Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A moment to reflect

And really, it's just a moment, because these last few weeks of the third term are proving to be killer and there's little time for anything other than studying! We hit the ground running after the Olympics (I'm still gutted - it's such a bummer to win all your events and still not have it be enough to help the whole team win) and have barely had a moment to catch our breath. Or catch up on sleep, which is exactly what I plan to do tonight.

The weather in Barcelona has been strange this week, and today it literally rained one minute and was sunny the next, only to pour again a moment later. It feels a little like the windward side of Oahu, but without the eight-foot breakers. And no hula girls. Fortunately (?) we were inside attending classes and studying too much to really notice.

And THAT is because over the next two weeks, the supposedly enjoyable, relaxed third term will feel worse than the first term ever did. Just as we're thinking we're cruising toward the finish line, they plop a few hurdles in front of us and tell us we have to take a few more laps around the track for good measure. So in addition to our three finals in two weeks (Corporate Finance, Global Economics, and Quantitative Methods), we have about a dozen other projects, as well as our nightly load of three cases, which for some reason are now in the 30-page-range. Each!

We also have a massive team merger negotiation project for Corporate Finance, which includes a 10 page paper and a presentation in front of the class of "shareholders." (I'm the presenter in the group - talking and writing nonsense seem to be my forte.) We also have a presentation for Comptetitive Strategy, and Jan-Kees and Matteo and I have chosen to try to pull Blockbuster out of the dregs for that one. A paper due on Friday morning about Carly Fiorina's short tenure at HP, a submission for Quantitative Methods Saturday night, another one Tuesday, a submission for Corporate Finance Sunday night, and a 10 page paper for Operations Strategy due at the end of the week. Add to that the DIEN (the Spanish exam) which I take next Friday, and it looks like I have my work cut out for me!

But back to that fleeting moment of reflection... Two things struck me on Sunday at HEC. First came immediately after we heard we'd come in second. All weekend, we had sung a number of songs, chanted plenty of IESE chants, and danced IESE dances. One of the more popular songs goes "Te quieroooo IESE, la la la la la la, te quiero IESE, la la la la la la" sung to the tune of "Can't take my eyes off of you" by Frankie Valli. And another goes "Who's gonna win this year? IESE BUSINESS SCHOOL la la la la....." (We like "la la la" a lot lot lot.) Well, immediately after the second place announcement was made, there was a moment of stunned silence before we started cheering maniacally as usual. And then, almost without skipping a beat, we launched into "Who's gonna win next year? IESE BUSINESS SCHOOL lalalala...." After all that pressure to win for the fourth straight year, we were perfectly happy just enjoying cheering no matter what.

After that, we relaxed on the lawn playing frisbee, tossing around a rugby ball, hitting golf balls (because we hadn't done enough exercise all weekend - we must be masochists) and I realized that this would be the last time I'd see a lot of the second year students. And then I realized that in just a year, I'd be one of the ones hugging everyone and not wanting to say goodbye. I've been a little down ever since.

Good thing IESE keeps us too busy to notice our feelings! See? There IS an upside to all this work!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

2nd Place

Just wanted to provide a quick update for those of you who have been biting your nails over the weekend, wondering how the Olympics went. We came in 2nd place behind our arch-rivals LBS, in a hotly-contested Olympic showdown. We lost by a mere 27 points (when the totals are in the range of 1200, you realize what a narrow margin this is) and now our fighting spirit is that much stronger. What we lost in those 27 points, we by far made up for in spirit and singing skills, and I hope to have videos up to prove it shortly.

Unfortunately, time for photo and video editing has been limited. We arrived home in Barcelona at 1:30 in the morning Sunday night/Monday morning, and had class as usual at 9:30. I got home at 5:30 yesterday and had to get straight to work on a scary corporate finance case which we had this morning wherein one poor soul would be picked at random to do the valuation of a corporate merger. Who was chosen but Pablo Royo, purple-suited skier extraordinaire, and game-saving Olympic goalkeeper (the men's final came down to penalties and Pablo made an amazing stop.) Of course Pablo, as always, was unruffled, even when his WACC turned out to be a little bit whack. The only thing that would have made it more impressive would have been the purple suit.

This weekend we have time to relax and prepare for finals because Monday is a holiday, so I promise to get photos up by then if not sooner! For now...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Olympic Count-Down

Well this is it, the last day before we head off to Paris and HEC for the MBA Olympics. This will be the last hurrah for IESE's 2nd year students, who officially graduated three weeks ago, and the chance for the 1st years to prove our worth in defending IESE's championship title. We have been victorious in the Olympics for the last three years and hopefully this year will be no exception. No pressure though!

