Reflections on the first semester

Today as I look back at the term gone by, the last few months spent /(squandered) at the MBA come back to me in flashes. All that excitement of wrapping up the transfer of responsibilities and KTs at work, a short but sweet trip to my hometown and packing for the exciting trip ahead to Singapura. It all seems as if it happened yesterday…

I started the “brave” (someone’s bravery is someone else’s foolishness) MBA journey with a sense of accomplishment (for I had managed to crack into one of the best MBA programs in Asia Pacific), and the next thing I find myself doing was trying to walk on a tight rope about 50 feet above the ground and shaking vigorously out of fear. Every time I glanced down, I saw a bunch of nincompoops egging me to go on and telling me not to give up. Was all of this a bad dream?? No!!! This was three day team building exercise at the OBS. It gave me my first two lessons at MBA:

1. Your team could get you killed!!!! (or could have bring you safely down which they eventually did)

2. Never do such a foolish thing in life, EVER again!!!! (Does a week qualify as EVER?)

Little did I realize then that I would spend a good year and half with these buffoons and that some of them would become my best friends…

Next I see myself sitting in my very first MBA class. It’s all so clear in my failing memory of the grey matter between my ears. “Whoa!!!!!”, I thought “It’s nice to be back to class again after a gap of almost a decade, old man!!”. The module was “Financial Management” and the Prof., probably younger than me, started by talking about innocuous looking topic of “corporate structure” and “securities”. However, in no time I had missiles coming and hitting me from all around from smart twenty-somethings: credit default swaps, mortgage backed securities, derivatives, futures and options. I distinctly remember wondering, “Am I the only one for whom all this is over head transmission (OHT)??” As time would tell, the answer was “depends”!! (For further clarifications you may want to follow the link)

The other classes were no better. Well, at least the first few!

I pretty much cursed everyone during the first week at MBA for helping me make it to the program. If my parents really wanted me do a MBA, couldn’t they have been more sensitive by teaching me 4P’s of marketing, Game Theory, Supply and Demand, dual entry system, put and call options, etc. in my kindergarten rather than teaching me “Jack and Jill” and “Baa, Baa Black Sheep”?? What wrongs did I do to those friends who pushed me into this quagmire of jargon and knowledge?? Why did the bank foolishly lend me the money to pursue an MBA – just because the NUS MBA program was number 1 in their list of approved programs?? Was I mad at the world or the world just wanted to kick me hard in the “you know where”??

Then there was sheer madness of activity around me. CSO sessions with presentation experts, personality counselling, club introductions, placement talks (am I crazy? Placement talks in the very first term into the program?), resume review sessions, etc. and not forgetting the gradually creeping loads of professor’s expectations (as if I cared a lot about it…haha!!!).

That said, the drive to make Cerebration-our annual business plan competition a big success, the passion to turn CSR-Kaleidoscope into a triumph, the amazing participation of multiple nationalities at the international day, the crazy gusto to be the Foosball king were the highlights in the journey that gave one a feeling that an MBA is what one makes out of it. Thanks to persuasive abilities of some of the office bearers, I even managed to assist them in organizing some club events and probably learnt a thing here and a thing there.

Some enlightened soul back home had told me, “MBA is a time to find what you really want to do in life. It’s as much about learning from other people’s experiences as delving within oneself and finding out ones true colours” (How clichéd!!! ). It has been a term of learning from others and digging deep within me, and now I think the soul back home was right. The constant prodding by the second year junta, “CAP doesn’t matter” and “you will know what you really want to do” helped a lot. I have (I think) toughened myself to attack the second term with new energy and hope that this term I will be at least a step closer to finding out what I really want to do.

Karunesh Pandey
Class of 2009