Tying up loose ends…

TTT Sky Lounge View

This is the view from the sky lounge of The Tokyo Towers, Sea Tower.

Yes! I relocated to Tokyo in December 2016, joined my current position in January 2017 and have started life afresh in Japan. It’s certainly a great feeling to be back and to start at a point where you feel the whole universe is conspiring towards your success.

I think one of the most crucial periods was after my last post, when I was desperately seeking jobs. And that meant sending tailored resumes and cover letters to numerous employers (at least more than 50), interviewing, getting rejected (or feeling relieved I didn’t take up a position just because I wanted a to be employed again) and working towards the “break” after the MBA.

One thing is for certain, the MBA gives you a strange confidence and sense of security, no matter how much uncertainty you face. I was lucky to be scouted by one of the headhunters in Japan through a website called BizReach (the parent company of RegionUp in SE Asia). After looking through the possible opportunities, I applied to a few and got through an electronic component manufacturing company which has a unique niche. There is a lot to be discussed on this topic, but as of now, I would like to conclude this blog saying I feel extremely satisfied to be where I am today. It’s definitely the start I wanted to my career post MBA and will keep all posted on what is going on in life through a different blog. As of now, enjoy the scenery from the biggest condominium complex of Tokyo 🙂

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Almost there!

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4 more days and I will be done with my MBA! What a journey it has been…phew!

As soon as I traveled to Chicago around March end, things started catching speed. First, there was this pressure to adjust to the new place, new lifestyle and new friends. It was an awesome experience to get to know the Spring Quarter exchange students and the classes went so fast that I was able to take a breather only now.

Marketing Strategy, Supply Chain Management, International Finance and Cross-cultural Negotiations – all courses were phenomenal and the professors were awesome! I should say the most value from doing the exchange at Kellogg came from the exposure we got to the high-quality American style of business education. A very enriching experience indeed!

And of course it was not only about getting drowned in the books. Flash mob dance, Bollywood Bash, Cricket match against Booth, TGs (free beer on Fridays) and 27 Live (Kellogg’s home pubs and the parties) were all there. Lots of firsts for me, be it basketball or baseball (first Chicago Bulls’ and Chicago Cubs’ games, both won by home teams!). And there was the Emerging Markets Conference! All in all a comprehensive exchange experience.

Kellogg_2.jpgI wish I had more time to explore the city, since Evanston is a small suburb, about 45 minutes by train from Chicago downtown. Public transport is not really awesome in the US and I realized the importance of having a car here. However, you need to be careful since you may feel disoriented if you come from a “right-hand drive” country like India, Japan or Singapore. In a way, I was reminded of the awesome infrastructure that Singapore has and it will be an amazing feeling landing back in the familiar territory at Changi Airport.

Finally, the job hunt goes on. Singapore must be promising in the months of June and July and I hope to find something soon. The awesome MBA journey continues…or rather, the journey has just begun!

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The next level!

NUS Alumni Ambassador

A quick recap on the (almost 1) year that was…It made me think about lot of things and taught me resilience. There were numerous occasions when I felt frustrated and helpless, but the MBA support system made sure things did not snowball into something unmanageable. I should say these 9 months have reconfirmed my belief that the MBA was one of the best decisions of my life.

After my internship at one of the world’s largest medical devices companies, there was this lull in professional activity, but a lot of learning from the Private Equity and Entrepreneurship classes at NUS. And got an amazing opportunity to visit Thailand for the Siam Commercial Bank Future Leader Challenge – few years of Toastmasters helped me win the 99-Second Pitch!

And who can forget Cerebration 2015! One of the best things that happened to me during the NUS MBA was getting roped up in organizing NUS Cerebration – the global case competition. Lots of logistics stuff made me aware that execution is as crucial as strategy and planning. The best part of the event was that it brought the core organizing team closer than ever and we are just like family now.

Then came a time of uncertainty – for just a couple of weeks – till another wonderful opportunity at one of the largest food and beverages company lifted my spirits. Just out of the internship a couple of days back, I am almost ready to move to the next level at the Kellogg School of Management for 3 months of Spring Quarter exchange.

I think resilience has been my key takeaway from the past 9 months. It comes in various flavors – resilience in the form of self-belief, in the form of facing crises, in the form of critical self-reflection – and really makes you feel grateful about the support you get from all quarters. As the journey continues, I get a feeling, this resilience will definitely be one of the major tools that will help me sculpt the vision for my life.

