Monday, May 21, 2007

Bringing home the trophy: pictures and stories from MBAT

As I predicted, this year we really blasted the other schools away. This is the list of competitions that we won this year:
- Men's Rugby
- Women's Rugby
- Swimming
- Cricket
- Salsa
- Basketball
- Volleyball
- Climbing
- 7k Cross Country
- Tug of War

We also won 2nd places in Women's Football, Tennis, Mountain biking and Taek Won Do, as far as I can remember.

Not bad, eh? Following are some pictures and some stories from MBAT:
On the train from London to Paris on Thursday, we still looked fresh. As you see, we were in good spirits and ready to get the trophy!

Our school's security guard, Youssef, came along as a mascot and also as a kick-ass rugby player of the glorious men's rugby team. You might think other train passengers were scared by the horde of 200 cheerful and noisy London Business School passengers, but we treated everyone according to the Geneva Convention. Whenever a regular passenger wanted to trespass our coach, we would shout "civilians! civilians!" and everybody would go quiet, and someone from the rugby team would give the civilians an escort through our coach. It was hilarious.

Our key competitive advantage was the red London bus, which had been driven all the way from London to Paris to supply us with fruits and drinks throughout the weekend. It was parked on the side of the sports field, and gave students of other schools cause for envy, since they had no supplies throughout the games. We were compassionate, however, and offered everyone as much beer and fruits as they wanted. All they needed to agree to in return was to get a London Business School tatoo on their body and pledge to the superiority of London Business School :-). Call it winning the hearts and minds, and yes it worked!

Thanks to our great team and the best and loudest fans ever, we won the second place (out of 12 teams) in Women's Football. The final against IESE was tough, because we had to play back to back straight after an exhausting and fierce semifinal against HEC, with only 5min of rest in between, whereas the IESE team had had several hours of rest. We lost 0:2 in the pouring rain against a very strong and fit IESE team, but luckily thanks the great crowd of about 80 London Business School supporters on the pitch, we had a lot of fun and celebrated our 2nd place.

These were some of the fans celebrating next to the football pitch during the final. With fans like these, how can you let your head down during defeat? They really made sure we kept our spirits up. When rain started pouring down, the crowd shouted "London weather! London weather for you!", so we had to laugh on the pitch while getting soaked and beaten. Thanks to everyone who cheered for us, it helped a lot!

Another highlight was the tug of war competition. We put the strongest and biggest rugby players on the team, and they won with great ease. They brought each opposing team onto the ground within seconds.

Well, basically that was MBAT 2007. I will add more pics as I get them, since I didn't actually take many pics myself and need to wait for others to share them. We had a lot of fun. Now I'm absolutely exhausted. My big toe was injured in the second football match and I played three more matches ignoring the pain, until by Sunday I could hardly stand. I also cheered lots of teams on Sunday in the cold rain and have fever and a cold now. But it was worth it! I didn't go to class today and stayed in bed all day, already feeling better.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

We'll bring the MBAT trophy home to London again

Last year, KV was the first to post that London Business School had won the MBAT trophy. This year, I will be even faster and I'm posting this before the tournament is even over.

I'm confident we're bringing home the trophy because this is what we have won so far:
1. 7k cross country run
2. Cricket
3. Salsa
4. Swimming
5. Women's Rugby
6. Tug of War :-)
7. Squash

We're also in the finals for tennis, basket ball and volleyball, and men's rugby tomorrow. Then we won several glorious 2nd places which are tough psychologically but still bring in points, such as in Chess, table tennis, women's football (my team -we gave our best but were beaten in the end by the IESE), mountain biking ...

So I will confirm tomorrow, but believe me,
London Business School students fought hard and absolutely ROCKED this weekend!! Our favourite word these days was "amazing". All the teams are amazing and giving their best. Another word was "civilians", but I will explain this later. We had fun!

Admits of 2009, start training hard, because we want to win again next year!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Just another weekend in London

Recently, I have often posted on specific topics (career, applications etc.), that I feel admits or applicants may not actually get a good feel for what life is like here. I do not intend to use this blog as a diary, as this would become quite repetitive, but it might be helpful to give an update on what life is like here in London once in a while. What have I been up to this weekend?

