Thursday, June 12, 2008

My dream and an airplane voyage today

Reporter : K2
My dream in my early boyhood was to be pilot.

For me, an airplane was like a flying carpet. I thought it could take me to anywhere I wish. I was curious about other countries, people, cultures, foods, and languages.... Unfortunately, I was not accepted by airlines to be a pilot. Therefore, I selected a job, whose scope is broaden and by which I can explore myself to overseas - mysterious world. I had worked for one of Japanese trading companies over 12 years and visited a lot of places and met a variety of people and experienced diversity of this world.

Today, my classmate Pete Large gave me a special chance to go to fantastic world "Airplane Voyage". He has a private license and frequently flies over cities surrounding this area. We traveled from Palo Alto and moved toward the north - flew over Half-moon Bay, Alcatraz Island, and San Francisco. Then, we flew over Santa Cruz and accidentally met quite big size of wild fire.... I was feeling like becoming a flying bird... like part of airplane. It was great experiences and made me recall my dream in my early boyhood. I recalled my dream, a dream almost forgot in my past hectic life.....

From my experience, I feel people is likely to have easier dream or goal in their life if s/he is getting older. This is because they can anticipate its result before the things happen and because they become conservative and passive. Especially, people become passive rather than proactive if they have spouse and children. I saw see such changes before and probably I am one of those examples.

During my fall term, we had a chance to watch a famous speech " I have a dream " made by Mathin Luther King Jr. long time ago. I was impressed with it, especially his statement "I have a dream. One day the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together." gave me deep impression as bing human being..... Mr. King believed his dream would come true even under the circumstances that black people was really and seriously discriminated from American society. He believe his thought and continuously persuade people surrounding him by delivering his dream and messages. He believed "Change" will happen under such harsh circumstance.

I am currently facing the end of my academic life. This is the departure from Stanford University and the moment I need to say Bye to all other Sloan Fellows. Almost every day, I told my friends here "Good Morning", "How are you" and "See you tomorrow". It was very simple and ordinary communication and a kind of my routine work. But, it will not work from the week after the next as most of fellows will leave here for somewhere in the world.

I have acquired a lot from this program and people involved. Also, I've gained more confidence to myself and became more balanced person. I really want to spend time to think about my eternal dream and try to align it with several things I would love to do in the near future.

Almost 13 years ago (Year 1995), when I graduated from Keio University (Japan), our colleage head mentioned to us "In English, they have another word to call "graduation". It is "Commencement". The word "commencement" means the graduation ceremony like you are experiencing today. However, this word means "start" as well. Therefore, even though you graduate from this University, this is just a beginning of your new life and you should pursue your dream forever."
I am really experiencing same things but this is the second "commencement" in my life.

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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sloan 2008’s East Coast Study Trip

Reporter : S. B.
Each year, as part of the Sloan curriculum, the Sloan class travels to Washington DC and New York to meet leaders in federal government and financial industry. This year, our class had the privilege to visit some top notch institutions and meet their exceptional leaders. Some of the movers and shakers that we met in Washington DC included Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve Board Chairman), Hank Paulson (Secretary of Treasury), and Carolina Barco (Colombian Ambassador to USA). In New York, we visited leaders of the NYSE Euronext, and the CEOs of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Ernst & Young, among many others.

Hearing Mr. Bernanke was a special treat. He discussed the current liquidity crisis and the Fed’s response. But he also provided an interesting analysis of ‘The Wizard of Oz’—apparently the story is an allegory of the Federal Reserve at the turn of the 20th century. Did you know that the scarecrow represented farmers and that the tin man represented industrial laborers who were desperate for lubricant (currency)? Also, Dorothy was the average American girl, the yellow brick road was the gold standard which led to the Emerald City (Washington or, alternately, New York’s financial district), and the wizard was the U.S. President, who in the book is terrified of evil witches... Needless to say, our class found our interaction with the Fed Chairman to be very informative and entertaining.
We also had the chance to meet with Mr. Cal Dooley (Sloan 1987), an actual Washington lobbyist and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Products Association (FPA). Mr. Dooley discussed the unintended consequences of alternate sources of energy and energy independence, such as large spikes in the cost of food which disproportionately affect the poor. Then, during her speech to our class at the Colombian Embassy, Ms. Carolina Barco eloquently described Colombia’s steady progress under President Uribe, as well as the need for a US-Colombia free trade agreement. It was therefore interesting to find, once we got back to Stanford, that Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager was fired due to his association with the Colombian free trade agreement.

