Better be Confused

August 25, 2009

As always, part of my morning routine includes a quick glance through a set of web-sites I read on MBA and GMAT. One of them happens to be the HBS Admissions Director’s Blog ( — a fairly comprehensive detail of what is expected of applicants, and a few important guidelines or advices.

This morning I found an update on the site after a month and four days on recommenders, and a part of the blog caught my attention:

“… in these unusual times, please don’t jeopardize your employment in order to secure a recommendation from a current employer. While we might wish that all bosses were enthusiastic and encouraging about business school for their emerging leaders, this is not a universal sentiment.”

Here’s why I felt it touching.

I have always been called “confused” by a section of people due to way I move about in live. And yet, with every jump I have only arrived at a better location and much further than where I had been before I made the leap. It struck me as odd that someone with experience would feel I was “confused” when I could plainly see that I was on the right track.

And then the truth struck me: I couldn’t expect many people to rejoice at my success. A few months back, in an attempt to initiate the application phase, I put up a Linkedin profile, and was left pleasantly surprised to see just how far I’ve gone since I first made a move and someone called me “confused.”

Most people think linear. Their career graph is also linear. They can’t imagine anyone doing anything that isn’t governed by a linear thought process. Anyone who thinks and acts non-linear is considered “confused”.

And nobody, barring a few exceptions, wants their best people to leave for business school. Every one of such people lost means a substantial jolt to the superior’s career. They’ve lost an engine of their growth. The lack of enthusiasm and encouragement “about business school for their emerging leaders” is therefore pretty much standard in the work place.

So, it’s nice to see that HBS understands and accepts this phenomenon.

The Summer Months

August 18, 2009

Before I’m too tired to even look at the flickering screen, I’d like to point out that HBS, by my reckoning, is a desolate little island these days. It has been so for the past few months; ever since the kids went away for their summer internships. The dorms must be empty, the classrooms empty, Spangler empty, Aldrich empty. I know one who’s in DC. I know it because she updates her blog weekly. This is also the time when one batch of HBS Grads has almost edged themselves out, and the next batch hasn’t quite moved in.

And that creates a problem for me.

Suddenly, all the juicy stuff leaking out of HBS has coagulated. Of all the blogs I follow, rarely has any been updated with any news of HBS. [Aside: Of course, there isn’t much news when the school is out.] And even the Harbus, the official mouth-piece of HBS, has been oddly silent. I can see the same group photograph, and the same write-ups still garnishing the front page that have been there since May 2009. Thankfully I have the archives to read. Correction: “had”. I’ve devoured them too by now.

So what’s the problem?

If you’re applying to a business school, you need to know everything, as in EVERYTHING, about the school before-hand — the culture, the happenings, the events, the schedule, the drunken parties, who is sleeping with whom, etc. In my case, I already have more than the requisite stash of information. I’m gathering the extras. I’m living the experience even before I’ve taken the GMAT. That might make me want to kill myself if I don’t eventually make it in, but on the other hand, also makes my decision more informed and my application more…to use an oft-repeated counsellor word “compelling.”

But now, it appears that the summer break is almost over, and the start of the new EC and the RC batches is close, very close. And I’m waiting, eagerly, to see what’s up.

The Chinese Trick

August 8, 2009

Oh Yes! I’m supposed to write something. I just read on about something the Chinese call a ‘JJ’ guide. This, essentially, is a digest of GMAT Quant question which various applicants have encountered in their actual GMAT. It follows the ‘someone-planted-a-tree-for-me-I’ll-plant-a-tree-for-someone’ — a very thoughtful gesture; very useful social co-operation, and an outright cheating mechanism. The debate was furious. Most posters denounced the ‘JJ’ and the original poster. The admin kicked him/her out of the forum, and warned that no copyright violation will be tolerated.

I posted the following:

“It’s very, very tough to prosecute a Chinese entity in China on a suit filed by a non-Chinese entity. The reason is that the Chinese government, whose job it is to prosecute, almost never agrees to whip one of it’s own to please a foreigner. As a lawyer dealing in foreign investment and foreign trade, I’m very wary of the Chinese when it comes to implementation of Chinese law. I remember a colleague talking about an international arbitration case involving a Chinese party and a foreign party. The arbitration award went in favour of the foreign party. Guess what the Chinese did? They just got up and walked away. They knew they would not be prosecuted in China. Of Course, it gets worse. No country can force China to adhere to international laws, or protocols. It’s too big, too powerful, and too important to be bullied. So I doubt if this ‘JJ’ thing will be closed upon international pressure. How about kneeling down and pleading to the Chinese administration to do MBA applicants a huge favour by outlawing the ‘JJ’. But why would they want to when it’s benefiting them?”

Yep, that’s what I’d want to know.