Tuesday, November 29, 2005

About LBS Information Session in Moscow

I was at the information session in Moscow this Saturday, but I didn't have time to write about it :)
I came to Ararat Hotel wearing a jeans jacket and at first felt out of place in this 'cool' place... some guys were in suits despite of Saturday! But then on the table near registration stand I found a booklet named MBA class 2007... and there were all photos, names and countries of all this year students... and I instantly I felt at home. This feeling stayed while I listen to presentations and talked to alumni. Its nice to know so much about the School ;)
We were showed new LBS film, and then admission ladies talked about all the programs at school. I thought, maybe I should enter a PhD course and write cases for all those MBAs to crack? ;) *just joking*
The thing most emphasized about the School was - its location ("The only school located in the capital!"). By the way, most people think that LBS equals Finance. The school is in fact focused on Finance because of its location (and you know all those things about supply and demand), but it also has a strong hand in Marketing.
We've also been told that during the second year you take 9-12 electives, and if you want to specialize in a subject, you have to take at least 5 electives of that kind. You also can come to school and during your first year decide that you want to graduate in 15 months. You'll probably take 9 electives and your second year would be very packed, but this is possible.
Then I've talked to alumni. Those who graduated 4 of more years ago said it was possible to get a loan at least for tuition for Russians then. And they have heard, that this is possible now. A guy that graduated in 2005 had his company pay tuition for him. One of the alumni named the most difficult thing at school: pubs closing at 11 o'clock. Now this law has been cancelled, so current students have more advantages ;)
On a personal note - I talked with an adcom and she promised to give a feedback to my application (I still haven't received any) and said that it may be reasonable to apply next year (and not in 2 years like INSEAD). That's nice, because I really want to be at school.

And yes, KV, I've changed the name of my blog, I'm afraid that I cannot plan my life for two years ahead, but my heart doesn't lose focus :)

Friday, November 25, 2005

The book

I once was lost, but now am found
© John Newton

I’ve finished reading Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand. And I can say this is a book!
* I read the first one (it consists of three) during two days (that was back in September), second in a week, began the third, but quitted and finished it only yesterday.
* The first one gave me and answer to the question ‘why do you do this?’ - I know, what to say now: ‘Because I want to and I can’.
* When I told a friend of mine the plot of the first book (how best men suddenly disappear from the world, and the main heroes are standing and struggling), and said that I wonder how it all ends, he replied: ‘Probably a mega-man builds himself a mega-house’. And he was right! :)
* When I read the book I always remembered where she was from. And I knew what she was writing about. I just thought that things never ever changed now matter what century it is.
* I wondered how soft were the bandits she wrote about. Almost humane. Only in last few chapters they (as a system) were beginning to obtain colours of real life. But after all people are not reading books about their real life. They have real life already, thank you.
* The third book was like a light switched on in the dark room. Now I see.
* Great book. Must read. And I will look for the Fountainhead now.
Thanks to Miss N and RSR for mentioning this book :) That’s what made me to read it.

And thanks to everyone who wrote me those encouraging words. I will write a brief summary of my thought on the subject later on.
Tomorrow I plan to attend an LBS information session (Ararat Park Hyatt, 4 Neglinnaya St, Moscow, 11:00), and I hope I will have something to write about :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

And again rejection - from LBS

Members of the MBA Admissions Committee have now carefully considered your application. It is with regret that we have been asked by the Committee to inform you that they are not able to offer you a place on the MBA Programme this year. The applicant pool has again been of an extremely high calibre, andconsequently competition has been very rigorous.

No feedback yet, but they promised a general feedback a bit later.

So, not next year. I'll wait for feedback and begin planning for the year after next. Or after after... No matter that the first attempt was not successful, I have time, and I will learn. And I have already learned and became better, wiser and older :) I believed that I have earned this (I mean London, this school and this life), but maybe all my documents were not enough to persuade adcoms, and I didn't have a chance to speak in personal.

Meanwhile, I think I will have a look at other master programs in other UK universities, so any recommendations are welcomed. And I'll do what I decided to do in the previous post - start my job search for international company.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Rejection from INSEAD

The Admissions Committee has decided that you need to gain at least two more years of professional experience before you can be further considered for admission to the programme. Additionally, your application would be strengthened if you were to increase your international exposure, ideally by working in another country.

