ONEness with the Chicago Booth MBA

June 21, 2009

this weekend with the not-so rowdy NY crowd..

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 2:37 pm

.. just chilling watching the third round of the US Open. 14th hole in progress.  I have just had some ridiculously oily, obscenely greasy and irresistibly creamy Indian food (I loved it) and am barely able to keep my eyes open.

As I type this up, I am waiting for the crowd to heckle Sergio Garcia as they did during the last US open. He has not even finished in the top 10 within the US in a long while; his last under 10 victory was sometime this year (in Dubai?). His losing streak is probably because of the break up with his girlfriend. Aren’t you supposed to perform even better when you’re scorned in love ..and all that stuff ?

Anyway, there’s pressure on Tiger defending the cup (he’s on a little bit of a run today); the usually reticent Mickelson has got  sympathy points from the crowd coz of what his wife is going through (breast cancer). But what makes this years tournament seem interesting, besides the bethpage course itself, is that there are some 22-odd amateurs in the tournament. Other than that, I am watching out for Ricky Barnes (ranked 519th: World Golf) who has had some great putts today and then there’s the promising Mike Weir.

Haven’t wallowed like this in quite a while.

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April 23, 2009

shrink rap

Some orphaned notes that I had scribbled during my summer stint in India and wanted to just disseminate the information to anyone planning to do internships in India or just get an idea on the Indian markets.

Blogreader Beware! any information cited here is taken from pure hearsay during my india trip and interspersed with some of my own opinions and observations about the Indian financial market. I don’t claim to be a subject matter expert in any of the topics discussed below. Any political incorrectness, efforts to appear humorous gone awry,  apparent uptightness or just plain immaturity: blame it on the shrink. An extreme version of what I am trying to tell you is: You may not want to believe a word of what is mentioned below. (Hopefully this removes any room for misinterpretation on my disclaimer). If you find this info useful, ..great. If not, then these are some 10 minutes of your life you will never get back. I profusely apologize for that.
Also, lacking any creativity, i have used the master-grasshopper template. (How could you not be into Kung-fu, man ?!?!)

Master : Grasshopper, tell me I’m listening. How have you been doing?

Grasshopper : Not too well, Master. After investing a lot of time and effort in IB, it seems that suddenly the recruiting scene isn’t very good. I am still holding strong against giving into peer pressure. A lot of my Chicago Booth friends are trying to jump ships into consulting. Some are hedged, given their consulting backgrounds while some are not and trying to spin whatever story they can (I don’t blame them). I am beginning to wonder if I have quasi-rational expectations of myself. Am I succumbing to some self-serving biases?

Master: I don’t know what you mean.

Grasshopper: Do you watch the HBO TV series: Entourage, Master?

Master : Yes I follow it avidly.

Grasshopper : well, the other day I was watching a repeat of last season. This particular episode shows Vince (the protagonist) and his cronies at various crossroads in their life. (I tried hard not to analogize). They seem lost and they need to make a crucial career move. Thats when they decide to head to the Joshua Tree National Park with magic mushrooms to look for epiphanies in Eric Roberts’ ultra-cool Winnebago. Naturally they are depending on hallucinations to give them some inspiration. I thought to myself, ‘if only it were as easy as that’. Then it hits me…Wait a minute..haven’t I been on these magic mushrooms for the past year ? Hasn’t Chicago Booth been my Joshua Tree? the courses and the internship and the drive to get into banking ?  ..those are the magic mushrooms. No wonder I have been having visual hallucinations and feelings of euphoria all through last year.

Master : Yes, these ‘shrooms are said to increase emotional awareness and possibly cause visions of grandeur. It is also reported that the biggest danger associated with these magic shrooms is misidentification. You may be going through that.
Looks like you need some antidote from the Career Services office at Chicago Booth. I felt that they came out with some great advice. Here’s a quick snapshot of what they said ‘ If you are considering a career shift, with the market turmoil, you may be tempted to broaden your focus and pursue anything and everything.  “The market’s not great, I should cast a wide net, you might think.”  Not really. Avoid that temptation.  Especially in this market, companies are going to hone in on people who are genuinely interested in them.  And frankly, passion is tough to fake.  So our advice is to really focus in on what you want to do, figure it out, figure out why you’d be great at that, and then research the industry and the firms that excel at it.  We’re not saying don’t have a Plan B – you should have a Plan B and a Plan C – but make sure your Plans B and C leverage your strengths too – and that there are synergies between your plans .’ You see Grasshopper, passion is tough to fake.

