My Biggest aspiration: The first lap

Category: By Stuart
I started the MBA in September last year, and with that my dreams of making path breaking business decisions.. seeing myself in the FT and ofcourse minting money took wings..

and when u think of money.. no... oodles of money... the first profession that comes to one's mind is?? No, not armed robbery!! Not Ocean's 12/ 13...well Investment banking (well these days it is difficult to segregate the banking from the robbery .. considering that millions of investors have been robbed off billions of dollars...anyways.. that's another story!)

Well the charm of investment banking is irresistible and it draws so many people to top B-schools... just the name of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Merill Lynch was enough to send cashregisters ringing between ur ears and light up ones eyes..

It was not long before I got fell for the dazzle of the I-Banking world and started dreaming of becoming an uber-chique wall street type deal maker. As luck would have it .. very soon, in October, St. Gallen organised the Investment banking days..

All the big names in investment banking were there.. smartly dressed young professionals flaunting expensive tailor made suits, exquisite watches.. gelled hair... with tales of the multimillion dollar deals that their banks were doing.. and handing out cool stuff... my heart throbbed .. and I felt.. this is it!!! Eureka !! I've found my dream job... oh how naive was i to think that it'll take forever to know what I wanted to do in life..
Now just 4 weeks into the MBA... I know it!!! yippee!!!

... continues.. stay posted...

MBA: My Biggest Aspiration? - Searching your dream job

Category: By Stuart
The MBA is perhaps the most sought after masters program. It attracts aspirants from far and wide, draws participants from diverse backgrounds.. lawyers, doctors, special forces soldiers engineers et. al.

The MBA is positioned (by B-schools) and perceived (by students) as the pole vault into your dream job. MBA brochures are full of stories of highly successful alumni… and most top B-schools also publish a Career report. (I must mention that INSEAD has a pretty good one.. with exhaustive details!).

But behind all these great success stories and incredible placements is a lot of sweat and hardwork.Having studied at a European Business school I’m only aware of how the job hunting scenario works here. Also, the experiences may vary from B-school to B-school and also from person to person..

But I’d like to share my experiences from the job hunt process over the next couple of posts..

The first and foremost step of securing your dream job is to know what your dream job is?

Many people coming to the MBA are very clear about what they want to do post MBA and where they want to be 5 – 10 years after they graduate.. (Well you gotta know that else how would you write the MBA admission essays!!)

But there are also a few others like me who know that it is time for a major professional change but have absolutely no idea what I wanted to do post-MBA (except earning truck loads of money! ;) ). Now now, don’t ask me how I wrote those admission essays 

Seriously though, I came into the MBA seeking growth, development, change and also my future path. I knew for sure that I wanted to work in Europe, in a highly international environment, and do something that built upon my previous experience ( business experience, specialised knowledge of emerging markets, project management skills, etc. etc) but was not just an extension of my last job.

But then as you can see this was really a vague criteria. But I felt that the year I spend at the MBA would (hopefully) provide me enough opportunities to taste and perhaps savor various opportunities in the job market and perhaps that way I would know what I wanna do.

Well with this a took a headlong plunge into the MBA and hoped I’d resurface with my prize catch..

Stay posted…

Acad Director or Rock Band Vocalist?

Category: , By Stuart
Hi all,
Stuart is back again..
this time with rare spy cam footage of the St. Gallen MBA Academic Director Winfried Ruigrok...

And you thought he could only teach International Management or Corp. Governance?

Winfried (the vocalist with sunglasses) and other Profs (yes the drummer, guitarist etc are all professors@ St. Gallen) have a band called "No Business" (not bad for a band of B-school profs!)

btw if you thought I was's Winfried's pic at the faculty profile page ..

Strange things happen to you when you are at St. Gallen. Even professors can't escape the St. Gallen Mania!!
There's a lot that happens at St. Gallen... so u'd better get here.. & soon!!

MBA Review : block #1

Category: , By Stuart
Hi again guys,
We're now in the 5th teaching block (out of a total 6 blocks) and i guess it is now a time to look back and review what we've been through so far. having completed 2/3rd of the course work we have now seen various professors, events and courses. So i will share my views on them in this series of posts. Today's post covers block 1.

Block #1: (Sep -Oct 07)

1. International Management (Winfried Ruigrok): My key take away from the course was an understanding of the cultural differences between international organisations and the most significant tool i learnt was the Hofstede's index. which gives u a fair idea of what to expect when going to a new international business environment. also got to know the various organisational structures and found the matrix to be quite interesting.

