OCRs - On Campus Recruitments

. Sunday, November 1, 2009

I cant believe that it is November so soon. Time has flown and we have only 47 days before the core subjects are done with. It has been an experience I will never forget.

I have been receiving some emails from students admitted to the class of 2011 about the program, my experience and OCRs in particular. I reckoned that I should answer the OCR part of the question in this post.

The OCRs in Queen's began in the last 2 weeks of Module 5. There were a host of companies that did come to campus.

Finance jobs: In the financial side, all the Canadian banks came down. There were a host of roles in the banking side including a couple of investment banking openings too. The most sought after roles were the Leadership Programs. I was interested in the Technology rotational programs that some of the banks had.

Consulting Firms: AT Kearney , Deloitte, Secor, Monitor, PRTM, Capgemini, Accenture and IBM came down from the consulting firms side. The roles were normally for Senior Consultant's position. In fact, I am not too sure if I saw any manager level roles.

Marketing: There were quite a few marketing positions open too, although I was not particularly interested in them. Ofcourse WPP was the biggie in this case. Bank of America also had a marketing role that a few candidates interviewed for.

The placement statistics for this year has not been great so far. This can be attributed to a host of reasons. From what I see, there is a lot of competition out there, and many applicants with significant experience are being hired. My interaction with the clubs and the students is that there has been a fairly focussed preparation for OCR's by many candidate, although unfortunately, the overall placement scenario in school has not skyrocketed. We are optimistic that the scenario will change.

Often, the OCR placement is considered as indicative of a program and the 'quality of students'. This is not really the case, more so when the quality of the class is brought into question. My experience here has been filled with learnings that I didn't expect from the program. There is the academic dimension, but more than that is the overall growth and change in outlook, that stands testimony to the program. The program, being so intensive, there is a chance that students might be slightly under prepared. That said, the big picture, the fairly small Canadian job market and other factors contribute to the placements too. I think, an MBA can land you your next job. After that, career progress depends on your ability to talk to others, extend your contact list to other schools, and then the career changes will follow naturally. So, it is really important to understand what personality of the school before making any decision.

Will get back to my report! :(


Week 6 - Module 3 - Accounting, Microeconomics, Business Decision Modelling, Organizational Behavior, Pitch Workshop,

. Sunday, June 21, 2009

Despite the long title, the last week was quite managable. Either that, or I am getting used to the rigor. :) Well, truth be told, the last week was relatively easy on assignments (only 1 due last week). So, here is the summary of the week that flew by:

Accounting: Being an accountant's son, I know that accountants rank "up there" in the "boring index" (Sorry Dad!). But the Accounting class was nothing short of brilliance! In my opinion, there is only one person who can teach accounting in such a way that the entire class looks forward to the class. And that person is Professor John Moore. Professor Moore handled the Pre MBA class for accounting as well. Day one of accounting was almost a re-run of what happened in the Pre-MBA classes. In my personal opinion, it was a good re-run as it helped me reiterate most of the concepts that were covered in the Pre MBA classes. I would strongly recommend going through the Financial Accounting workbook as it really saves a lot of time and effort in the course. Professor Moore was funny, witty and I never thought Accounting could be this sexy! :)

Organizational Behavior: Organizational Behavior is basically HR. The course was taken by Dr. Shawna O'Grady. Shawna had taken our First week orientation course too. The course has some rather interesting case materials and prereads and I liked skimming through them. (Notice the word 'reading' has been replaced by 'skimming'). The best take away from the course, in my opinion, is having a conclusion statement or a finishing statement after an interview. A finishing statement would be something like "I want you to know that I really enjoyed this interview and ...." Basically, one sentence that sums up your interest in the firm.

Business Decision Modelling: I was (and am) extremely interested in seeing what Business Decision Modelling has to offer. The course is being taken by Dr. Yuri Levin. I have had the opportunity to attend only one session of his course has I was down with a flu on Saturday. So, at this point, I have very minimal input to give. I look forward to working closely with Dr. Levin as I think Business Decision Modelling will be fun.

Microeconomics: No updates from Micro econ as our classes begin on Monday.

Pitch Workshop: We had a 'Pitch Workshop' on Tuesday, conducted by the BCC. Basically the pitch is aimed at answering "I would love to work for XYZ Inc. because...". It was an interesting session in its entirety because 1. I went through the companies I was interested in, and their Org Structure 2. I now know what are my transferrable skills which I can sell to my prospective employers 3. I now realize that there is not much time for the OCR!!!

A typical pitch consists of 3 parts:
1. Intro
2. The organization you want to work for and why (mention the org structure, and the work they do, and how it aligns with your over all goals)
3. What do you bring to the table (based on your prev experience, mention your transferrable skills).

We also had a meet up with some alumni and it was a very interesting interaction. The interaction was being led by Cormac Evans, Associate Director - Corporate Relations and Student Programming. Among the many things I liked about the interaction, one was the ordering of questions by Cormac. Most of us will be approaching a lot of people with respect to job information. One of the main things in networking is asking the right questions about the job, and not just asking ANY question. In that sense, Cormac's questions were spot on, and would have impressed most 'future networks'. Questions like transferrability of skills, work pattern, basic skillsets needed and a whole hoard of others give you that edge over the other 10 people who will be with you, during the networking sessions. I will post those questions up soon. (In case I dont, please remind me).

On a parallel note, the class is going to Ottawa for Canada Day and it promises to be a day full of awesome fun. I hope I have recovered from this darned flu by then!!! :)

Time for some rest!


. Friday, June 19, 2009

As an MBA applicant, I approached a lot of students from different schools for their insight. A few people who are considering Queen's for 2010 have approached me with some questions too. I reckoned, it would be great to have a F.A.Q page, and mark it as a perma-link. As always, this is a link that will be updated regularly.

Admission steps:
1. What is the average GMAT score that Queen's takes?
- While there is no particular GMAT score average that I can think of, a score of above 600 would form the lower limit in most cases. Like most business schools, Queen's looks are the overall profile of the candidate, including the essays, and the resume. The essays and resume play a HUGE role in your application. We have people from 600 to 780 in GMAT in our batch. So, that us quite a range. Aim as high as possible.

