European MBA Diary

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe...

"... Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die."

So... I finally decided to officially close this blog. It's about time, right? I understand that my last post was more than 8 months ago... and one month before graduation. But every time I wanted to post something I always had this mixed feeling of not having anything important to write about and having too much. For instance, I am having that exact feeling right now! When I started writing this post the plan was 'ok, I'll just say goodbye and that's it' but now there are so many things coming to mind (graduation days, CPM, the part-time private equity job, my full time job!, my next holidays in the Maldives, my recently acquired TV :-), life after the MBA, MBA interviews (now sitting on the other side of the table), my recent conversion to the Apple world (bought a macbook and I love it!!), etc, etc, etc...) and I'm getting all stressed out :-))

But no, I'll stick to the initial plan.

MBA was over last July and in August I was already starting my new job. Which, by the way, comes very very close of being my dream job. At least, it puts me on the right tracks to get there! I joined a FAN-TAS-TIC media company (hint: this post had something about it) in London and am just loving it! My girlfriend has moved to London in May (don't remember if I mentioned this in one of my previous posts), found a job and July... and life has been really good!

So, this whole MBA thing has paid off beautifully! Hard work? Oh yeah. Expensive? Ridiculously. Tiring? Very.

But I'd do it again.

Goodbye, my friends! Best of luck to you all!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ok... I give up!

It really seems that I cannot post something more frequently. Again, the 2-month barrier has not been overcome! :) Now, the problem is that there are sooooooo many things to talk about that I don't even know where to start!

Ok... mmm... MBAT. We won! Again! Probably you already know that, as you may have read it in some of the other fantastic blogs. But I still had to mention it. Here's a pic of the basketball champions :)

What else?... mmm... CPM! As you know, I am only taking this course this term (Creativity & Personal Mastery). And let me tell you something, it has been amazing!! This is exactly why I came to business school. I came here with a goal of self-discovery, of finding out what I love and hate, of being happier with myself. This course is all that and much more. The best thing about it, in my opinion, is that everyone has the chance to be trully herself/himself. There are no egos talking, no masks being worn. We had a fantastic weekend retreat, two weeks ago, and it was a beautiful experience (well... the long nights with insance amounts of alcohol at the hotel bar also helped).

Besides that, we have had some excellent guest speakers. The highlight was last Sunday when we had in the morning Ben Zanders (author of 'The Art of Possibility') and Marshall Goldsmith in the evening (executive coach and author of 'What Got You Here Won't Get You There'... you can also check his blog).

Here's a pic from our special thank you to Ben Zanders. The guys standing are ready to sing something for him (loooooooong story!).

Finally, I am starting to feel VERY nostalgic. There's only like 3 or 4 weeks to go! Them it will all be over. The MBA, this school, my friends, this life, probably even the blog! These two years have been the best experience of my life. It's impossible to describe how wonderful it has been. A few weeks ago, when walking around Camden Town, I passed by this place:

This is where it all began!! This is where I came for a pre-admits weekend dinner, in June 2005 (when I met our friend Miss N). And it seems like it was yesterday. Man! I want to do another MBA! ...... I'll stop here... if I keep writing about this for 2 more minutes, I'll start crying.

PS: By the way, no more '' ;)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spring break

It's still an improvement, but not enough. My last post was written 2 months after the previous, and this one I'm writing now was going the same way. Well, 1 month and a half is not bad. Could be worse.

Much has happened this term. I am now in cozy Portugal, enjoying the not so good weather, but the best friends, family and girlfriend. Feels good to be back.

I have to start by the most unusual thing. I was invited to join the Fixed Income team of a big big big investment bank! :D For those who know me, my answer shouldn't be a surprise (starts with 'N' and ends with 'O'). But anyway, it's always good to know that our experiences and skills have value to someone else. Basically, I have a great friend working for this bank and I asked him if they would be interested in having me for a couple of months, doing a part-time job. I will have class only on Mondays during Summer term, and am looking for something to do with the rest of my time - I need the money... BADLY! So, anyways, I was interviewed by three people and they liked me. Apparently, they liked me too much, because they said they would take me for a short-term project, only if I accepted a full-time position after August. DAMN! I guess that the biggest lesson from this episode is that networks do count. It is definitely the best resource for our job hunting adventures! There's like 200 people at LBS looking for a job like this and I, without wanting it and without applying for anything, got an 'offer'. Weird weird world...

