Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Links: Clearadmit wiki and new LBS Blogger

Clearadmit decided to make a Wiki and let all applicants participate in it and share their experiences. I think it's a fabulous idea, because most of such communitites need external stimuli - they usually die when applicants become students, stop marketing the community and no new blood comes in.
And another link I wanted to post today: Angie, next year LBS student, admitted in R1! Welcome to the blogging world! :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My next steps

I got a good feedback from LBS (the lady which I met at the information session in Moscow was most helpful and provided me that feedback).

Admissions Committee felt that you clearly expressed your intelligence and ambition, but
(1) they were concerned about the lack of full-time post-graduate work experience that you've had
(2) they were also unsure how your work experience to date fits in with your short and long term career aims

What can I say?
I knew that (1) will be the weak point of my application. In UK you can get a bachelor in three years, but in Russia you have to study at least 5 years to get a degree (in my case – 6). And doctors study even longer. But any education, even from a top university is not considered enough to get a job afterwards. In many respects it happens because our universities do not provide specialist that business wants. So many students begin working while studying. This is not easy, because professors want to see you full-time at their lectures, or you will receive bad marks at the end of term. And employers know that you will need a study leave every January and June to pass your exams. Nevertheless, most Russian employers consider it as a good full-time working experience (most of 30-year-olds did the same, so they know). Business-schools consider it as part-time, as I know now.
I knew that (2) is the most difficult point to state if you want to change careers. And I was astonished to find so many clueless about their future work (I mean, among the blogging students). And I put a lot of effort in my application to show how I will prepare ground for myself (and have already prepared). But in this LBS Chat (5 December 2005) I found that if you want to switch, don’t change industry and position at the same time. For instance, if you worked in IT and want to go to marketing, find a marketing position in IT company. And that was what I did wrong: I didn't draw a linw between my current position and future one.

So what will I do now?
I am considering an application to MSc in Computer Science in Oxford. I know what I’m doing. This is all I need to apply to HSMP visa (well, it depends on how they will count my working experience, but it’s a minor point). And there is also a 12-month-work permit for Engineering Graduates in UK. I quitted the idea of switching careers for now. So enhancement (Oxford degree) will make me more competitive as professional. After all, applying to Oxford is easier than applying to B-School ;)
And if I’m successful (I have chances, I think) then I will postpone my idea of MBA for some two or three years.
If I’m not successful I will reapply to LBS next year. And maybe Harvard ;) And maybe some other American school (I’ll see, I still have time).

I won’t stop writing my blog. For instance, I want to write my next post about timing an application (I wanted to write it long ago, but didn’t have time ;) ).

How does is feel to be rejected

I feel good!
© James Brown

(I believe that this post will be useful to many people, because through your application process you usually receive at least one rejection.)

Unsuccessful? Disappointed? Misunderstood?
Nope. (Ah, well, yes, misunderstood – yes :))
Then – how?
* Prepared, because a week before the rejections from b-schools came, I went for a job interview (just an interesting vacancy, I planned it as some kind of ‘interview practice’). Which disappointed me a lot. They needed absolutely another person, not the one they described in their vacancy. A ‘rainmaker’: some 30+ year-old-man with connections to bring clients out of nothing. Not me. And, of course, rejection followed: ‘If only you were some 5 years older…’ (yes, I would have a husband and two kids and no more work experience than I have now). Maybe my CV was too good? ;)
* Flattered, because from the school answers I could judge that I’m ‘too young’. And show me a girl that doesn’t like being told she is young!
* Philosophical. My grandfather used to say: ‘If you miss this bus, it was not yours. The next will come and it will be yours’. That’s a great thought that saved me much nerve in life.

I started the whole MBA-thing for a following number of reasons.
1. Discover what route I want to take in life.
2. Challenge myself.
3. To go and live abroad (and this was the most fast and obvious opportunity concerning job search and visa, imho).
4. Give myself an immense present of studying in UK.

