Monday, November 25, 2013

The Blogging Dean

Of the things that I look forward to whenever I log into the online darden portal for students, is the little section on what Dean Bruner has been thinking about.  One of the many things that makes Darden what it is, is the Dean's blog.  Three things to know about Dead Bruner's blog -
  1. The blog is not ghost-written.  The Dean does his own writing.
  2. The Dean writes not just about Darden but about what is on his mind recently. So, topics can range from academics to investing, history to politics and ofcourse, business
  3. The Dean's posts are long but full of dry wit (and advice)
The following are some of my favorite posts -

On Current (ish) Affairs, History and Economics
A New Bubble
Sequestration is a symptom and not a cause
Should Investors Care About Elections?

On Jobs and Life
Advice To The Summer Intern Making A Graceful Exit
My Advice At Graduation 2013 - Hang on hang in and make a difference/
Go Where The Competition Isn't

On Books and Academics
The Problem with Piece-wise Learning
MBA Education - The Destination School
2012 Recommended Readings

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer's almost gone and I am glad to be back

I have been back on-grounds as a second year for about a month now and finally feel settled into life at Darden.  Summer was a whirl of activities filled with an amazing internship and lots of travel.  Surprisingly, I have had a relatively Darden free summer - not by choice but rather by the vagaries of location, a car-less existence in a city with limited public transportation and a busy work schedule. Nevertheless, I made some good friends, worked really hard and learnt a lot about myself.  A rather fantastic summer by all accounts and capped off splendidly by a full-time offer  - woohoo!

I had imagined that being back as a second year would be relaxing given that I now have a much better idea of the way that Darden works.  And it is .... but at the same time, I am busier than ever!  First, I love the flurry of lunches, dinners, hikes, winery tours and coffee chats that marks the social calendar of second year. Second, this is a busy time for clubs and as someone who is in various positions of leadership, I seem to be always  running from one meeting or event to another.  Third,  though I am now usually prepping 2 cases a day instead of the 3 cases of first year, the case method still demands attention and preparation.   

It is busy indeed.  But it is a good kind of busy where I am doing all the things that I love doing and have chosen to do.

I can't but help reflect on how this contrasts with first year - the trepidation of class participation, the long nights of learning team bonding and the initial foray into the wild ride of recruiting.  

But we turned out ok.

And really would we have it any other way?

So, to the class of 2015 - Welcome to Darden and have a great first year!

PS - Love this video !!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Some thoughts on how to choose a school

Darden is buzzing in April with second years excited to graduate, first years looking forward to their summer internships and newly admitted students trying to decide if Darden is the right choice. I have been speaking to some prospective students about why Darden was a good choice for me and how everyone's choice is very personal to their circumstances and personality. Here is my framework (can you tell that I am going into a consulting internship?) on how to decide on which school to choose -

  1. Will it help me achieve my career goal?  Some incoming students know exactly what they want to do after they graduate.  If you are one of them, go to the school that is strongest in your field.  By "strong", I mean if they are a core recruiting school for your dream industry/company and if the school has a strong and responsive alumnae base in that industry.  I however, was not one of those who knew exactly what I wanted to do after business school but had a squishy general idea of where I wanted to be.  I  benefited greatly from the fact that Darden is a general management school that could give me exposure to a variety of industries.      
  2. Is it geographically where I want to be? The geographical location of a school is crucial if you have a strong preference for where you want to be.  It is just so much easier to recruit if you are near the companies that you are targeting. At the same time, it is important to think about location in terms of the two years you are going to be at school. Do you need to be near family? Would you be better off in a city or in an urban location?  I personally, wanted to be in place where you have fantastic weather, good food and great community but also quick access to a large city (DC!).   
  3. Go to the school that gives you money! Surprisingly, this turned out to be quite controversial when I was discussing this post with friends.  Clearly, you should choose a school that is a good fit for you and what you want to do. But I do feel that graduating with little or no debt opens up a world of possibilities not only in your professional life but also in your personal life (when to have kinds, when to buy a house etc).   At the end of the day, all the top 10 schools have great alumnae, wonderful professors and fantastic community. Graduating without debt from any of them will just make life easier.
  4. Do I 'fit'? Though I discuss it last, I think this is the most important criteria for picking a school.  Fit is when you know you want to belong to this community, when you know you can learn from it and when you realize that it would be an honor to give back to this community when the time comes.  

So best of luck to all incoming students! And you really will not go wrong wherever you go as long as you fit!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thoughts on Last Day of Section D

Today is the last day we meet as a section.  It is also the last day that we have structured classes at Darden - every class that I take after this will be an elective. Here are some thoughts as I prep for the last time -

  •  The algorithm works!  - Sections are put together by a secret algorithm that looks at the incoming class, analyzes our characteristics and puts groups together that would best foster learning.  In my section, I am always on the same page with some people, I am curious to learn from some others  and then there are some whose thoughts and actions are just alien to my sense of self and learning.  At the end of our section days, I am happy to report that I have learned from each of these categories of people.  I would not change a single person in the section that I belong to and I am sure my colleagues from within the section and outside would agree.
  • Woohoo! No more <insert your worse class here> at 8 in the morning!! -  I love how the core curriculum makes sure that  we have a basic understanding of all aspects of business. But I am really looking forward to being able to take classes that are more specialized and exciting. Next semester, I am taking Valuation, Data Analysis and Optimization and Entrepreneurial Thinking.  A friend of mine is taking Speaking about Business, Establishing yourself at Work and Global Financial Markets.  Another friend is taking a smattering of classes in the late after and evening given his nightowl-ish tendencies.  I love that we are all so excited about Term 5!
  • I am prepared - As I prepare for next term and eventually for my summer internship, I feel prepared. I certainly don't think that I know it all but I am aware of what the gaps are in my skills and I feel in control of my learning.  It is an amazing feeling to have a clear direction of what I want for the rest of my time at Darden.
So, thank you section D! It has been a ball and a privilege.  I love that this is not a goodbye since we will be together on many an adventure at Darden this year and next.  But I will miss you at 8 in the morning.

Good Luck!   

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What would a Darden Student do?

With Google glasses!

This is what our Tech club President, Andrew Kritzer would do!

What would I use it for?
  • Wikipedia hopping while waiting for a flight out of Charlottesville airport
  • Darden cup updates!  
  • Counting down to 8 am as I rush from home to the first class of the day (So close and yet so far)
  • Opening spreadsheet models during a cold call
  • Scanning WSJ at First Coffee while getting said coffee and saying hi to people
  • Finding a learning team room (crowdsourcing!)
  • Ordering a sandwich from Cafe 67 while still at class
  • Automatic warnings for home work deadlines that creep up surreptitiously 
  • Guiding my way as I stumble home from the Corner
  • Frantic texts  for help during a flailing cold call?
What would you use Google glasses for?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Listening to Leaders

One of the best things about being back in school is the access that I have to leaders, academics and all-round inspirational figures. In fact, when I came to Darden, I made a pact with myself - I was going to go to as many speeches and events that I possibly could. After all, as an undergraduate at Wellesley College, I had missed out on some speakers citing homework or hangovers and now that the homework is long forgotten and the hangovers long gone, I miss not having the wisdom that I surely would have gained from listening to leaders!

February at Darden has been a good month for keeping my pact.  I am done with recruiting (phew!) and much more comfortable with classes. The following are some of the events that I had a chance to go to - I hope you find them as inspirational as I did!

Daphne Koller, Stanford Professor and founder of Coursera on education:

Kip Tindle, CEO of the Container Store on conspicuous capitalism:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013