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.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dry humor

It's days like today that I miss North America. Since most French homes are not equipped with dryers, I just spent over two hours ironing my clothes. That should serve as a lesson for doing laundry at the last minute. But I'm sure if I had Mark's new power toy it wouldn't have been as bad.

Just a few hours remaining before I leave for San Francisco. I'm really looking forward to the Net Impact Conference. I have to thank the HEC MBA administration for sending all five of the board members to Stanford. How to spot us? Simply look for the Dutch, Canadian, Australian, Lebanese and Indian setting cars on fire. Ok, that was a tasteless joke. I'm not a riot after all.

ps: if you want to get a cynical (but true?) perspective on the social situation in France, I suggest to read yesterday's editorial on the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, November 07, 2005

What riot?

As pathetic as this might sound, I only found out that riots were erupting in France on the sixth day of unrest. With the workload and visits from family and friends, I have been completely disconnected from recent events. I guess I should stop limiting myself from reading only the business section of the Financial Times.

Yet another example of long class hours, a bunch of my friends are in a marketing course that's running from 8pm to 11pm. I know at least one person who also has a class tomorrow at 8am. I wouldn't be surprised if he'll be grumpy all day.

Anyway I'm on campus now waiting for my buddy Andrea to drive me home to Paris. I actually didn't have class today - in fact I only have class one day a week this month - but had to spend my entire day at HEC finishing a paper, doing group work, attending a meeting for Net Impact HEC and finalizing some documentation for the Finance Club. The good news in all of this is that I was able to cross out many things on my to-do list.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Staying alive

The pace is still unrelenting. After attending the school's inaugural conference on Sustainable Development, I started the first week of the Personalized Phase (PP) with 35 hours of classes, excluding lunch breaks. I am not exaggerating. Fortunately, we have much fewer assignments and presentations than in the core phase but it's still quite a lot of work.

In the PP, students can specialize in four subjects (called tracks) - Entrepreneurship, Finance, Marketing or Strategy. Although I'm pursuing a career in finance after the MBA, I chose the Entrepreneurship track. I simply figured I'd learn more if I specialized outside of my professional experience. Besides the curriculum is flexible enough that I can also pick classes in finance and in other areas.

To meet the credit requirements for this term, we are expected to earn 24 credits for a total of 210 class hours. These figures exclude the French classes (six hours a week) that non-fluent speakers must take. From speaking to exchange students at HEC, it seems that we're saddled with more class hours even though our program is shorter.

Here are the numbers:
325 hours of core classes
399 hours of track and elective courses
80 hours of compulsory personal development courses (leadership, communication, conferences, business simulations, etc).

So after 16 months in the HEC program, each participant will have endured 804 hours in the classroom, plus an extra 132 hours for those who weren't exempted from French and an additional 132 hours for the brave ones who want to learn a third language. I wonder how these figures compare with those of other schools.

I'm very impressed with the quality of teaching this term, as many classes are taught by professionals. They include the ex-CEO of Louis Vuitton Malletier and Yves Sain-Laurent, the CEO and owner of an investment fund, and an investment banker from Rothschild who worked in London, Paris and New York. The drawback with this setup is that many of these 18-hour classes are squeezed into a few days to accomodate their schedule.

My classes this term are:
Core/Required Classes
Corporate Valuation.. DONE
Management Control.. DONE
Entrepreneurship Track.. ONGOING

Business Plan Workshop (write an actual BP for a startup).. ONGOING
Private Equity.. DECEMBER
Mergers and Acquisitions.. DONE
Marketing of Luxury Products.. DONE
Takeover of a Company in Bankruptcy (in French).. DONE
Negotiation and Created Agreement.. DONE
Corporate Marketing.. STARTING

Anyway, I have a busy week ahead as I'm going with four other classmates to the Net Impact Conference at Stanford (17-hour plan ride) and have three big projects due the week after. I hope my hotel will have Internet access.