Tomorrow we are all on two flights to Paris, and then on shuttle buses to HEC, where we will check in and then get settled at our hotels before - what else? - the big welcome party. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Of course, I haven't packed anything (though I guess I don't need much) and it's good that everything is organized for us because I haven't done much planning! And I can't imagine doing much tonight either.

Tonight Diego is celebrating his 30th birthday (which was actually last week) and we're all going to see a flamenco show. I've heard very interesting things about this particular flamenco troupe, so I'm sure it will be entertaining. Interestingly enough, last night I went to a flamenco show as well. This one featured Sara Baras Sara Baras, who is absolutely incredible. If I were male, I think I'd be in love with her. Actually I might be in love with her anyway... I mean, well, the show was really good. If you ever have a chance to see her perform live, by all means GO! She and her ensemble were mesmerizing and at the very end her little daughter came out and did an encore. She couldn't have been more than 6 and she ripped it up. The place went wild.

Today, of course, I'm exhausted as usual, so a nap will be required before any flamenco shows or packing or running or cases are attempted. I need to fill up the sleep tank before fully emptying it again this weekend!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday confusion and class selection

After a long day of classes and a Spanish exam, I got home around 5:30 and sat down at my desk to get some work done. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case every day this term, I was distracted by EVERYTHING. I needed a cup of tea. Then a bottle of water. Then I had to check my email of course. Then I saw an email from our class reps with 2nd year class information and realized I should probably try to finalize my schedule choices for next year.

I had it all figured out, even though three classes I'm interested in directly conflict, until I looked at the feedback from the 2nd year students. One of the classes I'd picked was completely panned by every single student! Horrified, I crossed it off my list and then spent the next hour trying to find something with which to replace it. I now have some semblance of a schedule - and actually a pretty cool one, if I get all the classes I want - and it's nearly nine and the only other thing I've accomplished has been preparing tomorrow's Corporate Finance case about Telefonica's dividend policy. Hooray for me. Now I think I'll go running. Anything to avoid the next case for economics class about Argentina. It's actually two cases. Two. Long. Cases.

The last two weekends of intense travel have really taken it out of me, so hopefully Argentina will prove to be a breeze and I'll be in bed soon. I'm still not sure how exactly 9pm arrived so fast. It's so confusing when it stays light out till almost 10!


I'm just back from about THE most non-IESE weekend I possibly could have had. Friday evening after the first leg of my Spanish exams (the second is tomorrow afternoon) I headed off to Girona airport to catch my Ryanair flight to Dublin. Leaving sunny Spain for rainy Dublin was a questionable decision, but now that I've returned, I know it was probably the best way I could have spent the weekend. I got tons of sleep, hung out with lots of babies (a birthday party for a friend's two year old on Saturday and then staying with my old friends Liza and Declan and their two young 'uns Saturday night) and very little alcohol. I had time to read cases on the plane, studied a bit for my Spanish test at Liza and Dec's cool country house outside of Dublin this afternoon, and had killer Irish breakfast both days. What more could you want?

Sunshine! And believe it or not, we had it! Okay, today it poured all day, but yesterday was sunny and warm and all the pasty Irish people stripped down to their t-shirts to enjoy "summer." The Liffey and Grafton Road were packed with tourists and Stephen's Green was as beautiful as I've ever seen it. What a perfect way to recharge the batteries.

Of course, now it's nearly 1am and I have a full day of classes ahead: Corporate Finance, Economics, Operations, and that pesky Spanish exam. Followed by two and a half similarly over-stuffed days and then a flight on Thursday to Paris for the MBA Olympics. I guess I'll sleep more when I'm dead.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Troubles updating... sorry!

I tried to post this on Friday morning, but I guess there were problems with Blogger so it never happened.... An update follows.

Last night I tried to procrastinate by updating the blog, but I was thwarted by the evil internet demons that somehow allowed my email and instant messenger to function, but not most websites. I've never experienced that before, and I chalk it up to Telefonica.

So instead I went for a run. And then Joanne came by to explain all of corporate finance in three hours, sprinkled in with a discussion of which " IESE boys are hot." And I'm sure you're hoping I'll post our discussion here, but wouldn't that just ruin the suspense?

Yesterday we had a three hour exam for Corporate Strategy about Botox and the cosmetic surgery industry, where I learned that it's possible to have a nipple extension. Not only is it POSSIBLE, it's quite popular! I never realized that some people sit around thinking and worrying about that enough to go have surgery. See what you learn in business school? A whole surgical sector I didn't even know existed!