I cannot put a tick near every point of that list. But I got a lot of what I haven’t asked for.
For instance, I found that one of my recommenders thought about getting an MBA himself, so we had a lot to speak about.
I talked to my degree supervisor and found out that he now teaches parallel programming and grid computing. I envy those students who have his course now: they practice all that things – our professor made us write our programs on paper…
I came to UK and visited the School, and I felt at home there. No matter what adcoms think and how they choose, I know that I would have survived there and fit in ;)
I’ve done some research and I’ve immensely widened my reading list.
I’ve passed tests, and discovered that I do tests well! (‘Do you play the piano?’ – ‘Don’t know, I’ve never tried’)
I gathered everything on time, despite of bureaucracy at my University, broken printers of my recommenders, and all other obstacles that were on my way. I really enjoyed the process, though I cannot yet think of redoing it next year ;)
I found out that it’s OK to tell people about the rejections!
And finally, I would never forgive myself if I hadn’t tried.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

About LBS Information Session in Moscow

I was at the information session in Moscow this Saturday, but I didn't have time to write about it :)
I came to Ararat Hotel wearing a jeans jacket and at first felt out of place in this 'cool' place... some guys were in suits despite of Saturday! But then on the table near registration stand I found a booklet named MBA class 2007... and there were all photos, names and countries of all this year students... and I instantly I felt at home. This feeling stayed while I listen to presentations and talked to alumni. Its nice to know so much about the School ;)
We were showed new LBS film, and then admission ladies talked about all the programs at school. I thought, maybe I should enter a PhD course and write cases for all those MBAs to crack? ;) *just joking*
The thing most emphasized about the School was - its location ("The only school located in the capital!"). By the way, most people think that LBS equals Finance. The school is in fact focused on Finance because of its location (and you know all those things about supply and demand), but it also has a strong hand in Marketing.
We've also been told that during the second year you take 9-12 electives, and if you want to specialize in a subject, you have to take at least 5 electives of that kind. You also can come to school and during your first year decide that you want to graduate in 15 months. You'll probably take 9 electives and your second year would be very packed, but this is possible.
Then I've talked to alumni. Those who graduated 4 of more years ago said it was possible to get a loan at least for tuition for Russians then. And they have heard, that this is possible now. A guy that graduated in 2005 had his company pay tuition for him. One of the alumni named the most difficult thing at school: pubs closing at 11 o'clock. Now this law has been cancelled, so current students have more advantages ;)
On a personal note - I talked with an adcom and she promised to give a feedback to my application (I still haven't received any) and said that it may be reasonable to apply next year (and not in 2 years like INSEAD). That's nice, because I really want to be at school.

And yes, KV, I've changed the name of my blog, I'm afraid that I cannot plan my life for two years ahead, but my heart doesn't lose focus :)

Friday, November 25, 2005

The book

I once was lost, but now am found
© John Newton

I’ve finished reading Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand. And I can say this is a book!
* I read the first one (it consists of three) during two days (that was back in September), second in a week, began the third, but quitted and finished it only yesterday.
* The first one gave me and answer to the question ‘why do you do this?’ - I know, what to say now: ‘Because I want to and I can’.
* When I told a friend of mine the plot of the first book (how best men suddenly disappear from the world, and the main heroes are standing and struggling), and said that I wonder how it all ends, he replied: ‘Probably a mega-man builds himself a mega-house’. And he was right! :)
* When I read the book I always remembered where she was from. And I knew what she was writing about. I just thought that things never ever changed now matter what century it is.
* I wondered how soft were the bandits she wrote about. Almost humane. Only in last few chapters they (as a system) were beginning to obtain colours of real life. But after all people are not reading books about their real life. They have real life already, thank you.
* The third book was like a light switched on in the dark room. Now I see.
* Great book. Must read. And I will look for the Fountainhead now.
Thanks to Miss N and RSR for mentioning this book :) That’s what made me to read it.

And thanks to everyone who wrote me those encouraging words. I will write a brief summary of my thought on the subject later on.
Tomorrow I plan to attend an LBS information session (Ararat Park Hyatt, 4 Neglinnaya St, Moscow, 11:00), and I hope I will have something to write about :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

And again rejection - from LBS

Members of the MBA Admissions Committee have now carefully considered your application. It is with regret that we have been asked by the Committee to inform you that they are not able to offer you a place on the MBA Programme this year. The applicant pool has again been of an extremely high calibre, andconsequently competition has been very rigorous.

No feedback yet, but they promised a general feedback a bit later.