Winfried is a pleasing personality and tries different ways (like fun exercises) to get his points across. But the course had every possible assessment (research paper, exam, presentation blah blah..) making it too much of hardwork not all of which was useful.

2. Finance and Accounting (Fleming Ruud): My key take aways were an understanding of the balance sheet, some tricks of the trade that are used to play with balance sheet figures. What i really learnt was to look at numbers from a CEO perspective.

Fleming has the ability to make problems and discussions very simple and uses a basic table format to analyse and evaluate balance sheets. For a guy like me with no accounting background this was a big help! Fleming also has a fine sense of humour.

The course however is too intensive and covers 25+ chapters of the Needles accounting book in a course of just 30 hours!!! roughly 1.2 hours per chapter!!!! As a result u kill urself reading the book and dealing with the coursework the big exam and presentations. Huh! I went out of breadth trying to keep up with the pace of the course.

3. Marketing Management (Marcus Shoegel): The key takeaway from this course was STP (segmenting, targetting and positioning). We did a BMW case study (Warning: but so did our predecessors!!). I liked the two sessions by Andreas Herrmann which brought in some metrics for analysing consumer preferences.

Marcus as i have mentioned earlier is quite animated with his teaching and keeps u wide awake with his antics. He is an impressive lecturer with great showmanship. However, besides STP, I didn't find much substance in the course which was laden with too many european examples of brand names and hence was not international enough.

While marketing might be very vague or difficult to quantify, what i did not learn (and wanted to) was how would I as a CEO devise metrics to gauge whether the marketing initiatives planned would be effective or not. Also, what factors should govern the channel and media for advertising campaigns and product retail. If I am putting in money, I need to know whether it is going to be spent well!

In my opinion the best course in block #1 was clearly Finance and accounting. Lets see what the verdict of the next and coming intakes will be.

Admissions update!

Category: By Stuart
hi Guys,

Thanks for the numerous mails & messages ....

i have some scoop regarding the admissions of the incoming class (Class of 2009):

  1. The class size is likely to be 40 participants (up from 35 of the present class).More than half of this number (> 20) have already enrolled and many are in the process of confirming their participation.
  2. While there are 5 more seats available this year, there has been a 5 fold increase in applications compared to last year.
  3. The average GMAT of the students admitted is around 710.
  4. With an objective to ensure a diverse international participant mix, country specifuc quotas of a max 5-7 students from one nation are in place. As a result highly competitive applications (with good work experience and GMATs of 730-740+) from Americans, Indians and Germans have been turned away.
  5. There is a discussion about cancelling the 4th admission round (June 1 deadline) as the target enrollment is likely to be achieved by the 3rd deadline (April 1).

(Meanwhile, Steve Riley has replaced heiko as the admissions manager.)

Hope this helps!



p.s. : Many of you have written to me about the forum HSG. I will publish a post soon on that.


A pragmatic guide to choose your MBA

Category: By Stuart

Hi folks,
Through this post I aim to reflect back upon the MBA application process that most of us MBAs go through and outline things that we could do to improve our chances of getting into the job we desire post-MBA.

For sake of emphasis, I repeat that this talks about how to choose an MBA program so that you can get into the job of your desire.

The first and foremost step in this direction is to introspect and understand where you are coming from. By this I mean, looking back into the not so distant past to analyze the growth process that you have underwent. Growth in terms of personal and professional development; academics , exta-curriculars etc.

WARNING!: I am not guiding u on how to write ur MBA essay, However, doing this may help you with your essay as well.

"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are."
As quoted by David C. McCullough

The ideal way is to do a timeline analysis (write to me if u want more details) or the least you can do is write down your skills, shortcomings and aspirations. Also, write down what exactly is your expectation from the MBA. Don't write "I want to be an I banker" .. but more in terms of what u aim to learn, which areas r u not so good at (Finance??) and what position you seek post MBA. (I Banker!! I Banker!!) ..

Ok!! Ok!!! If you indeed want to become an I Banker, lets c how you can do this analysis.

First Step: Search the web for I-Banking openings on the web. For starters, look for openings on

Second Step:Identify and outline the skillsets, professional experience etc etc mentioned in the job description.

Third Step: compare these skillsets with your current skillsets. Compare the job description with your current one + the value added by the MBA. This is what I call the Stuart MBA reality test (SMART) I.