2. What are the steps to apply for Queen's?
- I had written a series of steps in one of my earlier entries.

3. Is there anything in particular that I must write in my essay?
- Your essays are your door to the school. Queen's School of Business is extremely detail oriented when it comes to choosing the candidates. I am not joking about this. Some of the things I might consider bringing about is:
* What sets you apart?
* Your strengths in working with teams?
* An honest assessment of who you are?
* Your growth / extra curriculars / differentiators / leadership experience.

4. Is the TOEFL needed for admission?
- I submitted by TOEFL scores. If you seek deferral of scores, please mail the admissions committee with appropriate reasons.

5. How is the interview process?
- The interview is a conversation. We had telephonic interviews for international candidates. If you are in the US / Canada, then they will invite you over to the campus for the interview. This is an advantage, as you can see the campus and talk to the current MBA batch while you are here.

1. What is the cost of living in Kingston?
- In my opinion, this is something that one cannot estimate as it varies from person to person. I am pasting an answer that we got from a student from the batch of 2009, Zach Sonnleitner as this is the most comprehensive answer I have recieved:
1. Rent:
This depends on whether it is furnished vs. unfurnished, if you are sharing laudry/kitchen/bathroom areas. I have heard figures from $450 going up to $800 pre-month for a single. I myself have rented the entire mainfloor of a house, furnished, with private laundry and bathroom for $1125/month. Expensive, but I have a wife who spends a lot of time their while the program keeps me busy. Also, you may (or maynot) want to avoid the "student ghetto". Houses in the ghetto are cheap, but their can be noisy parties from time-to-time. Also, non-ghetto housing tends to be a little nicer. Oh ya, Kingston's student housing is mainly in the form of older victorian style houses (1900s era) that have been convereted to multiple dwelling units. They can be overheated, underheated, dusty, drafty, etc. Sometimes they are perfect, but rarely. Be prepared to love you dwelling for the unique character the accompanies it.

1.1 Furniture:
A lot of the houses turnover at the end of April as undergraduate students who were living together for a few years graduate and move out. They literally leave their old furniture on the front lawns for the garbage truck. A lot of it is in very good condition if you can get it before it rains. If you are hear early, driving around daily for a week or so and picking the best dressers, couches, etc. before it rains on this stuff may be a good way to furnish a suite. Just a thought and a piece of information I wish I had been given.

2. Utilities:
Most rents will cover electricity, heat and water. However, cable television, phone and internet are extra. A lot of my classmates have opted not to get cable TV or internet at home since they simply aren't there enough to make use of them. I signed up with COGECO for full cable, internet and phone (VIOP), for about $100/month. It took about a week to set-up and I was able to do sign-up at a COGECO store in the mall. Again, a lot of people have opted to use a cell phone and skype instead of this solution. Also, the school has wireless internet in a lot of areas as well as the LAN connection for each student at their desks.

3. Electricity and internet charges:
Addressed above. I will also note that most of the coffee shops have internet. Some require you buy time, but a lot have it free.

4. Food Cost:
This all depends on what you eat and how much. If you cook all your meals yourself this can be kept to $200/month per-person. This goes for both domestic and international students (i consulted with my colleague to check this). However, then there is the chance you may want to eat-out or you get so busy you must eat-out. This could easily add another $100 to $200/month per-person, but again it depends on the person. Also, there are the various social outings. Plus there are few nicer resturants you will want to tryout, so budget for at least one really nice meal per month ($60/meal?).

5. Group trips/activities (catagory you missed)
You will want to set aside some cash to go do some of the fun stuff there is to do around Kingston. Within a 6 hours drive you have: New York City, Boston, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagra Falls, just to name a few. In addition there are various beaches. Lets not forget: white water-rafting, scuba-diving, sailing, scuba diving, hiking, downhill skiing, crosscountry skiing, hockey, etc. All of these activities will require some additional funds. Our class did a lot of this stuff and it made our experience that much better!

6. Socializing (catagory you missed)
Not everyone drinks alcohol, but it is important that everyone comes out and socialized. Networking is VERY important both within the program, outside of the program and after the program. Get good at this, fast. That being said beer is going from $5-8/pint or $15-22/jug depending on what you like and where you are. If a person was a really big party animal this could also easily add another $200/month. Even if you aren't, I would recommend you guys try to arrange pot-luck gatherings and keg parties at classmates houses. This keeps the cost down and allows you to socialize. In addition you get to try a lot of interesting new foods.

7. Clothing
Just a reminder that you are expected to show up with a suit or equivalent business dress attire. There are a few nicer places in Kingston, but a lot of people ended up going to Toronto for a new suit before interview season. Also, your class will want to get some "Queen's MBA 2010" swag printed up. This isn't as cheap as you would think.

8. Potential international travel
You may go on exchange. You may have a friend who goes on exchange and you go and bunk with them for a week while traveling the country. Just keep this option open."

From what I have noticed, if you are staying outside campus, an average expense of CAD 1000 is a fair estimate.

2. How far is downtown from the school?
- The downtown is approx 20 minutes walk from the school. Most students live at a 15 minute walk to school and 15 minute walk to downtown.

3. Restaurants?
- There are MANY restaurants in Kingston. Infact, I heard that this city has the max per capita restaurants. There are 3 Indian restaurants, many Chinese, Thai and Cambodian restaurants in addition to the zillions ofEuropean ones. Many places where you get pizzas and there are a lot of pubs on Princess Street.

4. How far is the nearest Walmart / Loblaw / marts where you get discounted merchandise?
- Loblaw / Walmart are about 15 minutes drive, on the end opposite to Downtown. There is a Foodbasic where you can do food groceries, which is in downtown.

5. If they are so far, how do students get stuff for their use?
- Most students walk down Princess and get their daily items. Some students normally take a bus to Walmart / Loblaws during the weekend, and then rent a cab to come back home. This helps in getting shopping done for relatively lesser price, and since you are sharing the cab ride, it is quite inexpensive. Most of the Food shopping is done in Food basics though.

P.S. This post is incomplete, and I am publishing this for now. I shall work on this FAQ, based on input from the readers, my peers and other feedback.


Module 2 - Statistics, Economics, Kingston Venture, Career Support, Personal Coaching, Exams, Elections, Clubs

. Sunday, June 14, 2009

The title pretty much sums it up. I have not updated my blog last couple of week, and have been feeling rather guilty about that. Anyway, I reckoned, it would be better if I wrote a summary of the entire module in this blog.

