Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Positive Encouragement

There's nothing more rewarding that positive encouragement from your peers. I often receive encouragement on the soccer field after I've made a good play, or even a play that inherently was good and went wrong. However, the best encouragement comes from classmates after a cold call, a good discussion or anywhere in between. It boosts the confidence and reminds you that you may know more than you think you do. We've been forecasting in Finance lately and I've never done the type of forecasting with which we are experimenting. My budget forecasting at EC Management came from personal knowledge of the business and the anticipated revenues and costs over the future period. Today, we're given limited information via cases and are asked to interpret, similar to what I will need to do for banking though I should have better access to the decision makers. After a cold call today that went smoothly, I feel more prepared that I expected. Apparently, I do have some idea what I am doing and it took a section D mate to remind me. Thanks OR!

Back to cases...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Q1 MKT and a very busy Sunday

Grades from Q1 are slowly trickling in to our student mailboxes. On Friday, half of us chose to pick up our exam and the other half left the news until this morning. I was happy with my performance, but as usual, need to work on my class participation. The only difficulty with the class participation is that it's subjective on the professors' part and though the professors swear they can recreate 85 minutes of individual comments when they return to their office, I still have my doubts. I suppose the good news is that Darden is non-disclosure in regards to grades, however, it is known that consulting companies and investment banks DO ask about grades. Though some grades carry more weight than others. I think consulting wants you're overall GPA, but banking is more interested in Decision Analysis and Accounting. Either way, as much as we all understand that the majority of the class will get a B, we still fret about grades.

As for the weekend, I spent Sunday morning volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club Bicycle Race. It was extremely cold at 7 am, but I enjoyed seeing a few classmates before the ride, dressed in spandex nonetheless. At 10 am sharp, I picked up the rest of my volunteers and headed back to Ivy, swapping one roommate for another before a number of us went to soccer. Unfortunately, we suffered another loss. I should be used to the losses by now, but every weekend, I return to the field with the thought that THIS week will be different. It's frustrating coming from a highly competitive team to one that isn't as competitive, but the irony is, I'm not as mad at the end of the day as I would be on a losing team in SF. I'm not sure if that's because I'm simply happy that I can still play or my fabulous teammates make it all bearable. Either way, I'm hoping for at least a tie this coming Sunday. It will be difficult to field a team due to career tracks this weekend and the fact that those not taking a career tracks will likely take the two free days (Thursday and Friday) and get out of dodge for a little bit. (I know I'm working on plans though I will be back for the 9am game). The rest of my Sunday wrapped up with cases and LT. Thankfully, I made it to bed by 10:30p, putting me at the gym at 6am.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Occasionally I feel myself falling into the trap. I'm not sure if it's the lack of sleep or the confines of Darden that put me there. Different perceptions warrant different interpretations. With briefings and networking events galore, we're all at wits end and these are the last of the "open" events, so everyone is trying to make their best last impression before the banks decide with whom they'd like to speak. Each conversation delves in a separate direction depending on the parties involved. Sometimes I walk into conversations a little "over my head" due to the fact that I likely missed the journal for 2 days as well as a hint of complacency on my part. Lately, I find myself complaining about these discrepancies as to what I think is important in a networking conversation. On some level, the pettiness is human, but I've been careful to consciously avoid it especially while at Darden. Luckily, tomorrow is Friday and thus sleep and a little R&R is around the corner. God knows, I definitely need it and hopefully I'm break this funk.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

100 Case Party

Culminating the end of Q1 is the legendary 100 Case Party. This year we dressed in our finest 80s attire and headed to an undisclosed location via chartered bus to break it down like it was 1982! If only I knew what it was like to party in 1982... Half the FY class spent their Friday at Goodwill, the other third at Halloween stores and the final part in the depths of our closets. The costumes were phenomenal and there were very few people who didn't dress the part. The finest beer money can buy, Natural Light, was supplied for our enjoyment. In addition, there was a cash bar if Naty Light was not high on your consumption list. I surfed the crowd most the night accumulating 225 pictures. Oh yes, back in action kids... however, it was a friend's camera, so I am still waiting for the upload. Everyone drank, danced and bonded. The end of the night was capped when one of the party planners destroyed a guitar that read "100 Cases". It's back to the grind tomorrow and I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed to have cases and LT today. Not because I dislike my LT, but because this means it's back to reality - 5 days of class, cases, briefings and networking events. My goal this quarter is to keep the gym in my life - starting at 5:45am tomorrow. WOO HOO!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feels like Friday!