Next... I am also in the interviewing process with a large fashion an luxury goods group. That's not media, I know, but it is still a cool business, right? I kind of see myself working in that area, in a marketing position. Having attended the excellent Mark Ritson's Brand Management class, I am sure I would enjoy working for this company! Fingers crossed for this one...

Do you remember my post about Rose Polidoro? I have kept contact with her and now I am very close of bringing her to LBS, for a presentation on the whole marketing strategy for The Lord of the Rings movies. Although it is still not certain, I would love to have her here! And I'm sure I wouldn't be only one.

Finally, I am looking forward for this next term. As I said before, I will only have one course: Creativity and Personal Mastery. Although I've heard mixed reviews and opinions, I am anxious and curious about it. I believe it will be the best way to end the MBA adventure.

Oh, and we will have MBAT again!! :)

Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

2 months

Wow! 2 months since my last post. I guess my January archive won't take much space on Google's servers ;)

So, what happened this last couple of months? Well, after finishing my stay in New York (what a great time I had there) and being massively pampered at home during Christmas and New Year's eve (gotta tell mum not to cook that much), I finally returned to good old grey London.

I arrived just right the day before my first class: Brand Management. A fantastic course, taught by the not less fantastic Mark Ritson. Really good and I greatly recommend it. During that first week I also started the painfull process of flat hunting. However, since Brand Management is a block week course (every day, from 9am to 5pm), I failed miserably at it. Took me 3 weeks to find my new place - which is a fantastic flat, by the way, at least comparing to last year's standards... After mooving in, it took me almost 3 more weeks to get adsl installed. This felt like 3 weeks without contact with the outter world. No TV, no phone, no internet. I mean, I had internet access at school but... without being able to play World of Warcraft!! Next time please shoot me in the head instead! My girlfriend visited me for one week, which helped me to pass the time (... hhmmm... maybe I shouldn't have written that). And she also helped me organizing my room, which is always useful. Guys just don't do that kind of stuff, right?

Now I am taking 3 very interesting courses: Venture Capital & Private Equity, Financing the Entrepreneurial Business, and Negotations & Bargaining. I'm very happy with these 3. After my M&A course at Columbia I kinda developed this interest for deal making and structuring stuff in finance, so I'm enjoying VC and FEB. Furthermore, these courses will be usefull in a long term in case I decide to create my own business. I also sorted out (finally) my 2nd year project, which will be a cool cool project at Symbian.

And what else? Let's see... oh! Last week there was snow in London! Not some tiny brief flocks of snow. But reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal snow! I did the small movie below which shows our beautiful school in this rare white scenario (recorded with my new powershot, result of another good thing about New York: low prices).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another small step

This semester is done! After an exhaustive group project for M&A (you're not supposed to work on weekends if you're on exchange!!), an exam for Managerial Decision Making, another project for Media & Entertainment Marketing (about Shortbus, you gotta see this movie!), and another group project handed in yesterday about YouTube, I'm over with studies for this year. Now I have one week left to enjoy this great city, to do some Christmas shopping and to say farewell to the fantastic friends I've made.

So this is the right time to think about the last few months and come up with a list of the best and worst things about my exchange at Columbia.

The Best:

1) Friends. Mainly the other exchange students. What a fantastic bunch. Hope we'll keep in touch, guys!!

2) New York. What can I say about this amazing city? I loved it! The people, the skyscrapers, the glitz, the movement, the frenzy, the shops, the museums, the celebrities, the constant police sirens, the pretzels, the bagels!, the pizzas, the sushi, the nightlife, the rooftop bars, the cheap prices, the pastrami at Katz's, the yellow taxis, the central park, etc, etc, etc... Although it's not a secret that I do love London, New York has conquered a small part of me. I'm sure I'll be back. Hopefully, the photo above will help you to understand why.

3) Las Vegas. Oh yeah, baby! Fantastic place, impossible not to have fun. I had such a great time there that even the money I lost won't make me change my opinion about Sin City. Every one should go there at least once in their life.

4) The campus. I love the energy around it, the student life, the big buildings. This is the kind of place where revolutions are made. And where great parties take place :)

5) The courses. I had two of the best courses of my whole MBA. The first, which shouldn't be a surprise to you, is Strategic Management of Media. Excellent professor (Bruce Greenwald), very interesting subject, eye-opening ways of looking at the industry. The other WAS a complete surprise, mainly to myself: M&A. Everyone knows I'm not that fond of Finance, but this course was excellent! Again, I'd say that the main reason was the professor. Donna Hitscherich was superb. This is the kind of course where it can easily be so bad, so boring that you reaaaally need a good professor to make it interesting. And she definitely did it. Lots of work, though. But excellent learning experience.