Module 2 consisted of Statistics and Economics.

Statistics: The course was taken by Professor Jeff McGill. As someone with very minimal statistics background, I was continuously 'catching up' with the class and at no point seemed to be 'in charge' of the course. In a one year program, it really helps to be ready for the course, rather than wait for the class to be taught, and then we follow up. This, in my personal opinion, is even more relevant with Queen's as the coursework, prereads and the assignments can be daunting at most times. My senior batches have told me that the worst is yet to come, but if this module was anything to go by, then I really have to learn how to stay ahead of the game.

The course overall was extremely useful. As I was telling Professor McGill one day, I have a new found respect for MS Excel. The thing with this course is, it helps you predict the future. :) Given the sample data, how does the consumer behaviour look in the future? That is one of the key roles of a Manager, and this course lays the foundations for that. We covered a lot of topics in this course, some of which being binomial and normal distributions, regression analysis etc. I particularly enjoyed regression analysis as Excel would do the number crunching, and we had to mainly come up with interpretations of the crunched numbers.

The course work was divided into 2 team assignments and 2 quizzes, each of 250 marks and contributing to 25% of our grades. The assignments were challenging and gave us a firm understanding of the concepts. My personal opinion is, if you find a subject difficult, and you realize that you might need an understanding for your career, become the lead for the assignment. I did not do too well in the first quiz but am very happy with my performance in the second quiz.

Overall, I think this was an important course, and I look forward to Business Decision Modelling, a course which I am excited about.

Global Environment of Business / Economics: The next course in this module was Economics, and was taken by Professor John McHale. I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Interesting would maybe be an understatement. I have been trying to keep myself updated with the global economic scenario for about over a year now, and I could see the impact of the same in class, as I was consistently able to contribute and grasp concepts fairly quickly. The micro economics part of the course can be quite challenging, but the macro economics portion of the course is quite easy.

My only 'complaint' (for lack of a better word) with this course is that I expected a lot more of comparison with the Asian economies. Economies like India have remained relatively insulated from the slowdown (*relatively*). While most business schools and economists acknowledge the possible handover of economic power to Asia over the next few decades, the course would be richer, if we understood what policies do these countries have, that insulated (*relatively*) them from the impact of the US slowdown.

That said, with 3 weeks in the module, it is indeed difficult to have a comprehensive course. A challenge that most 2 year programs might not face. In my opinion, if you want to contribute well to the class, blogs like the baseline scenario, Krugman's column etc really help.

The course consisted of a team assignment (25%), a presentation (25%) and and a test (50%). While each of these were time consuming and challenging, I would not call them as impossible. But when compounded with stats assignments, the prereads, and post reads, the cocktail can be quite heady. A word of note about the text books. The books for Econ was simple, lucid and extremely well written. For a novice like me, this book was fantastic. I wouldnt share the same passion for the Stats text though. :)

Kingston Ventures Tour: This was an extremely interesting one day visit where we visited 3 companies during the day. These are startups based out of Kingston. We visited a Biotech Firm, a firm that deals with boats (mainly fireboats) and finally a manufacturing firm started by a Queen's Alums. It was really nice spending time with these entrepreneurs and listening to their story. A common thread that bound them together is the sense of accomplishment and that glint of pride as they describe their journey. While I have never considered entrepreneurship as a Post MBA career, the day with these people gave me an insight that I never had. Entrepreneurship is tough, and to meet these people was humbling. In the evening, we had to present an elevator pitch about one of the 3 companies that we visited. It was particularly exciting as the CEO's of these companies were present as we presented the pitch. I gave the pitch on my teams behalf and it felt so good to stand in the podium. Home sweet home! :) While my pitch was not great, I was pretty happy with the experience. Some of the teams had some great pitches and the team that won had a fantastic pitch. It was my favourite pitch of the lot.

Career Support: We had our first few career support sessions in this module. We had a half a day sessions with some of our seniors from the batch of 2010 and a couple of wine and cheese parties where we met up with some other alumni. We also spent anothe 1/2 day session of resume writing. We submitted our editted resume and had a 1-1 meeting with our career counsellers. For the uninitiated, the career cell in Queen's is called the Business Career Centre (BCC). The two counsellors that we interact with are Julia Blackstock and Joanne Thompson. Julia is currently handling all the Finance and non Consulting resumes while Joanne is handling all the consulting resumes. I was reasonably happy with my first session with the BCC, but then the next few weeks will be important in understanding how the BCC operates. I shall write a separate post on the functioning of the BCC.

Personal Coaches: Queen's also offers its students, the support of a personal coach. Faculty provide the academic support needed for the students, while the BCC is supposed to take care of the career support, your teams will be helped out by your team facilitator. But an MBA is about smoothening those rough behavioural edges as well, and thats were personal coaches play a role. For example, I believe I need help with a couple of behavioural aspects of my personality. Sometimes it is possible to not know what help you need. A personal coach will talk to you, give you tips on overcoming those behavioural challenges. They are scheduled to meet you for 6 hours over the year (8 sessions of 45 minutes each). There is an array of personal coaches, each accomplished in this field. We can go through their profile and mail any one and ask them to be our coach. First, a telephonic call is scheduled, where you and your coach can talk. You can voice out your expectations, and in the process analyse if he/she is the right fit for you as a coach. I had my first face-2-face meet with my coach this weekend and was generally happy with the way it went. Have another scheduled this weekend.

Elections: We had our student body elections for this year. The election committee did a brilliant job at conducting these elections. Our student president is Jameel Lalji, Vice president for Internal Relations is Danilo Martins, VP Student Affairs is Matt Hooper and VP Finance is Geoff Lau. BTW, the VP Finance is in our team, so we are hoping to reap the fruits of having a exec member! ;-)

Clubs: The various clubs have started mushrooming in the last couple of weeks. Everyone is a member of atleast one club. We are having quite a few clubs this year. Most of these clubs have their elections this week. Below is *some* of the clubs for this year:
- Consulting Club
- Finance Club
- Marketing Club
- New Ventures Club
- CSR Club
- Women in Leadership Club
- NetImpact club (Need to confirm this)
- Toast Masters Club
- Biopharma club
And a few others...