Grasshopper : Master I am confused. I don’t know what you mean.

Master : okay, let me explain to you in words that you can understand,  do you watch the Showtime tv series Californication?

Grasshopper : Yes, I avidly do.

Master : Do you remember how the second episode (last season) opens up with Pamela Adlon’s character waxing a p0rn star while Evan Handler talks to this p0rn star who is undergoing a mid-life. She talks about how she loves what she is doing but is not able to get the jobs she wants. Thats when Evan gives this star a piece of advice. He asks her to go mainstream ..he asks her to graduate from p0rn movies to regular commercial movies (for the glitz and glamor) which is when Pamela interjects with yet another mother lode of a quote demanding Evan not to fill her client’s head with such BS saying  ‘She does what she does and is pretty good at it. You find your f***ing niche and you stick to it’. See Grasshopper! do you get it now? ‘You find your f***ing niche and you stick to it’.

Grasshopper : Ah yes master I get it now! That was very profound.

Master: good ! Now On a related note, how was your India internship experience.

Grasshopper : I have already commented a bit here and here. But I am not happy with the Chicago Booth exposure back home. I think a lot of awareness needs to be created. Very few people I talk to are fully aware of the Booth brand. How does one leverage the school if one wants to work in India.

Master : Well, building a brand always takes time. The Booth ambassadors (adcom, student clubs etc) are trying their best to raise awareness. If you are looking for a job/internship back home then during interviews and such, try focusing on your past work experience in India. Its imperative to have local work experience. (For now) slipping in the Booth name would be a tactical after-thought at best (for some companies)

Grasshopper : What about the part-time Banking Club ? Won’t they help?
Master : Well, so far that club looks like a Mickey Mouse club with the students (mostly the fob-mob) running it not knowing what they are doing; none of them seem to have prior banking experience. If you’re in the part-time program and you’re running a club like banking (where you intend to generate traffic via recruitment and building strategic relationships), then by gosh by golly, you better have some street cred. Which is why they have to be supervised by at least 3 members from the Career Services office. Thats a shame. You should look at the banking club in the full-time program. They are prolific and worth it. Even the private equity club in the part-time program isn’t as active as its counterpart in the full-time program. Just by inviting speakers and holding such events isn’t going to help the neophytes. It takes a lot more than that.
I am going to put my money on masala-style publicity. By this I mean using Bollywood to expand the Booth name. Rumor has it that you will soon see a Bollywood movie called ‘Whats your Rashee‘  (starring Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra) releasing soon where Chicago Booth has been advertised. I am looking forward to it. Be prepared to watch a scene shot in the Hyde Park Campus where you see Baweja’s charater as a Booth student (with a Chicago Booth sweatshirt) and a Booth professor as well 🙂 If all else fails, this is a sure-shot way of creating brand recognition in India.

(On the M&A scene in India, inbound investment, cross border acquisition mentality, private equity ..)

Grasshopper : Let’s talk about some work-related stuff. I have heard that the Indians are very afraid of takeovers. So they will have provisions like SPV’s in which they will invest some % of their holding. Is that true?

