Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Night Before

40,000 people are the new addition to the Charlottesville population count. At least for this weekend - graduation weekend.

The historical ceremony on the lawn has been cancelled due to the weather. The Darden ceremony will not be outside and we will be moving to the basketball court in Northgrounds Gym.
This was the essence of the article on a Darden news website. The date was 5/23. It was published, however two days earlier. It caused quite a scare. I'm assuming it was the result of a quick finger on the publish button rather than the save button.

Only twice in the last twenty years was the ceremony performed in sever weather conditions.
The whole town is crossing its fingers for the announcement tomorrow morning. Tomorrow at 8:00 am we will have the final answer and know if we would be denied of the privilege of graduating on Thomas Jefferson's lawn and then at Darden under the sky.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Live Report

I have decided to try a special kind if post today. A Live report. Courtasy of my Blogger iPhone App.

18:15 First stop: Cold Call.

Walking there I can hear the music playing. Apparently today the LASA band is playing. Just got a phone call reporting that sone food has been set asside for me.

Good Mexican food. Good friends. Good music. Makes me sad that we are leaving this place soon.

19:15 Marketing and martinis.
The annual marketing club event. You can guess the theme. My friend and i were champions of Cornhole a game i just learned last week.

Japan and Korea party at the Jefferson Ridge club house.

Saki Bombs, kareoki and Japan/Korean food. I never knew there was such a thing as octapus balls. There's a bet going on about what time the first person will go in the pool. Had the chance to mass sing "That loving feeling" before we left.

J's birthday party. LASA style. Had to give up TNDC tonight. Thankfully, prioritizing is one of the most important aspects you learn at Darden.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Whitewater Rafting

Twice a year our Outdoors Club organizes (among other things) a rafting trip in West Virginia. We left yesterday and arrived in our cabins at night. WV is an amazing state for those who like the outdoors and the scenery was breathtaking.

This whole week we had temperatures of 31 Celsius, but yesterday afternoon it started to get chilly and I spent the night locating and sealing the holes in my blanket wrap project.

We dressed up heavily with wetsuits and set out to explore New River - one of the two oldest rivers in the world.

We lost nobody although some people did end up swimming the waters. It was a lot of fun and good organization by the new First Year leadership of the club.

We were back in town just in time for the epic section D animal house party in an old (used to be) fraternity house.

And then there were only three weeks left...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

From Military to Business

While it has been a while since I finished my military service and I had finished my transition to the business world a long time ago, some of my Darden friends will be taking their first steps in doing so in about a month.

Darden is one of a few schools, along with MIT and NYU that are exceptionally military friendly. The Darden Military Association (DMA) provides the support and experience required for a smooth transition to the private sector and civilian life. Part of the perks is getting to meet some of the more interesting people who have taken this track.

This week the DMA hosted a breakfast with Kevin Sharer - CEO of Amgen and had the opportunity to discuss the transition described above combined with Kevin's life story (he insists his name is Kevin and not Sir) and contrast it with some background reading.

I found Kevin to be an honest, straight to the point, what you see is what you get type of person. When asked about his transition and his life flow that led him to his current position, he replied that "this is usually the first question I get and what you meant is "this guy has a cool job. I want to be like him. If I find out what his formula was, maybe I can do the same"". He then continued and explained that if he told us his story, we'd conclude that he won the lottery. But if we hear other people at similar positions' stories, we'd conclude they wont the lottery as well.

The truth is that life just happens regardless of plans and what we may think they will look like for us. It was nice, however, to hear that he thought (not surprisingly) highly of our military experience that besides leadership traits, has provided us with a high tolerance for ambiguity and independent and adaptive thinking.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Farmer's Market

Today the Charlottesville Farmer's Market has finally returned. For me, this marks the official beginning of spring.

Fresh free-range farm eggs, cheese tastings and the wonderful smells followed by a stroll in the historic downtown mall sipping an iced- mocca on a warm sunny day.

No better way to start the weekend.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You only get what you give

It's hard to believe, but my two years at Darden are almost over. They tell you these are the best two years of your life.

They are.

After a wonderful spring break spent in the San Francisco Bay area, Phoenix and sunny Florida, I landed in Charlottesville airport and almost kissed the ground. I realized how much i love this place. It was good to be back.

The week started started at a typical Darden pace with the finesse of a locomotive trying to bring a car to 88 MPH by running into it. Before I knew it, the week was over and I now have only 6 weeks left here. So sad.

I met professor I hold a lot of respect for on my way home yesterday. I mentioned what a great experience these two years were for me and how sad I am that it will all be over soon. His response was that it was a great experience because I was so involved. "The program is as good as what you put into it". He mentioned how he felt that in every discussion we've had in class, I was always there, in it and had something to say. It was flattering to hear that. He was right, of course. If you just come here for the boat ride, you'll make it across, but you'll miss out on so much.

As you begin you MBA journey in a few months or start your second year you'll have a lot on your plate, but try and keep that in mind. Give it everything you've got. Take on leadership roles, make friends, build houses, learn and have fun while you're at it. It will be over before you can know it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

SHE Auction

Every year the National Association of Women MBA (NAWMBA) organizes the SHE Auction. The Shelter for Help in Emergency's goal is to eliminate domestic violence and the auction is a great source of donations. This year the event was held at the Boar's Head Inn, which is a good enough reason to attend by itself. A red carpet greated the guests along a reception of two of our more entertaining second year students. Various items were on sale in a silent auction from artistic photographs to a basketball signed by the Cavaliers. During dinner, a live auction was running selling the higher priced items such as a flat in London that went for a thousand dollars per night and a famous dinner made by a few of our professors.