Once the elections are done, I shall list the presidents for these clubs too.

That pretty much rounds up this week. Heavy module (5 weeks, 4 subjects) ahead. Time to catch some sleep that I will be missing for the next 5 weeks. :)


26 May 2010 - Convocation for the batch of 2009

. Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today was the graduation day for the batch of 2009. Many students had come with their parents, friends and significant members of their families. It was really nice to meet people I have just spoken to. The pride in the eyes of their parents was the standout feature of the afternoon. Somehow, that got a lot of us motivated, as same time next year, we will be here. :)

Anyway, on behalf of the batch of 2010, I would like to congratulate the batch of 2009.

"Hearty Congratulations to the batch of 2009. All the best and hope you guys soar the heights you are meant to. "


Week 2 - Module 1 - Role of a General Manager / Leadership

. Saturday, May 23, 2009

At the cost of repeating myself, I have to start my post with "What a week!!!" If week one was getting to know each other and team work, week two has only one word to describe it - Intense!!! 3 team assignments and 1 individual assignment followed by a presentation on Saturday was not what we expected in week 2. But that is exactly what was in store for us.

Leadership was taken by Dr. Bill Blake. The course was very interesting and engaged in answering what is leadership, its importance, the role of a leader, the ethical aspects of leadership, international and multigenerational leadership among many other topics. The class involved a lot of discussions, and case studies from HBR, Ivey and a few others. There was this particular quote about leadership that I particularly liked.

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he (she) wants to do it" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

The course, while light in many aspects, was interesting in one particular aspect. The huge thought process differences that exists between the east and the west. That is the biggest advantage of an international MBA, in my opinion.

The role of a General Manager was taken by Professor Peter Richardson. Professor Richardson is an authority in strategic management and had an extremely easy way of teaching a rather interesting subject. Unlike what it seems, 'The Role of a General Manager' is more of a strategy paper. We were introduced to basic concepts in strategy, something I really enjoyed. the entire week was spent in going through many cases, coming up with organization size up, vision, missions, strategic objectives, action items, Porter's 5 forces, PEST analysis and many other frameworks, which we had to eventually use for a team assignment . The thing with 2 out of 4 assignments were that the topics were given in the afternoon of the submission day. Imagine getting an assignment topic at 1 pm and having to 12 am in the night! With classes from 8:30 to 4:30, things were not exactly easy. But to be honest, when you submit that assignment and then walk back home at 12:30, the sense of accomplishment is really addictive! (Hope we dont get
addicted though).

I guess, for most teams, the honeymoon period is over. Most teams have understood how individual members of their teams work, and that is a great thing. One of the advantages of having such an intense first week is the insight gained by teams on how to work together on a common task. How to split tasks, take ownership and trust each other mutually. The cultural nuances of different work cultures is something I am learning as the days go by. As I mentioned earlier, that is one of the key motivators for me to do this course - the ability to understand how "high performance" teams work, when they are stressed 24X7!

On the party end, the entire class (almost) celebrated a friend's birthday on Saturday and then went to a local disc (Name to be updated soon). It was a great evening, and by the time we left, none of us looked like they had a stressful week! :) Thats the beauty of this batch! Work hard... Party harder! :) I hope the momentum is maintained during the more stressful months of Aug /Sept / Oct.

Tangentially, for one of the assignments on leadership, we got a chance to interview the CEO of KEDCO (Mr. Jeff Garrah). His thoughts on leadership were really insightful, frank and practical. Kingston is a lovely place in that sense. The local leaders are easily accessible, and all you need to do is send them an email with your requirement. We have not received the grades for the assignment, but the talk was really something that cannot be evaluated! :)

Gotta crash now! :)

Appleseed's recount of Week 2 - 2009
Bizgirl's recount of Week 2 - 2010
Nathalie's Recount (in French) of her MBA experience

Week 1 - Orientation, Team building, Team Formation, Transition Party

. Monday, May 18, 2009

The week 1 of my MBA program is over and what a week it has been. There are so many things that I am not sure if I shall be able to do justice to every event that has occurred this week. 

Monday started with the continental breakfast. The entire batch was here. I had met quite a few of the students in the Pre-MBA sessions, but to see 110+ students dressed formally in suits and business attire was exciting. I am begining to like the feel of the formal wear, to be honest. 

There was welcome address by Dr. Scot Carson and Professor Bill Blake, where they introduced us to the MBA Program team, and the various other teams that the MBA batch will be liaising with. Post that, we had a program overview given by Lori Garnier and then an overview of the norms by President of the batch of 2010, Karim Hemani. We interacted with Karim for a while, where he shared a lot of inputs. One important point he reiterated many times is the need to take the Career Centre's feedback seriously and not get so involved with the Team Based program that we do not pay enough attention to the 'career stuff'. A point well taken and duly noted. 

The rest of the day was a slew of presentations by various departments like Heathplans, Fit to lead team, a campus tour and later a dinner. The dinner was excellent, and I specially loved the sushi. 

Tuesday and Wednesday were team building sessions taken by Dr. Shawna O'Grady. Dr. O'Grady is an extremely reknowned Team expert in the North American region. I was extremely impressed with the 2 day team building program. I was also introduced to my team on Tuesday morning, and we participated in all team building activities together. Personally, I shall never cease to be impressed by the kind of research Queen's does for assigning teams. The parameters taken into consideration are so many that it is mind boggling. My input to any aspirant is, be prepared to have a team as diverse as you can think of. I am in love with my team, and hope that we do a great time together. 

Thursday and Friday, we had another slew of presentations. The interesting ones where the presentation by the BCC (the career centre), International Exchange opportunities and the Team Facilitator meeting. Once again, I must reiterate how impressed I am with the kind of support Queen's gives for team facilitation. They have assigned a team facilitator just for this single purpose. Every student can also choose a personal coach. The role of a personal coach is to talk to the students and motivate them whenever they need. We had a networking mixer arranged by the BCC in Tir Na Nog Irish Pub. Did you know that the Tir Na Nog Irish Pub is the FIRST restaurant/pub in Kingston?? Pretty cool eh? We met up with Mr. Jeff Garrah, the CEO of the Kingston Economic Development Board and a few other people of importance in Kingston. 

