Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hard days night

I've been popping redbulls like crazy but I'm finally done.
It's 6:00 am and I've just finished my assignments for today.
I have one hour of sleep left and a full day ahead of me.
Did I mention it's a rigorous program?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Diversity at Darden

This is most likely the most intense exposure and interaction an average student from my class would have to diversity. A condensed hot pot of people from different coutnries, races, cultures and genders (we actually have 100% of the genders represented in my class).

Coming from the hot-pot/salad mixer of coltures of Israel, it's difficult for me to relate to the hole topic of discrimination in the USA. After some discussions I've had with my classmates regarding minorities in the US and affirmative action I have a better understanding of the background of the situation today and my views have mellowed.

Though I  believe there still remain a few miles on the journey the US is taking in this matter, there's a lot of effort going into integration and rebalancing.

At Darden, we take part in a lot of activites around diversity. One recent and very interesting activity was an interactive play by CSW - a consulting company.

Here's my Leading Organizations professor interview for business week:

Tips for MBAs

Be bold. 
Be authentic.
Look at the market, see where the balls are rolling, what opportunity lies there? Do you see your destiny there?

This is a snippet of some of the wisdom and leadership philosophy Richard Fairbank, founder & CEO of Capital One - the 13th largest bank in the US - shared with us during Darden's Leadership Speaker Series this week.

Fairbank's r credit revolution is a story of true entreperneurship, taking advantage of opportunity when everybody else was doubtful. Stories like that trully inspire me so I was fully engaged in listening and I picked up some interesting points. 

A CEO will be able to delegate almost everything but one thing.
The one thing a CEO can't do without is vision.
Ok, this sounds very basic, but it's a lot more powerful coming from a person who had literaly made it. 

Hire the best people.
Ok, we know that. Everybody hires the best people don't they?
Well, you have to really put a lot of effort in getting the best people. This is where the most time and effort should be spent by leaders, according to Faribank. 

Create an environment where these best people can actually be great.

Fairbank moved on to encouraging innovation, but warned that changing buyers behavior is very difficult(though it can be done - e.g. IPod). Easier is to improve the buyers' experience.

Fairbank ended with a back to basics advice. The one our parents used to tell us and their parents told them: be loyal to yourself. The pure quest will rally up people around you more than the quest for your next promotion. 
Don't sell your soul and take the job because it pays well or because this is the cool job.
Take the job that you will learn the most from and have the most fun.

Friday, September 12, 2008


A game we played this week where we were divided into groups and asked to build Gazogles - Lego structures that look like the picture on the right.

The full game description can be found in an article writen by one of our operations professors. This would have probably helped my team not to do as bad as we did, but we cannot look these things up until we finish playing the game or discussing a case due to the honor code. Some more insights we've had in class discussin this is that we could actually talk to our customers and settle deals with them, perhaps sell them special product for premium price. We could also exchange some lego pieces for other pieces (bigger) to make the whole structure simpler to assemble.

I can say that being on the inside (I was assembler 1) you get to diagnose your own process as well as the one before or after you in the way they affect you. We have 15 minutes between rounds to perform process improvement (Kaizen events) but they went by so fast I could have sworn it was 3 minutes. During the events my group failed to consolidate the ideas so we ended up improving parts of the process while other parts (like supplies and procurement) remained inefficient rendering the whole process inefficient.

We failed collecting the input from all the different stations and looking at the whole process and improving it. I guess it may have been easier for an outsider to see things clearly.

This is probably what they hire consultants to do.
Anyway, I guess hindsight is 20/20.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Last weekend we had the class of 2010 section elections.

Positions ranged from section rep through social chair, athletics rep to student affairs. 

Though I was interested in the student affairs representative position, I was even more interested in being part of the student admissions committee, since I felt I had a lot to contribute in that area. The caveat is that you can't run for both, and the student admissions committee decision was after the section elections. So, if I was elected to the student affairs rep position, I couldn't run for admissions.

