Sunday, January 29, 2006


I've been tagged by Moe, my future MBA2008 classmate. I never knew what tagging means and still don't know, but it seems to be something very helpful since I haven't been very inspired lately due to unhappy times at work (too many weirdos working in this company!). Thank you, Moe, and here goes my list:

Four jobs I've had in my life:
  • Babysitter
  • Experimental psychologist
  • Political risk analyst
  • Statistical analyst
Four movies I can watch over and over (yes, love is all around ;-) ):
  • An Affair to Remember
  • Legally Blonde
  • In the Mood for Love
  • Love Actually
Four places I have lived:
  • Dresden
  • Barcelona
  • Manila
  • St Andrews
Four TV shows I love to watch:
  • Friends
  • Seinfeld
  • Father Ted
  • Blackadder
Four places I have been on vacation:
  • Uzbekistan - most impressive palaces and mosques I have seen in my life...

... and lots of melons on the bazar ;-) !!

  • Basque Country - nice food, nice mountains, great music, great nightlife, good surfing
  • California - great beaches, great people, sunny, relaxed
  • Finland - enjoying lakes and little isles without traces of modern life
Four of my favourite dishes:
  • Pilav/Osh
  • Coconut curry (green/red/yellow with lamb/fish/chicken/tofu whatever...)
  • Aromatic crispy duck wrapped in crèpes with Hoisin sauce, YUMMY (especially in Gerrard Street in Soho)
  • I guess I need to take a dish from my home country as well. My absolute favourite is the grilled fish called plaice with Bratkartoffeln (slices of potato grilled with onions)
Four websites I visit daily:
Four places I would rather be right now:
  • London, UK
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Rome, Italy
  • Palermo, Sicily
Four bloggers I am tagging:

This is really tough, first of all I haven't been involved much in the community, and then everybody seems to have been tagged already. The good thing is not everybody has responded so maybe they can be tagged twice? Let's try...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

London Business School interview advice

So far I've written a lot about shopping and Spain and London and food, but not really given any useful advice. But R2 decisions are coming up in February so I want to start giving useful advice for R2 applicants. When R3 deadline approaches, I will dedicated some space here to GMAT, essay writing and CVs, but for now I want to share my interview experience.

R2 interview decision are scheduled to be sent out on February 10th but if they do the same they will actually be sent out on the evening of February 9th, perhaps to ensure that applicants from Asia get the decision on the 10th. A few days later, you will get the contact info of an LBS alumni in your location and can set up an interview.

Overall, I found the interviews very relaxed and informal. I heard it depends very much on your interviewer though. In my case, I talked to some LBS students and alumni I knew and asked them for advice, but everybody just said relax, be yourself and know why you want to do an MBA and why you want to go to LBS. Also they told me to read through my application essays again. I also checked the MBA interview advice on that I found very helpful. I didn't know back then (maybe the page didn't exist then) but clear admit's MBA admissions wiki is also extremely helpful.

They matched me with a very recent alumni (MBA2005) who worked in my city. Because I'm out of town during weekdays and he was traveling as well, we agreed to hold it on a Saturday. Saturday came and I had tonsilitis and my interviewer called that he actually had the flu, so we just agreed to do it the next day. So as I said, pretty flexible and informal.

The way it seems to work is that LBS sends out a list of dozens of questions to the interviewers separated into several categories. So each interviewer would get 10 questions on "motivation", 10 questions on "leadership", 10 questions on "team work" and so on. And then I think the interviewer picks the questions he wants to ask out of that list and also adds some of his own questions that he had while looking through your application (at least this is what I gathered from watching him during the interview).

Typical questions would be
  • "Have you ever lead a team?"
  • "Did you ever face a problem with a client? How did you handle it?"
  • "What do you want to do after the MBA?"
  • "Since you also applied to other schools, how will you decide which school to go to?"
I was surprised I wasn't asked anything about extracurricular activities, since this was stressed very much in the essays, but somehow he didn't ask about that. After all these questions, I had to do a little presentation. The interviewers again receive a list of about 15 topics and they can choose which one they give the interviewee. They are all topics that you probably have no information on, but you have to take one position or the other (classical debating stuff really), so you just have to choose one side and invent arguments. They give you five minutes to prepare and the 5-10min for the presentation. I assume what they look for is how clear your communication is, how well structured, how convincing and how compelling. I wouldn't take it too seriously though, just waffle on a little bit :-).

