Posts Tagged ‘Treks’

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The LBS India Social Trek 2013

Posted by: Sarfraz
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I had written this blog at an altitude of 40,000 feet as I flew back to London after covering more than 4000 kms across 6 cities on completing the great LBS India Social trek 2013. Treks are an amazing opportunity at LBS to explore new places, cultures, make new friends and last but not the least to broaden your horizons. The leisure ones meant for pure touristy purposes are usually organized by the respective country’s student clubs, like for example the India club organized the LBS India Social trek.

35 India enthusiasts signed up for the trek including LBS students across programs and some partners, for most of us it was going to be the first time in India and the excitement and expectations were obvious. Some of us knew each other from before but with others being an LBS student was the only common link. The 13 days changed that of course, almost …

It was an amazing mix of camaraderie, fun and scoring many firsts… some played Holi, the Indian festival of colors for the first time, some took a bath from a bucket for the first time, some enjoyed (almost) the hospitality of Indian railways for the first time and for me I zip lined for the first time.  In short we had an amazing set of experiences, some good others not so good yet if I may generalize on behalf of everyone, a very fulfilling and enriching experience.

We zipped through the Indian diversity travelling across eclecticism of Delhi to history of Agra, to grandeur and sands of Jodhpur, the happening nightlife of Mumbai, to serenity of Kerala backwaters and finally topping it up with sun soaking beaches of Goa. Navigating our way through using all modes of transport including planes, buses, trains, tuk tuks, taxis and yes, even a Mumbai local.

Net result – Am amazing experience, long lasting memories and 40 new friends on facebook (including the amazing trip organizers, a crazy bunch of travel enthusiasts, aptly calling themselves white collar hippies).

As we relax after the travel, some fellow travellers have set their eyes on the next destination, even while some have already left for newer destinations – kudos to them !!

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If there were such things as “test drives” or “samples” on offer, people would be spared the excruciating challenge of choosing which Business School to do an exchange in or even give tens of thousands of internationally traded currency.

In the past 5 years I managed to attend 3 pretty hot schools – London School of Economics, Booth School of Business under the University of Chicago and now – LBS. So I can compare them across some important points; but I beg you to not ask for a ranking, OK? Finding flaws is a tough enough task already – they are all close-to-my-heart-alma-maters, and I will stand up for them against even minor offenders until the very end, like Hector for Troy.

Location
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Booth has 2 campuses – in downtown Chicago – for those who prefer combining work with pleasure evening courses; and a Hyde park campus on E59th, which is very south, if you know what I mean. So south that I once had to sleep in the student’s lounge because I was too scared to get outside and walk home.
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The West End location of the LSE will make sure that by the graduation time you turn into a musical connoisseur. If only you did not have to run from one building to another under the rain to change lecture rooms.
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Baker Street tube station is great for connecting with all the significant spots in London, while being in a quieter area, with a personal and private Regents park.

Sports
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Booth can boast its access to the University of Chicago fitness facilities – think classic American football, basketball, baseball fields, boxing arena, full size swimming pool with 20 lanes, gym with at least 100 cardio machines and countless iron-lifting options, cheerleader team, etc! Everything you dreamed about (or saw in movies) and more, which can compromise the amount of time you spend in the library.
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To work up a sweat from any form of team sport at LSE you will have to go to Berrylands (a berry-less village 25min away from Waterloo station on South-West trains). Training standards however make up for it in full.
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Having a game of rugby in Regents Park, or a round of cricket on the Lord’s Grounds sounds super fun; going to a midget gym + swimming pool in the basement of the library – not so much. But I guess it works…

Speakers
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Booth did not live up to my expectations, I ended up not going to a single event.
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No other place can compare to the quality and quantity of LSE speakers. Ever. The only problem is that here a concept of an “early bird” is taken quite literally – if you want to give celebrity speaker a listen – you need to come and physically stand/sit/lie in a queue. Sometimes for a very long time. Before dawn. I remember getting to the School at about 4a.m. only to find myself number 12 in a queue for Alan Greenspan (back in 2007 J), which was to open at 7. The best part is that all the speakers become exceptionally friendly when within the LSE walls, so if you dream of a Soros’s signature – you are guaranteed one after his lecture. Together with a photo. And a kiss.
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LBS is a good cocktail of speakers and conferences across all industries, country leadership and even celebrities. Business and theory come holding hands to all the events. Students also ogranise industrial tracks around the world (e.g. entertainment track to Hollywood, high-tech track to Sillicon valley).

Lectures
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Many lecturers at Booth are held by its Nobel prize winning alumni, who cover all the material in class to such extent that no books are required to get a top mark at the exam.
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Attendance at the LSE was obligatory, but majority of time was spent on deeply theoretical concepts as well as guidance of how to approach self-studying.
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LBS lectures (at least the core MiFPT ones) are the most engaging and fun I have ever come across. Really.

Self study
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Booth has the best study area, kept pitch-dark and thus extremely quiet. Assignments are marked very quickly and the results uploaded to the web portal almost immediately (IT services are outstanding). There is also always an option of studying on the beach.
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LSE is known for its largest in the world Business and Social Science library with a famous spiral staircase. It is open to LBS students as well, as both schools are under the umbrella of the University of London.