Saturday was fun in every sense as out seniors (from the batch of 2010) came down to school for a transition dinner. Basically, the purpose of this meet was to ensure that the responsibilities for the various clubs are shared with the current batch. Post dinner, we had a wonderful game of Treasure Hunt and later had a long evening in a local pub close to my place. (Name shall be updated soon!)

Week 2 is going to be long, serious and the grind begins!!! :)

You might want to read the following posts:
Bizgirl's blog on Week 1 - 2010 Student
Appleseed's Blog of Week1 - 2009 Student. We pretty much did similar things this week too :)

Cheers! :)

Kingston / Pre MBA Sessions

. Friday, May 8, 2009

To say that the last 3 weeks were hectic would be an understatement. Time literally flew (aided considerably by a few visa related complications). Before I realized, I was on flight to Kingston. I took the British Airways flight from Mumbai to Toronto (via Heathrow). The first leg of the journey (Mumbai to Heathrow) was really comfortable, but the second leg (Heathrow to Toronto) was quite uncomfortable. That said, I am here. 

Kingston is a beautiful place. There is a rustic setting that is endearing. I have always been a sucker for a rustic setting, but I have seen nothing quite like Kingston. It is beautiful. I had fixed up an apartment close to campus. Kingston also has a great number of restaurants. Food is not a problem at all here. Someone from my batch told me that Kingston has the highest number of restaurants per person in Canada. I have not yet got an internet connection. Hence, the posts are irregular. Hopefully that should be taken care of in another week or two. 

We started with our Pre-MBA courses this week. I had not originally signed up for these courses and had requested the program management team if I could be fitted into this session. I guess, a couple of guys backed out of these sessions in the last minute and I was fitted into these sessions. We had sessions on Mathematics and Spreadsheet Skills for Business Analysis, Finance and Accounting. 

Mathematics and Spreadsheet Skills for Business Analysis: 
Overall, I guess, most of the class had fairly similar views about the session. The Professor, Jeff McGill, is a senior professor in QSB. The first part of the day was spent on basic math. (Quite literally. very basic math was covered, right from addition rules). The second part of the day was mostly spent on  MS Excel. In my opinion, the concentration could have been more on MS Excel. Since most of the participant will definitely have some math background, it really is redundant to get back to high school math (especially, since GMAT requires a certain degree of mastery on the same. The MS Excel coverage was more useful as it juxtaposed what we know with real business cases. I would have personally liked to spend more time on Excel. That said, there was a great deal of relevance of what we 'knew' and how it was applicable in business. The class pretty much (re)introduced me to how numbers are viewed in real business, which was pretty cool.

The finance course was conducted by Professor Louis Lagnon. The professor was flambouyant and had a wonderful sense of humor, which made the class even more interesting. Having no finance background, I realize what a huge mistake I have done in not taking the finance and accounting workbook seriously. This weekend is a study weekend for me, and I am hoping to cover most of the topics in the workbook. I would highly recommend the finance course. Some basic terminologies that, I believe, will drive the year, was introduced succintly. After the class was over, we had a small discussion with the professor about his take on the current economic scenario and a lot of other things. It is these talks, that will be the take away of this program, I am sure. Experts can give an opinion on current affairs that can inspire us to think in a holistic manner, and that is something I am looking forward to.

The course was taken by Professor John Moore, another expert in the field of accounting. He had a dry sense of humour which was accentuated by the fact that the timing was invariably unpredictable and he always managed to keep a straight face. The session was informative as we went through some basic accounting models and learnt to analyze a Financial Statement. We all were given our first group exercise (the word team has been intentionally left out as that doesnt start off till Monday). :) It was a small 15 minute exercise where we were given the balance sheet of two auto majors and had to compare their performance. 

What is really interesting is, we ger real balance sheets, and as a part of the exercise, we got an opportunity to witness the trend over the last 3 years. Clearly, this fuels the interest to understand why the performance is as listed, and that will be the part that most people might do after class. Now, aren't these the information that are ever so handy in the many social networking events that we will attend in the future. 

My batch is extremely eclectic, with so much of diversity in the class. To consider about 65% of the batch enrolled for the Pre-MBA is exciting, as come this Monday, and the diversity is going to get just better. From my interaction, I am 100% sure, I have taken the right decision.

Btw, the class met up on thursday to watch the hockey match between Vancouver and Chicago in a local pub called 'The Iron Duke'. While we lost the game, we all did have a great time watching the game and later after the game. Nearly 70% of the Pre-MBA set and some guys who did not enroll in the Pre MBA but have moved into Kingston this week also came. 

More to come... 

Dr. Voyageur - Travelling in the US and Canada

. Sunday, April 19, 2009

My friend shared this extremely useful link that gives budget travel tips. The website's name is Dr.Voyageur. A must visit for international students who are planning to visit either the States or Canada.

Visa Processing

. Thursday, April 16, 2009

The last few weeks were very hectic as I had officially resigned from my job, and had to pack my bags (and 8 years worth lugguage) and bring it back home. Needless to say, goodbyes are not really my speciality. But now that I am at home, I realised how much more work I have to do. 

Meanwhile, I have applied for the Canadian Student's Visa. The one-stop shop for Visa related details is VFS-Canada

The Canadian Visa processing consists of the following stages:
- Supporting Documents collection by the candidate 
- Application and Passport Submission
- Health Check up request from the High Commission, and resubmission of the passport upon completion of the same.
- Interview (if need arises)
- Receipt of the stamped passport! 

To be honest, I was very concerned about the visa processing, but based on my experience, I can safely state that this is the easiest stage. Once your documents are in place, the visa processing pretty must goes in auto-pilot mode. 

