Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Big Announcement

Since time immemorial, human race has always used history as one of the important tools of self-discovery, and a basis of vision and evolution. Now, some of us could (and mostly would) quote Napoleon, "What is history, but a fable agreed upon?", to incite doubts on the very basis of the argument! But I'm sure there'll be others who agree with me - without these "fables", we would not have come this far. I truly believe that documenting, and sharing life experiences is not only necessary, but the very requirement of evolution; and in some cases survival. I'm simply saying - if there is a story worth telling, it must be told. It must be taken to the audience who needs that story, to learn from it and build upon it; to write their own story on top of it.

I write this post today, as someone who has accomplished a mission that started three-and-a-half years ago, and as someone who has experienced a lot over that time period. These years, and the experiences, have enriched me with perspectives and viewpoints that will hopefully serve me well in the years to come. In the process, they have also improved me as a human being.

I believe mine is a story worth sharing. I have had one hell of a time over the last many months and I believe there are many things I want to share from those months. I believe I have a unique story to tell. I have had more than my fair share of failures in these years - and I believe that makes my story even more important to share. In short - I believe in my story, and I'm ready to share it.

Yeah folks - that's the big announcement. I'm planning to spend my break writing a book about the last three-and-a-half years of my life. I have never written a book before, but I have read a few. I have never gone through the process of publishing a book. Heck, I don't even know if my writing is publish-worthy!

But I simply believe I have something important to say, and I'm gonna try and tell my story as best as I can. Hopefully some publisher will like it and the book will see the light of the day. If not, I'd have at least spent this time usefully! Most of all, if and when the book does get published, I hope that its readers will learn from my mistakes and have a better experience.


I walked The Walk! University of Chicago held its 498th convocation this weekend. On the lush lawns of the Harper Quadrangle of the University, I received my MBA degree on Sunday along with 550 others from the Class of 2009. We were the first class to graduate from Chicago Booth, following our school's name change last fall. That made the occasion quite historic.

The ceremony was extremely well organized, and very academic. The whole ceremony, from gathering everyone in lines, to the degree awarding ceremony, to the reception after the ceremony - everything happened in a span of six hours. You can read more about it in this enthusiastic post made by a classmate. By the end of it, we ceased to be students and we were back in the real world.

Most of my friends had family and friends who'd come to view the ceremony. I was one of the few people who had no one accompanying them. All the people who I badly wanted to be there - some cannot come, some could not come. It felt strange, having no one to wave at, having no one by your side - and meeting friends, families and partners of my classmates only increased that feeling. I looked past it and tried to have a decent time. Food was great and I was glad I managed to catch up with all the people I wanted to meet before they left for their corners of the world, and ended the day with a nice dinner.

So thus officially ends the four year pursuit of an MBA education. Now it's time to put it to some good use in this mad mad world!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Long Pause

Yesterday, I had my final final-exam of business school. I also turned in all other work necessary for my courses. So I am officially done with business school. I am an MBA; one of the first 550 from Chicago Booth. The only thing that remains is the graduation walk. My iGoogle countdown says it is 4 days away! Really excited and looking forward to it - considering this is going to be my first (and possibly the only) graduation walk of my life. Hopefully it will be a good day.

Today was the first day after school. After a REALLY long time, my calendar was free for the entire day and is going to be free for a long time. Honestly - this emptiness kills me. And I have five more months of this and I have to get extremely creative and find ways to make use of myself. I want to rest for a few days and then start working on things one after the other. There is SO much I need to do.

As mentioned in the previous post, I've been in an introspective/self-analytical mode for the last few days. I've been looking back at the days. I am planning to publish a post summarizing my business school experience - my lows and highs, and the things I've learned in the past two years. It could happen very soon, considering I have way too much time these days!

There's just so much I want to say though - business school has really been life altering for me in many many ways. I'm really thankful for all the people I've met in school, the moments we shared, the discussions we had, every course-pack i read, every business case i analyzed, every new problem i solved, every interview i prepared for and every bit of merriment my classmates threw at each other! Business school will also always hold a special place in my heart! I can't ask for more.

I'm not saying everything was great - there were many bad moments. As one of my professors like to frequently say about business school, "Isn't it just like life." So very true. But I've learned as much from the low points, as from the more joyful ones. As an entire package, the school played a significant role in changing me into who I am today compared to who I was two years ago! Also, it has given me a better sense of direction and purpose; and brought closure to some of the important things in a person's life. Hopefully I'll do a good job summarizing all of it in a single blog post, but I doubt it.