Do you see a match? If yes, great!! if no, we will have to look at ways in which we can bridge this divide and also whether we can bridge this divide at all.

Why is this test important?

Till now all the MBA plans and aspirations of yours (& mine when i was an applicant) have been driven by your dreams without any guiding red thread or a check. As a result, sometimes some of us dream up very lofty dreams, which to be honest, are very difficult to achieve even with a top notch MBA!

Another reason why this is important is because once you start applying for jobs and internships during the MBA, the recruiters will look at these very aspects in your application. In case there is a gap between your profile and the job opening, he/she will look for ways in which you have tried to plug it. In case he is not satisfied, he will not call you for an interview. Period!

Please do not get me wrong, shoot for the moon for sure! However, if it is "Pluto" you are aiming at.... hmmm.. we need to re-evaluate the career strategy.

At this moment I stop. In case you find this approach outlined by me relevant, please leave me comments and /or emails. I would then write more posts that bring in perspectives from the post-MBA world to the applicants.



Career Opportunities rolling in!!!

Category: , By Stuart
Hi folks..
haven't been around for a while but in the meantime i've been helping prospective MBA applicants with their applications.. and mind you they are not St. Gallen applicants!

Meanwhile lot of things have been happening at the career end..

we had three one to one sessions with experts in various fields.. we had one expert each for industry, consulting and finance.

Each of them had served in leading firms of their field (Mckinsey, bank of America) and were now to talk to us one on one about our individual aspirations in these respective fields.
The benefits of this exercise were manifold:

1. We got a practitioner's view about our prospects in these fields and also how we can enhance our profile for openings. We also had a resume check to see whether it matched the standards of the said industry.

Some of us also got a very honest view that we weren't cut out for a particular field. This may have disappointed some but for others it provided adequate reason to break through the herd mentality of applying to all Ibanks/ consulting and instead focus on areas where we are more likely to succeed.

2. We got access to the great networks of these people who have interviewed us and can provide potential links.

3. We got a fair overview of the market trends.

Besides this, one of us signed a contract with P&G! The first contract of the season!! Three others have an interview in BCG next week and six have been invited to interview for the Novartis Finance Leadership Development Program. Then there also have been a few interviews with other consulting firms but on an individual basis.

We also are going to a career fair in Berlin on April 13-14. this fair held jointly with 4 other German B-schools is now in its fourth year. The idea is to tap into the niche and captive German market where St. Gallen has immense brand value. Well what adds spice to the curry is the fact that it is an all expenses paid trip sponsored by the MBA Office. yes u heard it right.. air tickets, accomodation, food.. u name it !!
Wolfgang!!! Wolfgang!!! President !! President!!

The Forum HSG is now less than two weeks away and we eagerly await the start of the fair.
till next time!


Category: , , By Stuart
The last two weeks have brought a cheer on the little mousey's face!
my blog figured as the Top blog for the week ending Feb 3 on's list!

This was for my blog post titled "European Invasion, Asian Crusade" which examines the latest FT B-school rankings threadbare and spots trends for prospective MBAs.

and what makes it better is that for the previous week it debuted at No. 3 at the same list!

which rewarded my description of the Mongolian BBQ u made my day!! oops !! fortnight!!


Get a job: The Forum is Coming!!!!!

Category: By Stuart
The most important career event at St. Gallen is the Forum HSG.

The forum is a 3 week (yes 3 week!!!) long event where over a 100 companies converge to recruit St. Gallen students.

The forumHSG 2008 is scheuled from last week of Feb to mid-March and while the site will be completely up in a few days, the companies who've confirmed their participation so far are:

Did u spot a company u like in this list?.. well the top consultants are here, and the industry leaders like ABB, ALSTOM, SIEMENS (including the siemens management consulting), General motors, are the banks (but we already had an investment banking days event in Oct and the banking recruitment cycle is almost over so not as many would again show up)

so tons of opportunities!

disclosure: These companies are not coming exclusively for a batch of only 35 MBAs with very diverse interests. However, a sizable number have already confirmed their particular interest in MBAs and most probably we'll have an apero and a few exclusive events with them.

Last year's class mentioned it to be an important event for generating contacts and getting offers.

To accomodate the Forum, the mba will not have any coursework during these three weeks so that we can attend the company workshops and interviews and meet representatives without bothering about skipped classes and missed assignments.

Well that's reasonable ain't it? After all getting a good job is a valuable ingredient of getting an MBA and in fact is a major yardstick to measure the success of the program ;)


Stuart goes to the Carnival!