Master : The family aspect is so entrenched in India that even the SEBI guidelines talk about a Hindu Undivided family (HUF). HUF is actually an assessable entity. PE firms in India have had a tough time convincing family owned biz to surrender some control in return for cash especially as a near-6 yr bull run meant these companies could get generous valuations from the stock market.
Indian family owned firms (small cap) tend to be sprawling entities with diversified interests and lacking clear succession plans, which makes smaller firms particularly vulnerable at this time. These firms see merit NOW in selling non-core assets or a stake to PE. They would rather sell a stake to PE than sell out to a rival.
On the M&A scene, foreign companies can be merged with Indian Companies, but not the other way round. RBI (Reserve Bank of India) is strict and does not look favorably at repatriation of investments (capital in india being paid out as dividends abroad). Restructuring is hot and happening too. The deal activity has declined, but m&a activity hasn’t – there is still a lot of delisting going on, share buybacks etc. (well..statistically the m&a activity has come down. As of this writing, total number of M&A deals for the first 6 months were 265 valued at a total of USD 18.5B compared with 335 deals valued at a total of USD 43.9B for the first 6 months in 2007. Total deals in 2007 were 676 valued at USD 51.1B and I don’t have numbers for 2008). MNC’s are trying to delist their indian subsidiaries, promoters of companies are trying to sell out a stake of their company they think is not running well. This applies to the big Indian companies.  Look at Tata Group selling a 26% stake in Tata Teleserices to Japan’s DoCoMo for $2.7B. Even Ranbaxy sold about 66% of its stake to Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo for nearly $5B. Bigger Indian companies (large cap) are willing to divest their holdings.

The banking sector within the country is another story. Currently, NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Companies) are set up because the Indian govt does not want the private banks to compete with the public sector banks and hence they (NBFC’s) have their own regulations (NBFC guidelines) compared with the SEBI guidelines for public sector banks. Currently the RBI is not ready to open up the space to foreign players. the local banks are ‘not there yet’ to compete. Once the PSU banks are all shored up and ready to compete, the RBI will then deregulate the banking industry. RBI was planning to have these PSUs ready by 2009, but since its not ready yet, another 3-4 yrs shall be ripe enough to do so.

Grasshopper : So what about all the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to India. They have gone up from 503,573 INR in 2006 to 797,356 INR in 2007 (Source: CEIC data)

Master : Here’s the skinny on foreign investment in India. There are 2 ways by which foreign investors can invest: the FII (Foreign Institutional Investor) route which is mostly used by buy-side companies to invest their funds in equities or debt in India. You will usually observe PE firms using this FII route to make investments in Indian companies. The second route is via the FDI way where foreign companies set up operations in India or make investments in publicly listed companies. The time horizon for FDI is usually longer than that of an FII.
India’s attitude towards foreign investment has been ambivalent at best. The regulatory risks pose a huge barrier to foreign inward investment. For e.g. in the telecom sector, the foreign equity cap was 49% on considerations of national security. But getting Indian entrepreneurs to come to the remaining 51% was a tough task. So the rules changed to allow this ForeignCo to hold a 49% equity in some Parent company whose IndianSubCo could invest the remaining 51% in the sector. This increased the bandwidth to 49% + 49% of 51% = 74%.  (As per the new Press Note 2, this cap is now 100% with 26% divesting in 5 yrs). Not only this, back in 2007, to allow the NYSE Group and other investors to buy a 20% stake in the National Stock Exchange of India, the government lifted a ban (just 3 weeks before it allowed the investors to do so) on foreign ownership of Indian stock exchanges. Prior to this, the limit for a single investor was set at 5%. Thats why I say ‘ambivalent’.

Grasshopper : So why don’t we liberalize the FDI upto 100% in a sector

Master : Just by doing so, doesn’t mean there will be a deluge of investments. In the power sector, for example, foreign investment of 100% has been permitted for many years, however every foreign company in that sector that entered India has had to go back.

Grasshopper : What do you think about the innovation in the financial markets ? I am afraid some sectors (life insurance in India for example) are in the transition phase to being regulated. Thus, deals that were executed during such a time were effected at a significant premium to market estimates. This does raise the bar of valuation, benchmarks and estimates, doesn’t it?

Master : Don’t worry, there are valuation overhangs which should have a sobering effect on the valuation levels. These are mainly: (1) relatively low regulatory entry barriers: while there are international players pitching in, this could be disruptive to market profitability and could spread value across more players. (2) there is a relatively large linkage of business to the equity markets for certain sectors. This potentially raises the risk of growth and hence could also impact the profitability of additional growth. (3) Usually, for sectors growing at a rapid pace since opening up, there is always a market sentiment of mis-selling. So there are often regulatory or return reversals to prevent the dangers of mis-selling. Further, this reversal will not be too damaging to the economy if there is a reputed and relatively efficient (desi style ‘efficient’) government owned player or a PSU in that sector for the market to fall back on. And usually there is one PSU at least in any sector ..you see.