I also have an exciting decision to share with you all. It is related to business school and the blog. Since I am in an introspective and writing mood, and also since I have too much time at my disposal, I am also considering doing something that I hope would be exciting/useful for everyone. Watch out for a post in that regard too.

Right - too many promises about too many future posts. Time to go watch that DVD!
Take care everyone!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

School ends; Life continues...

This comes exactly three years after the day of my GMAT. A perfectly timed MBA experience! Not a perfect one though :)

I had my last class yesterday. It was a great class to end my two years at Chicago Booth, as it reminded of everything this school stands for - good professors, great analysis and wonderful classmates. As I was joking to someone at the Class Celebration yesterday evening, I feel like I've grown old faster over the last couple of years. Many of us here think that way! In the process, we've also become wiser.

Yesterday, in more ways than one - academically, professionally, personally, socially - summarized the story of my life. The 24 - 30 hour period between Thursday evening and Friday night was filled with huge, life-impacting, unforgettable events and as I sit here on this lazy Saturday morning, musing at all that happened and all that led to all that happened; I can't stop thinking "How did I get here."

I am in a bittersweet mood. What started more than three and a half years ago, the quest for fine business education finally came to an end yesterday. Three and a half years!!! That's a lot of learning and thousands of hours of hard work. That sure is a good reason to celebrate! The Dean's office did time it perfectly in hosting the Class of 2009 Celebration yesterday. It was a wonderful event, and everyone had a lot of fun - with great food.

But as I wandered around the alleys of the Winter Garden in Harper Center while the rest of my class was letting go on the dance floor, the other things in my mind made me sober. The greater challenges ahead of me prevented me from jumping in. For all the insulation supposedly offered by the cocoon of the business school environment from the real world, we all know that the times are a lot less celebratory in nature.

Over the last couple of years - I've been through a lot and quite understandably learned a lot! So it always helps me stand away from a moment, and look at the big picture. The picture in front of me was not good.

Most importantly, my personal life could be a lot better. I could have done some things better, and as a result I find myself in a very difficult situation. At this moment it looks like a fight I'm going to fight for the rest of my life - but I'm fully committed to that fight! This is a lifelong commitment either way! The sooner I win it, the better my life will be - but if, unfortunately, this is going to drag on forever - I'm up for it.

Professionally though - I am standing at the verge of a great opportunity that I hope to make the best use of. But far beyond that - I look at all the things I see in this world, and I wonder what role I could play in improving some of it; any of it! This blog won't be sufficient to list all the issues we face today - there's so many people out there who need so many things, very basic things in some cases, and they all could use so much more help. Here in Chicago, my new home, I am close to so many of these vagaries. I see the results of racial differences, neglected communities, poverty and homelessness! My trip to Africa took me closer to some of the other vagaries - neglected countries and people with a lot less opportunities. I was thinking of the movie "Hotel Rwanda" throughout the trip!

People will argue we're making progress, but we all know that there could be more done. Organizations that are currently working on these issues are far from efficient. I've worked with an organization that tries to create opportunities for people in lesser economies and I've seen the inefficiencies. I've helped and interacted with a few non-profit organizations fighting various causes in America, and I have friends who have worked with them too. I'd like to think I know a little bit. I was recently discussing regarding these issues with a friend on our way to school one day. She had a lot of experience working with such agencies and is very passionate about leading some kind of change, and she was talking about the inefficiencies she had faced so far. My answer was that there's still a lot of work to be done and that kind of work needs a lot of committed people. If you look at the lives of various groups of people around the world - there are way too many complex issues to tear this world apart. This world, and the human race, could be SO much better!

I was not sure if it was the right thing to sit and think about my personal issues and these issues of my fellow homo sapiens at a place where we were supposed to rejoice the achievements of the past two years – but that's exactly what I did. The personal issues obviously weigh in always, but the other stuff has been playing in my mind for a long time. I really see me playing a role to make some kind of change somewhere. I wonder what I could do. I wonder what any of us could do. And oftentimes, I wonder what ALL of us could do.

I started writing this blog to chronicle my life, not just my application and business school experiences. I intend to continue doing just that - chronicle my life, its joys and vagaries all included. As with everything I've done so far, I also intend to discuss my efforts towards some of these goals I want to set for myself, and get public opinion on what I'm doing and how I should proceed.

So there goes two great years of my life. And here's to the rest of it. I hope I continue to work on what I've done so far, and build on that further to do something to help with these challenges that surround us, while continuing the constant search for a hopefully satisfying life!