She said, he said…a Q&A about that week in L.A.

DSC_0545Carissa Caparas blogs about her classmates’ experiences during the 2012 NUS Study Trip to LA.

One afternoon, in between classes and group discussions, I managed to sit down with Ria and KK – she’s the charming ex-co and he’s the easy-going president of the Student Activities Club. Together, their enthusiasm and outgoing personalities embody the epitome of student activities. What better way to showcase this than through participating in the recent NUS study trip.

Both of them decided to join the study trip for the opportunity to bond with their fellow cohorts. Ria’s reasons also include visiting the top US companies and meeting with the CEOs, plus the fact that she remembers the study trip as one of the highlights in NUS while she was applying for the program.  As for KK, he’s never been to America and the initial list of the companies to be visited excited him.  Ria and KK spoke to me candidly about what happened during the study trip. Here are their stories (or what I chose to disclose, anyway):

There were 16 other students who took the flight with Ria and KK to Los Angeles, California on board Korean Air. Leave it to the girls to start the adventure before even arriving at their destination – they went shopping during the brief stopover in Seoul (how they managed to shop and not miss the flight just goes to show how good their time management skills are).

NUS Study trip LA 2012

While their group visited several companies such as Gilead, Target, and Port of Long Beach, the highlights of their trip involved the visits to the following companies:

Buffalo Studios, which is a start-up company behind the popular game in Facebook called Bingo Blitz. It had 5 employees last year, and now has 50+ employees;

TCW, an asset management firm, where they met with a very jovial CEO. Their group met with the company heads in the boardroom, which has French and American flags. Each of their names was printed out, and this gesture was only one of the many that made them feel so welcome;

Princess Cruises, where they had lunch with the entire management team. The team took the time to discuss the company’s strategies with them. The CEO actually quizzed them on accounting (they answered all questions correctly, of course);

Zodiac, an aerospace firm, where 100 people (representing the entire office) were waiting at the reception area for them and clapped when their group finally arrived (they were 15 minutes late due to traffic). Ria and KK were both in agreement that this visit was the most heart-warming. They also visited the UCLA campus, where NUS has a joint executive MBA program with, and went on a VIP tour of the facilities in Warner Brother Studios.

LA - Gilead and Target trip - 20th Feb 2012
LA - UCLA and CBRE trip - 21st Feb 2012
LA - trip to Santa Monica - 22nd Feb 2012

 During their last night, they joined the alumni from the NUS-UCLA executive program for a formal networking dinner at a restaurant in Venice Beach (which, contrary to what the place implies, did not provide them a view of the beach).

Of course, the trip didn’t end without the group having fun. During the day of their arrival, before embarking on the company visits, the 6 girls (and a guy) rented a car and drove to Cabazon (Desert Hills) where they went shopping at a premium outlet, notwithstanding the long flight and jetlag. The best shopper turned out to be the one guy in the group, who knew the best discount stores. They gave new meaning to the phrase, “shop ‘til they drop” for they were there until closing time at 9pm. As expected, they couldn’t fit all their shopping bags inside the truck.

Meanwhile, KK and a few of the guys went to Las Vegas for a day (KK practiced playing poker in Ipad beforehand, but he still lost $100). They then watched a show in Planet Hollywood (here is where I plead the Fifth and avail of the saying – what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas).

One of the highlights of the study trip was KK’s birthday, which they celebrated at a fancy Italian restaurant, where the waiter gave them free shots. They then moved on to an Irish pub in Hollywood Boulevard and counted the hours down to KK’s birthday.

As their parting words, here’s what Ria and KK have to say to the incoming NUS MBA students:

Ria – Take advantage of the opportunity. Even if the trip only lasted for a week, my experiences were rich, rewarding and unforgettable. Seldom do you get the opportunity to visit top US companies and meet the management team behind these firms. The study trip is definitely one of the highlights of the MBA for the learning experience is different from the classroom setting.

KK – The study trip meant meeting real business leaders; a lot of times they talked about what they’re experiencing in real life, where you realize the application of the concepts you learned from business school. It’s a great bonding time with your fellow cohorts – you make good friends.

Postscript: My sincerest thanks goes to Ria and KK who spent the time to tell me their many stories and who provided me with photos (thank you for the great photo collages, KK!). 

Carissa Caparas (Filipino)
Full-Time student, Class of 2013