Monday, July 23, 2007


I recently got told off by some readers for leaving the full sentence that has been this blog without a full stop. Or so to speak. Truth be told, I have been trying to write a final entry for a while now and it's been proving quite tricky. I guess there's so many loose ends to tie up, that getting it all done in one entry becomes an impossible task to strive for initially, and later on an excuse for not getting on with the job.

It seems 10 months of hardcore business studies has not knocked out my engineering analness, so I shall go for a simple 3 part structure.

The first part I guess has to be the dry logistics. After graduating jobless (not an experience I can recommend) I had a final round interview 3 days later which I clinched with an offer. So yes. I will be a venture capitalist. I have no idea what would have happened had I not got it - it would not be worth contemplating. And kids, although in the virtual world of the Career Casino putting all your chips on red and waiting for the wheel to stop worked out for this character, please do not try this at home. It causes sleeplessness and other stress related disorders which after a 3 weeks of steady rest are only just now starting to disappear.

The second part I guess would neatly explain an overview of the MBA. I don't really know how to go about this (which is the main reason this entry is so late). I think for me, the main thing to come out of the whole experience has been the results of the introspection one is afforded when they step off the career treadmill for a year. Things like gaining confidence in going with your feelings, learning to recognise what you like and don't like have actually been pretty big steps for me. Kicking it all away and going for an adventure in the forest also made me realise that I'm done with adventuring for now. Other useful snippets have been realising how poorly Casino owners cope with complete blank piece of paper uncertainty and potential implication for entrepreneurial career paths. But these are all quite personal things, and to be honest I think in a lot of ways stem from my fairly unique INSEAD experience. They may well seem obvious to others - but weren't to me. So I'm not sure how much wisdom I can bestow on others through this process. The studies, although on paper can be made to appear incredibly useful would for me always rank bottom of any list of things I got out of INSEAD. But hey. That's just me.

And the third part? Was it worth it? Who knows. I know for me it was one of the hardest years of my life. And yes, I did have fairly unique circumstances, so I don't want to put people off from applying to the Business School For the World. And right now, I feel that it has indeed been worth it - I have achieved a career transition which would simply have not been possible had I not been to INSEAD for my MBA. And there's a ton of other good things to come out of the whole experience. It's just that for me, I know the cost with which these things came, and if someone came to me now, wound the clock back and said "hit or stick" I really don't know what I would do. Thankfully this is not really on the cards, so that's one less decision to worry about.

So, onwards and upwards. I wish you all the best with your endeavors, wherever they may be or whatever they are. I am done playing and have cashed my chips out. A bientot, as they say in France.

CQW: When do you start?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


When I was 12 I went on a train journey to Moscow. It took two and a half days, and during that time your life became adjusted to life slowly passing you by on both sides at a sedate 60kph. Most places you could look on the train would involve at least a slight sliver of change - a glimpse of a granny passing by on a bench, a parked car at a railway crossing. As the journey progresses, you become more and more used to this.

Once in Moscow, you realise the still vision of reality no longer matches your perception. As you sit in a chair you feel the walls are slightly moving - surprised you look up and realise they're not.

The MBA now feels exactly like having stepped of a train after two and a half days. All of a sudden you are exposed to a remarkable commodity - endless free time. Yet the 10 months of hard concentration have trained you to fill your time productively every chance you get - otherwise you'll fall behind. As soon as you sit down and ponder the amazing reality of a free afternoon you feel a jump inside and quickly check whether there really isn't something productive you need to be doing. Apart from some logistics, parties is the only thing left. The closer they get to graduation, the more nostalgia ridden they become.

Given that I'm still unemployed, I'm looking forward to the next part with a certain amount of trepidation. But, no matter what, I'll be glad to exit the INSEAD train and adjust to a life without moving walls. It's been a roller coaster, but now, reality awaits.

CQW: Are you going to the graduation trip?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Next steps

We weave and tangle the web of our lives, but sooner or later you need to think about the next step. As you can tell, this was proving difficult for me, but just when you're down life hands you down a helping hand, which is always appreciated even more because of the circumstances.

As I was busy bemoaning the difficulties of my current predicament, an old friend wrote an e-mail explaining he would be moving out of London to do a year long secondment, and if anyone was interested they could have his flat for a pittance. A match made in heaven I thought and no sooner did I reply than I was walking around the flat and being handed the keys for it.

Amazing what a calming effect such a simple step of being able to picture where you will be sleeping for the unforeseeable future starting 3 weeks away had on me. But it did. So hats off to luck, and especially when you're feeling down.

Which of course brings me to next steps. As I wound (nay, flew) my way down to France from London yesterday on the Eurostar I felt that I am ready to leave the INSEAD bubble. Fitter, stronger and theoretically more knowledgeable, though definitely poorer too. So on we go with the last few weeks. But in a lot of ways the experience is over. Classes no longer feel the same and campus has that jaded, nostalgic feel about it already.