Category: By Stuart
It is carrrrrrrrrrnival time!!! The entire world is in the mood for carnival and this place is no different!

Well well well... before u start conjuring up images of bare breasted babes on floats and samba... guys we're not in Rio.... This is St. Gallen and it is rather cold here so people were really dressed up ;)

But yeah we had an amazing day nevertheless ... lol

The atmosphere was electric.... and music enveloped the streets ...

people in "colorful' dresses and vivid themes and tons of face paint were all over the place with trumpets, drums ... u name it...

suddenly the sleepy li'l town of St. Gallen was transformed into a musical village and the crowds simply loved it...

Interestingly, there was a Swiss/German group dressed in Indian costumes and playing Indian music... talk about globalisation ... lol!


European invasion, Asian crusade

Category: By Stuart
Over the past couple of days several events took place. One of the most relevant to the MBAs (mainly applicants!) was the release of the FT Rankings for the year 2008.

This year's rankings show some very interesting trends.
First and most visible developments was that London Business School jumped three notches within the top 10 and is now second only to Wharton!! Kudos LBS! INSEAD also progressed a notch to No. 6.

On a broader view, European B-schools have improved their rankings and two new European B-schools invaded the Top 10 space:
  • Institute de Empressa (IE) of Spain which jumped from 11th to 8th rank.
  • Judge Business School (Cambridge) which jumped 5 notches from 15th to the 10th rank.
As a result, NYU, Tuck and Yale are out of the top 10. Kellogg is down to 24!!

So is this a European invasion or do they have an unfair home advantage (FT is a European Business Daily). In case the former is true, it reflects the growing stature of europe (especially EU) in international trade.

Is it also a trend that hints that American B-schools are getting complacent? Well only time will tell. US is still clearly the favorite destination to pursue a business education. But the lack H1 B visas is now denting the popularity of american business education.

An another interesting development is the stellar performance of Asian business schools. China's CEIBS held on to its 11th position, Hong Kong UST returned to the FT table at No. 17. Singapore's Nanyang business school improved its performance jumping a whopping 20 positions to 46. The other leading Singaporean B-school (NUS) got edged out of the top 100. While India's sole entry to the FT ranking , the Indian School of Business made a spectacular debut at #20 with the highest weighted salary of US$ 169,355! The Asian crusade is picking steam and in the years to come it may cause a few upsets. :)

Other notable debuts were Strathclyde at #30, Shanghai Jiao Tong University(ACEM, China) at #41 and Vlerick Leuven Gent (Belgium) at 97.

B-schools that have demonstrated the most significant improvement in rankings over a three year period are:
Judge Business School, Cambridge at #10 (2006 ranking # 35)
HKUST #17 (#47)
Australian Grad School of Management #39 (#75).
Edinburgh University Management School # 44 (#82)
Nanyang Business School Singapore #46 (unranked)

These are perhaps valuable indicators for prospective MBA students and hopefully would help choose ur B-school.

Business Law

Category: , By Stuart
In Block 4 that's currently underway, we have a course on business law. The Professor is actually a practicing attorney at law with a mid-size law firm in Zurich.

Law as many of us would know, is very nation specific and we are all not swiss and not all of us would work in Switzerland post-MBA.

Hence, what we are trying to do in this subject is to get an overview of the laws applicable to business and the situations in which we would deal with them. In essence, looking at situations where we should be careful about the fine print and to ensure we don't get on the wrong foot (or the wrong side of the law!).

What makes this course rather interesting is the fact that we are looking at a lot of case studies and trying to identify the key levers on which the case is based. In the process we are putting ourselves in the shoes of the attorneys and CEOs and coming up with probable scenarios. And we're not looking at the issue in the context of any jurisdiction specific laws but are applying plain logic.

I find this immensely intriguing!! Hmm maybe i should become a lawyer...!!! cheeky little mousey lawyer !! lol!


Rogue Trader: Nick Leeson Part Two?

Category: , By Stuart
In the news the last couple of days have been reports about the alleged fraud committed by a "rogue trader" at the French investment firm Societe Generale ( .

What is really alarming about the whole issue is that a single trader was responsible for a whopping $7.2 billion fraud. Basically he took positions much above his authorised powers. While, the bank might cite him creating fictitious firms and blah blah.. the pressing question to ask is how and why did such large positions get built without getting detected by anyone?

