Monday, February 28, 2005

Mercedes SLK320 Vs. BMW Z4

After eliminating three east coast schools - Wharton, MIT Sloan, and Columbia - from consideration, I'm still evaluating Berkeley Haas and UCLA Anderson. With this in mind, I tried to compare them to something I know well - cars.

For example, HBS is the $250K Bentley.
The best available but, for most, unattainable.

Berkeley would be a Mercedes Benz. MBZ has a strong reputation in terms of craftsmanship and tradition. With its classic German engineering, it’s revered in terms of style, reliability and as a status symbol of wealth. The Haas School of Business would be considered the SLK320 with its small and intimate cabin (class).
Though the Haas School of Business is not as widely recognized as the world-renowned engineering department at Berkeley (S500), it's overall Mercedes brand carries the school internationally.

UCLA would be a BMW. Set in the background of Los Angeles, it cultivates an image of style and panache. Flashy; sporty; a social icon that appeals to the young and energetic. It's overall reputation as a vehicle is not as strong as the Mercedes Benz, but you wouldn't be able to tell from its enthusiastic drivers. BMW drivers are exceptionally loyal and proud to own "The Ultimate Driving Machine." UCLA Anderson would transcend into a BMW Z4.
The driving experience is much more exciting and edgy when compared to the smooth driving style of the MBZ, but it's longevity (post-MBA career) is questionable.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Business School Advice

Read this over at a 1st year Haas student's blog and I thought I would jack it and post it here so I can reference it when I go to Business School. =)

Write down your goals: What are the top 3-5 things you want to accomplish during your B-School run? Review these goals regularly – hang them on your wall or keep it in your planner.

Get organized: If you do not already have one, get yourself a Palm Pilot, Treo, or paper-based system (Franklin Planner) to keep track of your (1) schedule, (2) rolodex, and (3) to do list. The rolodex is especially important – as you meet people (classmates, interviewers, professors, alumni), enter them in so you have record. Entering their names also will enhance your ability to remember them – repetition is the mother of skill.

Keep your resume up to date at all times! There is no official “resume season” – you could be asked for it at anytime, and failure to present one may preclude you from a great opportunity. Before you get knee-deep in classes, add your last experience to your resume if you haven’t already.

It’s all about Networking….

Get good at small talk: The best way to engage someone in small talk is to (1) remember their name when they tell you it and (2) ask them questions. I always have four questions ready to go for anyone I meet:
– What is your name?
– Where are you from?
– Where do you/have you worked?
– Where are you living? (on campus/off campus)
Any of these four questions can lead you to “Level 2” questions: For example – “where are you from” leads to things like “I’ve never been there – what is it like?” or “did you like living there?” or “sounds like paradise on earth – do you want to return there?” etc.

Meet, Greet, and Meet Some More: Meet as many people as you can. Even if you do not regularly socialize with them, you will be surprised how your former classmates will welcome an email from you 10 years down the road, even if they barely remember you.

Keep Your Guard Up: One of the things I learned from my 1st year Negotiation class is that there are two broad sets of negotiators: Givers (“Pie Makers”) and Takers (“Zero Summers”). Givers are people with loads of integrity and are willing to work with you to create a bigger pie before negotiating on how to divvy it up. Zero Summers are in it for themselves; their sole purpose is to take as much as they can off the table. When a giver negotiates with another giver, there is huge potential for mutual benefit, but when a giver negotiates with a taker, the giver gets royally hosed every time. If you are, by nature, a giver, be very wary of the takers. (I typically assume someone is a taker until they prove they are giver.)

Don’t Become a Social Outcast: You are going to meet plenty of people who are just plain intimidating (Perhaps, you will recognize these people by the fact that they are going to pull up in Mercedes/BMW’s, talk about the CEOs they play golf with, and come from esteemed families/social circles). But there are plenty of people there who DO have things in common with you. Also, your social circles will develop over time, so don’t get freaked out if by the end of September, you have not found a group to hang out with.

Watch the Gossip: This probably won’t be an issue for you, but there will be plenty of opportunities (usually around beers) to make fun of people based on their classroom comments or other social gaffes. Try not to participate – it has a habit of coming back around, and you never know when you will have to work with that person on a team project.

Sometimes You Gotta Force Yourself: If you find yourself not feeling like going to a meeting, extracurricular, company brief, or social function, go anyway. I can’t tell you how many times I have dreaded going to one of these functions only to have learned something important or to have met someone that helped me down the road.

