Sunday, April 13, 2008


During the spring break, for a week in March Darden organizes the GBEs (Global Business Experience). A group of students led by a member of the Darden faculty take a trip to learn more about the business practices prevailing in another country. Some countries in this list include South Africa, Spain, Bahrain, India, China, Brazil and Argentina.

I opted for the Argentina trip this year ... the South American continent has always held a certain amount of mystery for me. The exposure that I've got to South American culture is very limited - either in the media or the movies. At Darden, we have done a few courses on the South American economy, but I decided it's time to personally go and check out one of these places.

And what better place than Argentina! The country which faced a severe depression as recently as 5 years ago would make an ideal study in business. Moreover, the wine and steak is simply awesome there!

I've given below some snapshots of my trip there ... with some brief explanations along the way ...

Arriving at Buenos Aires ... We were a group of 40 students

Why - The MBA journey in the language of Limericks ...

Originally Posted: Feb 9, 2007


Here's the story of a young Indian boy,
It's the truth, the whole truth and no lie;
He decided one day,
To do an MBA;
And then everyone started asking him, "Why?"

The friends with whom he was rooming,
Said, "If you really want your career zooming,
Try for IIM-A,
Why the US of A?
When the economy in India is booming!"

His parents were quite happy with his choice
But Mom in her worried maternal voice,
Felt natural to express,
A very slight distress,
"Why not nearer home, like most of the other boys?"

His parents' wishes he always heeded
But global experience and exposure he needed;
So one day he sat,
And took the GMAT,
Thus the MBA process was well seeded!

The long essays that he had to write
Kept him busy very late in the night;
Articulation of vision,
Rewording and revision,
And voila! ... He had just got it right!

Each school had its own quirks and fuss
Different questions and topics they discussed;
But soon he was done,
Coz common to each one,
Were "Why MBA?", "Why now?" and "Why us?".

His lengthy tryst with this Question continued
When with the Darden School of Business he was interviewed;
There was no hesitation,
Just a realization,
That by now all answers for "Why" were imbued.

(For the following flowery prose, I beg pardon)
Soon life starts resembling a rosy garden,
With bright cherry trees,
And busy bumble bees,
For he finds out he has been admitted to Darden!

At last he goes up to his boss
Who is juggling with figures of margins gross;
And tells him, "This is,
My one month notice."
To which the boss for words is at loss.

"Why, Oh Why do this to your upcoming career?
You're eligible for a large promotion, my dear;
Heed my advice,
And take up this nice
Long term onsite opportunity for a year."

To this our young friend then replies,
"I've had it up to my neck with the Why's!
Maybe then and now
I'd like a little How
Even a Who, What, Where or When would be nice!"

Free Falling at 13,000 feet!

Originally Posted: Dec 31, 2007

"There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." ~ Douglas Adams, Hitch-Hikers Guide to the GalaxyOne of my favourite quotes from the book. I haven't figured out how to miss the ground yet, but I definitely came close to flying yesterday!

I'm not sure how I got convinced to go Sky-Diving, but it was probably the best thing I've done in a long time!

Three of us drove down to San Diego yesterday to "Sky Diving San Diego", located next to the beautiful Otay Lakes. The skies were clear and the weather warm ... Perfect day to jump out of a moving plane!

The very first thing that we were made to do oncec we reached there was sign a bunch of green forms and watch a video of some old attorney explaining the form. The form had 50 places where you had to initial, all saying the same thing - Don't sue us if anything happens to you!

Then we were taken outside for some basic training. Now I was under the impression that the training would take an hour or so, but it just lasted 5 minutes. All the instructor told us about were some basic postures we had to assume while exiting the plane, while in free-fall and finally just before landing.

There were two options for skydiving - In Tandem and in Solo. Tandem would mean that an instructor would come with you and help you out with the parachute and landing. Solo meant that you would be given a series of lessons on skydiving for certification, and finally you would be able to jump off the plane without an instructor. Tandem felt the best option for me, and this is what most first-timers do.