Grasshopper : OK I see. I have a gut feeling that most of the international heavy weights are working around the lack of disclosures in some sectors/companies and consequently in fine tuning their valuations by engaging in proxy investing via holding companies. Isn’t that the case with  the life insurance sector in India.

Master : Yes, I think you are getting somewhere. I feel its a vicious circle. Some players believing in the under valued sector, tend to wait for a few years before listing themselves. They are hoping to achieve greater valuations from an accounting standpoint and from the perspective of value creation. The drive to boost business and earn more commissions by the agents could ultimately impact the credibility of the life insurance industry. This is where adverse selection forebodes a possible  downturn.

Grasshopper : But you haven’t answered my question on innovation. Do you see it happening in the financial markets in India?

Master : Patience Grasshopper. there’s this outlook where the whole opening up to foreign players has stifled innovation. Look at the life insurance sector. There are about 16 private players so far (since deregulation) in India and each of them has a joint-venture with a brand name abroad (eg TATA AiG, Max NYL, Bajaj Allianz), with the foreign promoter not holding more than 26% of equity stake. The local companies, instead of innovating on newer insurance products with varying risk aversions, do a joint venture with a global brand and flush the indian market with already devised products. I am not sure if the preferences/characteristics native to the indian demographics is even taken into account. Of the premium collected via these private life insurance companies, 85% of the total is invested in RBI bonds and the remaining 15% is given to the global company to play with. Where can you think of innovation in this?

(this being a blog on ‘oneness’, there had to be some cocktail spirituality)

Grasshopper: While we are on innovation, I think that gives me a perfect segue to the Satyam fraud. I realize the MD of Satyam went for the old-fashioned reason: greed. But he could have at least shown some innovation while committing the fraud. He used such a hackneyed way of doing so. If he had to commit fraud, couldn’t he have come up with something innovative like Enron’s FAS 140 Transactions: the infamous Hawaii II Trust transaction. He would have succumbed to public disgrace..no doubt, but at least he could have gone out in style ?

Master : (!!) See, what is really needed in today’s corporate culture is a dose of spirituality. Its often overlooked and badly needs a redux. The corporate leaders ought to understand that spirituality pervades every sphere of life, be it business, family, education, ..or other engagements.
Kautilya’s Arthashastra is a fruitful starting point. This pioneering comprehensive classic is dated 4th century BC and is the grand daddy of Competitive Strategy. Kautilya was the mentor of Chandragupta (the great empire builder of the pre-Christian, post Buddhist era). Together they founded the Maurya Dynasty and built the first empire in India. This tome talks not only talks about the art of war but also lays down guidelines and principles for the grooming and conduct of a king. This classic shows what timeless fundamentals underlie spirituality-grounded leadership and hence spiritually guided secular institutions too – businesses not excluded. Today’s prescription of running corporations smack of feudal authoritarianism which stultifies personality development. This is a perennial fact of the animate world. Hence kautilya’s spiritual pragmatism for leaders has to be evaluated in today’s light.

Master: Weren’t you going to start a new group called Spirituality in Business when you joined Chicago Booth, what happened?

Grasshopper : Well, I …

Master : Okay Grasshopper, your time is up. There are other lost souls waiting for their McSessions.

April 20, 2009

Sun/IBM/Oracle

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 4:00 pm
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Just when it made sense for IBM to withdraw its offer to acquire Sun, now Oracle is repeating the mistake (or maybe not?). With Java and Solaris being open source, Sun is going towards a church based model. Given the separation of the church and the state, no one has made money buying out the church, has it? Given the industry-wide open source acquisition frenzy such as: SUSE, Jboss, XenSource, Zimbra.  sure..you get a good customer base and other religious followers, but how many of such acquisitions were actually profitable (see table below). The Anti-Trust needs to put in a First Amendment-like clause in its takeover rules else the entire value proposition of an open-source company becomes moot. The founder of open-source MySql quit Sun after its acquisition (a billion dollar deal) and founded yet another open-source database company and his manifesto here concurs with the open-source mentality I voice above.

