Saturday, September 26, 2009

SY Weekend Escapades

There’s a lot going on in the ville these past few weekends. And because I (and nearly all of my classmates) realize that our time in the ville is now limited (Q1 is nearly over, can you believe that?!), we’ve been trying to make the most of it.

Last weekend the UVA Symphony Orchestra from the McIntire School of Music at UVA performed at the amphitheater for the public – for free. Called the Symphony under the Stars, it began a little past 7pm and had an amazing line up of music. Highlights included selections from the West Side Story, Carmen, ET theme music etc. A bunch of us went that evening and sat on the grass for a sky deck view of the stage. The weather has been cool in the evenings these days and the setting was perfect. We walked past the Lawn apartments on our way, built by TommyJ to promote more interaction between students and their teachers at UVA, now home to selected students.

The day after, on Sunday, Nobel Prize Winner Professor Mohammed Yunus of Grameen Bank spoke at U-Hall, on the topic Solutions To Poverty. A bunch of us attended this one and it was well worth the time! Professor Yunus is an inspiring orator and his story of how he founded the Grameen Bank and his motivations were very interesting to hear. I made up for not taking my camera to the Symphony and took a bunch of fuzzy pictures.

Yesterday the Marketing Forum at Darden and I had a great afternoon listening to the big names of CPG talk about successful marketing campaigns. On grounds were DuPont, General Mills, J&J (and their fantastic Olympic campaign called “Thank you Mom”), Frito Lay and Heinz. And today is the India vs Pakistan cricket match and Darden’s South Asian Community is all ready for the madness. We’re screening the match live in one of the classrooms. For those who can’t bear to walk to school on this rainy morning, we’re watching the match on the projector in the home of a second year with parathas and beer. I’m wearing my Team India tee and blogging live from the venue. Cheers!

U-Hall; seen here is Prof. Yunus.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coffee Cup Creativity

The other day, I met with recruiters from a company that specializes in packaging solutions (in true consultant-esque anonymity) and we were talking about the various brands this company can boast of. There were a bunch of familiar names – I think I’ve spent way too many years of my life obsessing about the consumer packaged goods industry – and there were some interesting surprises.

The most interesting one, though, was that this company is famous for making cups for Starbucks! Of the eleventy million Starbucks coffees I’ve consumed in this lifetime, I never thought to look below the cup to see who actually made these cups… and of what. So it turns out that this company and its association with the Starbucks coffee cup is very famous in the sustainability circles because they actually use re-usable material in the manufacture of the paper for these cups. So for all the times that I might have felt bad about having “coffee for here” in a Styrofoam cup, the footprint was not as bad as I imagined… although not bad > not as bad, so technically I was still leaving a footprint…

So what’s even more interesting is this ubiquitous coffee cup can be the canvas for a brilliant bit of creativity. See what I mean
here. Meanwhile, here's a (made of plastic) beer glass/cup from my first Cold Call at Darden.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Proudly paperless

I was in an open house lunch meeting yesterday with Dean Carraway and the conversation meandered its way to the sustainability initiative the school has rolled out this year, specifically relating to our cases going online. Our class last year piloted this program by taking our finance course online, meaning that instead of course packets and course books, we could download all of our materials – cases, tech notes and exhibits – off the course website in PDF or Excel format. This year, it seems that nearly 90% of the first year course material has gone online, with Section D being the participants of the Kindle program. We talked about how it is relatively more complex to do the same exercise for the second year course materials given that there are 30 different courses and professors and therefore materials for the first quarter alone!!

I have taken four subjects this quarter and 2 of those subjects offer online options to download my cases. The fourth one, operations strategy, which could technically go online too, is currently distributed in book format, but the course website allows us to download select tech notes and cases and of course, the exhibits. While I appreciate the efforts of the school to get us to our paper-less targets soon, I understand the frustration of students who cannot read off of their computer screen because of the inability (or relative tediousness) to annotate and underline as they study. I opted for paper copies of my Valuations course materials simply because I found myself highlighting every other line of my tech notes and scribbling notes and diagrams on the margins, making the whole experience rather messy. However, I find it very useful to have online copies of the rest of my course since it literally takes the weight off my shoulders to carry my course packs around!

But the aspect that I like best about the course being online is that I have access to it for the rest of my life! I can carry my Darden education around in my head and in a hard drive too! I think of all the thick books on Mechanical Engineering lying at home in India and the amount of space they occupy, and I’m happy that I won’t be having any of that with my MBA course material. But what I’m feeling really good about is that as an institution and individuals, we’re doing our bit for the environment.
That calls for a pat on the back, don't you think?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

SY - the best kept secret

The class of 2009 waved the carrot of an easy year under our noses all of last year. We “trusted the process” and waited for our time in the sunshine. Then SY came. And the myth was just that - a myth!

It’s been a fortnight since school began and I’ve been crazy busy. I have 4 subjects this quarter and thanks to my brilliant class selection skills (with a little help from SN, D'09), I’ve made sure that my school day begins at 10AM throughout the week. Last quarter I had 8AM and 10AM classes early and late week respectively which completely ruined my sleep cycles. This quarter 10AM classes mean I get to sleep a little after midnight and wake up at a modest 7AM – anything earlier than 7AM is the middle of the night anyway! Just my kind of schedule! I also have my classes all week (as opposed to taking all my classes early or late week and leaving the other half of the week free). But that apart, every “break” between classes has been crammed with calendar appointments – some I set up with other people, some I make for myself as reminders for things to do. So that boxed lunch stretched out on the grass in Flagler Courtyard has been pretty distant so far.

Adding to the schedule has been the job search. We’ve also formally begun our on grounds pre-recruitment process – networking nights and info-sessions; it’s time once again for foot-suicide in high heels.

Crazy busy is good though. I'm enjoying my classes and all the non-class stuff I'm getting into. I’ve enjoyed catching up with classmates, hearing about the summer and the plans for this year. The summer seems to have been pretty eventful for most people. As for me, I’m still trying to find myself. And I’m having a more effort-filled go at it since I’ve returned. I’ve also begun to spend more time in the silences I talked about last time. I think I might finally be growing up. Eeks!


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