A HEC MBA 2010 student diary

The storm arrives – Core Phase-1 commences…

Posted in Personal Updates by Faiz Wahid on September 28, 2008

Finally the storm arrived!

This week, i.e. 22nd – 27th September, was pretty demanding than the ones before as it marked the commencement of the first academic phase of my MBA. The whole cohort has been distributed in three sections and each section into many working groups of 4-5 participants each. Aside from me, an Indian, my working group includes an American woman, a  Portuguese man, a Frenchman and a Chinese woman.

Here is my current mind map. Many of the activities mentioned have already started and the rest are commencing soon. For me, some activities are more interesting than the others. However, I must say that, all of them can be equally engaging to the interested mind.

Mind Map (2008-09-30)

My Mind Map (2008-09-30)

This week my section was introduced to 5 different courses titled Human Resources Management (F. Railliet), Financial Markets (Christophe Pérignon), Financial Accounting (Hervé Stolowy), Marketing (Wolfgang Ulaga) &

Organizational Behavior (Daniel Skarlicki, Maryvonne Lorenzen & Kevin Yong).

I am also attending the French class twice a week. Our instructor, Stephanie Moglia, with her fun-filled teaching style makes the class an absolute breeze. We learn french alphabets, pronunciation and build our vocabulary. The exciting part is that this class, from its very inception, is instructed in French and resorting to English in the class is “heavily” penalized (in a lighter sense of the word 🙂 ).

Finally, I also decided to actively participate in the HEC Net Impact and HEC Innovation & Technology clubs. I already have become a registered member of NetImpact.org which is the parent body of our local HEC Net Impact chapter.

I am also working on a new club concept and will post more about it as soon as something materializes.

Next week highlights include commencement of the remaining courses, Daniel Porot’s Seminar on Career Design and Job Hunting and Eid-al-Fitr marking end of the month of Ramadan.

Signing off for now.

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TEC On Campus – Introduction and September 2008 roundup

Posted in Leadership Training, Personal Updates, TEC - On Campus by Faiz Wahid on September 21, 2008

Everyone needs support with pressing issues in their personal and professional lives. CEOs and Presidents, leading small or big organizations, are no exceptions to this fact. While a normal person can find support in their superiors, where can a top leader of an organization find similar support without compromising his/her position ?

Enters The Executive Committee (TEC), now Vistage International, which provides a platform for CEO-s of non-competitive industries to interact. TEC is really about peer-to-peer relationships that byfar exceed the realms of abstract ideas and go deep into the real lives and issues of the people involved.

HEC TEC On Campus 2008 Group with Bernard Bismuth

HEC TEC On Campus 2008 Group with Bernard Bismuth

The HEC MBA operates an on-campus version of TEC which tends to replicate the same model with 12 selected MBA participants. The program is led by Gary Brinderson, Founder (1965) Chairman & CEO, Brinderson Inc who chairs one-on-one and group sessions every month with the participants. Effectively, the purpose of this program is to mentor and guide the students in their career, business and life issues.

On 17th September I had my first one-on-one session with Mr. Brinderson. The 45 minute session was well spent on topics which I generally never spoke about aloud. We spoke about my family, relationships in life, how I valued them, fears, drivers etc. The point which my mentor was trying to drive home was that decision-making becomes easier when we make our thoughts explicit. Of course we need to do so in a confidential setting and, I thought, probably TEC is going to provide me with that platform.

My thought came to life with what I experienced at our group session on Friday, 19th September 2008. The whole day session was held at Ritz in Paris and we were introduced to our guest for the day – Mr. Bernard Bismuth who is the General Manager of CCI Eurolam, President of FIEN and holder of more such titles. The interaction we had within the group, with our mentor and with our guest proved to be an intense experience. The day was filled with real life stories, hard lessons of life, their connotation with business principles and how, with a positive attitude towards their future, individuals have garnered courage to overpower the challenges encountered. I learnt a lot. The importance of having a support group, the necessity of gaining financial independence, the skills required to be a successful entrepreneur, the value of maintaining work-life balance, etiquette and much more. Knowing what the On Campus TEC alumni have to say, it seems that the first sessions in September 2008 are only a pre-cursor of the immense value this program provides to all its participants.

Column in Place Vendome, Paris

The experiences shared by others have helped strengthened my existing beliefs and opened me to new perspectives. I am so glad that my family, especially my mother and wife, supported my decision to obtain an MBA at this juncture in life.

Aside, it was also a chance to see Paris again. Ritz is afterall not a bad place to visit every month 🙂 and the Column at Place Vendome definitely marks well the victory of Napoleon in Austerlitz battle of 1805.

Signing off.

Negosim – A great experience !

Posted in Personal Updates by Faiz Wahid on September 18, 2008

Welcome back. As I mentioned in my last post the highlights of the ongoing week are in Negosim and the On Campus TEC Program at HEC. This post focuses on my experiences with the former i.e. Negosim.

Negosim is a business simulation game with a difference. It involves teams, each comprising of 4 to 5 MBA participants, running companies in different geographical markets but producing & selling a particular product although at different quality & price levels. The game is overseen by HEC Professors who provide know-how and also act as Bankers when needed. What differentiates Negosim from other simulations is primarily the negotiation aspect emphasized in the game. We need to negotiate with companies operating in other markets for buying raw material or finished good, establishing joint ventures and creating strategic alliances for making investments in R & D. We also need to speak with our (negosim) Bankers to borrow capital or to raise it by selling equity.