Examinations
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Booth MBA exams seemed like a vacation – you are even asked to put your name on every page of the paper.
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LSE scores for the toughest exams, most of which take place in summer, even if a class was in autumn. Anonymity approaches MI5 standards. Getting a distinction is next to impossible.
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LBS only allows to re-sit the core courses, but some electives will give you a take-home exam.

…to be continued

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Enter the Valley

Posted by: James

In decades to come, people will look back on this time in history and they will ask where you were in the heyday of the internet. You might say something like Silicon Roundabout or Silicon Alley, but those names, that use of Silicon in the title is misleading at best – traitorous at worst; Silicon Valley is the heart where the action lies. Like the days of the goldrush, there is only one true place to be, to be amongst the revolution, in the middle of the action, and that place is San Francisco (or just down the road in the Valley).

And that is where the intrepid travellers of the LBS Tech Trek headed for Spring Break. We set off with our pickaxes and pans, or rather, our iPads and styluses to visit the companies setting the trends for the interweb. Who did we visit you ask? A rock star list of: Google, Twitter, Linkedin, Zynga, Dropbox, Kleiner Perkins, Tesla, 500 Startups, and more.

It was an interesting and eye-opening experience visiting these companies. It is not until you enter the Valley that you start to understand the vibe that reverberates up and down State Highway 101 and around the offices, shops, cafes and homes in the Valley. Conversations in every coffee shop, every restaurant, every street corner mention something about coding, user experience, venture funding or some variant thereof. As it was explained to us more than once, the Valley is a hotbed of innovation that does not so much move through cycles, as it does leap and bound through them. Companies can bounce ideas around, fail, and pivot to new ideas and business models faster than anywhere else possible.

And there lies the second common message shared with us: the acceptability of failure. It is acceptable, nay, it is almost a rite of passage to have failed; risks must be taken to discover what is achievable. Can Silicon Valley be replicated in other parts of the world? We received mix perspectives on this, but it was universally agreed that a prerequisite is that the culture of failure was a necessary building block that would have to be copied. Will it happen? It takes quite a heroic effort to change one’s mindset from risk-averseness to investing in inherently risky ideas. We shall see.

It is a remarkable place and an incredible experience.


A quick nod to the company offices themselves, afterall, the perks received at these companies are legendary. And sure enough, they did not disappoint: Google has a beach volleyball court taking center stage at their offices. But that was only the initial taster we saw; across the companies we visited there were company bikes to ride between office buildings, scooters to glide between office rooms, meeting rooms stacked high with lego, band rooms filled with guitars and drums, m&m dispensers, a coke machines that poured over 100 flavours, and of course the obligatory ping pong table.

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Being Sloan

Posted by: Kristen

Ok, so I haven’t posted here for a while and I hate to say that it’s because I’ve been too busy, but as my Sloan colleagues will know – we really have been busy! And I selfishly took the whole weekend to not do any schoolwork (aside from reading the 8 articles that are assigned for today’s start of an optional block-week course).

Although I’ve learned many things about Leadership, Strategy, Marketing, Finance, etc. over these last 10 weeks, I’ve also learned a lot about my identity as a Sloan Fellow and the value afforded by my prior professional experience. Although there has been some debate in our class regarding the relative value of the Sloan vs the MBA “brand,” I’ve realized how glad I am to be a Sloan.

After sitting next to an MBA student on our way back from a “trek” to a regional affiliate of a multinational organization, I discovered that we Sloans have it pretty good in many ways. The vast majority of the attendees on these treks are MBAs and we had been asked to rate this one on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best ever. Although it was only my first trek with LBS, I would have given it a 3, based on the fact that if we’re to believe what we’ve been taught in class, that people are the most important asset of a company, then I didn’t particularly feel like this company thought of us as potentially valuable assets. To be fair, they did have some senior managers available for us to network with, but at 3 in the afternoon with no food all day (other than coffee and biscuits at our arrival), we were offered only stale doughnuts and wine, weirdly enough. In my experience, having seen the spreads that companies put out for their own employees or external VIPs, I was a bit surprised that there weren’t at least some sandwiches. In addition to the food, I found the presentations to us to be somewhat lackluster, held in a neighboring, similarly lackluster building in the middle of nowhere. The organizer even thanked two of the presenters for speaking at such short notice (citing how such “agility” is valued there). That plus some other signals made me suspect this company may not have planned things out terribly well.

Interestingly, my MBA friend rated it as a 4.5. She said she’d been to many of these things and that they’re not often well-organized by the hosting organization. She confirmed that the food is often minimal or lacking altogether, which is why she recommends to her colleagues to bring snack bars on these treks. She also said this was the first time there had ever been wine (I think this may have boosted her scoring of the trek by at least a half point). If being an MBA from one of the best schools in the world isn’t enough to get you sandwiches, then being an MBA may not be as easy a ride as some of us may have thought, despite the awareness of the brand. This all made me realize how truly valuable prior professional experience really is. It will be no piece of cake for us Sloans either, but I believe our many years’ experience will give us a big advantage in getting to where we want to go. Our experience informs our judgment for the better although we may not always realize it. I, for one, am very glad to have it.

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