So, I'm too small and too Russian. And I knew that I was not of INSEAD profile, when I applied. But I still believe, that I wrote a strong pack of essays (I think that my INSEAD essays were more about me than my LBS ones. LBS puts a lot of focus on teamwork and commitment to school). And I've got decent academics. But, alas, I was not considered to be a genius :)
I hoped that they may take me, because of three factors:
1) I'm a woman and they write everywhere that there are not enough women in INSEAD (so, don't believe this, they haven't taken me :))
2) they would have a look at my progress and see that I'm really good
3) I would be some of a diversity type
None of those factors played its role. And I suspect that I may get the same answer next Wednesday from LBS. My only hope is that adcoms will like the club I proposed and allow me to come :) at least, to the interview.
A remark about the silver lining: I can apply for that IFP scholarship, I mentioned previously in one of my posts. And as an oppression factor I can write that I've been discriminated because of age! *joking*
By the way, I got that letter from the same lady who held special INSEAD session in Moscow.

I've started my MBA journey to get more international experience while studying at B-School and after it. If it would be really easy to get a job abroad, I wouldn't bother about B-Schools yet. But it is difficult to get a job in Europe for a non-EU person. In UK I can apply for HSMP visa after finishing the program, but I'm not eligible for this visa yet.
Another way - is to work in Moscow office of a worldwide company and relocate when you have a chance. So while applying I have talked to some people who worked in two of such companies, and was told that I don't have a chance. First, managers, who must approve your relocation, have children, who want to study in Europe too. Second, you may work hard, become a guru, and, perhaps, in some seven years, will be offered to relocate. But by that time you usually have roots that tie you to the spot. But I have only looked at two companies, and there are more, so I will look at others. And I may find what I’m looking for.
And I’m asking for your advice - how can I get a job abroad?
-->Suggestions are welcomed as comments and to RusgirltoLBS at gmail.com.

Visit to LBS. Part 3. Lectures and other useful information

The lecture theater, where I was, is on -1 floor, so there are no windows there. I like rooms with windows, that is why I mention it. But in all other aspects the classroom is very nice. The professor is well heard, though, if you sit at the backseat, you may not hear what people in front of you say during the discussion (and you'll have to tell every speaker 'Speak up, please!').

The first lecture that I attended was in Managerial Economics.
All lectures are three hours long with a break of twenty or so minutes in the middle (during which you can queue for coffee in 'The Bite').
The first part of ME was not very clear to me ;). I think I should have done some pre-reading (or should have visited the previous lecture) to follow. Professor was talking about two types of customers: rich and mass (they don’t have so much money, but they are numerous), and their willingness to pay for the product during the first hour, second hour (the demand dropped) and on the whole. The task was to propose the pricing scheme, which will give the biggest revenue. All this reminded me of a game set theory: min-max and all that. And maybe it was :)
The second part was devoted to monopolies, and two groups presented a case 'Microsoft vs U.S. Government'. 'Government' presentation was like all governments presentations: long, full of tied together facts and inevitability. On the other hand, 'MS' was funny and nice. They won the sympathy of the audience, of course ;)
Cases are not like real life, where you can find additional information in the Google. You are kept in the frame of the case and cannot mention future or give other suppositions. For instance, Firefox&Mozilla are eating some of IE market share right now and eating fast: 10% a year (that's the statistics which I got myself from a number of website counters, so take it with salt).
A remark: since the school has wireless network, a lot of students open their computers during the lecture to blog, or send an e-mail... Be careful, guys, because sometimes professor is sitting behind you (those who sit in the right wing).
After the case and the discussion whether the monopolies are good or bad (this depends on a sector), professor told us how do antimonopoly committee count if there is a monopoly in the market. And in the end he took out some bottles... and asked if Company X, which has these three products, will buy Product Y, will it be considered as a monopolist or will it diversify the portfolio of its products. And the cleverest guy asked to try Product Y and those products from Company X to see if they are alike. After drinking he concluded that Company X would be buying a part of different market (drinks for ladies), so no monopoly. And after that I was asked numerous times if there was some other B-school where people could drink alcohol during lectures :)

The second lecture was Strategy and professor was talking how you can make your product distinct and add value to it.
The first question was: should you make it the cheapest or add some value into it and make it different. Everyone agreed that you should add value, and only if your business processes are the best so that you can lower price - you can be the cheapest. This will be just your additional distinction.
When professor asked what distinctions you could add, I said to myself 'quality', but none of the student mentioned it in their answers. And having been at London shops I know why. If you have been in some Turkey shops (or Russian shops), just like me, then 'quality' would probably come first to your mind.
We've been shown some very good videos about hotel chains and how they make themselves different. Some cut off everything that will make their price higher, some focus on clients very much. And in the end students discussed the case of refocusing some hotel. I haven't read the case, so it was difficult for me to take part in the discussion, but it was interesting to observe who spoke and who listened. After group discussion, some people were asked to present their answers and, funnily enough, nearly all answers had nothing to do with the real life one, which professor announced after the discussion.
To sum up, the subject of the lecture was not new (it is widely mentioned in the books and articles), but examples were great.
A remark: no cold calls during these two lectures. Professors asked only those (but not all, of course) who raised their hands.

