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The white shirt

The white shirt was born in a factory in some nondescript place. It traveled all the way down the supply chain till it reached one of the millions of MBA students around the world. In this case, the student was from Fisher, and had bought this shirt in India. The student was an extremely lazy guy, and contemplated the most efficient way to iron it…. and realized there were a couple of tricks that he could employ depending on the dress code of the event he planned to attend.

If the dress code was business casual, it would be a suit without a tie, white shirt underneath. Now this made the poor white shirt to only show up as a stripe on the front, the rest being covered by the coat. So all that needed to be ironed was the collar and the front strip.

If the dress code was business professional, it made the job even simpler. The front would be covered with a tie, so only the collar needed to be ironed.

The white shirt felt bad. It had made this journey all the way from the cotton fields of China or India, and had been proud of itself for being the whitest thing on earth. And now, it was being covered from head to toe by this presumptuous suit which was almost always dark, and had no identity of its own. It felt bad that it was now being relegated to such a small role in the life of an MBA student.

The student thought about it for a while, and ironed only the collar. He wore the wrinkled shirt, suited up, and tied a pretty knot with the corporate noose – a tie. And suddenly, the wrinkled shirt was no longer visible! It was like magic! And so off he went to event.

However, the event was in another city, and he needed to take a flight. He checked in, took the boarding pass, and stood in line for the security check…… and froze. HE JUST REALIZED THAT HE HAD TO TAKE HIS COAT OFF!!!

The white shirt smiled at the young guy. They were now even.

Cheers,

K


Hmmmm… Grad school

Alright, so one of our professors says that grad school is not about learning what the teacher says, but making our own opinions based on what we hear from others.

So…. people (students, teachers) are talking about mid-term exams and how to go about studying for it. However, I’ve happily formed my own opinion about the whole thing and decided to pass the entire thing as too much hype.

However, this time round I decided to give this whole thing a try and actually try to study before the mid-terms. I even seemed to have a plan!

Thursday after classes: ‘I think I’ll finish studying Operations by tonight’

Thursday night 12:59 am : ‘Where on earth did all the time between afternoon and now fly by?! And what was I doing all this while staring at my laptop? Let me go to sleep now, get up bright and early tomorrow and then start afresh’

Friday morning: First breakfast, then a movie on Netflix, then lunch, then some phone calls… It’s evening. I break into a cold sweat.. Another day down the drain.

Saturday: Meeting in the morning, followed by what is supposed to be half a day of uninterrupted studies. Turns out that I can get ‘interrupted’ quite easily.. Like trying to see why my window blinds don’t always unfurl easily. Or, doing laundry.. Or cleaning the kitchen counters… (for god’s sakes!!!) So.. well, what can I say? There were too many interruptions for me to do anything useful today. I speak to my parents over Skype and wish my mom on her birthday.. Disadvantage of having to wish someone who lives to your east is that you can’t remember birthdays at the last moment – cos by then, it’d be the next day there!

Anyways, so right now it is Sunday, 2:49pm. I’ve not touched my books, I don’t want to, but I intend to.. When? I don’t know! Why? I just don’t know?

Will I pass my exams? The Lord only knows!!

Well, I didn’t really intend to ‘waste’ my time on blogging while I’m supposed to be studying, but then…. interruptions do happen!!

And I’ve learnt to live with them. So now I need to get back to studies before I have another interruption.

In the meanwhile, I’m trying to form my own opinion about exams in grad school..

Cheers,
Kaushik


The logistics trek to Germany

Over the past 10 days, I’ve been touring Germany with 29 other colleagues from college. We went to Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. The site visits were planned to allow us enough free time go around the cities and do our own thing as well. The best part was that most of us were strangers to each other, from various courses and majors. But what a trip it was!!! We’ve had so much fun. Any trip when you don’t sleep for more than 5 hours a night has to be an awesome trip I guess.

This being Christmas time, there’s merry everywhere. Christmas markets are around every corner, selling all sorts of knickknacks, Christmas decorations with people everywhere in the freezing cold. Of course, not to forget field visits which were very enriching in terms of how companies are viewing logistics these days and organizing the entire supply chain to meet daily needs and demands.

Here’s my pick of one picture from each city, along with a description of it:

Hamburg: We went to the Kuehne + Nagel logistics center here and toured the facility to understand how they handle contract logistics for Yamaha music.

The next factory we visited ´╗┐was the Nestle plant where we toured the Kit-Kat factory.

Hamburg doesn’t have much to see or do. What it does have is the best Christmas markets. The Christmas markets everywhere have something called Gluwein (glue-wine). It is hot wine served in a small mug. You can carry the mug as you walk along the market. Also, the food is great – you get all sorts of baked cakes and pastries and the German special – sausages. My personal favorite however, is the stir fried mushrooms with sour cream on it. It’s called Champignon and is simply heavenly. My next favorite was the stir fried noodles with vegetables with the hot Chinese sauce. I guess my love for Indian Chinese will never go away.