Saturday started off with our Cost Accounting midterm exam. They like to schedule our exams for Saturdays, apparently because there are not enough lecture theatres available during the week to accommodate all of us at once. The exam was hard and there was a lot of time pressure. I was happy though, because I find when exams are easy the results are much more unfair, because then professors subtract points for every little deviation from the ideal solution. On the other hand, in hard exams the normal distribution kicks in automatically and the professors do not need to force it onto the results. So I think it went well. Usually, I would head over to the Windsor, our closest pub, straight after the exam, but this time I had different plans.

MBAT is next week, and I realized that I need to buy new sports shoes! Some time last week, I started thinking about how old my Adidas running shoes actually were, and it hit me that I had bought them some time in 2001! It was shocking. Then I took a closer look at the shoes and was embarrassed I have been wearing them all the time, they were dirty and falling apart. Anyway, so I went with two classmates to a huge sports department store in the South of London, and bought new running shoes as well as football shoes, since I'm playing women's football at MBAT. I also helped my friend pick roller blades so we can go roller blading in Hyde Park together as soon as the weather gets better again. Then the other two checked out climbing equipment, since they are planning to climb Mont Blanc in June. We spent 2 or 3 hours there and only came back around 4pm.

Then, I went for a birthday party of a Croatian classmate. He lives with another Indian and one Turkish classmates of mine, and I hadn't spoken to them properly in months, since times have been hectic and we are in different streams, so I decided to go there and make sure I get to talk to catch up with some people, finally! They had nice Sangria and very good music - I even heard Rachid Taha at some point :-).

In the evening, most people headed over to school for the "SANZA (South Africa New Zealand Australia) - Party" hosted in the school, but I decided not to go. Instead, some of us went out for pizza close to Baker Street. After that , my day was still not over, instead I watched "the Goodfellas" on DVD with my husband. The film is okay, but I don't know why people (or should I say guys? ;-) ) rave about it. The guy seemed utterly stupid to me from the start and I was not surprised by how he ended. I think it would help some people to ask "why?" once in a while instead of being at awe about people who seem to have money that came from nowhere. Anyway, then I fell asleep :-).

I had to get up early today because my parents paid me a short visit. They came back from holiday in the US via London Heathrow and had about 6 hours between their flights, so they came into Paddington with the Heathrow Express and we met up. We walked towards Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill/Bayswater in the cold rain - welcome to London! We went to a nice Lebanese cafe - I think it is called Al fresco - and had hot tea to warm up and lovely hot mashed aubergine with chick peas and pita bread. Then we went for coffee and I brought them back to Paddington station. It was cold and rainy the whole time, but that was okay because I knew I had a lot of work to do for school. I'll be away for MBAT next week so I need to get everything done before we go to Paris.

First I had to do the Cost Accounting assignment on customer profitability due tomorrow morning. Despite the exam, we still have an assigment due Monday morning 9am. Luckily it was one of the easier ones, so it didn't take me too long. The previous ones have been a nightmare requiring a couple of hours of effort on a Sunday night, but this time luckily it was short. But that was offset by the nightmare that is our current Macroeconomics assignment. Because I missed one class and didn't do my reading at the beginning of the term, I missed all of the theory and formulas on capital accumulation, growth accounting, labour productivity and so on. Of course, the assignment covers exactly the topics I missed and consists of 8 questions requiring calculations, theory, application, everything. So I had to read a few chapters in our Macroeconomics book and did all the calculations, since this was the most straightforward part. I haven't answered the qualitative questions yet though, these will require some more thinking on my part.

Then I was hungry and went to Brick Lane in the East End with my husband. There was some Bangladeshi celebration going on and the streets were full of people and food stalls. We still decided to eat at our favourite place though - the Sweet and Spicy. We always order the same - Pilaw Rice, Karahi Gosht, Tarka Dal, Peshawari Nan (try this coconut bread if you haven't!!). Then we were stuffed and decided to walk to Moorgate instead of taking the tube at Aldgate East, thereby enjoying the stroll through the City.