This also reminds us of the other infamous rogue Trader nickleeson ( whose aggressive bets on the Nikkei futures on the now defunct Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX) and the infamous 88888 account led to $1.4 billion loss for Barings bank which also led to the collapse of Barings.

“How Leeson Broke the Bank.” BBC Online. June 22, 1999. British Broadcasting Company. 12 March 2005.

Later Nick also authored a book titled Rogue Trader which was later turned into a film.

Nick Leeson spent 6.5 years in prison, battled cancer and divorce and is now back into the mainstream. We have to wait and watch what happens to the Socgen trader.

The financial markets are already battling the subprime crisis, and if we have more skeletons out of their closets, investor confidence (which is already thrashed thanks to the stock market roller coasters) will plummet into an abyss.

Trading in SocGen's shares was suspended following the announcement.

This also raises the questions of ethics and its importance in business. And this is a question that we as MBAs and future business leaders or (Rogue!) traders need to ask ourselves.

Incidentally if we look at B-schools with the lens of Ethics, social responsibilty the FT rankings tend to get turned on their head. Beyondgreypinstripes is a site that looks into these issues and has its own ranking
have a look


Mongolian Barbecue

Category: , , By Stuart
The block 3 fininshed last friday and as a tradition, we had the end of block event on the same evening. The event was a dinner at a Mongolian Bar be cue restaurant called "Han".

For those who've never been to a mongolian barbecue, it works like this: You have several bowls/containers of raw fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats. In additions u have jars of flavored oils ...

so u pick ur assortment of fruits/vegetables/flesh.. add the oil of ur desired flavor and head to the counter where u hand it over and watch it cooked in front of ur eyes.

once barbecued.. u add ur favorite sauces and u r ready for a delicious meal :)

Well delicious food and wine are just few of the benefits of an end of block event. It is usually an occassion to unwind.. break bread with friends... and enjoy an evening together after a long and intense block of coursework.... and considering that the very next day we were heading off to ebenalp, we were all very excited too!

The mba office is very thoughtful with organizing these events.. we've so far had swiss cuisine, chinese food, italian pasta and now mongolian barbecue.. besides a host of aperos and other delightful events...
We get an opportunity to taste delightful cuisines from all over the world and inevitably will find ourselves at home as delegates in any country devouring local cuisine with elan...

i guess these are some fringe benefits of a small but progressive mba program. !!
St. Gallen anyone??

Ebenalp : Sun & Snow

Category: , By Stuart
Hey folks!
We just ended the third teaching block on friday and went for a class trip last weekend to Ebenalp ( a ski resort in Eastern Switzerland, about an hour from St. Gallen.
Here are some pics to give u a glimpse of the place

The place is very close to Mt. santis, which is a famous swiss mountain peak and infact we could see it from the mountain top...

We stayed at the Berggasthaus which is right at the cliff and is the only guesthouse there at ebenalp since 1852. So u know they've had a happy time with a monopoly. But the rent was ok about 36 CHF for a dorm with breakfast.. although the food isn't exactly cheap.. but hey it wasn't a rip off.

We reached in the afternoon and saw a very colorful "Drag" band (welcome to the carnival!!) . These guys brought up all their musical instruments including the drums.. the guitar.. and trumpets.. who lot of trumpets!! and just blasted off..
man it was amazing...

many of us then spent the day skiing while the others lay on the sun lounge (we had plenty of sun!) or took a walk amongst the mountains...which was equally delightful

the last gondola goes down at 4.30 pm and after that we have the mountains to us... in the evening around six the entire place was set up for the typical swiss dinner... and we had the dining hall full of people from far and wide...
in addition we had three musicians dressed in the typical appenzeller tradition (Ebenalp is located in the Kanton of Appenzell) and played on for almost the entire evening..

then there was this swiss maiden (ok she wasn't the youngest one i've seen.. but i'd rather not call her an aunt!) who sang swiss folk songs and the entire hall was filled with enchanting melodies and everyone including us swayed to the mesmerising music..

in the night we hit the games.... poker... booze games .... jenga... u name it...
and it was awesome fun..!!!!

the two days that we spent at ebenalp were amazing... we not only got to bond with each other in different scenorios and discovered so many common interests and the sun and snow.... awe i love this!!

i would've missed so much if i hadn't come to do my mba in this alpine nation...
ok the best part of the trip was that the MBA office has financed 60% of it! Wolfgang! Wolfgang!! President! President