Here’s one of the roads decked up for Christmas:

Berlin: In Berlin, we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Prof. Carl Marcus Wallenburg at the Technical University of Berlin. He showed us a World Bank report about logistics in Germany. This was followed by a visit to the Knorr-Bremse Systeme plant for a tour of their factory. This company builds the braking systems for almost all trains in the world. Berlin by itself was a really depressing city with lots of history and museums dedicated to the Cold War and World War 2. This city typifies the Nazi Germany in terms of history. But who can forget the Olympic stadium and the Berlin wall?! It also has some of the most beautiful architecture from the Renaissance period – most of them copies of Italy or Greece.

Berlin wall:

Munich: This is the most happening city here. It has the BMW factory and the Olympic stadium. The BMW plant is phenomenal – I was awestruck by the sheer level of automation they have! The factory has a 97% automation level. Most of the manufacturing is done by robots. It’s almost like Transformers in real life!! It was freaky to say the least. Munich also has the OktoberFest every year, so this is generally one of the most lively cities here.

Architecture-wise, this city has about 700 fountains – the most in Germany. But most of them were closed now in the winter.

Here’s the BMW office designed in the shape of the 4 cylinder engine.

The last day was for ourselves, and some of us decided to visit a castle nearby. A 2 hour train ride away from Munich is the Neuschwanstein castle. It is situated on a hill, has the Swiss alps in the backdrop, a lake and waterfall in the front, and pine forests all around. It was one of the most picturesque settings I’ve seen to date.

So hope you guys enjoyed seeing the pics as much as I enjoyed being in them. This trip doesn’t give you any course credits, but if you want to hang out with a bunch of Buckeyes in an unknown land during winter break and have fun while at the same time learn about logistics, I would strongly suggest you do it. After all, college life is a luxury which won’t last for long.

Statutory Warning: Maximum fun guaranteed!!

Cheers,
Kaushik


Microsoft Firenze case competition

Microsoft conducts a competition every year called the Microsoft Firenze case competition. And the fun begins when the teams are formed. This year, the rules state that each team needs to have at least one person each from a design school, an engineering school and B-school on the team.

Being that case competitions are usually popular amongst B-school students, it wasn’t surprising that we outnumbered the students from the other schools during the networking event that was set up to help form the teams. And the fights which ensued to ‘grab’ the design students was reminiscent of the spice markets of the 16th century – true markets at work. If there was a real life example of what we’ve learned in economics over the past 2 months, this was it.

Initially, some of the design students were picked up by a few teams. As time progressed, and the number of design students fell – there was a perceptible shift in the attitude of the design students! They became more bossy and started demanding, nay, interviewing the B-schools students before they chose the best team. The business students put in their sales pitches through ‘elevator speeches’ and what not, just to impress the ones in demand!

What was supposed to be a friendly networking event now became a hotly contested one.

So… welcome to the market economy! What’s in lesser supply and high demand will always quote a high price!

Be it beluga caviar, truffles.. or students from the design school!

Good luck to all the participating teams, may the best one win!

Cheers,

K


Trip to AlgaeVentures

If you thought this was outside the Blackwell (the hotel at Fisher), think again. This is actually an algae farm in Marysville, just outside Columbus! Of course, the algae has been cleaned out and the tents cleaned for the next ‘crop’.

Well, when you are at Fisher, there are a lot of things that you are exposed to… and a visit to a next-gen energy company was the high point of this week.

Algae, as we know it, is this mucky green unwanted substance that grows in stagnant waters, spoiling our lakes and other water bodies. These guys take this and convert it to bio-fuel! How cool is that?!

The 2-step process is this:

1. They use a proprietary silica coagulant that forms ‘ribbons’ from the algae which can then be smoothly removed without any disruption to the lake’s bio-system.

2. This is then dried on special driers which then gives us dried algae.

The dried algae can then be processed as a raw material to generate fuel similar to diesel and gasoline!

Now the ramifications of this are beyond the cost and environmental-friendliness.

Think of this situation – What if hundreds of us need to live in the middle of nowhere for months on end, where we need to run machinery and/ or automobiles? Transportation of fuel would be a major logistical nightmare and would add to the cost of the fuel substantially. This is exactly the situation that the army faces all the time. One of the extracted fuels from algae is very similar to the fuel used by the army. So they can now have algae farms at military camps where they can ‘grow’ their own fuel.

In this never-ending quest for energy, I’m not sure where the battle is headed… But the fuel is definitely headed to the battlefields!