After we finished our last meeting in DC, we traveled on Amtrak Acela to New York City. We had a car reserved for our class and the entire trip was a lot of fun filled with socializing, coordinating social activities with business meetings, and to downing some ..ahem.. adult beverages. The change in time zones was probably the least enjoyable part of the trip. On most days, the first appointment of the day for us would be at 9 AM EST. This meant that we had to leave our hotel by 8 AM, which in turn meant we had to wake up at 7AM- but that is 4 AM California time! Even some of the morning people were having a tough time. However, large doses of coffee infusions along with cat naps on the bus between meetings helped. On the upside , partying late into the night, which happened often, was easy. By the time hard-partying New Yorkers were ready to call it a night, we were just getting started.

Our visit to NYSE Euronext was very interesting from a number of angles. First, we had to go through a pretty rigorous security gauntlet. The security folks were cordial, even though some of them walked around the building with M4 carbines. Then we had a great interactive session with Larry Leibovitz, the Chief Operating Officer of NYSE. He walked us through all the challenges the NYSE had to overcome in transitioning from a private, member-operated entity that relied on market-makers, to its present form as a global public electronic exchange. At the end we got a chance to tour the trading floor of the stock exchange- the “sanctum sanctorum of capitalism”. Fox Business Channel and CNBC had permanently-stationed people on the floor, and we could still see left-over signs for the now defunct CNNfn channel.

Then the meeting with Susan Lyne, the CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO), provided useful insights regarding hiring and firing decisions. Before joining MSLO, Ms. Lyne worked for Walt Disney Pictures and Television where she was chartered with turning ABC around. She was responsible for green lighting a number of shows for ABC including “Desperate Housewives”, “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy”. Unfortunately she was fired before these shows aired. She did not exhibit any bitterness, however, and gave us useful philosophical frameworks to use when being fired, and hopefully, when doing the firing as well. We asked on what it took to be successful when working for a visionary demanding founder; her answer ‘communication and more communication’.

We ended our trip with a visit to offices of Ernst & Young (E & Y) and meeting with Jim Turley its CEO. When he walked into the conference room, he made it a point to shake hands and to remember all our names and nationalities. He also knew the names of all major corporations around the world, the names of their leaders, and their relationships with E & Y. We then had a great Q & A session. For example, he explained the challenges of his first front-line manager job as being a lone fire hydrant in a 50-dog town. His next job was similar expect that there were far more dogs. He also discussed his philosophy towards making tough decisions. He thinks it’s better to act on them immediately and move decisively rather than postponing the decision, hoping that the situation will get better. He compared that to being forced to eat a sandwich filled with “very unappealing material”. If, during the course of your career, you are forced to eat such a meal, it is better to Koichi Zaiki and Robert Jungerhans have fun in Washington eat it in one bite rather than nibbling on it. Needless to say, visiting with Mr. Turley was an awesome way to finish an excellent study trip.

My Sloan life...

Reporter: Alex Jensen,

Here we are entering May and I find myself in two minds about our sloan year coming to an end. Part of me is gripped with a kind of panic at not having the community of 53 confidantes only a spontaneous conversation or hug’s length away. Another part of me is really ready to launch back into my company and start adding value again. I have spent some quality time recently reflecting on what my major take-outs are from this year and I realize with delight that I’ve actually made progress on all the objectives I came with. I have renewed my passion for making a difference in the world of energy; I know how I will communicate who I am to a team of 1000 people; I no longer recoil from words like power, success and ambition. But there have been other benefits that I hadn’t foreseen. I have been utterly compelled by my entrepreneurial classmates who had the imagination to create a vision, the guts to fail and the self-belief to succeed. I needed some of that and I thank them for their inspiration. I have also been inspired by my female classmates who have shown me that you can be both feminine and powerful; a good mother and a tough leader; strong-willed and humble. I leave Stanford confident that my yin and yang are better balanced than ever. I can’t wait to test it all out in the workplace.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ask Sally – Sally Answers your questions

Reporter : S. B.

In our returning articles, Sally Pierce, the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-perceiving overseer of the Sloan program will answer your questions. As we all know there are no ‘stupid questions” but you are free to make assumptions about the person that asked the question.

If you have additional questions that you would like to ask Sally, please e-mail them to ‘you know who’ or ‘whose name shall not be spoken’.

Dear Sally, I am having a lot of fun in the Sloan program. This is great. I never realized it would be this much fun. – Wildly Optimistic

Dear W.O., It is called Stockholm syndrome. You can look it up on Wikipedia or ask Hakan about it. By the time you are done with your mid-terms, you will start thinking that this has been the best year of your life and that you will miss the classes, your classmates and even us. Fortunately, these effects will go away after years of therapy. Hope this helped.