Good were the days when Sun had smartly positioned itself as a hardware focused unix OEM. Leave it to Sun to internally destroy value. It acquired NetDynamics back in 1998 to enter the burgeoning middleware space and gained access to a quality customer base. It then boasted of a true end-to-end solution with its enterprise servers all the way to the client side security certificates (not to mention its relatively decent directory and mail server). It then acquired most of Netscape’s products (via its song-and-dance alliance with AOL) and boasted of an even superior app-server (Netscape’s app server was a hardcore C++ based product they acquired from Kiva). And just then they dismantle every thing with the excuse of merging the two products together and come up with a lower grade iPlanet App Server. By then, both IBM and BEA (now Oracle) surpassed Sun with their respective products and customer base leaving Sun with its hardware server fan following. Of course in parallel, Sun’s management did a bad job as well. Ed Zander, at the helm, pretty much wrecked up Sun and probably went on to do the same at Motorola. (I worked at Sun long enough to render the above philippic)

So it did not make sense for IBM to acquire Sun. Why? one word: Overlap. Sure, by all means, both deals (Oracle and IBM) would have been/will be financially disciplined – it will give the acquirer an opportunity to create value for its shareholders – and the deals would start to become accretive soon (Oracle’s boasting the deal is accretive from the first year on). Not a biggie. But did it make strategic sense for IBM to buy Sun? Surely not. In fact, it would be interestesting to find out whether the deal with IBM would get past the anti-trust authorities as it would make MergeCo (IBM/Sun) account for 42% of the total server market revenue. And with Oracle? Only time will tell? For starters, MySql will be dead for sure. The fact that Oracle has been mothering Linux gives an idea on what is going to happen to Solaris. Forte (now Netbeans, acquired by Sun for lack of an IDE) will surely not be Oracle’s forte. Only time will tell which products get to stay and which do not.

<snip – added a few days later>

One viewpoint for why the Oracle deal will make sense is under management arbitrage. Maybe the market thinks that the Oracle’s management is better equipped to handle Sun’s products. This is also evident by a quick re-org at Microsoft a few days after this Oracle announcement. Microsoft shuffled its Server Tools & Biz group to position most of its tools against SQLServer; it possibly perceives the merger as a threat to itself with Oracle having a full-on stacked solution vis-a-vis its Oracle database !

<end of snip>

Here are some deals in the enterprise software space during the last 4 yrs just to give you a perspective on deal size and success/failures. Use hindsight to judge which deal panned out favorably for the acquirer. (These numbers were handpicked and researched by me during the microsoft/yahoo deal. So take it for what its worth.)

ma-multiples

March 25, 2009

‘Who is John Galt?’ Redux

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 9:31 am
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‘Going Galt’ has taken a new meaning in today’s times. The media is taking snippets and references from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and its fictional characters to a new level with their slogan: ‘War on Success’ similar to the out-of-control government, in the novel, that siphoned profits out of the rich. According to The Economist, sales of the book have risen sharply since Obama’s election to office and keeps rising everytime Obama announces a new spending plan. The book has seen the biggest sales in 2008 since its release in 1957. The first three months alone in 2009 have had more sales than those in the same period last year.

People are buying the book coz there are uncanny similarities in the plotlines of the book and the events happening today. (if you haven’t read it already, i’d suggest dropping whatever you are doing and give the book a good read. Of course: Hats off to you if you got to the point of Galt’s speech. If you further made sense – in ONE reading – of the 60 long pages of his expatiation praising selfishness, then you’re my personal hero).

Having read her philosophy ‘Objectivism’  (and most of her literature including her earlier works .. heck, one of my short essays in my admission application for Booth was built around it as well) I have had difficulty in  subscribing to her views in their entirety but the current comparison in today’s economy that the media is trying to project, calls for raising your right eye-brow followed by an intriguing mutter of ..’interesting’.

So what does one make of all this?
I liked Stephen Colbert’s interpretation on Colbert Nation the other night. I quote him verbatim: “when millions are losing homes, jobs and hope, there is nothing more important than putting yourself first”. Of course, here, ‘yourself’ is the Type A me-first personality types. Yep ..this sits well with what Atlas Shrugged captured (If you are not convinced, read Ayn Rand’s Virtue of Selfishness where altruism takes on a different meaning). But dear Mr. Colbert did not consider the other pillars of philosophy viz. ethics and epistemology. And what about other social goals ? Do you subordinate society’s social agenda for the progress of humanity to fixing the financial mess ?