This is a photo of the same stone, Miss N posted. Just upholding the tradition ;)

What else I found out
LBS asks for two languages upon graduation. INSEAD is the only school, which asks for three. Admission officer told me that I must have mixed them up, but I got that impression from reading information on the site and in the catalogue. And I read that before I even thought about INSEAD.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Unpleasant surprise with GMAT score report

Just now received a letter from INSEAD admission officer, saying that they haven't received my official GMAT score. Schocking news, since the interview decision is due this Friday, and I don't have any GMAT report at hand, and so I cannot phone GMAC or Pearson right now (how will they identify me if I don't remeber my ID?). Yes, I participated in the GMAT Limited Summer Test, which was held by Pearson VUE. I haven't received my official report either. Was that the sign? And I begin to worry if my score report was sent to LBS or not.
Never mind, I'll solve the problem anyway :)
And it was good to hear from an ad com even like that.

UPD: Pearson confirmed to have sent my report to the schools in August, and since the EMEA center is located in London I may not worry about London Business School, I think. And they sent a copy to INSEAD. So, I hope, it is settled. Thanks to everyone for support :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Visit to LBS. Part 2. The School and the students

I first met the School on fine Sunday morning. A friend of mine who visited the School earlier, prepared me to the 'shop, restaurant... oh, here is LBS!.. and another restaurant' environment of it. First I spotted a shop with all kind of items with LBS labels: bags, umbrellas, bunnies, etc. If your boss doesn't yet know you're applying, it's a good idea to buy something there ;) Then I saw a group of athletic young men and told myself 'This must be it'. And – yes - they were standing near the entrance to the Plowden reception. The school was nice and peaceful. The grass from the back, good-looking entrance (is it ever opened, guys?), was green, the birds were singing, joggers were running around. I took some photos and went for a walk in Regent Park.
On Monday I put on my student's shoes and came in for Managerial Economics.
But first let me say that I would not have had such a nice time at school, if it were not for the New Student Ambassador, Divine Miss N. She was great! She showed me around and introduced me to the whole bunch of people, so in the end I really excelled in phrase: 'I'm-from-Moscow-applied-in-Round-One-fingers-crossed-now'.
I have met RSR, Al Martine, and FutureGuru from the BloggerWorld. And Hussein, who's writing to BusinessWeek. And a lot of others (and I even remembered the names!). I've also found out that there are a lot of Russian speaking students in LBS (about twenty or so). No wonder, since the school is interested in people who have international experience, - all Russians to whom I spoke, left the country more than five years ago and have dual citizenship. Maybe ‘living in Moscow’ will pass as a ‘diversity’ thing for me?
What else I’ve learned from students
1) life is really-really busy here (yes, I can imagine. What I cannot imagine, is that you all can find time to blog)
2) I’m prepared to go to Amsterdam, since I’ve learned how to say ‘Get out of the way, m**r’ in Dutch
3) it takes time and effort to open a bank account in London banks, since they are not willing to give any money to students. Even when they are Mr Future Big Guys. Would they until then have to carry cash in their socks? ;)
Speaking of clothes, on my way to school I thought how I would look in jeans and sweater. I came on holiday and was not going take a suit along by any means! I hit the bull's eye: all students wore jeans. If you saw someone in a suit, he must have been a professor or a second-year on his way to interview.
I would have stood out in jeans on the info session (they take place every Monday and Friday at school at 15:00). Everyone there was in suits except for adcoms ;)
I planned to visit School on Monday and then come for info session on Friday, but the students talked me into coming to Strategy on Wednesday, so all in all I've been to two lectures and three times at School. By Friday I felt myself at home: I knew the difference between two reception areas, didn't get lost on my way to the lady's room, discovered candies on the reception desk, was showed the stand with the Wall Street Journal and could find my way to the MBA Program Office with closed eyes.

