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In Between P1 and P2 March 9, 2007

Posted by InvisibleInk in Career, General, INSEAD.

Period 1 is over. I am sitting in the back of an A310 flying home to visit my parents. Listening to Paolo Nutini, feeling the sun on my face, dreaming of the sea and the beach. Felling relaxed at last. Life is good..

I’ve been getting numerous comments on why I’ve given up posting. I just find it very difficult to find time to write but I haven’t given up. I’ll hopefully have more time this term. INSEAD has been a lot more intense than I could have ever imagined. I can’t begin to imagine the impact of last month in my life. This period was THE turning point, a huge transition. In line with what I hoped but I had doubts of the possibilities.

I have been through the recruitment marathon of INSEAD in P1 and secured a summer internship with a top investment bank. A 180 degree change. I am delighted. This investment bank takes only 25 people a year in their London office and last year they offered 90% of their summer associates full-time positions. If the economy holds up and I manage to do well over the summer, I should be able to enjoy the rest of MBA with a relative comfort of having a job waiting for me upon my graduation.

In retrospective, the last two months have been great. Now that I have a few hours to reflect, I realised how good it’s been. It is really hard to stop and think in Fonty since life goes on at a surreal fast forward speed. INSEAD is the definition of “work hard, play hard” culture. Everyone is seriously pushed to produce an outstanding performance but at the same time, we manage to make it a big fun party. I am very happy with my choice of school. Two of my professors were simply amazing, two were excellent, one was unfortunately mediocre. I really learned a lot. Probably as much as I learnt in a year in my degree but just in two months. My classmates couldn’t have been better. Everyone is extremely smart, consistent over achievers, yet they are so down to earth, friendly, and most importantly FUN people.

Time is also a very interesting concept that dominates our lives here. The MBA planet is very different to the ‘real world’. The last two months feel like 6 months. It is almost like we live in a different time and space. Yet the 16 hour day, full 7 day weeks are too short. I never knew I could do so much in a day and still feel like I haven’t done much. If you are an efficient person and have mastered time management skills, you’ll do well in the MBA. I am going through a steep learning curve to improve my efficiency level.

I am looking forward to the next three days to relax and take care of myself. It will be great to eat some great food, enjoy the weather, spend some quality time with friends and family, and get some much needed pampering!!


Happy New Year! December 30, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.

Happy New Year

Well, I forgot to write in time to wish everyone Happy Christmas. I hope you had a nice time over Christmas. Mine was relatively quiet compared to usual. In the past 4-5 years I have been lucky enough to go travelling but this time I am firmly put at home as my moving date is coming closer. Only a week left before I drive to Paris!

I was organising my photos the other day and one pic in particular caught my attention. It is taken on Christmas day 3 years ago. It is a bright sunny day. I have my Christmas hat on, my swimsuit and sandals, sitting by the special diving pool, listening to Jamie (our instructor) talk about decompression. This was followed by a fantastic 3 day diving at the Great Barrier reef in Australia. I just hope I can do more of that during my exchange in Singapore. I know the MBA will be very busy and hard work but I really want to take advantage of the different campuses INSEAD has.

I am looking forward to 2007. I think it will be a fantastic year. My objectives for the next year are:

– to build long-lasting friendships
– to get a great job & widen my network
– to enjoy the experience
– to travel around Asia
– and of course to survive the MBA!

If I manage to do all of these it would be truly exceptional year.

Happy New Year to you all!

Got my visa, been to Goldman Sachs.. December 22, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in Finance, MBA Prep / Logistics.

La Republique FrancaiseIt’s been a week since I came back from the Foundations Course (I’ll write a post about it next time). I managed to use this time wisely and I got my French visa sorted. It’s incredible but I actually got my visa in 30 minutes! INSEAD students apply for a long-stay visa and luckily we don’t have to do the huge queue outside the consulate (for a change). Also, there is a special counter for long-stay visa applicants and a dedicated person to deal with INSEAD students. The lady who served me was very helpful and polite. But make sure you have all your documents with you if you don’t want to come back. For the list of documents you should e-mail them at Ls.LONDRES-FSLT@diplomatie.gouv.fr then they will give you a number to set up your appointment. The application process (appointment and issue of the visa) normally takes 2 days for British residents but if you have all your documents then you might get it the same day like me. For me this was the shortest ever processing time of all the visas I got up to now. And I have been around the block in terms of collecting visas. i.e. a colourful passport..

