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

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

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!

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5000 Hits! November 22, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.
2 comments

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)

Totals
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!)
3. PHILIPPONNAT
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.
3 comments

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.
8 comments

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.

ALTERNATIVES TO HSBC INT. LOAN:

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:
    http://www.mbaloans.com/graduate-student-loans/private-loan.php
    http://www.salliemae.com/im_applying/MBA_LOANS_Signature_loan_checklist.htm
  • 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.

Climate change is here.. November 5, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in Climate Change / Global Warming.
4 comments

I only wrote about MBA and INSEAD here up to now. It’s time to change this. Today I woke up to these views:

Snow
snow1.jpg

Eventhough such pictures so early on in the year might give the impression that I am in a Nordic country, it’s not the case. In fact, it’s completely the opposite. I am in a warm country, famous for its beaches, and gets millions of tourists every year. In fact, I remember swimming this time two years ago (though considered very unusual by the locals, tourists do it all the time), today I am staring at a city covered in snow. Looks like it ought to be Christmas. This is the first time in my lifetime and also in my parents lifetime that we see snow in the beginning of November.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe this is one-off surprise. The first week I arrived here, it was 30C. Following week, temperature dropped to 16C. Then it went down to 9C. Then it became summer again at mid 20Cs. Last night it dropped from 13C to 0C. Apparently, there is more snow for at least another 3 days. I just can’t believe how messed up the weather has become. It has a mind of its own. Seasons seem to come and go week by week.

So, let’s hope that there will be positive developments at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Nairobi this month. It is already very late and many politicians are taking this issue too lightly. Maybe some day soon the map below will be 100% green. But let’s hope that it won’t be too late then.

Kyoto Protocol Participation Map 2005