This is one just more example of Darden students giving back to the community during the two years they are here ( and having fun while they're at it).

A few items has some fierce competitors. My main rival for the basketball did not want it to get on the hands of a non-double 'Hoo.

The evening ended with dancing to the wee hours of the night.

While the dancing was still going on, a few of us second years retreated to the inn's old-fashioned bar.

As for the basketball, I joined forces with my friend and after sending his girlfriend to bid for us, I now have a 50% stake in a basketball investment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Women's Leadership Week

This week is women's leadership week.

The week was full of interesting events and speakers. Today I participated in a discussion about "women and the labyrinth of Leadership: Why women don't make it into the c- suite" moderated by professor Ed Freeman. On the panel were four women in leadership roles and a man for diversity's sake.

I was looking forward to a discussion led by Ed Freeman, who always seems to get discussions to a new level, forcing people to defend their positions, drilling in behind the blunt statements to carve out what people really think. Not this time though. Today, Prof. Freeman was very low key and so was the discussion.

The panelists asked us to be honest and even provocative. Sadly, we were not.

Questions such as "what advice could you give us as we enter corporate America" after stating how difficult it was to adjust post undergrad were politely addressed by the panelists with an "every company has a different culture". Thank god men don't need to adjust because we all come genetically prepared, love football, NASCAR, Golf and drink a gallon of Guinness before we brush our teeth in the morning.

In my past, when I was young and pretty, I used to be razor focused. I went into a meeting, knowing what the agenda was and I would get to it. Why waste time on irrelevant chit chats, right? My boss commented on this and told me to loosen up a little before meetings, maybe crack a joke or talk about other things outside of work before starting a meeting. I am so glad I took his advice. It was something I had to learn and I'm grateful for the feedback. I was surprised to hear a similar story today from a female student who thought she only got this feedback because she was a woman.

Don't get me wrong. I am not doubting the fact that there are still people in the world who are prejudiced based on sex. I just think that this group of people contains women as well as men.

The discussion almost started to be interesting when another female student raised the fact that women often overcompensate and then stopped herself from using a word that is used to describe female canines, but nobody wanted to leave the comfort zone of discussion.

It was disappointing to see such a shallow discussion in a school known for it's invigorating discussions.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


A state of emergency has been declared in Charlottesville due to the expected snow storm. Last time it snowed at least that much was during winter break. I remember bathing in the sun on the beaches of the red sea, looking at the facebook photos and statuses of snowed in people, who were stuck at home for a few days.
This time around people wanted to be prepared. So, they stormed the shelves at all the supermarkets and bought everything. After all, nobody wants to get stuckat home watching the super bowl without beer and food. So now, in the event of a nuclear war, the city can now sustain the state of Virginia.

While everyone was preparing for the snow, and signs warning against driving were posted, 75 Dardenites were driving to Snowshoe in WV for the outdoors club ski trip.

Some people on the site told me yesterday that these are the best skiing conditions they've seen. The wind and snow did force us to dress like one would, climbing the everes, but as one of my friends put it, it was west coast skiing on the east coast.

The evening in the cabins may sometimes confuse you into thinking this was an undergrad event and just this morning I woke up to find the front doors were barred by two big snowmen.

4 of us had to leave our cars on the mountain last night due to the road conditions and one car was rescued and took four hours to get back.

All in all it was a fantastic way to spend the emergency weekend.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The First Israel Trek

Israel is the first in Nobel awards per capita, the first in R&D investment per capita, and the third in patents per capita in the world. These are some of the reasons that brought together the first Israel Trek at Georgetown university today with participants from the business schools of Georgetown, George Washington, Meryland, and Virginia.

The venue was the new and beautiful building named after former priminister of Lebanon-Rafik Hariri.

According to Professor Gal Raz from Darden, after attending presentations with some of the Israeli Defence industry presentations showing tanks and missiles, this is a sign that peace is definitely on the way.

We were honored by an opening by Georgetown MSB's dean- Dr. George Daly followed by Ralph Robbins - the Executive Director of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board from the office of the governor and Asher Kotz - Manager, International Business Development of Fairfax County Economic Development, all of which were impressive in the strategic position they were holding Israeli companies in and especially surprising was the number of Israeli companies and startup as a whole (around 6000) in the area. It would seem that Virginia is seeking to be the Silicone Valley of the east and doing a pretty good job at it. It was great to see the people involved and the school's recognition of the importance in embracing and nurturing relationships with some of those companies that included Rafael, NICE systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit, Babylon and more.

I found it ironic that the Elbit representative was so keen on speaking to Americans, yet not so enthusiastic in the Israelis, even those with an American citizenship.

All in all it made for a very interesting day. We left with a broader network, a few new friends and a mesage from Asaf Vitman - Ministrer for Economic Affairs, Embassy of Israel - who has asked us not to forget to bring all that we've learned back home someday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lessons Learned

"it's actually possible to get to know 300 people" is a part of the answer I used to give to the why Darden question. The same answer I got a year before. Today in class we've had a Darden grad from the 80's. After hearing how he made millions and analyzing some of his business decisions we've had the chance to get some advice from him. As it turns out, he got all of his jobs from his fellow classmates. He then told us to take a look around because these are the people who will be our network for life. These are the ones we'll reach out for advice, support and business opportunities.
It's easy to forget this sometimes and stay in that close circle of friends padding your comfort zone. I hope that I will not look back one day and feel I could have done better on this front.

I almost forgot, there was another alumnus from '95 that had mentioned that nothing matters in the long run, but LO* and Marketing. I've heard this so much that I'm actually starting to beleive it. Good thing I am taking every marketing class at Darden.

* LO - Leading Organizations formerly known as Organizational Behavior (OB)
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