Today’s Professors are Tomorrow’s Colleagues: Meet your professors, get to know them. They value you – you keep them young and energized. Down the road, you will want to network with them. I did a horrible job of this.

The Classroom….

Go to Class: Not sure how classroom participation works at Berkeley, but at HBS it was a significant portion of the grade. Regardless, go to class – you will learn more that way. And don’t show up late – it is unprofessional and you will look bad – very bad. If it came down to being late or not going at all, I chose not going at all.

Recognize that you bring value to the table: Don’t be intimidated (as I was) by the I-bankers and Management Consultants. They will have really good, strategic work experience. But you have an equally relevant base of knowledge and experience. You have the advantage of having worked in an operational role, and knowing what works day to day amongst people who make the strategy happen. More importantly, not many have your experience in web marketing. Use these as your base.

Learn the jargon: You will find that the consultants and I-bankers will come in with a certain level of business savvy that you do not have (and I did not have going in to HBS). These people have operated at a more strategic level than you; learn from them. Listen how they talk and write down phrases you hear that sound good. Also write down phrases that sound equally ridiculous – you may be able to start a game of Business Bingo or even write a B-School comedy.
Have fun learning new stuff: You are paying a lot of money for this – focus less on grades, and more on learning.

Leverage other people’s knowledge: Form a study group with people with diverse backgrounds. Aside from the learning aspects, it is a good way to socialize.
Get the Wall Street Journal: Read it everyday, even if only for 15 minutes over coffee – it is the best way to get educated on business, and gives you tidbits to contribute to conversations in and out of class.

The Future….

View yourself as your own business: You officially work for YOU Inc. You are your own business. Figure out what things interest you (e.g. web marketing), and become THE expert on it. Then find opportunities (not necessarily “jobs”) where you can leverage your expertise. There will be times in the upcoming years where these opportunities will take the form of a job. Other times, these opportunities may take the form of a consulting/freelance role. Ultimately, these opportunities lead to the development of new skills and expertise, which open up a whole new set of opportunities.

Don’t settle for a job: Figure out something that interests you and go from there. I was interested in technology, I researched a couple of industries, and decided to go into telecom; I did not waste my time learning about other “hot industries” like Financial Services. Perhaps I could have made more money, but it did not interest me and I would not have been successful because I did not have the interest.

Don’t wait ‘til “interview season” to look for an opportunity: Devote time each week to learning about industries/companies/opportunities you are interested in. Get yourself a small notebook to jot down statistics or quotes that you can use in interviews, cover letters, and conversations. This is all part of the building expertise theme – you need to come across as an expert and part of that is industry knowledge.

Watch Your Burn Rate (a.k.a. Beware of Clothing Companies): In keeping with the “view yourself as your own business” theme, the #1 reason why startups fail is they run out of cash. So don’t let YOU Inc run out of cash. Rest assured, Hickey Freeman will try to sell you a $1500 suit, claiming that “you need this suit to be successful in your interviews.” Unless you are headed to Wall Street, a tailored $300-$400 suit will do you fine. The more general idea behind this is don’t do anything that unnecessarily raises your burn rate. Doing so will raise the amount you have to borrow and puts you in a deeper hole.

Organize Your Finances: Consider getting Quicken – it is a good time to get your finances organized. Also, keep good paper records around your school loans. We bought a plastic, portable file box with 2-3 accordion files to go inside – one was for our School Loans and the others were for bills, etc. Just don’t do anything to screw up your credit rating. You will need it later.

Debt Fears: Don’t worry about your debt – you will find a way to pay it off. We emerged from B-School/L-School with over $100K of debt; we paid it off, and we don’t exactly have Wall Street power jobs. (In fairness, they kinda do have big important jobs)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Go Cal~!!!

November 4, 2004 - OXFORD and Cambridge are among the world's top ten universities, according to a new global ranking published today.

They were fifth and sixth respectively in the league table of the world's 200 best universities. Harvard, which boasts an endowment of nearly $23billion (£12.7billion), was first in the list produced by The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).

American institutions occupied seven of the top ten places, with Oxbridge the highest-ranked outside the United States.

London's position as a centre of global educational significance was confirmed with four institutions in the top 50. The London School of Economics was 11th, Imperial College 14th, University College London 34th, and the School of Oriental and African Studies 44th.

The only European university outside Britain in the top 20 was the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, in tenth place.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, however, can lay claim to being the world's most intellectual city, as home to Harvard and to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was ranked at No3.

