Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Welcome to INSEAD 'Le Optimiste'!

One of the long-time readers of this blog is going to INSEAD as well. A very good choice I must say. Welcome 'Le Optimiste'!!!

Check out his blog at:
http://leoptimistemusings.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 28, 2005

Winter Ball in hot Singapore

Semi-annually, each campus organizes a major party (ball). Despite the lack of winter in Singapore, this ball was named 'The Winter Ball' as it is the season for cold weather on the other side of the globe (like Fonty). About 300-350 people (students, alumni, faculty and staff) put themselves in their best suit or tuxedo (dress for women of course) and headed for the most luxurious hotel in Singapore: The Fullerton. And I can tell you something: it was one hell of a party!

Free champagne (or other drink) all evening sure has it's effect. When we were all ready for dinner, there were some people around that might have had enough to drink already. Some short speeches during dinner (Accounting prof:"Good stuff", P&M prof:"I'll take care of the jackets tonight", Dean:"So where's that winter anyway?", P5 student:"I feel all emotional now"), some crazy slideshows and it was time to hit the dance floor. In no-time the floor was packed by a huge mob of party-people. Ties came of, shirts were unbuttoned and we were ready to roll. Nobody really seems to remember when and how the party ended, so it must have been good :)

Thanks a lot to all of you who made this great and memorable (at least parts of it) event possible! I can't wait till the Summer Ball in Fonty in half a year.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Some more facts

Some quick answers to the questions in the comment to my last post.

Q: How;s the M:F ratio in Singapore? If you can't generalise, then your batch? What would you say about the diversity of the people in Singapore vs. Fonty?

The people in Singapore and Fonty are the same. There are two campusses, but since almost everyone travels between them it is essentialy only one group of students. The diversity among them is huge. The students in our current intake of 450 come from 71 nationalities. Futhermore, there is no dominant nationality in the program. From the top of my head: I think the largest group are the Indians with about 13% of total, followed by the French with about 10%. This diversity in people is the same in Fonty as in Singapore (by the way, it is also not true that there are relatively more people from Asian countries in Singapore than in Fonty).
As for the M:F ratio, the student body normally consists for about 20-25% of female students. This is somewhat lower than most of the US schools (they have about 30%). The probable explanation for this is the diversity of the students with respect to nationality; pursueing an MBA is not equally normal for women as for men in some countries. As a result INSEAD receives less applications from women than it wants. The US schools generally have about 80-90% American students (some students are called international, but they might only be born outside the US) and since it is more normal for women from the US to apply, they have a higher percentage of women.

Q: What would you say are your favourite subjects?

Favourite subject depends greatly on the professor that teaches them. Some of the professor are absolutely awesome and are able to even make accounting a very dynamic topic, and some of them are less awesome. In that respect, my favourite subjects so far:
P1: Prices & Markets, Financial Accounting
P2: Corporate Financial Policy, Managerial Accounting (and maybe also Marketing)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Facts about my life at INSEAD in Singapore

Some facts about my life at INSEAD in Singapore:

Academic structure:

Study

Housing

Travel

Food

Weather

Party and relaxation

Career

That should do it for now. If anyone wants to know some other / more specific stuff, just drop me a comment. I like comments :)


Monday, November 21, 2005

Short movie about INSEAD's Asia campus

If you want to see a short movie about INSEAD's Asia campus, check out the following link

http://www.insead.edu/campuses/video/asia/Stamp.mov

For all of you in Fonty at the moment: pay close attention to the outside shots and the nice weather (don't worry, I will join you guys in P3).

Paintball and the ultimate losers

Last Saturday: paintball! 26 MBA student decided they had enough of each other and it was time to do some serious slaughtering. In teams of 4 or 5 persons we managed to trash each other good. Yellow paint all over the place. Good fun! I managed to keep my clothes pretty clean as I was mainly shot in the face. This sounds way worse than it was actually; we had some good masks.

The British team managed to take home the first place and earned themselves eternal glory. This, however, only strengthens my suspicion that they actually are part of the British special forces and were hired by the London Business School to infiltrate INSEAD. Damn you, Brits!