So, not next year. I'll wait for feedback and begin planning for the year after next. Or after after... No matter that the first attempt was not successful, I have time, and I will learn. And I have already learned and became better, wiser and older :) I believed that I have earned this (I mean London, this school and this life), but maybe all my documents were not enough to persuade adcoms, and I didn't have a chance to speak in personal.

Meanwhile, I think I will have a look at other master programs in other UK universities, so any recommendations are welcomed. And I'll do what I decided to do in the previous post - start my job search for international company.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Rejection from INSEAD

The Admissions Committee has decided that you need to gain at least two more years of professional experience before you can be further considered for admission to the programme. Additionally, your application would be strengthened if you were to increase your international exposure, ideally by working in another country.

So, I'm too small and too Russian. And I knew that I was not of INSEAD profile, when I applied. But I still believe, that I wrote a strong pack of essays (I think that my INSEAD essays were more about me than my LBS ones. LBS puts a lot of focus on teamwork and commitment to school). And I've got decent academics. But, alas, I was not considered to be a genius :)
I hoped that they may take me, because of three factors:
1) I'm a woman and they write everywhere that there are not enough women in INSEAD (so, don't believe this, they haven't taken me :))
2) they would have a look at my progress and see that I'm really good
3) I would be some of a diversity type
None of those factors played its role. And I suspect that I may get the same answer next Wednesday from LBS. My only hope is that adcoms will like the club I proposed and allow me to come :) at least, to the interview.
A remark about the silver lining: I can apply for that IFP scholarship, I mentioned previously in one of my posts. And as an oppression factor I can write that I've been discriminated because of age! *joking*
By the way, I got that letter from the same lady who held special INSEAD session in Moscow.

I've started my MBA journey to get more international experience while studying at B-School and after it. If it would be really easy to get a job abroad, I wouldn't bother about B-Schools yet. But it is difficult to get a job in Europe for a non-EU person. In UK I can apply for HSMP visa after finishing the program, but I'm not eligible for this visa yet.
Another way - is to work in Moscow office of a worldwide company and relocate when you have a chance. So while applying I have talked to some people who worked in two of such companies, and was told that I don't have a chance. First, managers, who must approve your relocation, have children, who want to study in Europe too. Second, you may work hard, become a guru, and, perhaps, in some seven years, will be offered to relocate. But by that time you usually have roots that tie you to the spot. But I have only looked at two companies, and there are more, so I will look at others. And I may find what I’m looking for.
And I’m asking for your advice - how can I get a job abroad?
-->Suggestions are welcomed as comments and to RusgirltoLBS at

Visit to LBS. Part 3. Lectures and other useful information

The lecture theater, where I was, is on -1 floor, so there are no windows there. I like rooms with windows, that is why I mention it. But in all other aspects the classroom is very nice. The professor is well heard, though, if you sit at the backseat, you may not hear what people in front of you say during the discussion (and you'll have to tell every speaker 'Speak up, please!').

The first lecture that I attended was in Managerial Economics.
All lectures are three hours long with a break of twenty or so minutes in the middle (during which you can queue for coffee in 'The Bite').
The first part of ME was not very clear to me ;). I think I should have done some pre-reading (or should have visited the previous lecture) to follow. Professor was talking about two types of customers: rich and mass (they don’t have so much money, but they are numerous), and their willingness to pay for the product during the first hour, second hour (the demand dropped) and on the whole. The task was to propose the pricing scheme, which will give the biggest revenue. All this reminded me of a game set theory: min-max and all that. And maybe it was :)
The second part was devoted to monopolies, and two groups presented a case 'Microsoft vs U.S. Government'. 'Government' presentation was like all governments presentations: long, full of tied together facts and inevitability. On the other hand, 'MS' was funny and nice. They won the sympathy of the audience, of course ;)
Cases are not like real life, where you can find additional information in the Google. You are kept in the frame of the case and cannot mention future or give other suppositions. For instance, Firefox&Mozilla are eating some of IE market share right now and eating fast: 10% a year (that's the statistics which I got myself from a number of website counters, so take it with salt).
A remark: since the school has wireless network, a lot of students open their computers during the lecture to blog, or send an e-mail... Be careful, guys, because sometimes professor is sitting behind you (those who sit in the right wing).
After the case and the discussion whether the monopolies are good or bad (this depends on a sector), professor told us how do antimonopoly committee count if there is a monopoly in the market. And in the end he took out some bottles... and asked if Company X, which has these three products, will buy Product Y, will it be considered as a monopolist or will it diversify the portfolio of its products. And the cleverest guy asked to try Product Y and those products from Company X to see if they are alike. After drinking he concluded that Company X would be buying a part of different market (drinks for ladies), so no monopoly. And after that I was asked numerous times if there was some other B-school where people could drink alcohol during lectures :)