After lunch we had our Operations Strategy exam, which was in two parts. The first part was a set of true-false questions, which we had 45 minutes to answer. Then we were given a case about Hugo Boss and how it should set up its production and logistics processes for the short and long term. Short term, I suggested they move everything to Eastern Europe / Balkans - make the fancy shirts in Poland and the rest in Romania, and pull out of Asia and Italy. Long term, I suggested moving the whole thing to Romania, even the German distribution hub. Our German professor might not like the idea, but hey baby it's just business! Finally, I suggested changing the name to Hugo Bosnia, for that sexy war-torn feeling that's so popular among college kids these days.

In an hour we start our Corporate Finance exam, where we will be levering and unlelvering Betas. Whatever THAT means. After lunch, it's on to Global Economics, a class which I fondly call, "Huh?" Yeah, so you can imagine how confident I'm feeling this morning. At least it's almost over!


After failing my corporate finance exam on Friday, I had to book an extremely last-minute flight to San Diego to take care of some family business. All is well, and though I'm extremely tired now, I don't regret for one second having gone all the way home to spend a very important weekend with my family.

Now I'm back in Barcelona (as of 11am today), having spent all of yesterday and all last night on planes. I think the guy next to me on the flight from Atlanta to Barcelona must have thought I was drugged. Hmmm maybe I was. My cranberry juice DID taste a little funny....

Now I have to face the reality of classes yet again and the fact that I'm completely doomed in corporate finance, economics, and quantitative methods. Study as I might, I just suck. And you know what? Being sucky at everything really ... sucks! I'm not used to this. I'm usually mediocre at everything. I can dig mediocre. It's pretty cool. But a whole school year of not even being mediocre and feeling stupid all the time, well... it's getting old.

Plus, school is bad for your health. One day you're stressed out and completely underweight, the next week you get your appetite back and feel like a heifer. Then you get sick every 3 weeks in a cyclical manner because the germs get passed around and around the classroom. Then you go see a doctor and you get something way worse than what you came with, just from sitting in the waiting room. Oh, and there's always the part about feeling dumb, so it's bad for your mental health too. Hmmm I guess you can tell it's Monday and I have another chapter of corporate finance to read, or else I wouldn't be so glum....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Exam #1 - Complete

So it is 6:15 and I've been home for about 45 minutes. It has been a very. Long. Day. But the fun's not over yet, because tomorrow we go to the Wonderful World of Operations and Corporate Strategy. I'm already tired of exams, and we've barely started!

Today we had a review session in Corporate Finance (during which I realized just how much I DON'T know - uh oh), a discussion about Phil Purcell and his short tenure at the top of Morgan Stanley, and then an after-lunch review session in Quantitative Methods (during which I breathed many sighs of relief over not having an exam for this class). After a 15 minute break - barely enough time to eat an ice cream - we started the two-hour final exam for our IT management course. Five questions, with a request from the professor that we keep our answers relatively concise. Nice, I can do that.

So here I am, procrastinating yet again, trying to decide what I should study first.... Operations or Strategy for tomorrow, or a bit of the dreaded Corporate Finance for Friday? A difficult decision, and I think I might need to take a break from the brainstorming to have a cup of tea and a yogurt. That ought to waste a bit more time...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It's that time again!

Yessiree, that's right. MIDTERMS! My favorite!

We have our first exam tomorrow afternoon, which is exactly why I'm now writing the blog and listening to "It's My Life" by Talk Talk rather than studying! Makes perfect sense, don't you think?

Well, to be fair to myself, I have spent the last four hours reviewing for tomorrow's final exam (yes, a final thrown in for good measure) and one of Thursday's midterms. And in a few minutes I'll head out for a little jog to clear the ol' head and then I'll review some extremely exciting corporate finance.

Tomorrow will be an arduous day, I'm afraid. You see, somehow an additional exam was added to the schedule in the last couple of weeks. So tomorrow we have three classes as usual - Corporate Finance, Leading Organizations (which is quickly becoming my favorite class, if only for the sheer entertainment value), and Quantitative Methods - and THEN a two hour final exam for our class about IT implementation! How exactly this test-after-class-all-day idea came to being, I don't know, but complaining won't change anything so we've all just resigned ourselves to the additional stress and exhaustion.

Thursday we have midterms in Competitive Strategy and Operations Strategy (another favorite of mine because it turns out that, deep down inside I am, in fact, a nerd) and Friday brings the glory of Global Economics and Corporate Finance midterms. Phenomenal! As usual, I have my eyes on the prize: Friday at 5pm, when we will be drinking our customary post-exam beers in the sunshine on the lawn.