Perhaps the best part of today is that fact that it isn't Friday and the FYs of Darden have little planned between now and Monday, unless of course, you're attending the consulting conference this weekend. I have one more exam under my belt since my last post and damn it feels good. Truth is, I know far more about financial accounting than managerial, but the test didn't SEEM as bad as it could have. I'm stoked to be done and it amuses me how our test was due at 3p and Q2 cases were in our mailboxes by noon. I suppose they want to make sure we're aware that Q2 starts Monday, but as my roommate said, the cases can't be too hard. It's the beginning all over again! Festivities are planned for the rest of the afternoon and I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to attend. Drinks at Biltmore started 13 minutes ago, as did the BBQ at JJ's house. 8p kicks off the Section D party downtown as well as Section A pub golf. By 10p, we'll reconvene at Zydeco for the mustache competition though I'll be much happier when the boys shave 'em off. ;) The ringleader of this competition looks like Super Mario.

SEXY HUH? Needless to say, it's time for a little more R&R.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I despise waking up Monday morning with a headache after a nice relaxing weekend. However, I think this Monday morning took the cake - it was another exam Monday and as I anticipated my 5 hour Operations exam, I knew, the headache wasn't going to fade. Indeed, the exam could have been better, at this point though, there is nothing left to worry about, it's in the past.

Today's exam was MUCH better. I spent yesterday afternoon resting with the hopes that the headache would disappear long enough for me to review DA, which was a silly thought given that I spent 3 hours on review slides for the section. Suppose this means I SHOULD know what I'm doing. I stopped by a neighbor's review with the intention of learning through osmosis, instead, I spent the majority of my time tutoring. I dreamt of DA and dummy variables and was quite happy to wake without a headache this morning. I feel I rocked DA, but have learned it's better not to talk about a test once it's finished. There is no benefit of talking about it as it'll simply frustrate you or someone else because one of you thought of something the other didn't.

I now sit here staring blankly at my accounting books. Financial accounting comes easily to me as it should because I was an accounting major in undergrad. Managerial on the other hand, I NEED to study. This is the last test until freedom and it definitely feels good, yet I have gotten used to this "lax" lifestyle called finals. Six of the last seven days have entailed something active - that's got to be a FY Darden record. Soon enough, insanity will ensue, physical activity will falter and life will return to Darden rigor, but not without massive celebrating for 4 days straight starting tomorrow afternoon. Q1 is almost over!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Break Called Finals

Imagine that, finals has transitioned from a stressful time to a "break". With only one test per day that equates to approximately 5 hours of work, I'm thoroughly enjoying finals. I have found time to insert the gym back into my life, sleep, relax and simply enjoy C'ville. It seems there are multiple reasons finals feel relaxing. First, there isn't a lot to study. Yes, we have covered a lot of material, but if you have been maintaining pace with cases, most cases build on each other. And if you don't know it now, hopefully you know where it is in your notes because tt is open note after all. Furthermore, we don't have additional cases to complete. Translated, after the test is over at 3p, the entire afternoon is open to fill at will, which also means, there are no briefings. All those button-down shirts that have been dirtied in past few weeks can now by washed, ironed and hung in the closet for another 3 days. FANTASTIC!

Yesterday, I taught the Decision Analysis(DA) review session. After 3+ hours working on PowerPoint slides, I think I accumulated enough information to give a good presentation. Though I felt a little lackluster in my explanations, I received many thank yous! It's a great feeling to help my classmates and I'll admit, it's a bit strange sitting at the front of the class. I wonder if that is how the professor feels, you can scan the room and tell when people are perplexed or when the light bulb brightens.

The day is moving and I am leaving for a soccer game in 45 min, however, I need to find athletic tape and leather food. I thought the former may be found at CVS, but to no avail. K-mart maybe?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Great Professors of Darden

National rankings of MBA programs are indeed valuable, but to a point. In the end, each individual has to define what they PERSONALLY want from an MBA program. For some people, it's a brand name, for others it's simply not working for two years (a very expensive two years). Indeed, there are various realms in between. One aspect of academia that is often overlooked is the professor and I am not referring to the professor who is quoted in newspapers or writes cases and books. It's the professor who genuinely has an interest in your well being and success. That is the type of professor who teaches at Darden. Our faculty has an "open door" policy. As in, if they are in their office, their door is always open, to discuss anything that may be on your mind. Given my Q1 interaction with a handful of professors, it doesn't surprise me that Darden profs are ranked number 1 for the the second year in a row by Princeton Review. However, here is where it hit home; my roommate shared some slides from Jim Clawson, her Leading Organization professor on takeaways from her class. These takeaways resonate with me and remind me why the faculty are Darden is so incredible. Check them out:

What I’ve Come to Believe
Jim Clawson, Darden 2008

1. People tend to be creatures of habit.
2. The rare minority are willing and able to change.
3. Change begins with self.
4. People can change, it’s just that most won’t.
5. Effective leadership requires enormous self confidence, conviction, and courage.
6. Most people tend to live more outside-in than they think.
7. Combinations of openness, candor, and compassion are as rare as diamonds.
8. People cannot act (L1) beyond their conceptions (L2) and values (L3). To change, re-examine those.
9. Most people act on short term, self serving values and this is often dysfunctional for the community.
10. Work for what you want: the hard part is figuring out what you want.
11. Find, invest in, and enjoy your resonance – what makes you smile in the morning?
12. Help Others find their resonance.
13. Continue to read—or have nothing to say.
14. Three well done are better than six half baked—make every project your best.
15. Tell the truth: share your heart, be transparent. We are all brothers and sisters. Live inside out.
16. Live today. Respect the past, plan for future, but LIVE today.
17. Find the “and/also’s.” Respect the rights and views of others. Lose your “buts.”
18. Clean as you go—personally, professionally, leave your campsite, including the earth, cleaner than you found it.
19. Expect the opposite—life will surprise you.
20. Give something back—share your prosperity.
21. Yield to love—it’s the only thing that keeps you warm at night.

"It's not the critic who counts. It's not the man who points out where the grown man stumbles, or how the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who actually is in the arena, who strives violently, who errs and comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who if he wins knows the triumph of high achievement, but who if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Overdue Report

One of my faithful readers brought to my attention that I never reported back after my marketing exam. I promise, it didn't slip my mind. Here's the recap, we were given 5 hours to complete the exam. Most of us were told that it shouldn't take us the entire time, so with a level of time mismanagement due to our skewed perception, there are a number of people who either, didn't finish the exam or were cranking until the last possible minute. I was the latter, however, I do feel I completed the entire exam, which is more than I can say for a few classmates who accidentally missed questions.

Most students reconvened near the Darden Library, which was the drop off, around 3p. A number of us attended a leadership speaker series at which the founder and CEO of Under Armor, Kevin Plank, spoke. He was phenomenal. Although marketing is the last function I want to do, his enthusiasm made a couple of us think twice. I especially liked his quote, "I was smart enough to be naive enough to not know what I couldn't accomplish." The "Cold Call" (beer, food and socializing) was held immediately after the presentation and was sponsored by Under Armor. Friday night, many of us over celebrated our completion of the first exam. Saturday, I missed the football game, but was told it was a great game given that Virginia pulled off its 2nd win of the season, 31-0.

Saturday night, more of us continued celebrating, this time, no alcohol in hand for me. Three on the Corner plays 80s every Saturday night, so we entertained ourselves with dancing. Given that I blew off cases for most the weekend, Sunday was quite busy with 3 cases, soccer and a double header for softball. This week kicked off with briefings, cases, classes and networking events. I love that I'm already working banker's hours, but I'm paying to be here.

The next exam is Friday in Leading Organizations. We've been prepped to write 8-10 pages using the various management concepts we've learned over the last quarter. But of course, using only the RELEVANT concepts. After the weekend, we have 3 exams at the beginning of next week. I can't wait for a break! 'Til then, BRING IT ON!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Marketing Exam on the Horizon

My marketing exam will be available for download or pick up in a little more than 12 hours. To most, that probably sounds funny, but for Darden, it's a treat to have take home exams. Darden and the greater UVa community have a student enforced Honor Code. Without getting into the specifics, basically, we are all bound by the honor code and there is no grace area within the code. One strike, you're out. This means that at 8 am tomorrow, my marketing exam will be available for pick up (or download). Students are given 7 hours to complete the exam, of which only 5 hours may be used to actually work on the exam. Each student will write down the time they start and from that moment on, every minute that passes, even those minutes for breaks is counted as an exam minute. At the end of 5 consecutive hours, the student needs to stop writing, period. If it is discovered that student used more than 5 hours, the student would go to the honor board and likely face expulsion. Exams are open book/note, however, we are not allowed to surf the internet for answers/content related to exam questions. Additionally, we are not allowed to collaborate with anyone on the exam. I think you are allowed to ask clarifying questions, but a response should not have the ability of being interpreted as helping the person answer the problem. Again, not abiding by these rules could all be construed as violations to the honor code.

As for the actual exam content, I've been told that it is about 50% or so quantitative, which bodes well for me as I have difficulties deciding where a company should strategically focus their marketing efforts, but I'm often comfortable with numbers. It seems the test will also require case comparisons, which is something I will have to take as it comes. I'll admit, I'm not extremely nervous. There is material that I would like to review, however, there's not much to "study". It's different than undergrad as we've been building on concepts for the last 5 weeks. We know what they are, we just have to prove to our professors that we have an understanding of the concepts. Wish me luck!!