So I applied for the admissions committee. This application is actually an essay and you don't get elected, rather the admissions staff makes the decision.

Yesterday the results came in. 66 people applied for the student admissions committee’s positions. I did not get in, unfortunately.

I guess I'll have to find other ways to contribute and maybe try again next year.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Time Warp

Just like that another week went by.
I can't even seem to remember how it started. The last time I had a few minutes to think was when I wrote the last post after the football game. From then on, it was 8:00am in class. 13:10 - a starving man's frantic search for food. There was no time this week to go home (5 minute walk) due to club kick-off meetings that started this week, lunches with 2nd year students that interned in companies I'm interested in or are running a club I'm interested in, but could not attend the meeting.

I have never valued time more than I do right now. Every minute counts and has to be utilized to study the next day's cases, work on my resume, my 30 second pitch, my career goals, eating and sleeping.

Every day at 19:00 I meet my learning team. We've decided to start reflecting on our performance - what do we want out of the learning team? Are we achieving it? What works? Where do we need to improve?
We spend around 15 minutes every day to reflect on classes we had that day, what have we learned and how effective the learning team the night before had been.
We have improved (all that in just one week). The case method the way it's taught at Darden and the whole learning team experience is unefficient. But it is extremely effective.
I have learned so much during the past 2.5 weeks.

Why did black & decker pushed forward the DeWalt? Why is it colored yellow? What makes Southwest airlines so great or the Shouldice hospital in Canada and why do you want to get your Hernia fixed there and was it better for the hospital to expand their bed capacity or work on weekends? Why did Whestinghouse's CFL Superbulb did not sell well and much more.

Those of us who are going to NSHMBA had the resumania this week, where we met career consultants who went over our resumes with us. Today we had the Mockmania where we practiced our 30 seconds pitch. Mine still needs a lot of work.

Tomorrow - Friday - we don't have classes (thank god), but we do have industires workshops all day. The next 2 Fridays are also class free and after the game next Saturday vs. Richmond, we have almost a month where the games will be away so we'll have the Saturday's to catch up our schoolwork and career work.

I'm off to our bi-weekly cold call social - basically food and drinks outside on the grass at the school's court with all the Darden community - faculty, students, administration - that started 5 mintues ago.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I was still asleep when the 9:00 Kegs 'n' Eggs, hosted by a classmate, started.
I did, however, make it on time to the tailgate to get fuelled up with the local brewsky - Starr Hill -which is quite good. For some reason they don't allow alcohol in the stadium. Go figure.

Yes, it was the first game of the season. College football.

If I have ever been to a football game before, I was probably too young to remember, so for me, this was a first time experience and what an experience it was.
Around 60,000 people come into town and block the streets and fill up the parking lots. People who live near by Scott stadium sell their parking spots for 15-20$. This was a day to leave the car at home. Aparently yesterady was a new record for the stadium's capacity. 64,947 people watched the ranked third place USC Trojans treat our Cavaliers as cannon fodder . It's not Beaver Stadium (largest stadium in the US) but still quite impressive.
The walk to the tailgate and thereafter the stadium revealed sights of many many tailgates spread along the way as well as plain ol' picnics on front lawns with the background of thousands of people walking towards the stadium. It was amazing to see how everything turns into a celebration in the US. We have nothing even remotely similar to that in Israel. The closest would be probably the post victory celebrations after Maccabi won the Euroleague. But still, it's not liket this.

We had only one chance to sing our victory song - yes only one touchdown for this game, but the moral was high - at least for the USC folks it was.

A classmate explained the basic rules of the game and I dicovered that it's actually interesting and that I actually liked it. I'm finally in a country where I can relate to the national sports. I can't wait until baseball season starts - that stadium is a footstep away from my house.

The game and it's festivities take over one's complete day, so now I'm behind on all my school work/career/etc.
But you know something? There's another game next. We're playing Richmond and I intend to be there.

Go Hoos!
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