For those who are interested, I am on the photo :)

About the losers mentioned in the post title, this has nothing to do with paintball. Last Friday I went out for some drinks with some fellow students (who would have thought that??) and we ended up in a bar full of expats. You can encounter the losers I will talk about in most South-east Asian countries, but in Singapore they are kind of rare. However, this place was crowded with them. As you might have guessed, I'm talking about the guys that think they can just buy a girl because they have an average amount of money or just because they are white males. They are to ugly and/or to stupid to find a girlfriend on their own and will lower themselves to become the biggest losers on this planet. The girls were very obviously not having fun and these assholes probably didn't even notice it. One more time: you are the ultimate loser! I always have the unstoppable urge to tell them how I think about them so I managed to almost get into a fight (which I would have enjoyed greatly, and yes, I am the biggest guy on the photo), but then again, that might not be the best thing to do in a place like Singapore. It really pisses me off.

The deadline for putting your CV in INSEAD's system (for the CV book) is this week. This means that everyone is very busy with writing, rewriting, rewriting again and proofreading CV's for dozens of other students. It is amazing how much time you can put into just 1 piece of paper. It's pretty hard to convince everyone that these INSEAD students in Singapore are the most promising business men and women that ever set foot on this world :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Grades of P1 exams and some fun stuff

Today we got our grades of the exams of the P1 courses. In the last few weeks the general consensus was "I don't care about the grades; it's the learning and the whole MBA experience that counts". Oh, how different it was this afternoon - the campus looked like the aftermath of a major battle with casualties and seriously wounded bodies all of the place. It was not a pretty sight...

The vast majority of the MBA students are used to be at the top of their class and take home the honors in each course. When you are scaled relatively to each other there will be by definition people at the bottom of the distribution. I'm told the response was quite typical for when you receive your first grades. I guess most people will just have to get used to it.

I'm quite happy with my results (as if you were interested). 4 out of 5 above average and they only one below it was Organizational Behavior. Maybe I was a bit too honest to the prof when I spoke to him (didn't like his way of teaching at all) and he retaliated. Anyway, stupid course...


And now, by popular demand, "what I heard in class". Of course starring the Finance professor. Too bad this was his last class and the remainder of the course will be taught be someone else (although I heard he is also really good).

Finance II

Prof: "We have these strategy guys of INSEAD interfering with Finance all the time. They've gotten on our turf with their elective course 'Corporate Governance'. But we are retaliating it with our own new elective 'Financial aspects of corporate governance'. The Empire strikes back!"

Prof: (further pissing off other academic sections) "Finance is the only area that has strong theory and strong practical applications. Other areas either have strong theories and no applications or a lot of applications and no theory at all."

Prof: "We have another elective in Finance where you do a lot of cases to value companies. In the beginning the students' solutions widely vary, but later on in the course they always converge. Why? Because people find the solutions on the intranet. The second possibility is that they actually learn something.

Marketing

Prof: "The relevant segment for viagra, for example, are mainly older men."
Student: "Doesn't only have to be older, you can also take it for other reasons."
Prof: "Can you elaborate on that?"
Student: "... eh..."
Prof: "Well, I know you are not in their segment ...... eh..."

Student 1: "In Germany there is a village that is supposed to have the exact composition of inhabitants as the whole of Germany and therefore is often used as test market for new products."
Student 2: "Is it a zoo?"


Finally, a big thumbs up for our Managerial Accounting professor (I've now learned that sucking up to a prof is sometimes beneficial for your grade). I've just read the case for tomorrow's class. This case is written by the prof himself and is a real refreshing experience. Just simple, to the point and without all those useless added 'stories' most of the Harvard cases have (Harvard seems to almost have a global monopoly on writing cases). Most of the other ones start something like this: "Gaby Sommerset (35), the newly appointed plant manager and -insert school here- MBA, was sipping a refreshing ice-blended coffee in her kitchen and wandered why her period was late this month .... bla bla bla etc." For all writers of MBA cases: cut the unnecessary b***shit and give me the facts. These cases are long enough anyway and it's not like we don't have enough to read around here.


That's it for today :)

PS. I've recuperated from my hangover (ouch ouch ouch) and corrected the massive amount of spelling and grammatical errors in my last post (at least I hope).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kareoke rules (bare with me, I'm drunk)

First of all, please don't mind the spelling errors and such (I'm really drunk right now and I really should go sleep).

