Monday, April 21, 2008

Back on campus for the final showdown

It had to happen, the final term of my MBA has arrived! Only 10 more weeks of school, then we're officially done with the MBA! I have just come back home from my first day at school, and this term will be hard work and very exciting and enjoyable!

I started the day running in Regent's Park, and then doing readings for my International Finance class with professor Raman Uppal tomorrow. The first sessions will focus on the behaviour of exchange rates and hedging decisions of multinational firms. I have already taken a class on currency markets and on derivatives, as well as having worked in sales & trading last summer, so I am taking this class mainly because I heard the professor is brilliant and inspiring, and also to get a more qualitative high-level view of hedging and financial markets.

During spring break, I had the chance to read two of the books the professor had recommended to contemplate what is important to us in life (see previous post). I chose "Tuesdays with Morrie", a book on a wise college professor who chose to share advice and experience and spend time with all those who were close to him before his death, rather than hiding away in shame. The book deals with how much pain is caused by the taboo around death, and by the hypocrisy of people who live life pretending they will not die. The book shows how relieved relatives and friends are when someone puts the cards on the table and actively says goodbye before dying. It's a simple book, but a beautiful story nonetheless. The second book I chose was "Three Cups of Tea", about an American hiker in North Pakistan who was so touched by the hospitality of Balti villagers after an accident he suffered while climbing K2, that he dedicated his life to building free schools in remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, villages neglected by the central governments. The guy's dedication and his achievements in inspiring illiterate children are admirable, and I particularly enjoyed this book.

In the afternoon, I went to the library to do readings for my Credit Risk class, but bumped into too many people I hadn't talked to in a long time - people from my stream that I haven't seen since the first year, some friends who have just returned from exchange, some MBA 2010s that I know from my previous life as a McKinsey consultant and so on and so forth. No time to read in the end, but it was great to catch up with people, and it was a sunny day, so everybody was cheerful and happy. I also arranged for a Chinese lunch tomorrow with one of my great friends here who just returned from exchange in the US, I am happy she is back. I will be working with her and two other girls in a team for the International Finance class, it will be fun to have a group of four girls who are also close friends to work on the cases. We will disguise lunches and dinners as important working meetings and thus enjoy ourselves :-)).

Then I had the Credit Risk evening class. I chose the evening over the morning class so I can always go away on weekend trips without having to be back on Monday mornings :-). It's tough sitting in class till 9pm but what can you do... So far the class is very good and I am learning a lot. Credit Risk modeling is not easy, so you really need a teacher who explains well. I took the class because I heard Viral Acharya is one of the best finance professors, and was at first upset when I heard that the first three lectures would be taught by Professor Stephen Schaefer instead. After attending the first lecture, however, I am very happy, Professor Schaefer explains very well and goes step by step, we covered a lot of material but it seemed much more manageable than what I had feared after looking at the course materials, so I'm relieved.

On Wednesday, I will have my first Financial Engineering and Risk Management class with Professor Suleyman Basak, which I am also looking forward to, although the course material suggests it will be hard core. I learned a lot in his Fixed Income class though, so I expect that I will understand the material much better after attending the lectures. Lots of work ahead! It doesn't help that I am going on a 10-day trip again during term next month (I did the same last term and catching up was brutal!), it will be very tough to catch up with all the assignments afterwards, but I just had to take advantage of going abroad with friends once more, since I will start work straight after graduation.

With all this excitement, unfortunately it looks like time will race ahead even faster than before, and in no time the MBA will be over. At least I will know that I have thorougly enjoyed the experience, and that coming to London was the best decision I ever made. But it is still too early to talk like this, I am still a student :-).


Makis said...

Do not worry about catching up with assignments after your trip. You do have a job waiting for you. Therefore you can afford to take 10days off(and maybe lose 1% of the marginal knowledge addition).

Good luck with your final courses!

Anonymous said...

I loved 'Tuesdays with Morrie', - check out Mitch Albom's 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' too (in case u hvnt read it b4)

Tom Steve said...

Hi, do you have solutions for Prof Suleyman Basaks final exam? or the final exam paper itself?I need to practice a bit, would be very helpful if u do. Thanks.

angie said...

haha Tom, you really don't know Dr Basak well if you ask this question! hope you did okay on the exam.