Cheers,

K


Sustainability

Sustainability is the new buzzword. We hear it everyday! Sustainable enterprise, sustainable transport, campus greening and what not. And everybody wants to add their two cents to this topic.

Some start their own green ventures, some join NetImpact, while some of us are blissfully ignorant of the whole thing. We always think of these issues at a macro level, and think of strategies to mitigate the problems that development has brought onto us. However, sustainability is more than a business plan – it’s a way of thinking.

How much do we think about the wastage that we have in our daily lives?

Turn off the tap when you are not using the water, turn off the light when you’re not in the room, switch off that car engine at a red light, turn off your laptop at night… you get the point. Just make sure that anything which you are not using doesn’t go to waste.

Use less of paper and plastics where possible. And if you do use artificially manufactured stuff, try to recycle it. I separate my bottles, cans and paper from my trash and recycle them.

Simple gestures on our part can go a long way in going green. These are all small things which when viewed collectively over a period of time or when practiced by a lot of people can help reduce the burden on the environment.

Remember – sustainability starts at home. It’s not something that B-school has to teach us. It’s completely useless to sit in boardrooms and talk about sustainability if you can’t turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth!


MBA teams

If there’s one thing that I like about my MBA more than anything else… it has to be my MBA team for this year. They’ve been my support group in terms of telling me what needs to be done for the next week.

For the uninitiated, here’s how the Fisher MBA program works. The class is divided into teams of 4-5 people who will work together for the entire first year. It’s your responsibility to stick together as a team for the complete year and make sure that things work as planned. And considering the kind of talent that comes in to Fisher, I don’t see any reason why someone would not want to learn from others in his/her team.

While working with my team, I’ve realized that life becomes so much easier when working collaboratively. What is one’s competency might be another’s weakness. Everyone has something to gain from the team’s progress, and the concept of a team gives encouragement and support for everyone to learn from everyone else.

The way of teaching is quite different in the US compared to other Eastern (especially Asian) countries, where the teaching gets done during the class by the professor. Here, the students are required to study the portions that would be covered on that particular day. The job of the professor is to be a moderator in the discussion that ensues in class based on the studies that the students have completed in advance. While the complex topics are still explained by the professors, it would be nothing new to anybody in the class, since everyone has already read the concepts before. So, during the class, the topics are taken forward and discussions concern subjects beyond what is in the text book/ concepts.

What do you think? Do you prefer to work in a team, or work individually? If you think you belong to the latter group, it’s going to be a tough journey for you. But I’d like to know your thoughts nonetheless!

Cheers,
Kaushik


O-H-I-O!!

I’ve just moved to Columbus to do the coveted MBA from Fisher and one overriding aspect of the Ohio State University has to be this incredible obsession with the football team! Oh wait, it’s not just OSU, it’s the entire state. It’s as if kids here start their schooling with O-H-I-O instead of the regular A-B-C-D as in the rest of the world. Before landing here, I always wondered what the big deal was of four people standing here and there with their arms up in the air – now I know! It’s the feeling of being a part of one of the best football teams in the USA, and belonging to the state which is home to such a team.

If you shout out an O-H on the streets, and don’t get back an I-O from any random stranger, you’re definitely not in Columbus! I’ve even heard of people getting back an I-O in reply from places as far off as Paris or London!

And in case you’ve not heard about it yet, here’s the news – Michigan is our biggest rival! I’m from India, where cricket is a big game. Nay, a religion. And a cricket match of India vs. Pakistan is so big that people skip going to office just to watch the game live. A country of a billion people just switches off for the duration of the game! Now imagine (India vs. Pakistan) times 10 – that is supposed to be the intensity of the game. Some take a dip in Mirror lake just before the game, as it’s supposed to bring good luck to our team. Of course, if you miss an assignment deadline due to a cold after the game, you won’t be given any consideration.

Another interesting aspect of game day are the tailgate parties that happen all around. The people of Ohio are a merry bunch, and any reason to cheer their team is a good reason to go ‘Cheers’ over a couple of beers. So we party, barbecue, play beer-pong, and have fun from dawn to dusk. Come game time, and the streets become empty and people get together to see the game. There are cops everywhere trying to man the traffic and fans, and parking restrictions come up all across the OSU campus.

If you’re new to the place, then I’d suggest you still go to watch at least one game. It’s crazy out there. It’s a sea of red out there – the T-shirts are red, the caps are red, the seats are red, the flags are red. It’s like watching the world through a pair of red colored contact lenses. And the OSU marching band is awesome to watch – I especially found their rendition of ‘Hang on Sloopy’ very entertaining.

If there’s one place you need to visit just to check out the craziness of football fans, this has got to be it – The Ohio State University.

Go Bucks!

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