The beautiful thing about this term is that we have very few final exams. So as Juan assured us over lunch today, this week is probably the worst of it. In half of the classes we will have papers and group projects due in lieu of finals, which are much less stressful for some reason. And after the midterms, we have the MBA Olympics to look forward to! Bring it on!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Big Changes, Little Changes

Hmmm I haven't written in a while, which is weird because it was a very eventful week. Maybe too eventful! So, let's start with Wednesday, shall we?

Wednesday was a pretty run-of-the-mill day, aside from two things. One, we started our last new class - Leading Organizations - with a case about Enron. On Thursday we had a case about Andersen, and tomorrow we have a case about WorldCom. Are you noticing a pattern? The class should be called How NOT To Lead Organizations. It's always heart-warming to hear about the disastrous failures of high-rollers, isn't it? Remind me not to run an evil empire. An interesting side note... this is the first class we've had in Section A with an American professor. I wonder if that was done to prevent USA-bashing. Er, more USA bashing than usual....

The second exciting event of Wednesday... I got a haircut. In Barcelona! And I don't look like a punk! Quite the contrary. So, if you are in Barcelona and you'd like to get a fantastic haircut, go see Damien at Le Salon. Consell de Cent, 261. He rocks! And speaks Spanish, French, English, and who knows what else.

Onto Thursday, which was the last day of class for the week. Every week should only have three workdays. When I'm Queen of the World, I'll be sure to address that issue first. For now, I'll just have to enjoy the rare three-day week as much as possible. Thursday evening brought the school play, which was actually a series of four short plays, and the audience moved between them to different locations. Very cool setup. I was on camera duty. The perils of a film degree. Actually, it was a pleasure. After the play I headed over to Gabriel's house to celebrate his recent engagement to his girlfriend Mimi (congrats again!!) and then we all went to the BOW at Otto Sutz. The music was so good that night I had to dance till 5am. At that point the dj started repeating songs and I decided it was time to go home.

On Friday the 2nd year students graduated. How weird is that? I mean, they were done with classes in early April, but most of them were still around, and some were taking additional mini-classes. Now they're really done. Hard to believe that I'll be in the same position myself in a year. Well... hopefully. It might partially depend on how midterms go. IN THREE DAYS! Ugh.

This weekend I spent mostly studying, with the occasional tanning breaks up on the terrace, and a spin up Tibidabo on my road bike. I've felt kind of "off" the last couple of weeks and I can't quite put my finger on it. We're all pretty tired of cases and studying at this point, and dealing with another round of midterms certainly isn't fun, but it's something more than that. My oldest friend in the world (I've known her longer than I've known my SISTER!) is getting married on Saturday and because of the timing with midterms, I can't go. I knew this as soon as I got the schedule back in August, but I kept hoping there was a way to make it work. But there's simply no way to get from Barcelona to San Diego overnight. Well, ok, there IS, but I don't think I can afford a private jet.

I was supposed to be in the wedding and the fact that I can't go at all is really bumming me out. Then last week my friend Matt told me he missed his best friend's wedding during the fall term and his friend hasn't spoken to him since! Fortunately Annie promised she'd still speak to me (and she's currently doing an MBA too, at Fordham, so she understands what I'm going through) but I'm still bummed. Sorry Annie!!!! I'll be there in spirit!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hey I forgot to mention....

... that the blog won an award! Many thanks to the folks at Clear Admit, who named this one of the Top 10 MBA student blogs of the 2005-2006 school year. I rolled in at a cool 8th place, which means there is room for improvement. Next year, we're taking this thing to number one, baby!

Clear Admit BoB

In other news... We were supposed to have our first session of our last new class - Leading Organizations - this afternoon, but unfortunately our professor is stuck in the US (imagine that!) and so instead we have the afternoon off! I have already squandered two of my three unexpected free hours surfing the internet and eating lunch with George and Huy. Oh and I read three whole pages of a case about eBay for tomorrow.

It's only 3pm and my homework is almost done! This rocks!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back from Amsterdam...

... And not a moment too soon. In faact (I meant to write it like that, it's Dutch), I changed my flight to come back a day earlier. Queens Day was simply too much for me to handle.

Some interesting things I learned:

1. You can make an air guitar out of anything.

2. When it takes an hour to walk 2 meters, it's a good idea to keep your back pockets well-stocked.

3. Don't drop your jacket on the floor. Especially your white jacket.

4. If you have a telephone, you can get people to talk into it. Even if it's not plugged into anything.

5. Orange actually isn't such a bad color for me.

6. There is a fortune to be made in extortionary toilet fees.

7. If you are claustrophobic or have a fear of crowds, stay away from Amsterdam on Queens Day.