Goldman Sachs Logo I also attended a career event at Goldman Sachs two weeks ago. I applied at the end of November. Honestly, I was a bit surprised that they accepted my application since I have a limited finance background but when I got there the message was clear, they don’t seem to mind too much whether you have previous financial experience as long as you are very interested in the field, know what you want to do, and match up to their expectations. We’ll see if this hypothesis holds when the interviews start in February. As expected, Goldman did pretty much everything to impress. There were 25 people invited to the event (suggests either a low turn-out or selective HR dept). GS offered to fly everyone to London and put us up in a hotel down the road. We had a full day event starting with breakfast at their main building, followed by a line of impressive speakers including a partner, and panel discussions. The event also offered a chance to meet recruiters and people working in Investment Banking, Private Wealth Management, Equities and Fixed Income divisions. Overall, I am glad I applied. I learned quite a bit about the company and found a new area of interest ‘corporate restructuring’. I hear that with the private equity boom, highly leveraged companies, and potential slow down of the economy, corporate restructuring might be a good area to look into in the long-term. Apparently, GS is expanding its team and recruiting some of the top guys in the field. I also found out that we have the summer associate programme application deadline just two weeks after we start the MBA! Hard one to pull for career changers!

To Wharton or not to Wharton? December 4, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General, INSEAD.

Wharton INSEAD Alliance

I was thinking about pros and cons of doing an exchange at Wharton, the following comment from an INSEAD exchange student at Wharton helped a lot. I thought it would be useful to share.

I am now on the exchange and it is very different from Insead! There is less of an international feel and people seem a little more “serious” in general. Classes are similar but there is not the campus feel like at Insead since wharton is just part of a huge university. Not as much socializing than at Insead especially when you arrive for a 2-month program its hard to really meet people there. You end up spending time with insead people which can be nice though coz you get to spend time with people you wouldnt have had otherwise. On the positive sides there are some great career services and I personally had a lot of interviews and one job offer so if you want to work in the US thats the way to go. 2 pre-requisites though: you need a valid US visa and you need to be on campus in November-December. If you dont fullfill these two criterias you have very little chances to get a job there. Also, a word of advice for non-americans looking into marketing in the US: be careful it seems they are looking for Americans in priority. Also, if you are interested by working in the US its interesting to be in class and hear other people’s comments and just get a feel of people there.

Last Minute Decision: Attending the Foundations Course November 30, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in Foundations Course, MBA Prep / Logistics, Suggested Pre-readings, Transportation.

Business Foundations Programme

Quite a lot happened this week. First of all, I paid the second installment of my tuition fees. A handsome sum of €27,000 invested towards my career. Secondly, I arranged my car for next year. I decided on a C3 HDi 92 Exclusive. (110 is no longer available on lease from Citroen). Since I will be doing 25+km a day, diesel seemed like a good option. Citroen lease contract is much more comprehensive than the Peugeot contract, plus prices of Citroen are around €500 cheaper yet their cars have more extras. I only signed up for four months, giving me the option of extending my contract later should I choose to stay in Fonty for P3.

Thirdly, I registered for the foundations course. Initially my plan was not to attend the Foundations Course and prepare for the MBA on my own. I was thinking that doing the suggested pre-reading should be enough. When I spoke with a current MBA student and Andrew from the MBA office, they both said planning to read all four pre-reading books was pretty optimistic. Well, three months on, I think they were right. So far I only managed to cover 1 out of 4 textbooks. I have simply been too busy and not been able to find time to sit down and study.

Anyway, if you are a future student, you can still register up to December. Eventhough the official deadline for registration is 2nd of October, after you pay the second installment INSEAD sends you an email asking if you still want to register. By the way, have a look at the schedule. It has INSEAD written all over it. Hard work, long hours, short period of time!

5000 Hits! November 22, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.

Today my blog was viewed for the 5000th time! Thank you all for following my blog and for your valuable comments. I have included some interesting stats below.