Also jumping wiith us was a videographer who took some amazing snaps and video of the whole experience. Starting from a little interview when I was getting my gear on, the walk to the plane, the flight to 13,000 feet, the jump and finally the landing. I can't imagine what skill it must be taking to stay balanced in mid-air and focus on both getting some good pictures as well as some quality video!

The flight up to the drop zone itself was uneventful, except for an army helicopter which was in the way and delayed our jump for a bit. The surprising thing was that I expected to get loads of equipment and clothing for the jump at such a high altitude (13,000 ft is a little less than half the height of Mt. Everest!). But all we were given was some goggles and gloves! The instructors were mentioning that in summer, people jump out with just shorts and a T-shirt.

I was the first in my group to jump out with my instructor. I though that I might have some hesitation when that door opened and all that air came rushing in. But surprisingly, it just felt very exciting ... like an extreme roller coaster ride! My instructor was a guy called Andre, who had taken over 7000 jumps, and took about 10-15 people for jumps everyday. So I really wasn't nervous about anything going wrong ... these guys were certified by the FAA and knew their job.

The jump out of the plane was quick and before I knew it I was falling, and falling fast. According to Andre, I reached speeds of 120 miles / hour! The freefall lasted for about a minute, and I must have fallen through atleast 8000 ft in that much time. I was expecting to feel the extreme temperature at that height, but what I felt more was the sudden change in air-pressure as I fell the distance. My ears closed so fast I could barely hear anything but the mad rush of air about me. The scene was breath-takingly awesome!

After waving a lot to the cameras it was time to open the parachute and float down the remaining 5000 ft. Andre opened the chute and manouvered it around a lot to show me the view. He even gave me the controls of the parachute for a while. We landed after 5-6 minutes of parachuting down.

Overall, this was an AWESOME experience! I would recommend it to everyone who hasn't tried it yet.

Outreach at Darden

Originally Posted: Nov 29, 2007

In a hectic MBA program, it is very easy to lose perspective with the rest of the world. Oh sure, we still schmooze heavily with recruiters from all corners of the US - cocktails, dinners, golf, poker. But one way to stay grounded is to reach out to the local community here at Charlottesville.

I was elected as one of the Outreach representatives of my section earlier on this year. One of the first events that I helped organize was for the Habitat for Humanity. A group of eight of us went over to volunteer to build houses for the Habitat one early morning.

And man, was it fun! We came expecting some light work like moving stuff around or painting the walls. What we did NOT expect was to be handed power tools, planks of wood, given some basic instruction and being asked to complete a wooden deck 20 ft above ground!
Here are some pictures of our efforts ...

Another event that I had volunteered for was - Pumpkin Carving for Kids during Halloween at the Charlottesville Boys and Girls Club ...

And sometimes we Outreach reps just do something simple and fun for our section. Right in the middle of our quarter 1 exams, we guys bought loads of chocolates and other goodies, split them up into little bags and dropped the bags off at the mailboxes of all the Section E folks. As a silent surprise!

Old Jeff of Section D!

Originally Posted: Sept 29, 2007

Recently we had a new statue of Thomas Jefferson installed at the Jones Fountain area at Darden ... This statue was a gift by the Darden class of 1974 ...

Jefferson, the third president of the United States, is regarded as the father of UVA ... His hometown is at Monticello, just on the outskirts of Charlottesville ...

Here's a pic of the statue (a week ago!) ...

However, less than a week after the commemoration of the statue, Section D pranksters gave ol' Jeff a new look ... Something has to be said about Jeff's new fashion sense ... A Section D shirt, a pearl necklace, a floral headband and a colorful garland! ...

Notice the disclaimer taped to his bronze leg ... A very obvious attempt by the Section D folks to deflect administrative retribution! ...

A humorous prank nevertheless! ... Kudos to the creative geniuses at Section D! ...