The second lecture was Strategy and professor was talking how you can make your product distinct and add value to it.
The first question was: should you make it the cheapest or add some value into it and make it different. Everyone agreed that you should add value, and only if your business processes are the best so that you can lower price - you can be the cheapest. This will be just your additional distinction.
When professor asked what distinctions you could add, I said to myself 'quality', but none of the student mentioned it in their answers. And having been at London shops I know why. If you have been in some Turkey shops (or Russian shops), just like me, then 'quality' would probably come first to your mind.
We've been shown some very good videos about hotel chains and how they make themselves different. Some cut off everything that will make their price higher, some focus on clients very much. And in the end students discussed the case of refocusing some hotel. I haven't read the case, so it was difficult for me to take part in the discussion, but it was interesting to observe who spoke and who listened. After group discussion, some people were asked to present their answers and, funnily enough, nearly all answers had nothing to do with the real life one, which professor announced after the discussion.
To sum up, the subject of the lecture was not new (it is widely mentioned in the books and articles), but examples were great.
A remark: no cold calls during these two lectures. Professors asked only those (but not all, of course) who raised their hands.

This is a photo of the same stone, Miss N posted. Just upholding the tradition ;)

What else I found out
LBS asks for two languages upon graduation. INSEAD is the only school, which asks for three. Admission officer told me that I must have mixed them up, but I got that impression from reading information on the site and in the catalogue. And I read that before I even thought about INSEAD.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Unpleasant surprise with GMAT score report

Just now received a letter from INSEAD admission officer, saying that they haven't received my official GMAT score. Schocking news, since the interview decision is due this Friday, and I don't have any GMAT report at hand, and so I cannot phone GMAC or Pearson right now (how will they identify me if I don't remeber my ID?). Yes, I participated in the GMAT Limited Summer Test, which was held by Pearson VUE. I haven't received my official report either. Was that the sign? And I begin to worry if my score report was sent to LBS or not.
Never mind, I'll solve the problem anyway :)
And it was good to hear from an ad com even like that.

UPD: Pearson confirmed to have sent my report to the schools in August, and since the EMEA center is located in London I may not worry about London Business School, I think. And they sent a copy to INSEAD. So, I hope, it is settled. Thanks to everyone for support :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Visit to LBS. Part 2. The School and the students

I first met the School on fine Sunday morning. A friend of mine who visited the School earlier, prepared me to the 'shop, restaurant... oh, here is LBS!.. and another restaurant' environment of it. First I spotted a shop with all kind of items with LBS labels: bags, umbrellas, bunnies, etc. If your boss doesn't yet know you're applying, it's a good idea to buy something there ;) Then I saw a group of athletic young men and told myself 'This must be it'. And – yes - they were standing near the entrance to the Plowden reception. The school was nice and peaceful. The grass from the back, good-looking entrance (is it ever opened, guys?), was green, the birds were singing, joggers were running around. I took some photos and went for a walk in Regent Park.
On Monday I put on my student's shoes and came in for Managerial Economics.
But first let me say that I would not have had such a nice time at school, if it were not for the New Student Ambassador, Divine Miss N. She was great! She showed me around and introduced me to the whole bunch of people, so in the end I really excelled in phrase: 'I'm-from-Moscow-applied-in-Round-One-fingers-crossed-now'.
I have met RSR, Al Martine, and FutureGuru from the BloggerWorld. And Hussein, who's writing to BusinessWeek. And a lot of others (and I even remembered the names!). I've also found out that there are a lot of Russian speaking students in LBS (about twenty or so). No wonder, since the school is interested in people who have international experience, - all Russians to whom I spoke, left the country more than five years ago and have dual citizenship. Maybe ‘living in Moscow’ will pass as a ‘diversity’ thing for me?
What else I’ve learned from students
1) life is really-really busy here (yes, I can imagine. What I cannot imagine, is that you all can find time to blog)
2) I’m prepared to go to Amsterdam, since I’ve learned how to say ‘Get out of the way, m**r’ in Dutch
3) it takes time and effort to open a bank account in London banks, since they are not willing to give any money to students. Even when they are Mr Future Big Guys. Would they until then have to carry cash in their socks? ;)
Speaking of clothes, on my way to school I thought how I would look in jeans and sweater. I came on holiday and was not going take a suit along by any means! I hit the bull's eye: all students wore jeans. If you saw someone in a suit, he must have been a professor or a second-year on his way to interview.
I would have stood out in jeans on the info session (they take place every Monday and Friday at school at 15:00). Everyone there was in suits except for adcoms ;)
I planned to visit School on Monday and then come for info session on Friday, but the students talked me into coming to Strategy on Wednesday, so all in all I've been to two lectures and three times at School. By Friday I felt myself at home: I knew the difference between two reception areas, didn't get lost on my way to the lady's room, discovered candies on the reception desk, was showed the stand with the Wall Street Journal and could find my way to the MBA Program Office with closed eyes.

