Thursday, April 29, 2010


One aspect of Charlottesville of which I've failed to take full advantage is the vast availability of great concerts. Music is quite prominent in Charlottesville. I'm not sure if it is because of the large university or the fact that Dave Mathews Band as well as many lessor known bands have started here. The Pavilion on the downtown mall hosts "Fridays After Five" every week, spotlighting local artists. The Pavilion also hosts a number of well known artists throughout the year. Scott Stadium hosted U2 in October 2009 and like all the other events I've mentioned, I missed this one too.

One other venue that is known as well for Cav's basketball as concerts is JPJ. I never attended a basketball game during my two years here. My first experience in JPJ was last night for the Paramore concert. We were the second stop on their tour, which includes Fun, Relient K and Paramore. Paramore was by far the best of the three and put on a great concert. Hayley Williams has an incredible voice (especially live!) and a ton of energy on stage. I was definitely impressed and happy to say I experienced a Charlottesville concert before my time in C'ville expires.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I am not the first to post this... and likely won't be the last. However, this is why, Darden, the community, the faculty and the experience are so unique.

In the end, Follies is the culmination of the year. It is the stage that allows all of us to make fun of ourselves, Darden and everything MBA related. We laugh a lot! And I did laugh when I first saw the variety of faculty members willing to dance with David Shepro.

Now though, I'll admit, I get a little emotional when I watch this video. Even with my feeling of second year-itis, I still can't believe I'm fours days of class away from completing my MBA. We often joke in the halls about staying another year, with full knowledge that it would take a miracle to fail at this point. I'm going to miss this place and the people. Special thanks to Shep for reminding us why this place is so special!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


They say a lot of business is done on the golf course. However, I wouldn't exactly know given that I've never played the game...or even gone to the driving range. My former boss, who is just over 70 years, played anytime he could. He'd often return to the office and tell me to setup a new account for a new client or ready transfer instructions for an extra $1 million into someone's account.

Last week in my Hot Topics in Finance course we had a speaker from The Coca-Cola Company. Marie is head of Mergers and Acquisitions as well as a Darden grad. After the class, I attended lunch with Marie and somehow we started discussing golf. She thought that golf should be a business school elective at Darden. While my professor noted that it would never get approved, she stressed the importance of golf in the business world, especially for women.

Ironically, I have my third golf lesson this Thursday. NAWMBA (National Association of Women MBAs) put together groups of 12 people (max) for golf lessons at a local country club. We started with putting, moved to chipping and will finish with a full swing during the last two weeks. Granted, I'm not ready to go play a course, though I do vaguely understand the motions and how to hold a golf club. Further, I know that sand pits are actually called bunkers and all water is deemed water hazard. I can even differentiate between rough and green. While it will still take a lot of practice to get on a full course, maybe my brother's girlfriend, who coached college prep golf until 6 months ago, will provide some free lessons!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chi-Town and the 2 Week Countdown!

I spent this past weekend in Chicago, which is where my significant other is moving post-MBA. We thought that investigating where he wants to live before moving there would be a great idea. Needless to say, we've narrowed down the neighborhoods to two. We walked practically the entire city from Lincoln Park to South Loop and back again. We had amazing meals at the most random restaurants, browsed through a couple shops without purchasing anything and generally had an absolutely perfect weekend! Before we left for the trip, I felt a little bad that I was missing the second to last weekend of fun in Charlottesville. From two birthday parties to the Japan/Korean party, we missed a lot of festivities. Yet, I can say it was well worth it.

Now that I am back, my head has turned to the homestretch. We have 9 days left of classes! I sold my desk today, which was both an exciting and sad feeling. (Oddly enough, to yet another person who knew my step-cousin when he was in Hawaii with the Navy!) I aimlessly look around my apartment trying to decide what should stay and what should go. In my head, I think I have planned out my timeline of packing, moving and traveling before I start work and somehow I still feel unsure about it all. It's exciting, nerve-wrecking, happy, sad and basically a ball full of crazy - contradicting emotions.

I suppose the largest difference between my classmates and I is that they see the end as the beginning of a vacation, whereas I see the end as having to grow up, for good this time. Most people that have jobs start in July or later. I've heard dates as late as january 2010! I on the other hand, start May 25th - day two after graduation. It is hard to complain as I am fortunate to have a job with a well-established company. At the same time, while many people are planning their summer trips to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, I'm planning my move just short of 500 miles from Charlottesville.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hot Topics in Finance

Like most schools, Darden has a number of alumni who are either asked or volunteer to return to grounds to speak about their experiences in front of a second year class. Many of these speaker classes provide valuable information to students from life takeaways to how to deal with general problems that arise in day-to-day management. The speaker class I'm taking this quarter is called Hot Topics in Finance.

This is my first speaker class and it's been quite interesting. In the beginning of the course, we discussed if the "old finance" is wrong. Specifically, are business schools teaching the wrong thing? The next class discussed what the market outlook is from 2010 - 2012 and what we (as business school students) think are good investments given that outlook. We learned about the rubber commodities market. Then spoke at length regrading our expectations of the future regulatory environment, both needed and what is likely to be passed. Hedge fund compensation and predicting the future of AIG were our next two topics. We rounded out mid-quarter learning about distressed debt and analyzing future M&A activity for Houlihan Lokey.

The best part of the class is learning that as an individual, we are more conversant in these subjects than we think. The course is not about being right or wrong. It is about being able to read about a subject, have an opinion and then defend that opinion in a class full of peers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why doesn't John Adams have a monument?

