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 So I have been quite busy over the last several weeks with various activities including farewells for my folks, moving into an apartment in preparation for my folks departure, doing a variety of social things (dinners, festivals, etc, etc) and lending a hand in organizing Panorama India’s Independence Day Parade. If any of you are in Toronto I highly recommend coming to this event. It was a huge success in its inaugural year last year with more than 15,000 people attending. More details can be found at www.PanoramaIndia.ca .

 

Now back to the MBA ‘stuff’- my re-test is scheduled on 6th September. Although  the fact that I still haven’t opened the books again isn’t encouraging. I am going to start in earnest and see if within the next few weeks I feel prepared enough to do justice to the exam this time around. If not then I might just push it out a little bit more.

 

As far as the more elemental decisions that I had alluded to in an earlier post. I must confess that I have not given them much more thought, I have had several additional conversations with folks since but feel as though I am getting marginal returns on these efforts and haven’t been persuaded one way or the other.

 

I probably still have enough time to get some R1 applications in if I make up my mind soon enough. Needless to say, the decision better come soon or else it will be R2, which given the level of competition at most of my target schools will imply very high chances of DINGS.

 

As I have been investigating and researching the various options for BSchool I have found myself inundated with information, perspectives, opinions and banter. I like to think that I have done my due diligence about probing the right people, asking the right questions and trying to remain unbiased. However, it has been a rather challenging exercise because some concerns keep vexing me with seemingly no resolution in sight.

 

Many of my fellow applicants have made up their minds and have enunciated their target schools via their blogs. I have read some of their accounts of the soul searching they did and the angst they experienced while trying to determine the right complement of choices. Some of the oft used criteria include;

 

  • Fit
  • Length of program
  • Geographic location
  • Competitiveness
  • Expertise in desired specialty
  • Placement results in desired field
  • School characteristics (alpha male, collaborative, etc)

 

I have utilized some of the above myself while attempting to define my choices. However I have struggled to do settle on those choices and we already well into July. Not that I am getting nervous or feeling that I will run out of time, but the sheer fact that I have been unable to nail down the choices despite a solid 2 months of research alludes you to some more deep seated issues. Namely;

 

  • Is this the right time for me to do this?
  • What is the impact on my marriage and my wife’s career?
  • Am I feeling less than capable of competing with the tremendously deep applicant pool?

 

As can be seen from some of these questions, they are elemental in nature and require some more introspection for me. If nothing comes of this whole exercise for me, the sheer amount of time I have spent ‘thinking’ about my interests, desires, ambitions, and intersection of those three oft-disparate notions would have been greatly invaluable.

 

But I digress, the fundamental question I need to answer by the end of this week is am I applying this cycle and if so, what are my target schools?

Trip to Philly

I got back to a whirlwind trip to good ole Philly this past weekend. Drove out to Philly Friday evening and made it there Saturday mid-day (with a stopover in sleepy Binghamton, NY).

 

Congregated with friends from University, one of whom just got married in May – this being the excuse to get together in the first place since most of us were unable to attend his Bangalore wedding. It was a gala time; we went to some old haunts from University days and went to some new ones. We got to spend some time with his bride and get to know her a little.

 

All in all it was a highly satisfying trip and made me reminisce about my University days and despite the many challenges one had (mostly financial) how much fun we had while at it.

Coming back we stopped over in Watkins Glen, NY (Finger Lakes region of NY) and stayed the night. On Monday, we spent some time hiking and just relaxing away from the big city. I must say that very occasionally it is nice being away from the hustle and bustle of Toronto.

 

Now that I am back and we have no family commitments – I must really get back on track with several activities:

 

§         GMAT plan

§         Schools short listing

§         Essay outlines

§         Round by Round Application Strategy

 

I plan on writing about most of these things more exhaustively and regularly in the next several days. As always reader comments are welcome.

Class Visit to Ivey

I had the opportunity to attend a Class Visit organized by Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario. Ivey is located in London, Ontario which is roughly 2 hours west of Toronto.

 

The visit was very nicely prepared and the Ivey staff members were extremely well organized vis-à-vis logistics. I had clear instructions on where to pick up my VIA Rail First Class tickets to London. I left early morning so as to be able to catch the 7:50 train from Union Station. (As an aside why do so many N. American cities share names, whether it is street names or railway station names et al?)

 

My companion during the journey was another prospective Ivey candidate with whom I shared thoughts and perspectives on the Ivey program. We exchanged notes and also talked about each others life stories thus far. The two hour train ride felt like a breeze as I found an interesting person to talk to.

 

We were met outside the station by our limo driver and joined by another gentleman who was traveling to see Ivey. He had come all the way from Trinidad and Tobago to check out the 4 well known Ontario programs; Rotman, Ivey, Queens and Schulich. I was impressed by his desire to really understand the programs and hence be willing to invest the not insignificant sum of money it would have taken to fly out and reside in Toronto for a week.