California also scored highly, with the University of California, Berkeley, in second place, the California Institute of Technology, fourth, and Stanford seventh.

Tokyo University, in Japan, ranked at No12, was the highest-ranked institution in Asia, followed by Beijing University at No17.

Australian universities featured particularly well. Six were among the top 50 in the World University Rankings, led by the Australian National University in sixteenth place.

France, by contrast, managed just two universities in the top 50, with the École Polytechnique in 27th place and École Normale Supérieure 30th. Heidelburg University, in 47th place, was Germany's only entry, one fewer than Hong Kong.

Britain was home to 18 of Europe's top 50 universities, and six of the top ten, but not a single institution from Spain, Portugal, Italy or Greece made the list. The United States had 62 of the top 200 universities, followed by Britain with 30, Germany 17 and Australia 14. Twenty-nine countries were represented in the global rankings overall.

Universities were placed in the table with the help of findings from a survey for the THES of 1,300 academics in 88 countries. They were asked to name the best institutions in the fields that they felt knowledgeable about.

The table also included data on the amount of cited research produced by faculty members as an indicator of intellectual vitality, the ratio of faculty to student numbers and a university's success in attracting foreign students and internationally renowned academics in the global market for education. The five factors were weighted and transformed against a scale that gave the top university 1,000 points and ranked everyone else as a proportion of that score.

Harvard, whose faculty members have won 40 Nobel prizes, emerged as the world's best university by a considerable distance, with second-placed Berkeley rated 120 points behind at 880.2. Oxford scored 731.8, slightly ahead of Cambridge on 725.4.

John O'Leary, Editor of the THES, said: "Leading universities increasingly define themselves in terms of international competition. By taking account of the views of academics from across five continents and using the most up-to-date statistics, our ranking gives an informed picture of the world's top universities."

A world league of the best 500 research universities, published in September by academics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, placed Cambridge third behind Harvard and Stanford. Oxford came eighth, while British universities ranked second overall behind those in the United States.

Last December a report by Richard Lambert, former Editor of the Financial Times, urged the Russell Group of Britain's leading 19 universities to establish a league table of the world's best research institutions, by which they could measure their own performances.

World's Top 50 Universities:
1. Harvard University (US) 1,000 pts
2. University of California, Berkeley (US) 880.2
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) 788.9
4. California Institute of Technology (US) 738.9
5. Oxford University (UK) 731.8
6. Cambridge University (UK) 731.8
7. Stanford University (US) 688.0
8. Yale University (US) 582.8
9. Princeton University (US) 557.5
10. ETH Zwrich (Switzerland) 553.7
11. London School of Economics (UK) 484.4
12. Tokyo University (Japan) 482.0
13. University of Chicago (US) 444.0
14. Impreial College London (UK) 443.7
15. University of Texas at Austin (US) 421.5
16. Australian National University (Australia) 417.7
17. Beijing University (China) 391.8
18. National Univesity of Singapore (385.9)
19. Columbia University (US) 384.1
20. University of California, San Francisco (US) 376.5
21. McGill University (Canada)
22. Melbourne University (Australia) 353.2
23. Cornell University (US) 348.8
24. University of California, San Diego (US) 331.5
25. John Hopkins University (US) 330.8
26. University of California, Los Angeles (US) 316.4
27. Ecole Polytechnique (France) 315.5
28. Pennsylvania University (US) 306.9
29. Kyoto University (Japan) 303.7
30. Ecole Normale Superleure (France) 298.4
31. Michigan University (US) 293.3
32. Ecole Polytechnique Dederale de Lausanne (Switzerland)
33. Monash University (Australia) 286.0
34. University of College London (UK) 284.2
35. Illinois University (US) 281.6
36. New South Wales University (Australia) 275.7
37. Toronto University (Canada) 272.5
38. Carnegie Mellon University (US) 259.4
39. Hong Kong Universtiy (HK) 249.5
40. Sydney University (Australia) 245.2
41. Indian Institue of Technology (India) 241.7
42. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HK) 240.6
43. Manchester University (UK) 238.5
44. School of Oriental and African Studies (UK) 235.8
45. Massachusetts University (US) 235.7
46. University of British Columbia (Canada) 230.4
47. Heidelberg University (Germany) 228.3
48. Edinburgh University (UK) 227.6
49. Queensland University (Australia) 223.9
50. Nanyan University (Singapore) 217.1

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a proud graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. =)