Supporting Documents collection by the candidate
This, by far, is the most rigorous part of the visa application stage. I call it rigorous because it takes about 1 full day to get all your documents in place. Some of the documents that are needed are:
- A CA certificate that evaluates all your (and your sponsor's) assets. This is inclusive of property, monetory savings, investments, education loan, and a host of other assets. For a sample certificate, please email me at g.shivnarayan@gmail.com and I can share a certificate.
- An affidavit that states that your sponsors are willing to sponsor you. Again, email me for a sample.
- Your bank loan sanction letter (if you have applied for an education loan). 
- Family banking records for the past 24 months (bank books and statements, accompanied by bank certificates dated within last three months)
- Income Tax documents for yourself and your parents (for past 2 years) (Form 16s that belong to you and your sponsor).
- Proof of employment from each of your parent's and your employer (salary fund statement, provident funds statement, employment contracts). Please also provide letters of employment from each of your parent's employer, including the company's full name, the address and the telephone number of the employer/supervisor, the length of service and the salary details). Basically, a copy of your offer letter, most recent salary hike / promotion letter, offer letters of previous organizations.
- A copy of the checklist is present in the VFS site.

Application and Passport Submission
The IMM1294B (or the student information form), Personal information form are the two forms that we need to fill. In addition, we have to sign a consent form and a student questionnaire form. The student questionnaire form has a few questions like why you are pursuing the course, why Canada, and what are your career plans. These are questions that can be answered from your SoP / essays. 

Upon submission of the passport, one has to make a payment of about Rs 6000. This includes the consulate charges and VFS charges. Please note that I submitted 2 passport size photographs (2 Inches X 1.5 Inches) along with the first package.

Health Check up request from the High Commission, and resubmission of the passport upon completion of the same
After about a week of submission, I received a letter from the High Commission requesting me to perform a heath checkup. The letter also had my passport attached. The health checkup again consists of three stages: A general health checkup (Height, weight, eyes, medical situation etc), a blood and urine test for HIV and a few other diseases and an X-Ray test. I had to submit 2 passport sized photographs along with their negative. Getting a negative can be a little difficult in this age of digital photography. I had to run to atleast 6 studios and pay a bomb to get a negative. But more on that later. :)

The health checkup was hazzle free. Upon completion of the tests, I resubmitted the passport to the VFS office. Again, I had to fill a form that listed the documents I was submitting. 

Interview (if need arises)
The interview stage is not a mandatory stage. If the High Commission deems it necessary to conduct an interview, then one has to travel to Delhi. So far, none in my batch had to undergo an interview. 

Receipt of the stamped passport
At the time of posting, I have not yet received my stamped passport. But, I understand that the stamping takes about 1 week from the time of re-submission of the passport. Shall update the post with the documents I received with the stamped passport soon.

Loan Documents 101

. Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good news after quite a bit of wait. I have received my loan sanctioned and have applied for my visa. Often, getting the loan documents in place can take much more time than you can imagine.  

In my case, it took 3 weeks from the time of submission. I had applied to the Corporation Bank of India for their education loan. 

Outlined below is the list of documents that one must have in place for applying for a loan in any bank in India. This list might vary from bank to bank, but what I have listed is a possible list of ALL documents that one might need:

1. 2-4 copies of passport size photograph
2. Proof of Identity (passport/PAN card/Driving license etc.)
3. Proof residence (electricity/telephone bill/ration card)
4. Statement of Bank A/c for last six months
5. Exiting loan statement for last six months.
6. Signature verification from the Banker
7. Income Tax Return for last two years (with form 16 for salary person)
8. Balance Sheet for last three years.
9.Last three months salary slips.
10. Details of fund available from family sources for the course.(attach Xerox copies)
11. Statement of Assets & Liabilities.
12 Career Profile/Employment details of the 10 years
13.Sales Tax Registration, Shop Establishment Act Certificate etc.(for Businessman) 

1. Agreement to sale with Builder if first owner
2. Agreement to sale with previous owner if flat is resale. All previous agreement to sale upto first owner & builder.
3. Registration certificate of society.
4. conveyance deed between building society.
5. NOC from society.
6. Share Certificate of society.
7. Latest maintenace charges bill.

1. Two / Four copies of passport size photograph
2. Proof of Identity (passport/PAN card/Driving license/College ID Card etc.)
3. Proof residence (electricity/telephone bill/ration card)
4. Statement of marks: SSC, HSC, FY, SY, TY, Final year  of Degree
5. Degree certificate Graduation, Post Graduation, Diploma
6.Statement of extra curricular activites
7. Copies of letter conferring scolarship, freeship, studentship etc.
8. Documet evidencing the duration of the course & commencement thereof Viz Prospectus or certificate from the competent authority of the institution.
9. Proof of admission to the course (I-20)
10. Schedule of expenses for the course.
11. Copy of the mark sheet of qualifying examinationViz. CAT,TOEFL,GRE,ILTS etc.
12. Statement of Bank A/c for last 12 months through which major transactions are routed (if employed)
13. Signature verification from the banker (if employed)
14. A declaration/ an affidavit confirming that n loans are availed from other banker(if employed )
15. Letter giving reasons if in case of gap in the course of education. 
16. Letter indicating that you have officially resigned from your job.
17. In case of any personal loans, a letter indicating your payment schedule, amount to be repaid and expected months of repayment.

I understand that this list can be quite daunting. Again, this is a comprehensive list of ALL documents I was asked to furnish by most banks. I approached as many as 4 banks (3 nationalized and 1 private banks). Since a loan is almost mandatory for an international education, I would recommend that an MBA aspirant works on getting these documents in place as soon as he/she has applied to a school, rather than wait for the result, and then applying for the loan. Once the documents are in place, upon receipt of the admission offer, the candidate can make his loan processing much easier. In my case, I had exactly 2 months from the time of receiving an admission offer to the course start. Within this space I had to make a decision, apply for loan, visa and book tickets. This can be extremely hectic. 

Lesson learnt was it is never too early to get your documents in place. On the contrary, it would be wise to do so.

Web Portal

. Saturday, March 28, 2009

I receive my Web portal details about a month back. After playing around for a while, I think I have got a hang of quite a few features. Describing the layout is a Herculean task that I shall not embark upon. Instead what I shall do in this post is outline some of these features that I found interesting.

Quick Links: Shortcuts are provided to visit the School of Business web page, faculty profilethe campus bookstore, the library site, a page for online resources and the registrar's office.

The student rooster is some sort of a 'Introduce yourself' page where you fill in your personal / professional details and a short paragraph introducing yourself. The campus bookstore is a not-for-profit corporation that offers study material at the low price to Queen's students. So, in addition to the library, we can also buy second hand books from the bookstore, which is pretty cool.

page, the staff directory page, the student rooster,
Administrative announcements: There were a few administrative announcements indicating the facebook community for the Queen's 2010 batch, Notebook requirements, etc. Similarly, there are also links for Course announcements and Career Announcements.