We had a Kareoke night this evening; it was awesome. In asia they really take Kareoke serious so we we had a nice room were we could all sit and sing real nice. Not INSEAD though, we were all standing and shouting from the top of our lung while consuming one pitcher of beer after the other. Some really knew to sing, but the majority of the people were just trying to keep up with the speed the words on the screen came by. I never knew I could sing a nice duet 'back street boys style' with one of the German guys. When our time ended (2am) we just kept on staying in the room and ordered some half more hours of singing (you know 'de Amsterdamse grachten'?). In the end we finished at 4am totally wasted and no voice at all left (none of us will be able to talk tomorrow). Also, we started some drinking games (who can down the beer fastest). Really childish when you think of it, but I'm still happy I won :)

In short: good fun, great times, and all wasted. We all agreed on thing though: we are going to show Fonty how to party the hardcore style for sure when we get there and take over the place.

INSEAD rocks, go Sing and Pour!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Things I heard in class...

Marketing

1. The professor's (he's from Korea) first part of his name means 'bright' and the last part means 'helpful'; this should be a good class then :)

2. Prof: "with product innovations you don't want to listen to people that continuously complain"
student: "... French people?"

Management Accounting

Prof: If you really haven't prepared the case, don't tell me but just try to bullshit me"

Finance 2

This class is absolutely hilarious (also very good by the way). If I really write down all the funny stuff that comes by I wouldn't be able to do anything else in class. So here are a few that I did write down.

1. Prof: "The deadweight loss to society: the legal profession"

2. Prof: "If I shop, I do that in my underwear so people can see I cannot steal anything and give me discounts"

3. Student says something about 'corporate social responsibility'
Prof (interrupts the student when he hears those words): "Ooooi...... bad word"
Prof (later): "If you go to a barber, what do you want the haircutter to do? Cut your hair or maximize social responsibility?"

4. Professors explains that if you are punished in advanced because people expect you to sin, the best option is to actually sin.
Prof: "Each time I come home at 5am, my wife beats me up; happens to me all the time. So what should I do? .... sin"

5. Prof: "Never exercise an option before maturity. So don't get married to fast...... unless the underlying asset is decreasing in value."

6. Prof: "I'm sure it's not social responsible. But frankly, I don't give a damn."

7. Prof: "The fundamental purpose of life is to spend money and consume"

8. Prof: "In Finance 1 you learned that you should always trust the market. Today I'm going to destroy that believe"
Student: "Why did we have Finance 1 then?"
Prof: "Well, you have to create jobs..."

9. Prof: "So who's going to solve your problems?"
Student (laughing): "social responsible investment banks"
Prof: "That's a contradictio in terminus, it's like social responsible mass murder"

10. Prof: "So, what happened in the eighties?"
Student: "Madonna?"
Prof: "Well, we ARE talking about a tender offer..."

11. Prof: "So I invested in this company (e-bay for porn). It's a great company if you want to get rid of your used whips and chains"


That's it for this time, but I'm sure there is a lot more to come :)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"new" INSEAD blogger spotted

Since a few months Google has the option to search for blogs. I tried it today and found a new interesting blog of an INSEAD MBA'er (an MBA'er I know by the way, but I didn't knew he also blogged). It is a very interesting read with a lot of pictures about his travels. Check it out at http://oliviermineau.blogspot.com/

Olivier, I hope you don't mind me adding you to the link list (actually, I don't even know if you read this blog).

I've got a home in Fonty!

I found a place to live for P3 & P4 in Fontainebleau! I know, I will also be in Fonty in P5, but I guess I'll be able to find a place when I'm there. Otherwise I can always live under a bridge or in a scorched car in Paris...

The place of choice is Chateau Montmelian. This is a very beautiful chateau (see pictures) and also well known for it's massive parties (see http://www.montmelian.org/ to see what I mean. make sure you don't skip the introduction and turn on your sound). From what I've heard this is one of the best places to stay. It is not in Fonty though, but about 15 minutes by car away (which is not that bad; there are quite a few chateaus even further away from Fonty). I'm really looking forward to it. The difference in temperature I'll just have to ignore.