The entire game is spread over 6 quarters in the life of a firm, each ending with a set of decisions which every team needs to take so as to improve the shareholder value with an eye on maintaining healthy growth rates and profits in the long term.  The decisions collected from all firms are then collated and processed in a market simulated by characteristics similar to those in real life but of course with appropriate simplifications. The quarterly results so obtained form the input for the decision-making of the next quarter.

The best part is that the whole exercise is spread over a period of 4 days and starts with a trial and error approach. As one professor puts it “You will be put in a swimming pool and you HAVE TO try and swim to get out”. This is true because we are made to play this game in the very 2nd week of our MBA program. However, the nuances of different business aspects unfold during our group interactions and our know-how is augmented by short, intermediate class room sessions held by HEC professors following which the exercise gets more interesting and competitive.

My team includes an American man, an Estonian woman, a French man and myself. The experience of getting organized, from scratch, and aligning focus within such an international team while having stringent deadlines to meet has been tremendous. It has exposed me to a new situation which is very different than what I had seen in my previous workplace – wherein the teams were international but had been already constituted with a well or pre defined structure. The team synergies increased every quarter and I learned something or the other from everyone in my group. I particularly feel benefited as this is the way things would be until the end of Core 2. From next week onwards we will be assigned new work groups for Core 1 (Sep – Dec ’08). The working groups will again change for Core 2 (Jan – April ’09).

Today was the last day of the Negosim exercise. The agenda was to make decisions for the 6th and last quarter, obtain results and present the strategic views with which each team has tried to take decisions for the 6 quarters in the life of their firm.  After the Quarter 5 results were declared, we had a strong position in terms of sales, new business and also financial leverage. We ended up buying a 33% stake in another firm and becoming their White Knight while driving a 70% rise in our share price and shareholder value. I am proud that my team fared amongst the best in our group of competing companies in terms of shareholder value creation.

The whole exercise has been extremely stimulating and I ended up getting introduced to 3 new friends, strategy professors at HEC, a lot of business concepts and inter-cultural group dynamics.

Core 1 starts next week and I believe, Negosim has done a solid groundwork before the storm arrives.

Signing off.

First days, impressions & updates…

Posted in Personal Updates by Faiz Wahid on September 14, 2008

Having safely landed in France on the afternoon of 4th September, I found it quite easy to navigate within the Charles de Gaulle International airport in Paris. The immigration check was accomplished within reasonable time excluding the time spent in the queue. After collecting baggage, we – a group of seven HEC MBA participants – met at Arrival 1 meeting point and were happy enough to be received by the chauffer of a van we had booked earlier to shuttle us down to the HEC campus.

View from my room in Residence Expansiel

View from my room in Residence Expansiel

The ride was long, over an hour or so, until we reached the HEC Campus in Jouy-en-Josas. I got the keys of my room at Residence Expansiel. By the grace of God, the room is quite spacious and gives a good view of the campus. Here is where I, by the grace of God, will spend atleast the first 8 months (core phase) of my MBA.

Settling down has not been tough, probably because the systems (travel / payment / housing etc) here are not very different from those I was accustomed to in Switzerland. The MBA registration, opening of the bank account etc was all done on the 5th.

On Saturday the 6th, I had been to Gare du Nord in Paris. Most of the Indian shops and restaurants are located in it’s vicinity (specifically around the La Chapelle metro station). While my friends were having lunch, I was able to track down this nearby Mosque at Rue Cavé for the afternoon prayers.

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This week, I have already been twice to the Indian Embassy in Paris – once to request my birth certificate and again to collect it. At HEC, the stress hasn’t started yet. The week from 8th until 12th September was termed the Integration Week. Much time was spent on ice-breaking exercises, career development seminars and presentations pertaining to the structure of the program & HEC resources. We already have had two external speakers – Georgia Garinois the President of the Beauty Global Business Unit for Johnson and Johnson and Mark Fritz the CEO of Procedor.

Though not much content yet, we are focussing on understanding the systems, the course structure etc. Schedule from the next week looks stupendous for a returning student that I am – lectures from 8:30am to 5:30pm followed by group work; Monday to Saturday 🙂 .

Interestingly, 83% students in my intake are non French. All regions of the world are well represented. The Indian contingent is 15% strong while the largest pie of 20% is taken up by North America. The term “human size” when applied to the class probably means sizeable enough that you can know all the participants of the class. I heard it for the first time when applying to HEC and understood it just as yet-another-marketing-jargon. But now, having spent a few days interacting with fellow participants, I really feel that the term “human size” truly represents the size of the HEC MBA class formed by the September 2008 intake.

Aside, this is the month of Ramadan as per the Muslim Calendar. Currently, Suhoor (marking the start of the fast) is at 5:30am while Iftar (marking the end of the fast) is around 8:30pm. I have bought some stuff – yogurt, fruits, juices, chocolate etc – and I take that along with the other home-made, dry food I brought along (courtesy our excellent cook back in India!). The other option for Iftar is to pack the meal served in the cafeteria for later consumption as the Cafeteria is only open until 7:45pm on weekdays.

The coming week, as I mentioned earlier, will be more demanding than this one. The highlights of the next week will be in Negosim and my first sessions of On-campus TEC (The Executive Committee) program with Gary Brinderson, CEO, Brinderson Inc.

Signing off for now.

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized by Faiz Wahid on September 11, 2008