Blog Stats — Ready for the gentle turbulence?
Total Views: 5,054
Best Day Ever: 233
Views today: 58 (and counting)

Posts: 19
Comments: 42
Tags: 17

Most interesting search keywords leading to my blog:

1. manfred Kets de vries imposter syndrome – (Don’t ask me how on earth this one is linked to my blog)
2. horacio falcao women (There seems to be a new breed of women named after an INSEAD professor!)
4. why go to wharton when you can go to insead (Wharton is a fantastic school, also INSEAD’s buddy in the U.S, although I asked the same question once myself, hence my INSEAD blog :o) )
5. 10 reasons for not doing mba – (Whoever you are, I hope I convinced you to consider doing an MBA!)

Many thanks!

Logistics – Renault 0, Peugeot & Citroen 1. November 20, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in MBA Prep / Logistics.

INSEAD does open a lot of doors for one’s career but it may not necessarily open a Renault’s door, nor HSBC’s front door. If you have been reading my previous posts, you know about the HSBC story and our great success rate in being rejected by HSBC’s lending department. Recently Renault took its place in my black list.

Most of the students at INSEAD live in little villages spread around the forest, usually about 8 to 15 kms from the campus. With limited public transportation in the area, having a car is as essential as breathing (unless you live very close to the campus). Leasing tends to be a popular option. This way you can accommodate your own travel schedule between three campuses (Fonty, Singapore, and Wharton) by ending the lease whenever you like. INSEAD MBAs get discounted rates from Peugeot and Citroen. I also heard that Renault offers good rates thanks to its Eurodrive scheme. I contacted them to ask for further information and the price list, only to find out that I would not qualify because I will be attending INSEAD!

Renault says “Unfortunately we can not accept orders from students who are/will attend INSEAD due to restrictions emplaced by Renault in Paris. Due to past incidents dealing with students from/attending INSEAD with Renault leased vehicles, we can no longer accept requests for a TT lease or Special TT lease.”

Well, what a way to loose 1000+ customers a year!! I will be deciding on a Peugeot or a Citroen in the next few days..

Started the pre-reading.. November 16, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in Suggested Pre-readings.
1 comment so far

An_Introduction_To_Finance_BissadaI am slowly easing my-self into the MBA. I started with the easiest and most basic looking textbook amongst the books in INSEAD’s pre-reading list. “An Introduction to Finance” by Youssef F. Bissada is perfect if you’ve never had any accounting classes or never had to do a single financial statement. I have taken accounting classes more than five years ago during my degree but I still found the book useful to refresh my memory. The book is only focused on how to draw and understand balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow statements. It comes with a CD (only runs on Windows) that outlines the basic concepts and lets you learn by preparing accounts of an imaginary lemonade business. (Yes I know, this may be as ‘exciting’ as accounting gets: How to build your lemonade tycoon in 10 days) Although I have to confess, I liked the simplicity and the fact that it took less than two hours to finish the whole book! It makes you feel good since you can put a tick besides the big reading list INSEAD loads on you. Anyway, now that I’ve done the basics of accounting, I think I might continue with the other accounting book in the list, though I doubt it will take such short time to go through it this time..

Financing your MBA through loans November 12, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in MBA Financing / Loans.

I had a number of comments/emails on MBA loans, especially on HSBC, so I decided to write a post rather than answer them separately. For those counting on getting a loan from HSBC, please consider alternatives. In fact, apply to a minimum of two loans. From our intake, we only had three HSBC applications accepted so far (based on our intranet info). HSBC Int. has been the source of frustration for all of us, there have been countless complaint letters directed to INSEAD and HSBC to sort out the situation. INSEAD is looking into how to solve this issue for future intakes. They are concerned that HSBC is not meeting the quality and the standard that a prestigious business school such as INSEAD would require.

“When do you get to apply for it? i.e can you do it while you are still in India, or are you required to be on campus to be eligible to apply?”

You should apply ASAP. It took on average 10 weeks for HSBC to reject applicants. :o[ Many students found out the outcome of their applications 2-3 weeks before the fee payment was due. You don’t want to be this position by choice. It is simply too stressful. I recommend that you have your options ready. If you apply to a couple of loans, you might be able to cancel your application if you hear from the other. Although, this is not something I have done so make sure to check the bank’s terms and conditions.

You can apply while you are abroad or at your home country. You don’t need to be at the campus. If you reside in a non-English speaking country, the banks will ask you to translate every single document you send to them and to get them certified. Some of my class-mates have spent over €200 in translation, certification, and posting.

“What are the main factors used by the bank to decide on the amount they are ready to release as a loan to a student?”