The other reflection I have of going through the experience is that MBA is really an attitude – a way of life. Especially during my entrepreneurship class where we conceived business ideas and tried to give them shape, I realized the passion my classmates had to solve various problems in the world – the drive to roll up their sleeves and start off brainstorming. And honestly, this attitude is not a copyright of MBAs. However, MBAs can help you make more informed decisions and that value-add is needed for any organization.

Not a very structured post here today, but will keep noting down things. Chicago, here I come!

 

 

 

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BLONDES in Internship!

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I know you must be full with graphic images about an investment banking or consulting intern bonding with blondes at his MBA internship. Well, some of my classmates may be, but I want to talk about some other BLONDES here. Read on…

1. Big picture: I realized that as I tried to find internships, some of them advised “internship open only for Singapore PR/Citizens”. The fair consideration frameworm has affected the hiring cycle which in turn has dominoed to MBA internships.
Bottom Line: BIG PICTURE is important as it can affect the availability and quality of your internship. Do not forget the macro changes happening in the industry, in the economy and also in policies for skilled labor.

2. Love: As I thought about what to do in my internship, I was made to think about what was it that I really LOVED to do in life. I am a people’s person, so I thought I need to do something with people. A Healthcare Strategy internship came up and I didn’t even apply to the banking or consulting internships.
Bottom Line: LOVE is really essential. Love the work you do, love the people you work with and be ready to help. Love yourself and make sure you get the best.

3. Options: As the first short term internship worked out, I was overjoyed and got lax in finding next ones. Applied to 2 others and both never worked out. So there was a time when I was staring at 3 months of summer WITHOUT ANY INTERNSHIP!
Bottom Line: OPTIONS have to be present – at least 3 of them – in addition to your plan A. Diversification, risk-hedging, dividing your eggs in many baskets, whatever you call it, it’s important.

4. Network: The more people I met and the more friends I made, I realized there were people eager to help as soon as I updated my Linkedin profile to “Looking for Opportunity”!
Bottom Line: NETWORK, NETWORK and NETWORK! (cliche, but true)

5. Define your niche: “What will you bring to the table”? The hiring manager asked one of the behavioral questions during one of my desperate attempts to get into a bank. What would you bring?
Bottom Line: DEFINE who you are, what are your strengths and why should someone hire you. Be ready with your answer. In my case, it is “A Japanese Speaking MBA with more than 9 years experience in Business Development”.

6. Effort: So now you have landed in the internship! You jump in the air, update your Facebook/Whatsapp, go clubbing the weekend. What next? Remember, you can win battles, but still lose a war.
Bottom Line: EFFORT even after securing an internship matters. Converting an internship into a job offer maybe the best thing you can do to yourself during your MBA summer.

7. Start early: In all this, I should say I have been one of the late-bloomers in my cohort. Some of my classmates have been really ahead of all others, making contacts and discussing internships really early in the first semester. Of course that is not the only way to go about it.
Bottom Line: STARTING EARLY never does any harm. Even when you are taking a holiday and getting your mind off the MBA $hit, you may still want to think about your life early.

Hope you enjoyed the time with the BLONDES. I don’t want to preach anything here, rather want to learn and do help me learn by adding your opinions in the comments.

Cheers!

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5 Reasons why the MBA is a good choice!

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The first semester finished two weeks back and it was party mayhem!

As I sober up at the campus Starbucks, here are 5 compelling reasons why you need an MBA, which in my case is at NUS.

1. Diversity: With almost 95% of the cohort comprising of non-Singaporeans, I am amazed at the diverse people I spent my last few months with. Portfolio Managers from Columbia, entrepreneurs from India and Singapore, engineers from Japan and Spain, bankers from Korea and Thailand…the list goes on! Moreover, you can bump into people from almost every country of the world either at NUS or in the city. I think Singapore definitely deserves the crown of being the most diverse city in Asia and in spite of that, it is one of the safest places in this part of the world.

2. Academics: I see a small frown on your face. You should be like, “Cmon! You are going to talk about studies and not about the fun?”. Well, do you realize I am playing a game with you? Not until you take classes in Game Theory will you understand value of the courses you take. For a math-dumbo like me, carrying out Regression Analysis and simulating share price fluctuations was really exciting. Of course, we could have had lesser homework but the courses were the right stimulant for my rusty brain. I definitely think my first semester courses have given me a robust platform of quantitative and analytical skills required to handle any business situations in the future.