I think its only hard economic times that lead people to consider more extreme philosophies which may explain the recent increase in embracing Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Further, do we have to look up to such fictional archetypes to creating a utopian working system thus ‘saving the world’ or as Rand put it: ‘prevent the stopping of the motor’ ?

Tut-tut ! Take philosophical lessons from the DC Comics miniseries Watchmen. Alan Moore, the creator, probably had it right. Humans don’t really know what they want so they pass off this responsibility to someone else .. call them superheroes or John Galt and the like.

March 24, 2009

course bidding at Booth

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 4:01 pm
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Its been four rounds of bidding already for the spring quarter and I haven\’t been enrolled yet in the courses I truly badly wanted this quarter. Blame it on the new and inefficiently designed ‘efficient market’ style course bidding system. Highly desired courses (taught by professors like Jim Schrager/ Richard Thaler) are going for a premium only because the graduating students are throwing their points around. If not them, then blame it on the extra premium that these courses go for only because you have to now bid individually on courses. Bottomline is: I am unable to afford the courses I really want especially those taught by certain professors.

While we have gone from the search of universals (rules that govern the way all of us behave) to understanding variability within humans, I wish we could go back to the obsession with universals. The understanding of variability is doing a great disservice to me when it comes to bidding on courses at Booth.

PS: of course, its possible to manipulate iBid (the current bidding system) given a few boundary conditions. You could collude with another student who has also enrolled in the same course and have him/her drop the course just minutes before the round is about to end. This way you get to bid for a steal than if it had been open. Naturally, this idea is moot if the course has even a single vacancy. By having your friend drop the full-capacity-course minutes before you bid, you eliminate the possibility of opening it to the student population. This is where the boundary conditions come into play: a few minutes/seconds before the round ends, the course being completely full and more importantly you have a fellow student who will do this for you. Not that tough a condition.

Sure enough, in my attempts to being an ideal Boothie, I did not implement my own hack else I would not be venting here. Hopefully the designers of iBid are listening.

March 12, 2009

stalemate !

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 4:08 pm

Time, certainly, has strange ways of playing games.  Last year, around this time,  with a couple of internships lined up, I was excited and  felt confident that it would only be downstream from there on. For once.. complacency was groveling with me and begging to creep in.

Fast forward to a year later, things look so different. I have yet another internship offer. But at this point I have to be true to myself. I don’t need another internship. Getting a job seems to be more important especially if you are going to put in so much effort into finding either one of them. I never quite imagined that I would be using the on-campus recruiting as crutches to find a job. Networking is not paying off much. All the goodwill I built up during my internships last summer is lost as I realized (when I reached out to my friends and bosses) that they don’t work there anymore.

Still ruminating what to do.

If the passing year has taught me anything,  it is this:  linearity as a concept has limited appeal in real life.
Especially with the headwind in the economy.

February 23, 2009

‘s-lame-dawg !! (your sunday night culinary chaff)

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 12:50 am
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Following slumdog millionaire recipe makes dinner for anyone with an appetite

Thaw out a perfectly nice novel by Vikas Swarup
Pick
out and over-emphasize poverty and squalor. Let the caste system and child exploitation remain
Squeeze
out every visual hyperbole from the novel be it riots, garbage or even eye-gouging (you’re certain the western film fraternity has a history of being amused by such issues)
Blanch true character portrayal by forcing the native actors to speak in a weird and funny, hard to understand english accent
Add a nasty, emetic sequence as a trademark (remember the toilet scene in Trainspotting !) Human feces is a must
Wash
out any gradual character development (like those of the three stages of jamal and salim) and toss it straight into the trash. Episodic is word-of-the-day
Garnish with music from a well-deserved music composer (probably the only way to salvage the dish) and some other remarkable technical artistes
Throw
in an egregiously done bollywood song-and-dance number in the end
Wait
for it to pick up momentum at the Golden Globes, SAG and the BAFTA awards
Wait
some more for the movie to simmer over low heat in controversies generated by using a seemingly provocative title

Voila, you have a B-grade movie tasty winner.