Honestly, this is a mystery. In fact, it almost works like a lottery. We simply don’t know. HSBC has an undisclosed ‘internal criteria’ that changed twice during last few months.

Although, I can give some advice based on my experience and what I heard from fellow applicants:

  • Make sure that you don’t have ANY loans or financial commitments under your name. Pay off your student loans, car loans, etc.
  • See my post on “Cost of INSEAD MBA” for how much you are required to spend in a year. Take all the optional expenditure out. Add €22,500 for living expenses. You have to show (also prove) how you will fund the gap between the loan you are applying for and the total figure.
  • If you can, get your family to write you a letter of support for covering your needs / unexpected expenditure. Include their pay slip/contract to prove that they can fulfill their promise.
  • In your application, you have to meet 60% requirement. This means that your expenditure (including your loan repayments) should not exceed 60% of your net income. To help you get there, do not include any expenditure that is not absolutely essential. You should also be able to verify this through the bank statements you are required to submit.
  • If you are British, don’t bother applying. I don’t know why but British people were told that they do not qualify.
  • If you reside in the UK, you may also encounter problems if you own a property and someone from your family lives in it or if you plan to live there after your MBA.
  • Call HSBC at least twice a week. You really really have to push them, otherwise they will leave your application to the side.
  • Double check that all the information you are giving is understood by the lending team. They DO make mistakes. It is up to you to chase them.
  • When you are getting documents translated and certified, make doubles. You wouldn’t believe how many people complained that their documents were lost by HSBC. They had to redo the whole thing again and again. Save yourself time and money, be prepared.
  • Finally, have A LOT of patience. This is one of the most annoying thing you will have to do in your life.

“What is the average time taken to pay off these loans from past students’ experience?”

I was told that for €50,000 loan, it typically takes an INSEAD student 2-3 years to pay it all off. Obviously, this depends on your personal circumstances.


This is not an exhaustive list but hopefully enough to give an idea..

  • UK: As long as you have been in the UK for 3 years, you can apply to Nat-West MBA Loan Scheme (http://www.insead.edu/mba/admissions/ukfa.htm)
  • France: Some of the French banks offer loans to international students as well, as long as you can either give an international bank guarantee or have a French consignor (same link as above, but navigate through to France).

    Andy (one of the students) provided an excellent summary of what an international guarantee stands for: ” If your bank agrees to supply a bank guarantee they guarantee the other bank that they take care of all payments, if you do not pay back your loan to the loan provider. So the loan provider has no risk at all”. So, if you default the re-payment as your guarantor bank will be legally liable for payment. Apparently, bank guarantees are very difficult to obtain in US and India.

  • US: If you can find a consignor (US permanent resident) you might have access to a private loan in the US. Intl. students in US can apply for private loans for schools which are TERI approved. INSEAD is TERI approved. Some options are:
  • Singapore: Citibank in Singapore will offer you 6 times the monthly income of a guarantor, who needs to be Singaporean or singapore resident. interest rates around 6-7% and deferral of principal payment up to 4 years.
  • Finally, have a look at http://www.insead.edu/mba/admissions/fin_aid.htm for funding options in your country.

A Few Firsts and a New Direction November 9, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in Politics.
1 comment so far

Nancy Pelosi Finally, time to take a deep breath. My last post was about climate change, the election news reveals hope to put things back in order. Democrats gained control of the House for the first time in 12 years. They are also set to win the final seat needed to take control of the US Senate. This was a tough message for Bush to take on and it clearly indicates that his days in the office are not going to be easy. Also for the first time, a woman (Nancy Pelosi) is going to be the US speaker, which is a fantastic development. On taking over as the speaker, Ms Pelosi will become second in line to succeed George W Bush, after the vice-president, under the US constitution. Also, in this election we see the first muslim congressman Keith Ellison, first socialist senator Bernie Sanders, first black northern governor Deval Patrick, and the longest serving Senate member Robert Byrd (88), all adding to the diversity.

The results would make many people happy, obviously some others not happy. Broadly speaking, the results can be a positive development for the people who are against the war, environmentalists, ethnic minorities, supporters of stem-cell research, supporters of abortion rights, and for people who are simply dissapointed with the Republicans. I think the votes were really an anti-Republican protest, not a pro-Democrat swing, but nevertheless, we see much needed changes in the government of the most politically powerful country on earth.