3. Brand: NUS being the national university is surely a great brand not only in Singapore but also in the ASEAN region. Although the MBA may not be so well-known and of course does not carry the brand equity of Harvard/Warton/Stanford, it does have it’s own might in Asia. INSEAD does definitely well as a Consulting-focused school, but NUS definitely gives you the brand power. Alumni are extremely well-placed and you end up rubbing shoulders with them almost in every organization, which I will discuss in the next paragraph.

4. Network: Definitely a great reason to do an MBA in Singapore that too at NUS. One of the best times to meet alumni was at the Oktoberfest party apart from meeting them during the recruitment events in September and October. You meet NUS and NUS Biz School Alumni mainly because NUS has a variety of programs including Full-time, Part-time, Executive, S3, NUS-Peking, NUS-Yale, NUS-UCLA….phew! And I haven’t talked about the exchange students yet 🙂 (The other day I got to know that the manager sitting next to my cubicle at my interning company is an NUS Executive MBA student…the world is a small place!).

5. Introspection: By far, this is the most important reason why you need an MBA! As Prof. Clay Christensen says in his book “How will you measure your life?”, the MBA is the best time to zoom out of your day to day flurry of decision-making and get a hang on the direction in which your life is heading. Different moments of reflection, candid feedback from team-mates and classmates and various conscious activities like the management communication camp (and refresher sessions) all help you zoom out and reset your priorities.

So far, the MBA has been a really worthwhile journey for me and I am definitely very glad at choosing this path. Do give it a thought if you have not thought about it yet and if you are already thinking about it but are in two minds, my recommendation would be to definitely go for it!

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MBA Life…

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Rocks? …….Sucks?……Is awesome?……Is hectic……Is tiring?……Is refreshing?

So you can see, I can’t choose from any one of these options to describe it 🙂

And the delay in posting this, in spite of all the reassurances, can be explained by the emotional, physical, mental, intellectual roller-coaster that my classmates and I have gone through over the last couple of months.

First things first, some information!

I joined the NUS Full-time MBA Program on the 29th of July, after landing in Singapore on the 25th. The Orientation on the 29th was followed by a day of immigration procedures and by the time we settled down, we were already preparing for the Management Communication Camp. It deserves a separate post, and will be done justice in time to come.

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In a nutshell, we had a taste of decision-making, management communication and teamwork during the first two weeks and our classes started. There are 5 subjects for the first semester: Financial Management (Corporate Finance, Valuation, etc.), Financial Accounting, Managerial Economics (Microeconomics), Analytics for Managers (Modelling, Operations/Capacity Planning and Problem Solving) and Marketing Management (Marketing). All courses are fairly tough for me especially since I am damn rusty with quantitative skills. But yes, it is an amazing experience to grow with my classmates.

Of course we have it all. Parties, hangovers, submissions, activities, heated debates and what not. I will put another post to explain it all.

For the time being, I think the two shots of Singapore’s night view may keep you interested. Will be back shortly!

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Homeward bound…

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I write this post from Pune, my hometown. It’s the place where I was born, took up learning the Japanese language and dreamt that I would become a successful person, some day.

I am yet to digest that I left Japan for good yesterday. I think it will remain this way till my program starts. However, some signs of the fun life ahead are already surfacing. My future classmates have created a Whatsapp group and we have rollicking fun throwing typical Indian-styled banter at each other. Kind of a prelude to what I can expect.

More on the preparation front. NUS sent us our IPA (In-principal Approval) letter from the Immigrations and Clearance Authority. This letter also contains our visa valid for the next 2 years and is the piece of paper that will allow us to enter Singapore next month. On the other hand, we got an invitation for orientation tour to the library on July 30th. Details of my On Campus Accommodation have arrived and the procedures of checking in seem pretty simple.

There are larger questions still unanswered. How will I procure the loan needed for the course? What will be the rate of interest? Will I be able to secure a dream internship in next summer and will that lead to a dream job? In any case, I plan to focus my attention to enjoy my time in Pune. The weather here is amazing, since it is monsoon time. There is a lot of nostalgia attached to this weather because new academic year would start in June. So stay tuned as I update the blog more frequently and share stuff about Pune.
Over and out!

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