*the next part will be about lectures, more students and everything else I forgot to mention*

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Visit to LBS. Part 1. My experience with LBS MBA Program Office - bad and good

Planning my visit I wrote to them, asking about a permission to attend a lecture. I waited for the answer for about a week. Since deadline was coming, I wrote to David Simpson (the only personal address I knew) and he replied the next day. I mentioned that I wanted to attend the lecture with Divine Miss N class and he assured me that it is no problem to come along with a student and take a sit.
While I was at school, students asked me if I am acquainted with the Program Office and I said 'no'. So they showed me the direction and there I went. Mind you, only a student with a student card can get to MBA Program Office, but you know, students are always coming around when you need to open a door... ;)
It was late (about 5 p.m.) and there was just one girl there. I introduced myself and asked if I can talk to someone about my application ('I applied in R1 last week'). I was told that this is impossible, no one is going to discuss my application or give me any clues, or simply reassure me that all my documents have arrived. 'If we will need anything from you, we will contact you by e-mail'. OK, I just asked. It was silly coming all the way to school and not asking, right?
This reminds me of client experience, which, I'm sure, everyone had. When you are a potential client, the firm nurses you around: 'come to our conferences, look at our solutions, talk to our people' and so on. But when it turns you into a client, it forgets about you. Marketing to existing clients simply doesn't work. The policy is just something like that: 'you know some of our people. If you have a problem, contact them'.
I'm just summarizing, not complaining.
I like this 'poor marketing' thing about the school, because:
1) I've been subscribed to the school newsletter for 6 months. So far I received two. Both were really valuable: one told about GMAT limited summer test and the other about LBS infosessions (in Moscow there will be one at the end of November). *I received a third one yesterday - useless - I won't add it to the score :)*
2) when I was at the infosession, there was no presentation, no general information about school. There was a simple Q&A session. They were not trying to persuade us, but mainly listen to us and tell us the issues we were interested in. I like this way of 'selling', I don't like being forced.
Though I know people who have an opposite point of view and were much more impressed with attitude and commitance of adcoms in other schools.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

About INSEAD special information session

There were lots (~10) of alumni from INSEAD (different from those three who were at MBA Tour), so I really did believe, when they said that INSEAD had the strongest alumni community in Moscow than any other b-school.
The session was held by Caroline Diarte Edwards, herself an INSEAD alumni, now working at Jakarta, and maybe promoting INSEAD? I'm not sure, she didn't explain this. She told us about the school and what the school is looking for in applicants. It is:
1) Academic ability
2) Managerial Potential (at work or in extracurricular activities)
3) Ability to contribute to school
4) Proved international motivation
More ticks - the better :)
Then alumni spoke. During the presentation they were saying marketing things, for instance, how much "fun" you would have at school, what a network you would gain, how your life would change. They were not very willing to answer in general Q&A session. I sat in the second row, but most spoke so quietly that it was difficult to hear them. But afterwards, when drinks were served and conversations divided among different groups they became more helpful, talking about their experiences at school, the quality of participants, financial aid, etc. All in all, interesting to look at the faces, to listen, to ask, to get the first-hand experience. And to collect the cards, of course.
But I cannot say, that I got some receipt or absolutely astonishing piece of information to share. I got myself an INSEAD Quarterly journal, and I can say that this is my most valuable acquisition from this event (I scanned it through, but didn't have time to read).