CQW: Have you been invited to the Endgame party? That's the one where each girl gets one invite and blokes can only turn up if they're invited. And the whole thing's anonymous for an extra touch of mystery. And no. I have not. Yet.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Work avoidance

OK. OK. So maybe the abyss is a bit deeper than I thought, but still. It does have a bottom.

I'm having trouble working. Everything in my life seems to have saturated and reached the point where only a jarring change can get things back on track. The thought of reading another case makes my stomach churn. My ability to focus for an hour and a half in class is next to minimal. Text messages, doodles or plain simply staring outside is the weapon of work avoidance there.

In my spare time, I've got to prepare for another VC interview. You have no idea how much work this entails, and I won't start going into it here. But it does. Buckets and bucketloads of what must be as close to perfection as you can get it otherwise there is no point even trying. I'm really questioning my stamina to get me through this. Today was devoted to VC preparation. In between stopping for biccies, staring from the window, going for walks and Facebook I've maybe spent a couple of hours on it. This is stressful. You have the abyss on one side and an inability to focus on the other. Make it stop. Please.

CQW: Have you got a job yet?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The abyss is just a hole

...and it's not even that deep. In fact, I think my head sticks out when I stand at the bottom.

Well, it seems one can rent a room in a scummy London flatshare for around UKP300 a month. At that burn rate I've got till Christmas. Which is ages. So that's not that bad.

And then there's all the tactical pots I could cook. It seems from interview feedback that I was a high beta stock - showed lots and lots of promise, but also very risky. Risky because I've moved around so much and might be bored. Risky cause I did make some mistakes in presentation. Risky because my numeracy score was far from top notch. So I'm now considering asking for an unpaid summer internship - what better way to mitigate risk for them than to sign up for a 2 month interview. And for me, well given there's not much else I could be doing for certain that would be an interesting option. It would also tell me whether I would like VC for sure.

Another pot is that I've finally got an idea for business that I think might be worth pursuing. About cocking time I say. For a 24 hour old idea it's constantly revolving around my head. The key driver is that if I'm going to be burning through savings, I'd much rather be doing it making a company than looking for a job. I do wonder whether that's a sign of my insanity though. It also seems I'm homeless as of 7th of July, which is ages. London flatshares are typically done a week ahead, so there's bags of time to find something.

CQW: Have you done your year book entry?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Abyss

So along we come to the Abyss. I kind of reached it over the weekend but was refusing to acknowledge it. But a little e-mail I got at lunchtime which started with "Thank you for coming to see us last week. We enjoyed.." actually nudged my head over the edge and showed me the gaping void that is there.

And oh my goodness, what a void. The optimist in me knows in years to come this will be a formative time. But right now I feel utterly lost. Where to begin? Homelessness or unemployment? Take your pick. When in doubt I go by alphabetical order.

Homelessness. My rent-free home is 8000 miles away and is not somewhere I would want to live. Implications? All my earthly possessions to show for 29 years are in my room in France from which I will get turfed out come the 15th of July. I can't really explain how unsettling this fact is. But it really is. The one thing that I've had stablish for the past 10 months will be kicked away, and right now I have no idea what will replace it.

Unemployment. My rent-free home is 8000 miles away and is not somewhere I would want to live. Implications? I will have to enter living hell if I do not find a job before I run out of money. Thankfully I have enough cash to last a while, but this is going to be the first time in my life when this could be an issue. I am dreading this.

Of course, all of this is irrational and illogical - broken down, these are all simple problems with simple answers. But I'm human after all. Yes, I know. I will find a job. And yes. There are storage places you could put your stuff into. And yes, I can find somewhere to live. I'll be OK. I know. It's just not that easy. One day at a time, one day at a time. And yes, the wiseguys say it's my fault for not applying to more jobs. But then dammit, I made a stand for what I wanted and it didn't work out. I'm glad I did that, despite the fact that the Abyss is here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ding Dong

I have been dinged. And to add insult to injury, I have been stealth dinged. And to add pain to injury I've been stealth dinged for what was undeniably dream job. The logistics go something along the lines of: interview Wednesday, no news since then. What should have happened is interview Wednesday, call on Thursday to arrange interviews with the top 2 people in the firm on Monday. I know this because it did for someone else. But not for me. For me, no call, no e-mail no nada.

Alas, I'm now scratching head and looking with wonder at the calendar. Unemployment and homelessness in t-(less than 2 months).....

On the bright side, my stress levels seem to somehow be incompatible with that basic fact - something is bound to turn up. Which is nice.

CQW: Are you wearing a dinner jacket to the Ball?