Tools: This consists of links to install network printers, upload and share files, share calenders, and access emails.

Fit To Lead Page: The Fit to lead page is a personal fitness guide tool. It has articles on healthy food habits, fitness tips, and something called a 'Cross trainer online fitness software' which I am yet to explore. I get a feeling that this page is something I will wanting to use quite regularly.

Team Room: The team room is a virtual room which basically lists your team members who are online, lists the assignments and discussions. We also can download IBM's 'Sametime' for instant messaging.

IT Support: The IT support page is extremely useful and has many articles how to set up many IT related infrastructure like Antivirus, network printer, usage guide of the web portal in addition to providing a host of downloads like Adobe Acrobat, Symantec Antivirus, MS Office patches, Java updates etc. Queen's is also a part of EduRoam which stands for Education Roam. This is a wireless network service that allows students, researchers, staff and faculty from Canadian educational institutions to securely access the Internet while visiting other partner universities. There are 10 partner universities, the names of which I shall update as soon as I get them. There are many other services like creating a personal webspace (of the format http://web.business.queensu.ca/graduate/userid), temporary renting of IT hardware infrastucture etc.

Exchange: The exchange link provides details on exchange programs, partner universities, the program details, and an online application for exchange applicants.

Courses: The courses link maintains a list of upcoming assignments, schedules etc for the coming 2 weeks. In addition, there is a Gartner Portal. The Gartner Portal gives us access to a lot of Gartner's research data. We can subscribe to topics of interest, and receive industry updates in our inbox as well. This would be something that most consulting candidates might take interest in, I guess. My current employers often share Gartner quadrants in our industry, and that is how I got introduced their research.

Email: The email web client is a Lotus Domino iNotes. As a Outlook user, the Lotus iNotes is something that I will have to get used to. A cursory glance indicates that the web client is considerably heavy and will need a laptop with good configuration.

Financial Crisis for Beginners

. Thursday, March 19, 2009

I came across this rather fantastic assortion of articles that explain the current economic crisis in very lay man terms. 

Ever since I became aware of the global financial crisis, I have been fascinated by the systemic breakdown of the American economic system, and its ripple effects being experienced by the world. Reading articles, blogs that offer different perspectives on the roots of this breakdown, while being interesting, can also become mind boggling for a person who wants to know the basics, and work up towards that. Like any paradigm, today, the amount of articles posted on the financial crisis is so overwhelming, that to search for the root causes is like searching for a needle in the haystack. This page is an excellent starting point for people interested.

I had tried to summarize my understanding of the financial crisis in my own layman terms in my other blog. The contents might not be extremely accurate as the article was written just as a personal excercise. 

I am confident that the current economic turmoil will be case studies and lessons for many batches of MBA programs in the future, and this site will be extremely useful.

Queen's expands class strength


This is an update from Appleseed. Apparently, the class size has been increased this year from 75 to 100-110 and there might be two sections.

For more about this change, at this point refer Appleseed's Post.

While the class size is still considerably lesser than most other MBA programs, it will be interesting to see the diversity that is introduced this year. Needless to say, the first thing that came to most minds was the hope that the quality of intake is not compromised. I am sure, if anything, this will make the program even more competitive and intense. And there will be more experiences to share. This article in the star mentions that 3700 applicants applied to the Queen's MBA program. In such an intense competitive applicant pool, I am left with no doubt that the quality of entrants will be as high as ever.

One of the reasons why I preferred Queen's to other schools is its smaller class strength, which can be great when it comes to the 'MBA experience' and assistance when it comes to placements from the career cell of any school. The knowledge that people in the corporate cell know you, your personality, strengths and weaknesses has a calming effect on students. The flipside is the class strength can also affect placements and networking to an extent. Most alums I have spoken to have said allayed any fear, reiterating the strength of its alum base. With a size of 100, I think the program strength is definitely not small but thankfully not insanely large.

The competition during the placement season will definitely increase, but as Appleseed pointed out, this can also bring in more recruiters to campus. The MBA program teaches us to be flexible to situations, and I look at it as practicing what they preach.

The challenge will of course be in how this point is addressed:

  • Finally, if the class could be split for teaching purposes, the class size could be lowered. Having 75 students in class is not a problem, but having two classes of 55 could create a more intimate setting. In order not to lose the community feeling that students enjoy at Queen's the administration will ensure that each student and team has the experience of working with all of the others. One way of doing this is to rotate one quarter of the teams between the two classrooms every second module.
I feel maintaining the 'community feeling' going to be quite a challenge. Rotating one quarter of the teams between the two classrooms very second module can either help fruitful gelling or result in too little time with too many people. I feel that the onus is on the students here to get the community feeling going.

One of the things I look to closely monitor in the program is how this change works out.


From acceptance mail to reaching the Business school - A stepwise process of the tedious tasks

. Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This post aims at outlining the steps that follow after one receives an acceptance mail from the school. As I am realizing, getting the writing the GMAT, applying to the school and interviewing and getting an acceptance mail is amounts to just 60% of the work. The real work for most international (and local students) starts after that.

1. Get a Pay order for 2000 CAD and send it to Queen's School of Business. The school will process your Pay order and send across the enrollment package.
2. Get a loan - expected time - 2-3 weeks. Most students start analyzing the interest rates offered by the banks only after getting an admit. Based on my experience, I would say, it is better to start taking to prospective bankers as soon as your applications are done. As far as banks are concerned, the more time you spend talking to bankers, the better it is. The paperwork can be quite tedious and it is better to set aside at least a month for the bank related processing. For Indian applicants, the maximum amount you can apply for is Rs 20Lakhs, and for that one must show collateral and a co-signer. Talk to the bankers and get the documentation needed for validating the collateral. Additionally, bear in mind that loan has to be processed from the location where your parents / co-signer stays. Hence a 3 - 4 week period for loan processing is a safe assumption.

3. Work out the remaining amount - Can be done along side bank processing - Ensure that you have assets for the remaining 15 Lakh INR by means of parental funding, savings, borrowing from relatives, provident funds, etc.