 

We made our way to the Spencer Hall after a brief 12-13 minute drive. What immediately struck was the extremely small size of the building and the desolate environs. It reminded my of some of the secluded rural campuses I saw during my undergraduate campus visits. We were welcomed by the Ivey staff member who had coordinated the logistics for the trip. She was very welcoming and provided us with our obligatory information packets for the day.  

 

The agenda looked like as follows:

 

  1. Welcome Session led by Prof. Tony Frost
  2. Faculty Panel
  3. Tour of Spencer
  4. Lunch with Current Students
  5. MBA Class – Prof. Lynn Purdy
  6. Career Management Session followed by breakout
  7. Wrap Up

 

I was quite happy with the level of thought and planning put into the programming. Going into the day I had three objectives:

 

  • Determine if the 12 month program is suitable for me
  • What would my significant other do if we had to move to London
  • Does Ivey have the requisite expertise in Finance and Consulting

 

I would say that over the course of the day two of my main concerns were addressed:

 

  • The 12 month program although highly condensed and arguably much more intense allows enough room to do other things (extra curriculars). Also, it does not have as great an impact when it comes to changing careers as is usually indicated by competitor schools. If one is interested in Finance/Management Consulting then the May intake is highly recommended since it coincides well with the traditional recruiting cycles in those industries.
  • Ivey does have an exceptional track record of consulting placements by Canadian standards and has done very well historically in Finance placements as well. However, the full impact of the 12 month program is not known on either placement statistics.

 

The question pertaining to what my significant other would do in London wasn’t addressed. However, I think that I will worry about that when the time comes.

 

So in summation I think I will certainly be applying to Ivey.

Retake Scheduled

So I finally got around to scheduling my retake. September 6th it is – plenty of time left. However, it is summer time in Toronto, about the only nice time of the year in the city. I have plenty of distractions including family, social commitments, my parents leaving to go back to India, a move to a condo and some cricket related activities.

So time optimization will be key. Nonetheless, I look forward to the challenge and hope to improve my score by the desired level.

End of Week Update

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend a private screening of Badshah Khan: A Torch of Peace. This is a documentary by Terri McLuhan, an accomplished author and filmmaker and also the daughter of the legendary Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, which has been 20 years in the making.

The protagonist of this documentary is Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, an apostle for peace and a seminal figure from the much troubled region of North Western Frontier Province in current day Pakistan. I highly recommend it to everyone interested in that part of the world and to those interested in peaceful resolutions to conflicts the world over. His story is perhaps more relevant today than ever before given the increased hostilities in that area.

Expect it to be released in the next 2-3 months, I will remember to post an update when it is released to the public.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend a pitch for a newly constituted investment fund looking at mid-cap opportunities in India. As many folks know, India Inc. is a raring success story. However, what is often forgotten is the growth being seen in the small and mid cap companies which rarely make the headlines. For those who have the capital and may be interested, check out AmritFunds and SureFin investments. I don’t have that kind of cash, but maybe down the line ….

On Wednesday, I attended a discourse by two Canadian authors of wildly differing background who have written on and about India for decades now. The two authors are the well renowned M.G. Vassanji and Daniel Lak. They talked about their experience with India, Vassanji focusing on the trials of discovering his Indian identity while retaining his African and Canadian identities, his personal discovery of India and what India means to him while Lak talked about his interactions with India as a reporter, journalist, broadcaster and finally author.

They both addressed India’s progress and the change in how India is perceived. I must acknowledge that both were excellent storytellers skilfully including witticism and irreverence in their mostly serious discourse.

They happily entertained questions ranging from the process of being a writer to where they see India going.

I had an interesting weekend for a change, went to a ice skating show and played some cricket after many moons.

Sat – The better half insisted that we go on this ‘highly touted’ show entitled ‘Swan Lake on Ice’ based on my parents feedback. I weakly complied without checking for myself. So after shelling out a pretty penny for the decent seats we went downtown to catch the matinee show.  In a nutshell, the show is a love story gone awry set to Tchaikovsky enchanting music.  I am not a big fan of ice skating, whether it be artistic, athletic or any other form. Consequently, I wasn’t particularly enthused over the long show. It certainly had impressive ice skating and nice sets and costumes but on the whole was one of the lesser artistic endeavors I have witnessed (in my opinion anyways).

Sunday - After many aborted attempts I finally got out to practice a little bit with a group of guys I connected with online (the Internet is wonderful!). The practice itself wasnt bad and the weather was awesome making for a nice summer day out. I now have to decide whether I want to play in a league over the summer. As much as I love cricket, the damn sport takes a very long time and consequently eats an entire day by the end of it. More debate needed prior to making that call.

Now that I have basically taken a full week off from GMAT. I need to get back on track and start preparing and move that score upwards!

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