Monday, June 2, 2008

Goodbye Sloan. Hello Re-entry

Reporter: S.B.,

June 14th 2008, graduation day for us. It is the date many of us marked on our calendars at the beginning of the Sloan program. That would be the day when our brief break from work will end and we will go back to our careers that we temporarily put on hold. In my case, I will be working on a software start-up in the healthcare sector. It is what I enjoy doing most; starting technology businesses and growing them into self-sustaining entities. Now thanks to the Sloan program and Stanford GSB, I have more tools at my disposal that will hopefully help me to more efficiently reach my goals.

We are looking forward to graduation, to our final study trip (covers mainland of China, Hong Kong and Vietnam) and to our last few remaining parties and TGIFs (Sloan version of LPF) where we will get to say goodbye to our friends and classmates. Even though the time we have known each other has been short (less than ten months), we have managed to bond well together. I am certain that each of us will look back at this time that we had together very fondly and will continue to stay in touch as the past Sloan classes have done.

I would compare the three quarters, the ten months that we spent together at the Sloan program as three acts of a story. Act one would be the Fall quarter is where we were re-introduced to student life. Everyone in the class had been out of academia anywhere from 10 years to in some cases 25 years. Hence, adjusting to new life on campus was not easy. My wife and I had to figure out the least difficult way to split time between our house in East Bay and our apartment on campus. Also, a number of us went from leading teams to just managing themselves. They had to transition from making decisions for large organizations to spending a number of hours a day in classrooms and listening to lectures. Some of my classmates and their families had moved from foreign countries. In addition to classes, they had to deal with the added pressures of uprooting their family, finding schools for their kids, language issues and many details involved with settling in a new country. On the positive side, fall quarter was also a time where we got to know each other on an individual basis. It was also a time where I noticed that we were building stronger affinity to Stanford and GSB. Even students that made it a point to let everyone know that they liked Futbol not American Football, were ecstatic when Stanford beat USC. By the time, big game came round, all of us had our cardinal gear ready and some of the futbol fans were even ready to even paint their faces.

During act two, the winter quarter, we were cruising. We had the campus figured out, we knew where to park on a given day and time, we had been to most of the lunch places on campus and knew which ones had the more attractive option on a given day of the week. We figured out who the class clowns were, who were the “know it alls” and more importantly who had the the best tequila, whose house to go to for best sushi and who could whip-up a mean barbecue. Our families had also bonded. Our spouses and partners would look forward to Tuesday night karaoke. Our children loved the TGIFs because they got to play with their new best friends, the children of other Sloans. We loved the TGIFs because it gave us a chance to unwind after a loooooooong week. On the academic side, we also figured out the most optimal time one had to spend reading a case, tricks to get your class participation points with least amount of effort. More importantly, we learnt to rely on each other in our study groups and in our classes.

Act three, the spring quarter started off on a low key. All of us realized that this was our last quarter at the GSB. It was time to put more time and energy into planning our post-Sloan phases of our lives. For the Sloan fellows that were sponsored by their employer, it meant trying to figure out which job, project and location of their employer was waiting for them after graduation. For the self-sponsored Sloans, it meant that if they were looking for a job, they had only a short amount of time left before they had to make a decision as to where they wanted to work after graduation. The entrepreneurs in the group had to start thinking about their next business, their team, market, and sources of funding. However, by the beginning of May most people seemed to have figured out what they would be doing after graduation.

Here is a little snapshot of how life is going to be for some of us in the future. Brooke Schulz was a Sr. Vice President of Corporate Communications at Vonage. After graduation, she is teaming up with her classmate Erin Zhu to launch a business that will help musicians and bands to manage the business aspect of their music. Alex Jensen was VP for BP where she was responsible for Commercial activities in 9 downstream businesses with a total Net Income of $2 Billion. After Sloan, she will move to Shanghai to run BP’s China Business Unit responsible for gas stations and LPG. Koichi Zaiki was a project financier for the EMEA region for Mizuho bank. He will know by the end of July as to which part of the world the bank wants him to go. Gee Keow Tan was working in Singapore’s Ministry of Defense and she will be going to work for the Ministry of Education and she will focus on post-Secondary education in the country. Abhitjit Phanse was the founder and C.E.O of semi-conductor company; Scintera. He is currently exploring a growth equity investment in an existing packaging business that he believes can benefit from his skills and experience and grow substantially, as he pursues a career in PE/VC investing. Yiming Wu was responsible for investment activities and legal affairs for the giant steel company, Bao Steel. She will go back to Bao Steel and work in the Raw Materials Division. Before Sloan program, William Shaw was the youngest country manager at British Airways. After graduation, he will be launching a discount airline in Latin America. In an interesting twist, this airline will be hiring its personnel through a reality TV show based in Bogota, Colombia. I guess this is a show where the host will be saying “you are hired”.

We have met and welcomed the next class, Class of 2009. We are down to our last few parties which means each one of them needs to be cherished and enjoyed. Looking back, all of us feel that we have learned a lot, increased our network of friends and acquaintances and hope to continue our connection with this wonderful institution. At the beginning of the class year, all the Sloans made a vow to not leave anyone behind. During the year, some of our classmates had personal issues, health issues or issues related to specific courses that could have negatively affected their program experience. I am very glad and proud of how we rallied around and helped each other fulfill our commitment. For example, one of our classmates went going through a difficult divorce during the sloan year. On the day, the divorce came through, some of us went to his house at 3:00 AM and tried to cheer him up with tequila and by making him bacon sandwiches. He swears that his even to this day his house still smells like bacon. All of us came in together and we look forward to that day, two weeks from now when we all leave together as Sloan graduates.

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