4. Get a net worth letter from your CA - 2 - 3 days - Once your education loan has been sanctioned, get a net worth letter from your Chartered Accountant. A net worth certificate is a financial evaluation of the applicant and people who are going to financially support the applicant through the course of his program. Evaluation will consider the education loan amt in addition to any liquid assets, fixed assets you, your sponsors have. This takes a day if u know the CA well. Also get an affidavit mentioning the individial sponsors whose financial assets were accounted for in the net worth certificate. This should take about 2-3 days at the maximum, if you know the CA well.

5. Visa Documents: Keep in touch with VFS meanwhile and ask them the list of documents you need to submit for visa purposes.

6. Submit all relevant forms / supporting documents to VFS with a demand draft of the amount for applying for Student Visa. This detail is present in the VFS Website. VFS sends this to Canadian Embassy, and you get your medical test letter. This takes a week.

7. Get a medical test done (3-4 days) as mentioned in the letter from the embassy. The test takes 1 day, but bear estimate at least 2 days gap from the date you receive the medical test letter and the actual date of medical test.

8. Get Visa Stamped - 1 week - 10 days - Resend your passport to Canadian Embassy with your medical test results. You get your passport stamped within a week.

9. Book flight tickets to Canada. Again, like the loan processing, it is better to plan the flight tickets in advance to ensure that you get good deals. Also, some travel agents block flight tickets for about a month in advance. Pursue that option actively too.

10. Shop - On going - Get formal wear, suites, thermals, and a sweater. Do not but winter wear, as it is recommended to get winter wear from Canada. More on shopping at a later post.

11. Fly to Kingston. :)

Additionally, these are the other things that can be done, on a need basis:
(a) Parallely finish any assignments that has been given by the school. These assignments are present in the enrollment package.

(b) Search for houses online. Get an idea of the expected rent in Kingston. I have decided to live outside, and not take up Grad Res. The formula I am following is to look up craigslist / Kijiji.ca and get the address of the apartment. Then, map the address in google maps and find out the time taken to walk to campus. This not only helps you understand the real estate pricing there, but also helps you understand the geography. I believe that this really helps you in intangible ways, and also gets you excited about the place.

While making a checklist of things to do, it is better to go backwards. So, assuming that you are scheduled to fly on May 1st, then, allot 3 weeks for Visa + 4 days for medical test + 3 days for net worth certificate and 1 month for loan processing. So, it is better to plan the tasks so that the paperwork is started by March 1st week (February last week).

100 Best Blogs for MBA Students

. Saturday, March 14, 2009

A student of the 2009 batch put up this link in the Facebook Group that we have started for the 2010 batch. This is a very useful link for, especially for aspirants wanting to apply to schools and want an inside knowledge of what the student body feels like.

100 Best Blogs for MBA Students.

One of the factors that really helped in opting for Queen's School of Business is the blogs maintained by 'appleseed', Ramzi Asfour, and 'Indian Blogger'. Appleseed and Ramzi are currently pursuing his their MBA in QSB and 'Indian Blogger' is Queen's alum, whom I had the opportunity to meet quite recently. The student blogs of any school offer that extra dimension that can aid in your decision making.

'Bizgirl' is a 2010 batch student and she has started blogging on her MBA journey. You might find that useful too.

Getting an admit in Queen's


My first interaction with the business school was when I met their representatives as a part of the MBA tour in Bangalore. You can read up about them in their website. In a nutshell, these tours offer you a chance to meet the representatives, alums and members of the admission committee of various schools. While every representative will showcase their school's merits, this event gives you an opportunity to ask questions, identify what the school seeks, and like in my case, opens up newer options, schools that you might not have considered before. I was impressed with the way the school's representatives spoke, and also had the opportunity to talk to alums who were in India.

A cursory look at their website reiterated my decision. The school was well ranked, had a good reputation, but most importantly, the Team Based MBA model and the rigor of the program impressed me the most. More about the Team Based MBA in later blogs.

Like every business school, Queen's requires you to first take up the GMAT. For more details about the GMAT, please visit GMAC's page.

I had taken the TOEFL, but I believe there have been a few students who were waived of this requirement as they had completed their studies in English.

After sending these scores to the school, one has to write a few essays (3 this year). The essay topics vary from year to year, but are aimed at out your overall personality. The school gives heavy emphasis on team work, and experiences in working with teams. So, it is better to chart out your professional / academic accomplishments and how team work helped you through it. These essays can be submitted online. An online application page is listed in the school's website. Also, one has to have a 1 page resume ready, and the resume also has to be uploaded to the website.

Post submission, the essays are evaluated and one is shortlisted for the interview. While I am not sure about which parameters are considered while shortlisting a candidate for an interview, I believe it is a mix of your GMAT Scores, work experience, uniqueness you bring to the program and most importantly your essays and resume. My interview was with Ms. Lori Garnier and it was a very smooth interview. Again, during the interview, I could make out the emphasis that was given to team work, as a considerable questions were hovering around my experience in teams. Typically a call for interview takes about 2 - 3 weeks from the date of submission.

Post interview, the admission committee takes about a couple of weeks to decide on your candidature. In my case, it took 3 weeks. Once they have reached a decision, the program management team sends an email indicating the same to you.

After getting an admit email, the school sends a FedEx package that has the temporary admission letter. A student is required to make a deposit of 2000 CAD to the school by means of a pay order. (For Indian students, this process is a very simple one. All you need to do is have funds equal to 2000 CAD in your savings accout, and ask the bank to issue a DD for the same. If you do not have an account in the bank, you can remit 80,000 Rs in cash and get the DD done. It is a hald-a-day process.)

Once you get the pay order ready, send it across to the school. Upon reciept, the school sends across a huge package consisting of official admission documents and some assignments, which are useful for securing a education loan.

Next... You have got the admit letter... What next?

A new start...

. Friday, March 13, 2009

Welcome to my blog. This blog intends to follow my experience in Queen's School of Business where I shall be pursuing my MBA program. 

As an international student who has got an admit from Queen's School of Business, I hope the contents of this blog is very useful to future international students. On a personal front, I know that the coming year is going to be one of the most important years of my professional career and personal life. So, in that sense, this blog is a journal marking that transformational experience.

Many more posts to come! :) Cheers!