The story of a French guy and his lovely Belgian wife gone to Barcelona to get the IESE MBA.

Friday, September 29, 2006

London's calling

This week was the beginning of the courses organised by sections. The class is divided in 3 sections and I'm in section B, which -of course- stands for Best... :-)
We were also assigned to our study teams. My team is made of 9 people. Cool people I should say, from what I've seen so far. I'm sure there will be some tensions throughout the year, when the pressure heats up, but I'm pretty confident we will overcome them.
The teams are done for a case review purpose. Every day, we have 3 cases to prepare and we discuss those cases within the team before going to class and get exposed. Things really start on Monday with the first 3 real cases. Of course, you're evaluated on your participation, both quantitatively and qualitatively. At the end of the term, you get a grade between A and C. A is good, C sucks. And the attribution of the grades follows a bell curve, which means that there are 15% of As, 10% of Cs and the rest of Bs. So no matter how good you did, if 90% of the class did better, you get a C. It can sound unfair or make people think it will be more competitive, but actually it reflects quite accuratly what you find in any company. You're evaluated in comparison with your peers, not on an absolute scale.
Anyway, this was the descriptive part that is of interest for you only if you're a prospective student...

What we can very much feel so far is the emphasis put by the school -or the career services department, should I say- on Investment Banking and Consulting recruitment. We've had our first career workshop this week, with CV review sessions by Morgan Stanley and BCG. This is explainable by the fact that the recruitment process for the summer internships in these industries start very early. The obvious bias is that you hear about IB and Consulting all the time. We've had an investment banking seminar every day until 8pm, and it's very easy to forget why you were looking for in your MBA quest, and get tempted by the prestige and tons of cash that you make out of these firms. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these are not top jobs if that's what you came for, but you might just go there for the wrong reasons.
I didn't know anything about IB, so I'm going to all the sessions to sessions to see if it's something for me or not. But the fact that I'm married and that I care about my work-life balance does not play in favor of IB...

I still don't have Internet at home (thanks to the Spanish cable company) so my posts are still scarce. Hopefully I will have it next week...
Next post will be more funny, I promise! Take care my friends!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The dark art of Financial Accounting

This week, we have started the pre-courses on top of the spanish courses. Instead of 7 hours of Spanish a day, we now have 2,5 hours only and the rest is replaced by two courses : Financial Accounting and Basic Quantitative Methods. The latter is about statistics and probablity and is not too difficult if you have a math/engineering background.
On the contrary, Accounting was chinese to me so far. I didn't even know how to read a balance sheet. So the amount of things to learn in one week is huge, and I'm working a lot not to fall behind and get trampled by the herd of ex-financial analysts and I-bankers sitting next to me. Of course, I'm not the only one to struggle, which is always encouraging!
When I say that Accounting is a dark art, I mean that for me it's just impossible to record a whole list of tricky transactions, post to ledger accounts, close them, draw a balance sheet and an income statement without doing any mistake along the way. I think it happened to me just once during my exercises this week (and it was probably the first one)... So when I see our professor flying through them like a charm, I feel like a Neville Longbottom trying to make a tricky potion in Snape's course. Sorry for the non-HP fans ;-)

Apart from that, I have my spanish exam tomorrow. The stakes are 3 months of extra spanish course. If I pass the test, I will have an extra 1 hour 15 minutes every day while the others will be working. Sweet!

All right. Accounting minus 5 minutes... I have to go. Expelliarmus !

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A tough week for spanish trees

After a nice week-end spent on the beach, things went really bad in Barcelona on Tuesday.
Strong storms and heavy rains like Spain hadn't experienced in the last 40 years. Houses with water up to 1.7 meter, lots of roofs destroyed by lightning (and I know very well how it is since it happened to us in Belgium last year...), and even a real tornado! Chaos in Spain!

I was beginning to think that it would never rain here. Well, at least now I know it happens sometimes...

Otherwise, things are getting much better now as you can see on that picture of IESE's emblematic building taken on Thursday. My Spanish is improving slowly but surely and I'm taking the test next Friday. Wish me luck!
Next Monday, we start the pre-courses in Financial Acounting and some kind of Analysis Fundamentals, and the year really kicks off on the 26th.

From the 11th to the 14th of October, I am flying to London for the investment banking tour. We will visit the 10 biggest I-banks and probably drink a lot of beer at night! Although I didn't consider investment banking as a potential outcome of my MBA, I want to get a better understanding of these jobs that I don't really know in depth. We'll see.

I'm still waiting to get my NIE (foreigner ID) number in order to buy my scooter. I will probably need to wait 2 or 3 more weeks.
The good news for that blog is that we will have the Internet at home from next Wednesday onwards, so that I will have much more time to write.

I wanted to finish by a "thank you" for writing me these nice e-mails. I really appreciate, even if I am sometimes very long to reply because of the fact that I don't have Internet at home. Keep writing, and do not hesitate to leave comments on that blog if you wish (whether I know you personally or not).

All right, I wish you al a very nice week-end. Talk to you soon. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mi primera semana

This week was my first full week of school, although real courses have not started yet.
For the moment, it is spanish, spanish, spanish. I have the feeling that I'm improving a lot and that's good. On the 22nd of September, my group will take the DIEN, which is an official spanish test. If I pass it, I will be over with spanish afterwards, which would be a great advantage for me because it would mean saving 1 hour 15 minutes every day during the academic year. I could use that time to do some sport or to study other things.

Every day, I realise how lucky I am to be in such an international environment, with such a bunch of cool people. People are not open minded because they do an MBA, they do an MBA because they are open minded. At least that's my feeling. Of course it doesn't mean that if you don't do an MBA you're not open minded... I stop here, it starts to sound like the critical reasoning part of the GMAT!

Due to that unbearable clear blue sky, we had to go to the beach last week end, and I'm afraid we will have to do the same this week-end. This time, I will take some pictures. This reminds me I have to take pictures of my flat so that you can see where your guest room is.

We are still not over with this crappy administrative paperwork. I hate any kind of administration and paperwork. I hate bankers. This suc%$*rs will bow to me in 2 years time, but right now I had to beg to get a loan to finance my MBA.
I hate spanish administration, which takes 1 month at least for any single task. You want a scooter? You need an "extranjero" number first, and it takes at least a month to get it (and lots of hassle).
Oh, and I almost forgot about the Spanish banks which are only open in the morning and where no one speaks English. No one (no kidding)!
That was my “there-are-also-downsides-in-being-in-Barcelona” paragraph. As you can see, it’s relatively short.

All right, I have to go back home to see my beloved wife and my little sister Muriel who came to visit me for a few days.
A très bientôt tout le monde !