On a different note: group work is not always easy. 6 people in a group that all think they are always right sometimes poses some problems. We had a nice feedback session yesterday. We brought out the baseball bats and other weapons and started pounding on each other for 2 hours long. At some point the general consensus was to stop the session and continue today so we all had some time to cool down. Today it only took 15 minutes. After that we played some games of table soccer in the cafeteria and had a beer together. We are all happy campers again now :) As a matter of fact, we are actually doing quite well as a group; there are a lot of groups out there that work way worse together.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Review on P1 and the first week of P2

I'm back. A lot of fun stuff and good stuff happened the last week(s), but now it's time to move on to P2. Things I'm gonna write about:
- review of the courses in P1
- the exams
- the break (and my girlfriend's visit!)
- start of P2

Courses in P1

In P1 we had 5 courses. From best to worst I rank them like this:

1. Prices & Markets
I just love Game Theory. Very good professor (very funny also) and a very interesting course. I (re)learned quite some things that I can sure use later on in my job.

2. Accounting
Huh, I like accounting? Yes, actually I do. This course clearly shows that an excellent professor can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy a course and how much you learn (also see number 5 for the opposite). In a short time everyone is now able to do quite some advanced accounting and we all know what not to do (otherwise you go to jail, as our professor regularly mentioned).

3. Statistics
The theory is of course not that exiting (at least not for most of us here), but the games we played surely were. It is now obvious how you can be manipulated by the way numbers are calculated and/or presented. You want me to prove something? Give me a random set of numbers and I'll make you a solid business case for anything you want. Cool :)

4. Finance
The contents of the course were interesting, but the way the course was taught not always optimal. Our finance professor was surely extremely bright, but unfortunately that doesn't mean that she also was a good teacher. The main problem was, in my opinion, experience. The course became better over time, but at a place like INSEAD I expected only to see the professors that are ready to shine and not learning themselves.

5. Organizational Behavior
Yup, dead last. At the start I liked the course, but over time that definitely changed. I strongly disagree with the way the course was taught. I was way to fuzzy and not structured enough. There is no way I will be able to look back into my notes in a few years and search for some potential solutions to OB problems at hand. The professor did add only very little to the course; it was mainly discussion among the students. Nothing wrong with some discussion, but I expect the professor to also add his opinion and structure the key learnings. One other thing that irritated me a lot: if you're not female, you will have a much lower chance to get some air time (I like air time). Could have been a great course, but it definitely wasn't.


The exams

All sunk costs by now. Almost all students were really active studying for them and talking about it, but now that it is over nobody speaks about it anymore. Quite relaxing actually. I think I did fairly well on the exams, but then again, you are not at an absolute scale, but a relative one. The results will probably be known somewhere in the next two weeks, so we'll see.


The Break

Oh yeah! That was some good old quality time indeed. The morning after the last exam my girlfriend arrived in Singapore. This meant picking her up at 6.20 am at the airport after leaving the after-exams party at 1 am totally hammered. Good thing I like my girlfriend a lot or else I wouldn't be able to get up that early.
We had a great weekend at Tioman, a Malaysian island. Luxurious resort, lots of sun, some diving, some playing golf (took us 3 hours to play 3 holes; I'm not a great golf player...) and ordering drinks at the bar from the pool. Good stuff!
She stayed here the whole first week of P2 as well, so that meant an absolute minimum of study outside classes (also a minimum of weblog writing as some might have noticed). Too bad I'm all alone now again (sob...) but at least we had a great time. I'm gonna see her again in 1.5 months when I go back to The Netherlands for Christmas and New Year and after that Fonty time.

Start of P2

And here we go again. Can you here that second waterfall you will crash down this period? 6 courses this time:
- Finance 2: cool professor with even cooler remarks (more about that in later posts)
- Process and Operation Management: "The screamer"
- Organization Behavior 2: let's give the course another chance. So far it went well.
- Strategy: in the first class we discussed if Don Vito Corleone "The Godfather" should go in the narcotics business with "The Turk" and a rival family
- Marketing: let's make products people actually want to buy
- Management Accounting: same as with accounting in P1 - cool prof


This week to come: What I heard in class (already have quite some fun stuff) and some pictures of the place I will live when in Fonty (the best chateau you can be - absolutely beautiful and notorious about it's parties).

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