Sunday, June 29, 2008

Internship: Week 1

There is a novelty to advising C-level executives of growing firms, even if they are from relatively small firms, and I am going to experience that novelty throughout my summer. My typical day involves multiple interactions with the General Managers of various departments of the firm i work for and also a few meetings with the CEO. In my first week, I've also met all the members of the Board of Directors and discussed about the firm with them. I feel like i am and could add a LOT of value to this firm, which we believe is at the brink of explosive growth. All going well, this promises to be a great summer experience.

I am here in this firm basically because the CEO wants to take things to the next step and he's asked a 40+ consultant to investigate on what has to be done. This consultant has put together a short term group - that includes two interns: me and another person from HBS. The two of us want to leave this place with clear directives in place, so that this person can aide the CEO in making the changes we recommend. We obviously need to get the Board's buy-in before we leave. That, believe me, makes for a really exciting summer.

I've gotten to know Santiago better over the last week. I've stopped using the expensive cabs and have started using the highly efficient and affordable Metro for everyday commute. I'm picking up Spanish words and have started using them whenever possible. I've explored a little bit of the city and have started making plans for short trips around Santiago. I've learnt how hospitable Chileans are and am growing to like this culture and the way everything is done here. Overall, it is a lot of learning in 10 weeks - but I am sure the experience will help me in numerous ways!

I'll close this post with an interesting fact: The last summer i saw was Chennai August 2007 and if i do spend time in a summery place next year, I'd have spent two years without seeing summer. For someone born and brought up in Chennai, that's crazy!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From one winter to another

Chile is cold. This is winter here and i was shocked the moment i walked out of the airport and saw snow on the roofs of all cars! This winter is not like the winter i encountered in Brazil. This is harsher. But the winter means that i see snow capped mountains circling around Santiago, and my 19th floor apartment looks right into these mountains through a string of skyscrapers - making a wonderful sight to wake up to.

Santiago is a nice city and I've had a good two days here in the capital of Chile. The city breathes in Spanish and Spanish only - too bad for me! I really need to learn Spanish. It is going to be very difficult to get my way around the city and live here for 10 more weeks without learning the language. I'm picking up words and recollecting those I've learnt earlier - but the curve is harshly steep! The plan is to learn enough to communicate smoothly by the end of the internship.

My internship began three hours after my 40 hr flight journey ended and i was able to keep up the entire day because of the exciting conversations all day along. This is a great opportunity to positively impact a company that is ripe with opportunities and I'm very glad i made this choice. The next 10 weeks i will be working on taking this company to the next level and hopefully get the CEO to invest in the infrastructure and man-power required to do so. In my first few conversations with him, he seems to be more than willing to listen to us.

Us? Yeah - i have a partner, at least for the next five weeks. There is a Harvard half-MBA who has been here for three weeks and will return in five weeks. He's a Spaniard and speaks fluent Spanish, so i seek his help to talk to people around. Yesterday, we were involved in a wonderful conversation about what we can do for this company and we'd walk out happy if we can achieve the things we discussed. He's done some great work in the last three weeks and we hope to take that forward in the next 10 weeks. We'll see how that goes.

I feel like August 2007 in Chicago - new city and not many friends. I've made a few friends in the last two days, but i need a translator to talk to most of them. There is a bunch of interns in the city and we need to meet up pretty soon and start exploring the city and Chile. More updates as it happens...

Monday, June 16, 2008

10 days in the Metro

I'm home! Been here for 4 days now. Have done SO much work. It is fun to catch up with Chennai roads and the mad rush of traffic. And it is more fun to be reunited with my motorbike :)

Exam week was crazy. I gave a final Monday morning, finished off a take home that took me almost 25 hrs and gave a client presentation that was well received. On the way back, i met with almost half the Indian GSB admits in Delhi (including my mentee) and had some good conversations! Looking forward to September to spend more time with them, but looks like recruitment starts very very soon! So we'll see :)

I'm flying out this Saturday, contingent to the issue of the Chilean Visa. My agents say it should be fine. I'm very keen to begin the internship but am certainly not looking forward to the 40 hour flight from Chennai to Santiago.

I'm hosting a GSB mixer in Santiago. Hopefully there will be a decent turn out. If there's any native from Santiago here, any suggestions for a place to arrange an informal meetup???

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wind on your face...

This might sound mundane for many of you, but I just realized how blissful it is to experience a ride with the wind flowing on your face. Especially if the ride happens to be right next to a beautiful water body like Lake Michigan. To really understand what it means, you must have experienced the Chicago weather. Not just the winter, but the stop-gap method in which it transitions from winter to summer.

That's right, Spring is not a long-term affair in the windy city. There's really 10 - 15 days of spring, not continuous; and then the sultry summer is here. I just happened to be in the right place (inside a car on the lake shore drive) at the best time possible - a springy dusk. My heart weeped like a kid whose candy was stolen, when the car took the exit closest to my destination.

In one blissful moment, I suddenly felt at home.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A truly Golbal MBA?

One half of my status line in facebook reads "Iday is gonna live in 3 continents over the next 30 days!"

My journey across the globe and back starts this Tuesday, only after i finish one in-class final, one take-home final and one client presentation in 30 hours. And i have another case writeup to turn in after i reach home. I dont even know the miles i would have clocked at the end of the journey, during which i would have flown over (and actually set my foot on) 4 continents, 4 Countries and 6 Cities. I would have also met one of my mentees (first year GSB student), a bunch of first years, some old and new friends, my summer employers (and exciting Chilean) entrepreneur, other entrepreneurs in the region, GSB alum in Chile and nearby, a group of exciting people from different b-schools working with other entrepreneurs in Chile (and hopefully Argentina too), prospective applicants from Chile at a GSB event and make a lot of Chilean friends. I'll also work in an industry completely different from my earlier experience and in an economy unlike India or USA. The take-aways are numerous.

I'm excited to say the least.

The other half of the status line: "A truly global MBA experience..."