Dear Sally, I am looking forward to the Latin Party. But it keeps on getting postponed. When is it eventually going to happen?. – Party Hardy

Dear P.H., I have been with the Sloan program long enough to notice some trends with the parties. All the Sloan parties will have bad 80s music, The Asian party will have karaoke, the Indian party will start late and end late. With regards to the Latin party, it will happen when it happens and clocks and calendars are not very useful in predicting it. Like with fine tequila, you will have to be patient. It will be worth the wait. Hope this helped.

Dear Sally, Why is the Sloan program so hard? We spend almost all our waking time studying, reading cases, working on assignments/project reports and yet it still does not seem enough. Am I missing something? – Think I am an Admissions Mistake

Dear T.I.A.A.M, You are not an admissions mistake. We are not supposed to discuss this but your question sounds so sincere and so I am disclosing this for the very first time. The Sloan program is a social experiment to determine how far a person can be pushed before they break. So everytime you seem to get a grip on your workload and you have not broken down, we increase your workload.

But lately, I noticed that we may be getting close to a breaking point. Marie, Sandy, Virginia and I talked to Dean Robert ‘Milgram’ Joss and we told him, “Bob we need to stop this. I think you have all the data you need for your research already. We have pushed this class past their breaking point. Last week, we saw Brian Tice in the Sloan lounge, curled up in fetal position. He was shaking and muttering that he would rather be in Fallujah avoiding sniper fire. If Brian is close to breaking, then the more sensitive people like William must be in a serious downward spiral.” As he has done in the past, he told us in a very even mode “Please continue. The experiment requires that you continue. It is absolutely essential that you continue”. So we came back and added more work. Hope this helped.

Dear Sally, My partner has noticed that since I joined the Sloan program, my ..err… drive has gone up substantially. I have been trying to figure this out and I think I may be accidentally ingesting huge amounts of Viagra. Besides attending classes, the only thing that has changed from my pre-sloan days is the M & Ms that I eat in your office. Are you sure those M & Ms are not spiked? – Excited & Delighted

Dear E.D., The only thing that you will find in my M & Ms are love and some empathy mixed with chocolate, sugar, nuts and approved coloring. There is a far simpler explanation for your increased...let’s say, perkiness. At the Sloan program, you spend hours sitting on your behind in classes in small cramped spaces. Most people do not realize how much of an aphrodisiac this can be. The seats in the MBA classrooms are not as comfortable as the ones in the Sloan classroom and have you noticed how much more ‘driven’ the MBAs are. Hope this helps.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

90% of my time at Stanford GSB

Reporter : Kristine Whiteman

This week I had the privilege of standing in front my classmates and addressing them as I introduced Michael Isikoff. “Distinguished colleagues,” I said, practicing for our certain future. I realized as I spoke that it’s true right now.

I think 90% of the time school is exhilarating and marvelous and one of the best inventions of the modern world. 10% of the time it sucks and threatens to take me down.

The grass is certainly always greener isn’t it? I have had a number of convos this week with classmates who are ready to go back to work. The novelty of school has worn off, we’re tired of spending rather than earning, and it starts to feel like the world is whizzing past and all we’re doing is sitting here, observing instead of participating.

This year is especially tough for a crowd that’s used to doing and not just being. Being a group member instead of the obvious group leader; being the person getting talked to all the time instead of doing the speaking; being told where to go and when and how much is expected, rather than getting to set all these benchmarks for ourselves and the teams we’re running; being the learner instead of the teacher; in short, being the participant instead of the instigator.

Of course these are all good lessons. Of course we have willingly set the stage to take on this training. Its just not always that fun or easy. Our 2nd (& a ½) term is almost complete. One more to go. Unbelievable. Astonishingly amazing and wonderful.

Let’s hang in, yeah…fellow Sloans? Let’s continue on our quest to be extraordinary. Let’s be remarkable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Sloan experience, so far....

Reporter: Escobedo Sergio,

We've just passed the middle point of our program. What a ride has been so far. As to why this is my first post? So many things to do, so little time. But hey, I'm here. Finally.

This term has been much more exhausting for me. I was really tired by the end of January. It was almost impossible for me to keep up with all the readings, and I think I read fast. Fortunately I now am down 2 classes and that has freed up so much time for me. I now can relax, socialize a little bit more and of course watch Lost without feeling guilty.

So far being here has been an amazing experience. Being honest, I'm still in awe of everything and everyone. Every single day has been a source of inspiration, knowledge and challenge. Every single day has been an opportunity to build new friendships, try new things and just grow as a human being.

I don't know if I'll remember everything from our courses. What I know is that I'll never forget the Seattle trip, the hiking trip, the day we went karaoke'ing, the day we saw two movies in a row, the dinners, the lunch's, the ice cream Tuesdays and Thursdays and the other one thousand things we've done together.

I look forward to the second half of our year. Here's me wishing more good memories for everyone.