Then I asked some more questions about things I wanted to know more about, like shadowing and summer internships and the exchange. He was very helpful and in the end we talked for almost 3 hours. I don't know how you could fit all those questions in an hour, since the interview is supposed to take about an hour, but I think in general it is more likely to last two hours.

For those of you who are invited to interviews on February 10th, feel free to post more questions and good luck!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Essential shopping advice for female MBAs

In most European countries, the toughest thing for females working in male dominated companies is not the work itself - it's finding suitable clothes for the job! When I was about to start my job and had to find something else to wear than the old jeans and woolen sweaters I had been wearing all the years before, I found out it is almost impossible to find good professional clothes for women. There seem to be hundreds of shops selling excellent ties and shirts and suits for men, while the female section (if there is any!) is usually very small and made for women over 40.

In my job, it is quite common to wear very dark suits (well, for men basically no other colour than black or dark grey or at the most dark blue is allowed, women can wear what they want, but to avoid being taken for a secretary it is also helpful to wear dark colours). It is hard enough to find suits and blouses, but if you do, they are usually badly cut or too big. Only if you start looking at expensive designer stuff things start getting acceptable, but then these are usually unaffordable. That's why I was extremely happy to discover there is a place to go. So if you have job offer or an internship pending and you need to buy some suits and shoes and blouses for your new job, all I can advise you is to hop on the plane fast and go to Madrid!

First of all, there are excellent shops for professional female clothing. Second, they are very cheap compared to other European countries. Third, sales started this weekend and will go on for another 2 months. Your next chance to catch cheap and excellent clothes will be the summer sales in August, so even if you can't get on the plane now you should read on...

The perfect shopping district in Madrid is the barrio de Salamanca, where you'll find all the typical brands like Massimo Dutti, Zara etc., but of course I have some more specific advice. The two shops that solved all my problems at excellent prices are VILAGALLO on the street Hermosilla, 35, and JAIME MASCARÓ in the same side street, Hermosilla, 22.

I can't understand why VILAGALLO hasn't expanded into all of Europe yet, somehow they have three branches in Madrid but that's it. They sell excellent suits and blouses of many varieties and colours that fit perfectly and are really inexpensive, especially now during the sales (a beautiful, perfectly cut suit will cost you around €135). At the left is a little picture I took with my mobile of the types of blouses they sell. I love this shop because you can try on any suit and they all fit perfectly, so if you need three suits you could just buy them there and all your problems are solved for the rest of the year.

The next shop I recommend is a shop by the Spanish shoe designer Jaime Mascaró who is quite well known throughout Europe, but his shoes here usually cost around €150 to 200, while during the sales in Madrid you can get them for as cheap as €60.

I love it the same as Vilagallo because you could basically buy any shoe in their store and each choice would be excellent. The shoes are very stylish and extremely comfortable (look at the picture I took on the left - would you say no to these shoes?).

After getting all the essentials in these shops, there are lots of other nice shops on the two main shopping streets Calle Serrano and Calle Goya. One shop I especially like is Adolfo Dominguez on Calle Serrano, it is a Spanish designer not very known outside of Spain, the clothes are quite original and very accessible,
especially during summer and winter sales.

The Salamanca district is also an excellent place to have tapas. One place I find especially excellent was El Rincón de Goya on Calle Lagasca (crossing the earlier mentioned Goya street). There are also many hotels in the same area


Friday, January 06, 2006

New year, new blog...

Happy new year everyone! I'm on holiday at the moment so I disappeared for a while, not a good move right after starting the blog, but I definitely plan to write more frequently from mid-January.

In the time I've been gone, I was very happy to discover that I'm not the only MBA2008 blogger of London Business School anymore :-). Moe has joined me with his blog . With two blogs like this, I hope current applicants will get ample advice and the admits can start networking :-).

I'm starting a new project in the new year, specifically I have to fly to Las Vegas on Sunday for a week. Not a bad way to start a new project. I wonder if the technology fair will still be on and I bump into Bill Gates :-). I know Lufthansa offers wireless internet access on its transatlantic flights by now but I don't know if US Airways does. If it does, I'll definitely have lots of time to write blogs over the weekend, otherwise I'll just pick up the weekend after.

Happy new year to everyone again!