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...