*the next part will be about lectures, more students and everything else I forgot to mention*

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Visit to LBS. Part 1. My experience with LBS MBA Program Office - bad and good

Planning my visit I wrote to them, asking about a permission to attend a lecture. I waited for the answer for about a week. Since deadline was coming, I wrote to David Simpson (the only personal address I knew) and he replied the next day. I mentioned that I wanted to attend the lecture with Divine Miss N class and he assured me that it is no problem to come along with a student and take a sit.
While I was at school, students asked me if I am acquainted with the Program Office and I said 'no'. So they showed me the direction and there I went. Mind you, only a student with a student card can get to MBA Program Office, but you know, students are always coming around when you need to open a door... ;)
It was late (about 5 p.m.) and there was just one girl there. I introduced myself and asked if I can talk to someone about my application ('I applied in R1 last week'). I was told that this is impossible, no one is going to discuss my application or give me any clues, or simply reassure me that all my documents have arrived. 'If we will need anything from you, we will contact you by e-mail'. OK, I just asked. It was silly coming all the way to school and not asking, right?
This reminds me of client experience, which, I'm sure, everyone had. When you are a potential client, the firm nurses you around: 'come to our conferences, look at our solutions, talk to our people' and so on. But when it turns you into a client, it forgets about you. Marketing to existing clients simply doesn't work. The policy is just something like that: 'you know some of our people. If you have a problem, contact them'.
I'm just summarizing, not complaining.
I like this 'poor marketing' thing about the school, because:
1) I've been subscribed to the school newsletter for 6 months. So far I received two. Both were really valuable: one told about GMAT limited summer test and the other about LBS infosessions (in Moscow there will be one at the end of November). *I received a third one yesterday - useless - I won't add it to the score :)*
2) when I was at the infosession, there was no presentation, no general information about school. There was a simple Q&A session. They were not trying to persuade us, but mainly listen to us and tell us the issues we were interested in. I like this way of 'selling', I don't like being forced.
Though I know people who have an opposite point of view and were much more impressed with attitude and commitance of adcoms in other schools.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

About INSEAD special information session

There were lots (~10) of alumni from INSEAD (different from those three who were at MBA Tour), so I really did believe, when they said that INSEAD had the strongest alumni community in Moscow than any other b-school.
The session was held by Caroline Diarte Edwards, herself an INSEAD alumni, now working at Jakarta, and maybe promoting INSEAD? I'm not sure, she didn't explain this. She told us about the school and what the school is looking for in applicants. It is:
1) Academic ability
2) Managerial Potential (at work or in extracurricular activities)
3) Ability to contribute to school
4) Proved international motivation
More ticks - the better :)
Then alumni spoke. During the presentation they were saying marketing things, for instance, how much "fun" you would have at school, what a network you would gain, how your life would change. They were not very willing to answer in general Q&A session. I sat in the second row, but most spoke so quietly that it was difficult to hear them. But afterwards, when drinks were served and conversations divided among different groups they became more helpful, talking about their experiences at school, the quality of participants, financial aid, etc. All in all, interesting to look at the faces, to listen, to ask, to get the first-hand experience. And to collect the cards, of course.
But I cannot say, that I got some receipt or absolutely astonishing piece of information to share. I got myself an INSEAD Quarterly journal, and I can say that this is my most valuable acquisition from this event (I scanned it through, but didn't have time to read).

Today I read all those post of LBS students that I couldn't read in last two weeks. It feels different reading them now, after the school visit. So real and vivid. And my next post at last will be devoted to my LBS visit :) I'll try to post it till the end of the week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My visit to World MBA Tour

I was yesterday at World MBA Tour Moscow. All in all: partially useful.
First of all, I came too late (2 hours after the beginning) to attend any speeches, since they were already said, and to collect any materials, since they were already handed out. But I didn't plan to do all that.
I wanted to talk to London Business School, Oxford Said and Cambridge Judge. None of them were present. Harvard and Stanford were not present either.
But INSEAD was there! I talked to alumni and adcom and arranged to visit a special INSEAD presentation scheduled tonight. It has limited admission, I found out about it from a friend, and talked my way to attend it. Disappointing information: INSEAD alumni told me that it is very difficult to get a loan or a scholarship for Russian citizens there now.
Then I talked a bit with IMD and Cranfield. And established in my decision not to apply to Cranfield yet (I'm too young for them, since the average age of full-time program students is 32).
Summarizing (a friend of mine who was there):
I don't really have any questions about the schools, because I have already asked all I wanted to know current students, alumni and adcoms online. Second, all questions I've heard so far at the tour, have already been answered numerous times online, and replies don't change. If you receive a new answer, it means you haven't researched the school properly. The only question I was interested in is loans and scholarships. When I ask it, they all say: have a look at our website.
Of course, it is also interesting to look at alumni and those who want to apply :)