Friday, July 21, 2006

In the pursuit of efficiency

Why did I choose to study and live in Europe? This articlefrom The Observer highlights one of the main reasons (to increase my productivity, bien sur).

I think Mexicans have it worse with only one week vacation a year, and I know Taiwan instituted a few years ago the concept of weekends, that is having at least one day off a week. This makes me wonder: are French expats, with their 8 weeks vacation, resented in those countries?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Released from Jouy-en-Josas

The ceremony last week was, as expected, a dawdling affair. The school convocated graduates from all programs, all 1,600 of us, in one setting at our Jouy campus. In the business world, this is called economies of scale. But you could also call it being cheap. I don't blame the school though - I'd rather see money allocated to scholarships than on a half-day ceremonial event.

In the end, I waited for about 3 hours to receive my diploma, as the CEO of Veolia, the Dean of HEC, the Dean of the Grande Ecole program, the Dean of the MBA program, the Dean of the Executive MBA program, the President of the Alumni Association... you get the picture... took their turn to address, mostly in French, a passive crowd. I felt bad for the families of MBA students who sat during the entire event not understanding a word that was said.

Our Graduation Gala, on the other hand, was majestic. We celebrated with a copious four-course meal, champagne à volonté (all you can drink), dazzling fireworks, and of course wonderful company.

During the evening, several student awards (more farcical than serious) were handed out, and I shared with a compatriot the dubious distinction of attending the most Grande Ecole parties*. They call it partying, I call it networking.

* Although I went to many during the 6 months I lived on campus, I can think of at least two other classmates who did better (or is it worse in this context) during the course of the 16-month program.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Remise des diplomes

Today marks the official end of the 16-month HEC MBA. Lots of celebration ahead, but honestly speaking I can do away with the convocation itself.

Last year's was unpleasant for the MBAs. The entire class stayed seated for two hours as graduates from other programs (about 1,000 students I believe) were called first. I'm sure I'll be able to relate to Mark's experience at HBS minus the cold, rainy weather.

After the ceremony, we are celebrating our graduation lavishly at le Chateau de Dampierre, 10km away from the HEC campus. Let's hope the Gala Committee ordered enough cases of champagne.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The heat is on

Literally. After a drab and rainy May, the sun beamed over London for 7 straight days. The Brits are enjoying their pints outdoors, and the women are clad with skimpy tops revealing their protruding body part (the one you’d rather not see). But of course, as I’m writing this post, the London weather has returned to its dreary self.

And metaphorically. I have until the end of September to find work in Europe before my bank account runs dry. My job search seemed promising last month until the markets tumbled. We’ll see how things unfold in the next little while.

ps: Expect more updates now that I have more time to blog.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Return of le blogger

I haven't blogged in a long time. I've been very busy studying for the GMAT and finishing my MBA applications. Ok, not really. So what have I been doing during the past three months?

In December, I tried to enjoy Paris as much as I could. Although I had a nice spacious appartment in the 14th near Denfert Rochereau, the hectic workload in the fall term prevented me from fully appreciating the Parisian life. So with the free time, I scoured the city looking for cool shops, bars and restaurants, and threw a couple house parties.

The first one was to celebrate the end of our term. About 50 of our classmates showed up, fortunately coming and leaving at different times. By the end of the night, my roommate and I had so much leftover food that the last twelve people remaining parted with a baguette. I guess I should've paid more attention to my supply chain management class. But in fairness to me, this party was organized in less than 24 hours as the class reps were unable to book a good and affordable restaurant for all of us.

For the second party, my friend Christine and I hosted a Christmas potluck dinner for the 20 people who didn't go home for the holidays. I prepared the roast beef (turkey was too expensive), while Christine handled the rest. In other words, she did practically everything, including baking a delightful pumpkin pie.

After celebrating a rather uneventful New Year's in Paris, I spent the first week of January moving for the fifth time in two years. It was such a long and an unpleasant experience. I made at least 6 trips on the subway lugging my stuff all over Paris.

Once that was done, I managed to squeeze in a trip to London to see my newborn niece, Sara, before my flight to Japan. She's gonna be a cutie - half Taiwanese, half Mexican. Too bad my brother is moving to Abu Dhabi. I would've loved bringing Sara around London. At least I'll be spared the hassle of responding to all the flattering remarks from British women. Can you imagine the number of times I would have to point out, for factual purposes, that I'm her single uncle?

As I mentioned a few months ago, I'm now in Japan as an exchange student at Keio Business School. Life in Japan has been phenomenal. More on that later. In the meantime, I'll have to decide in the next few hours whether I go all out with the boys again taking the first subway train back the next morning, or join them for a few drinks and hop on the last train. Yet another stressful and difficult situation. Fortunately my MBA education has trained me very well.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Christmas season already

Gift-giving came early this year. For business schools that is. My alma mater, McGill, announced a couple days ago that it received a C$22 million donation for its business school. Not to be outdone, my beloved HEC will be receiving... drum rolls please... 120 million euros from the CCIP (Chamber of Commerce of Paris).

The Chamber of Commerce essentially represents businesses in the Greater Parisian Region. Its main activity is to promote economic growth, but it also also has an educational division that regroups several schools, of which HEC.

Concerning the 120-million-euro investment in HEC, most of it will be used to enhance the facilities, including a new building planned for the MBA program. In addition, the administration intends to increase the class size from 200 to 250.

Things are definitely looking good for HEC.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Robot mode

Net Impact Conference: cool. Workload: not so cool. Last three days very rough.

Spent all Sunday in San Mateo working on Business Plan project. Submitted financial projections in Word but forgot to attach Excel file. Result? Group members couldn't use figures in review with BP advisor because different assumptions used.

Woke up at 4:45am on Monday to catch morning flight to Paris. Arrived Paris at 8am on Tuesday. Attended three-hour class starting at 2:30pm. Struggled to stay awake in first half. Chewed gum in second half to fight off sleep and noticed that notes in first half were illegible. Had dinner on campus at 7pm. Returned to MBA building to work on an assigment at 8pm. Returned to Paris at 9:30pm. Completed and sent assignment #2 at 2:30am.

Woke up at 10:30am on Wednesday. Probably fifth time since September that I got more than 7 hours of sleep. No class today, but had to work on assignment #3 due yesterday (or two days ago now). Still not finished. Blogging right now because can't write my assignment in robot mode. Will go to sleep at 4:00am if not progressing.

Turning brain back on.