John Colley, the creator of the original reading seminar at Darden posed this question to my class today, why doesn't John Adams have a monument? We had just finished reading John Adams in my Thomas Jefferson reading seminar. We talked of Adams independence, of his relationships with his wife Abigail (remarkable woman!) and Thomas Jefferson, of his presidency and finally the years after. The book we read gave me great respect for John Adams, but no one could conclusively answer why it is that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have monuments and John Adams does not. Some of our guesses were that Jefferson was a doer in contrast to Adams who was more of a caretaker. Adams' revolution was from the Stamp Act to 1776, whereas Jefferson's began in 1776 and included the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the University of Virginia, among other things. Another interesting fact I learned this week was that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Very eerie if you ask me!

One aspect of Darden that I love is that not every courses is function driven. The reading seminars were actually started 25 years ago by John Colley because someone had been asked in an interview what books they had written, to which they responded none. Initially, Professor Colley could not get the faculty to approve such a course, so 11 students took an independent study - read a book a week, wrote a paper about it and then discussed that book with the group for an hour. Since then, there are now three different reading seminars. The point of each is to discuss leadership and management in the context of the books we read. Each reading seminar has an annual capacity of 96 slots and is often full. We meet in groups of 12 to discuss the book assigned. Sometimes, we read a book in its entirety, often times, we read select chapters as designated by the professor (still totally 250+ pages per week). The difference between the traditional reading seminars and the TJ reading seminar is that the TJ seminar is held at the Colonnade Club on the Lawn of the main campus of UVa. Given the location, we are able to drink wine and eat cheese and crackers, as we discuss the book of the week.

I took the class as I felt that it would be a tragedy to leave Jefferson's university without knowing more about him and our Founding Fathers. I've succeeded in expanding my knowledge and would advocate people who are not history buffs to relearn the history of the United States. It is amazing what you fail to recall as the years pass.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Best of Blogging Nominees 2009-2010!

A hearty thank you to Clear Admit and congrats to all my fellow bloggers! Clear Admit does the community a great service by not only recognizing bloggers, but also providing a space for the vast business school information available. Check out the post here: Best of Blogging Nominees 2009-2010!

Friday, April 09, 2010

MBA Games Continued

I wrote this post earlier this week regarding Duke's MBA games. One of the best parts of Duke's MBA Games is the effort that Fuquavision puts into making videos to get everyone in the spirit of the games. The weekend definitely includes poking fun at different schools in a light-hearted and competitive way. How did they make fun of Darden you may ask... first, TJ! Yes, it's true, we love Thomas Jefferson at UVA! Could be worse! Second, for being gunners. While I think this is a little over the top, it was still entertaining. (See below)

By far the best videos of the weekend were the wrap up videos showing what we did throughout the course of the day. I almost didn't realize it was this fun!!

The sound is not working in this video:

Thursday, April 08, 2010


This is going to be the first post of three discussing my classes this quarter. I'd hate to admit how much time I spent looking at classes before the quarter began. Stockholm was a fantastic experience, however the classes were quite different than Darden. I'll admit, I drink the Kool-Aid. The case method is the best thing since sliced bread.

One of the courses I'm taking this quarter is called DAO - Data Analysis and Optimization. Decision Analysis (DA) is a core course at Darden that every first year must complete. It was one of my favorite classes, not only because it made sense to me, but also because for some strange reason, I think Excel is fun! DAO builds off of what we learned in DA. Specifically, the course teaches more about modeling optimization, hypothesis testing and regression analysis. There's even a Web Page of Fame for people who have successfully used DAO techniques during summer internships.

Most people take DAO during the fourth quarter of first year, when it is first offered as an elective. I did not take the course then as I preferred some other fourth quarter electives (Valuation, Global Financial Markets & Financial Reporting and Analysis) and knew I could take DAO at a later time. Darden's Class of 2011 had significant demand for DAO and given that the second year course had excess capacity, I have first year students in DAO with me. Most of the time, I don't notice it, but every once in a while someone makes a comment about "third quarter DA" and I start to wonder if I remember that far back. Great course, even if it is at 8a!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Duke MBA Games

Football toss through a hula hoop
Crabwalk relay
Izzy Dizzy Bat Relay
Tug of War
Business Suit Relay (including 3-legged wheelbarrow race)
Business Suit Swim

These are just some events that 15 schools including Darden participated in at Duke's MBA Games last weekend to raise money for the Special Olympics of North Carolina. Each team had a Special Olympian competing with them in various events. Duke also had two people dressed as superman/woman floating around all weekend. The day concluded with these two people belly flopping into the swimming pool in their superman/woman outfits. Duke did a great job balancing Special Olympic sports with pure business school sports. My only complaint is that the organizers did not pencil in a nap.

The 5K kicked off at 7a and my team decided to leave around 4:00p before the final event. It was a gorgeous day in Durham, though being out in the sun all day is tiring. I wish I could say we were more competitive than we were. Unfortunately, bigger and stronger helped in a number of these events. Izzy Dizzy bat was the funniest event as people went all over the place after spinning around, forehead to the bat, 10 times. I couldn't even balance enough to stand on both feet until someone finally kept me from falling over. Another member of our team ran completely diagonally, fell over and almost took out a video camera on his way back to the cone. Priceless! One of the hardest events was the business suit swim. Duke provided business suits. The relay was a team of 4, first person put on the suit and then had to do a lap in the pool (to the far side and back), once they returned to the starting side, they had to take off the wet suit and give it to the next member of the team. Turns out business suits provide a lot of drag, making it VERY hard to swim. Great fun and good laughs!

It was a great weekend, but I've been scrabbling to catch up ever since. Luckily, my world calms down tomorrow and I start golf lessons with members of NAWMBA on Thursday. Darden is competing in a large rugby tournament this weekend and I'm struggling to decide whether or not to go cheer them on... hmm.

From Collages

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