Once home, I decided to do some more work, this time preparation for my internship though. I started reading "Options, Futures and other Derivatives" by John Hull. It is very well written and detailed, and I have high expectations to finally understand more than I currently understand in our Finance 2 class. I really need to prepare a little, because I believe I am one of the few people
going into trading/structuring without any finance background and without any kind of quantitative background, so I have realized in recent weeks that it would help to get up to speed before I start.
(btw I have updated the post on impressions from the ibanking/finance job market, since the finance club has sent out and overview of who's going where. Not everyone filled it in, so again these are minimum estimates, but we have a great group of people going to the top ibanks and even quite a few people who landed jobs on the buy side, so things look great).

As you see now, after a few pages of the book I decided to call it a day though and thought I should write something here, because I probably won't till after the MBAT. I must say, living in London is very nice, and despite having to do some work for school on the weekends, it turns out there is still a lot of opportunity to explore London and socialize in between.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I resigned from my job today

Obviously, you and I knew what was coming, but now it is official and my company knows, too. I sent in my letter of resignation today. It's about time, because I'm starting my summer job with another company in London in 5 weeks already. Now I'm getting lots of administrative emails (I have to hand back my Blackberry, Laptop, mobile...) and also requests for meetings from some partners. I will go to Germany for a a few days at the beginning of June to sort everything out.

I am relieved now, because I can speak openly to everyone and start saying goodbye to people. Now that I'm thinking about whom I need to call, I realize just how many friends I made over the two years of the analyst program. I think I will dedicate a whole day just calling everyone, catching up and saying good bye. I have also received the invitation to join the alumni network already. The alumni network is big and powerful, the best ever, but it is weird to be "on the other side" now.

Just thought I'd share this with you.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The fatal combination of happiness and heavy workload

Patxi and the Divine Miss have complained about it - and now it has hit me, too. I have lost my inspiration. I don't feel like writing much anymore. Yes, the sun is shining for most parts, and MBAT is coming up - I need to practice tennis and football, plus I recently joined the Softball team as well. Also, workload right now is a bit crazy. This has been the busiest term so far, against all expectations.

But I think there is more to it. Lucy Kellaway pointed to it in a recent FT column. The name of the column was "Worry, don't be Happy". Her point was that unhappy workers are more productive. I think she is wrong for most professions, but concerning journalists and writers I think it is very true that the happier you are, the less time you want to spend writing.

The peak of my creative powers was probably the first 6 months of this blog, when I was working 16h days and feeling exploited. Then, I started an exciting new life in London while still agonizing about my future path. Right now, it is probably one of the first times in my adult life that everything seems to be going great. I am living where I've always wanted to live with the person I've wanted to live with, doing what I want, looking forward to a summer job that was my first choice, followed by an exchange term at the school I wanted to go to. Things are going great and life is beautiful.

The only topic I am pondering a lot these days, and which kind of keeps me inspired, but about which I haven't reached a conclusion yet, is how this all happened. Why is it that I was in the wrong place doing a job I didn't like before, and now everything is great? Is it just luck? My interpretation is a mixture of becoming "older and wiser" :-), and what Patxi has described in his beautiful post about persistence. I think lots of people when they are young and insecure, they give up very easily and are discouraged very fast. Any adult tells you scary stories, any peer tries to put you down, and you take their word at face value and lower your expectations. After some year, you realize you just have to try harder and harder and things work out.

It may be my lack of inspiration that I need to shamelessly copy paste Patxi's quote here :-), but I just loved this sentence:

And here comes the moral of the story: even though the final score will forever read:
Denials: 7

Acceptances: 1

I still win!

To all of you who keep trying, congratulations!

A lot of unhappiness in life comes from low aspirations and not trying to aim for something better. A lot of my previous unhappiness at university and my first job came from aiming low. I was too afraid of rejection to apply to top universities abroad, and then I was constantly unhappy about being at mediocre universities, and afterwards I really didn't try hard to get a job in something I liked and just took the first offer I had, which I knew from a previous internship I wouldn't like. And then I spent two years feeling sorry for myself. Not exactly a recipe for success! This really the first time in my adult life that I am doing what I wanted to do. On the one hand it is a bit sad that it took me so long to figure it out, but then lots of people never do, so I am grateful to be where I am now. Let's hope and pray that things stay this way, even if it means less inspiration for my blog :-).