No seriously, how did it manage to bag the best movie award?

November 27, 2008

Mumbai, down on its knees again !

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 2:32 pm
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taj1

taj11

taj21

As I tune in to media and the internet to follow the latest developments of the terror attacks, I can’t but helplessly cringe seeing the above images. I can’t help but wonder how removed I am from the real Mumbai. My emails/phone calls concerning the whereabouts and safety of my family and friends living in nearby areas of attack have been acknowledged and I am a bit pacified now. Having spent about 20 years in Mumbai, the attachment to the city (as I over-zealously describe in my post here) is but natural. Just a few weeks ago in September, I spent my summer in mumbai. My office was in close proximity to the Taj Hotel. I even had dinner with a few friends at the swanky hotel inside the Taj. I used to commute daily to the Chattrapati Shivaji terminus (formerly VT station, another target) and I even recall frequenting a stall, very close to the Taj, that sold masala milk or Energee during my college days in Mumbai. I even remember distinctly spending time with friends by the waterfront less than a hundred yards from the Taj’s gleaming Victorian facade.

Other rhetoric apart. I wonder if Mumbai is ever going to be the same again? This is India’s city of superlatives, where glamour and grinding poverty are equally ubiquitous. This is Maximum City. City of Dreams. Metropolis. This is a city where people come with a Dick Whittington vision of streets paved with gold, and for a happy few this turns out to be true. And now, the image of Mumbai as a tourist and business attraction is under siege. ‘Brand India’ is under duress. I am sure you will soon see statements in the press showing how Mumbai is up and about, is back on its feet despite such a setback, city that never sleeps ..whatever. I have seen and heard this quite too often everytime there is a tragedy like this. I am only confused if all this is just a way of helplessly turning the other way, maybe this hyperbole is our version of Charlie Brown’s security blanket ?!?!

November 12, 2008

Chicago GSB est mort. Vive le Chicago Booth ! (AMENDED)

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 2:07 pm
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As a Booth fellow blogger pointed out here, and with a late breaking email from the Dean, the initial attempts at the epistemological adjustments to branding the school has begun. Booth is definitely not the ‘BSB’ or the ‘Booth School of Business’. I apologize for my ignorant previous post here where I referred to the school as the ‘BSB’.

It is now, hate to say it, synonymous with someone suffering a post-electoral hangover Chicago Booth.

November 9, 2008

Chicago GSB est mort, vive le BSB !!

Filed under: The GSB — GSBsutras @ 8:54 pm
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(desole pour mon francais, il y a plus de quinze ans que j’ai parle en francais. C’etait seulement en ecole)

some master and student conversations.

meditate

Grasshopper: Master master…did you hear? Chicago GSB is now Chicago Booth (Booth School of Business). Thanks to a whopping donation of $300m to the b-school by David Booth.

Master: Yeah, I heard. David Booth is a true master.

Grasshopper: I am now posed with the eternal dilemma.

Master: What is it grasshopper?

Grasshopper: what happens to the truckloads of money I spent on the GSB paraphernalia. Does that mean, with the heavy ‘Booth‘ branding in progress, my ‘Chicago GSB‘ shirts are going to lose their inherent value?

Master: Hmm..grasshopper, seems like you are not meditating. What did you learn in your competitive strategy or your accounting classes?

Grasshopper: oh, ..that it is a sunk cost and should not be considered in my decision making.

Master: Very good grasshopper. Now go, and focus on your studies. Remember, keep your mind open like the lotus flower in the morning and absorb the b-school wisdom.

Grasshopper: But I am not done yet master. The first order of business for me is to parameterize my problem statement so I can build a model to calculate how long it will take for the ‘Booth’ brand to build up. I then hone it down to the exact number of days and use that time period to amortize the ridiculously expensive Chicago GSB gear that I bought from the bookstore. This means master, in layman terms, if you see me wearing the ‘GSB’ related gear almost every day to class, please don’t assume I am falling behind on my laundry. Like any b-school student, I am only trying to get my money’s worth.

Master: ok, I won’t. But why are you building a model?

Grasshopper: Isn’t that what every Chicago GSB student is trained to do? geek

Master: <silent>

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