!! Needless to say, I stumbled back to the hotel pretty late at night.

Just before the start of term, there was the Flat Hunters' Pub crawl! The funnest event this side of Rio! And it actually works - I found both my flatmates there. Check out the website: http://londonpubcrawl.blogspot.com/

G'day London!

Posted by Vipul on 22 August 2008

It's surreal. I'm finally in London! And right in the centre of it all! London Business School gives me easy access to the following famous landmarks:

Walking Distance:

    * The (fictional) home of Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street
    * Madam Tussaud's
    * Lords Cricket Ground
    * London Zoo
    * Paddington Station (Paddington Bear? Harry Potter?)
    * Marylebone Station (yay for Monopoly!)
    * Regent's Park (of course!)
    * The (non-fictional) residences of Sir Paul McCartney and Kate Moss - not that I'm a celeb stalker.

5-10 mins on the Underground:

    * Buckingham Palace
    * Westminster Abbey
    * Hyde Park
    * Bond Street
    * London Bridge

Now that I've found a place to stay, I have time on my hands. Perhaps I'll walk around and check out some of these places, about which I've been hearing since the days of nursery rhymes!

Besides famous places ... I've been enjoying warm beer, £3 meal-deals, and Peruvian cuisine (mmmm Ceviche and Cusqena!!! *drools over keyboard*). I've been exploring the underground system and will make sure I ride a red double-decker bus today.

Next week is orientation ... and the weekend is a long one. I already have tickets to a concert (to celebrate the fact that London got the 2012 Olympics) and plans to visit the Nottinghill Festival! ... London will be fun!

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Some tips, tricks and warnings:

  • If you are an overseas student, chances are you will be asked to get a chest X-ray done at Immigration in Heathrow. It took me 10 mins. There was no queue. For me, it was less trouble than dealing with New Delhi traffic to get an X-ray done before leaving Delhi.
  • Carry your university offer letter with you in your hand baggage. Immigration officials at Delhi and at Heathrow demanded it. (I was not carrying it, but they let me through after I made an innocent face and pleaded with them).
  • Carry at least £3000 in travellers cheques (or cash - though that might be risky). You will need ready access to cash when signing a lease on an apartment. You will typically be asked for 6-weeks rent as deposit (refundable) and 3-months rent upfront (non-refundable). Rents, as of August 2008, within walking distance of the school range from £180 to £300 per week per head.
  • To travel from Heathrow to Central London, Dot2Dot is a good coach service. They have a counter in the arrivals hall at Heathrow (its near the car rental counters in Terminal 4. Pretty sure that other terminals will have a counter too). Check out: http://www.dot2.com
  • Go to the Flat Hunters' Pub Crawl!! Its a great way to meet class mates, make new friends and find flat mates! See: http://londonpubcrawl.blogspot.com/
  • It can takes weeks to open a bank account. So come prepared! Make sure your overseas credit card will work in the UK. Make sure you have ATM access to your overseas bank account. Make sure you have enough cash readily accessible. My Australian credit cards DO NOT work when buying something on-line or over the phone in the UK. They do work in shops. My Australian ATM card works fine.
  • Oh, and, even though cars drive on the left, pedestrians seem to like walking on the right here (unlike in Australia or in Asia!). So stick to the right on footpaths and escalators!