6) Happy Hours! Improved version of hour own Sundowners. Why are Happy Hours better? It has free food and goes until 10.30pm-ish. Enough said.

The Worst:

1) Columbia facilities. I will never ever again criticize LBS! :) We have amazing facilities back in London, but I guess I had to see another school to realize that. The ridiculously useless library, the few study rooms, the inexistent computer labs, the chalk boards..... They really need a new place for this school.

2) THE COLD!!! During last Happy Hour, on one of my many smoke breaks, I noticed that I could barely feel my fingers. They were turning purple. Temperature: -5ÂșC!! Not even in London we have this cold! And then the building where I'm staying has an heating system that makes industrial ovens pale in comparison. You go from -5 to 45 in one second!

And that's it. There's not many negative points about this experience (and I really had to struggle to come up with these two). All in all, I had an excellent time here. I strongly advise every MBA student to take this unique opportunity and do an exchange somewhere. Not necessarily in NY, because the range of choices is amazing. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Barcelona, Cape Town, Milan, San Francisco, Paris, Sao Paulo, etc..... I'm sure you'll find something for you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Hubbards

Glenn Hubbard, CBS's dean, has the tradition of hosting students who cannot travel home for Thanksgiving for a meal during the long weekend. This year, the meal was held on Friday and, after my name was drawn from the lottery - there's only 25 places available - I joined some other exchange students and headed to his house. This is an admirable initiative, I have to say, and unfortunately we don't have anything like this in London. As if having a free lunch wasn't good enough, we also had the opportunity to try some good turkey and have a chat with the dean. Cool stuff.

The day after, on Saturday, I joined another bunch of exchangers (actually, it was the same bunch from the dean's lunch) and headed to Washington DC. We spent the weekend there and had great fun! The city is not that fun - lots of museums, monuments, too formal for my tastes - but the nightlife seems to be really good! Either that or we were lucky. We went to a bar called KStreet and had a terrific time. As for the city's main attractions, Lincoln's memorial is awesome, Iwo Jima too, the White House is too far away and it would be impossible for Robert Langdon to steal anything from the Archives.

For a first Thanksgiving experience, this last weekend was not bad at all! Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving too! :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

The perfect job

This week I had the opportunity to attend one of the best speaker events since I started this MBA adventure. One class I am taking here at Columbia is Media & Entertainment Marketing (a half-course) whose professor is, apparently, very well connected in the Media industry. He has been bringing interesting guest speakers every week, but the one this week was definitely the best. Just imagine having the following job title 'Director of Marketing for the Lord of the Rings movie'... WOW!!! Now that's a job! And that was the title of Rose Polidoro, our guest speaker.

Of course, listening from someone who worked on the Lord of the Rings movie is enough to keep me interested for hours! Hearing about how Peter Jackson handled the trilogy and funny stories from the set from someone who actually WAS there is an opportunity I couldn't miss. It was also reassuring to confirm that Media is an industry that badly needs business management knowledge and that this management is not necessarily an enemy of creativity. She told us how the marketing strategy for the movie was planned and implemented, starting from the initial engagement of the strong cultish fan-based (in which I proudly include myself) and ending on the strategic marketing partnerships and promotions. It was interesting to see that something so MBA as a marketing framework, like the 4P's, was followed by her team (it was actually on one of her slides!)

However, although the LOTR subject would be a strong reason to make me love this presentation, it wouldn't be enought to consider it as the best one ever. What made it really outstanding was Rose's enthusiasm and love for her job! She said that she 'never worked for a single day in her life'. Although a bit cliche, you could really feel how true this was, her passion for her job. After the speach she just staid there, answering question after question and her friends actually had to drag her out of the class room. She wanted to be there and answer all our questions. She worked in several other media segments (like radio) and told us that it was always like a hobby. The fun was always there! And as she said, this was what we should pursuit, our dream job, what we really love to do.

Now, I'm sure that there may be someone who REALLY loves investment banking or consulting. But sincerelly, from the tones of presentations I have attended from consulting and banking companies, I never heard a single speaker with the same enthusiasm as Rose's. That says it all, I would say...

- I wish The Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.
- So do all who live to face such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.