Today I read all those post of LBS students that I couldn't read in last two weeks. It feels different reading them now, after the school visit. So real and vivid. And my next post at last will be devoted to my LBS visit :) I'll try to post it till the end of the week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My visit to World MBA Tour

I was yesterday at World MBA Tour Moscow. All in all: partially useful.
First of all, I came too late (2 hours after the beginning) to attend any speeches, since they were already said, and to collect any materials, since they were already handed out. But I didn't plan to do all that.
I wanted to talk to London Business School, Oxford Said and Cambridge Judge. None of them were present. Harvard and Stanford were not present either.
But INSEAD was there! I talked to alumni and adcom and arranged to visit a special INSEAD presentation scheduled tonight. It has limited admission, I found out about it from a friend, and talked my way to attend it. Disappointing information: INSEAD alumni told me that it is very difficult to get a loan or a scholarship for Russian citizens there now.
Then I talked a bit with IMD and Cranfield. And established in my decision not to apply to Cranfield yet (I'm too young for them, since the average age of full-time program students is 32).
Summarizing (a friend of mine who was there):
I don't really have any questions about the schools, because I have already asked all I wanted to know current students, alumni and adcoms online. Second, all questions I've heard so far at the tour, have already been answered numerous times online, and replies don't change. If you receive a new answer, it means you haven't researched the school properly. The only question I was interested in is loans and scholarships. When I ask it, they all say: have a look at our website.
Of course, it is also interesting to look at alumni and those who want to apply :)

Monday, October 31, 2005

I am alive :)

Dear readers,

I'm still here. But I was extremely busy, because:
1) I submitted my application for Chevening Scholarship
2) I submitted my application to London Business School
3) I went to London and saw the school, the people and the city (and it was great!)
4) Tonight is MBA Fair in Moscow and I want to go.
So... more about everything later. This week, I promise.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What to do with a writer's block?

You're in the middle of application process, but your inspiration has evaporated. Don't worry; even professional writers have this little problem. I'm not that kind of advisor, but I have three receipts that may help the desperate ;)

Read a lot. Articles, MBA diaries, books. You may even choose some fiction literature. You know, that 20% of information you need are outside of your industry? Well, that means that 80% are inside, so if time is scarce you better read articles about leadership, involvement, marketing and all that. Anyway, read.
Go out and talk to your friends. Better if they are business friends that can show you some insight (they maybe your recommenders!). Talk to relatives about yourself of course and your future plans. Do it only if you're sure that they will support you.
Have in mind the topic you're stuck with and do something with your hands. Paint, cook, knit. Do some housework. Go to gym. You will be surprised how many ideas you'll get while jogging (take a dictaphone) or swimming!
I heard this method from one mathematician, who said he always got brilliant ideas while washing the dishes.
OK, I'll go and wash it now :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

INSEAD recommendation: what they ask your recommender about

I’ve submitted everything for INSEAD and decided to write a bit more about recommendation process.
Unlike LBS, INSEAD doesn’t post draft for recommenders, which you can look at beforehand. You have a link - you send it.
The good thing is – you don’t have to see your recommender. He (or she) can be anywhere near the Internet, and you’ll have your recommendation.
But there is a minor point also: your recommender has to know English!

I’ve decided to highlight the INSEAD draft for recommenders for those who are applying in R2 and R3.
Details of person completing the form
Relationship to the candidate (check): Professional, Educational, Personal
How long have you know the candidate? Define your relationship with the candidate and the circumstances whereby you met.
I. How do you rate candidate on the following criteria? (check)

II. How do you rate candidate’ potential for becoming responsible and successful manager in international business compared with other students or employees whom you have known in a similar capacity? (check: excellent, very good, above average,…)
III. Please give your answers to each of the following questions
1. Comment on the candidate’s career progress to date and his/her career focus.
2. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major strengths? Comment on the factors that distinguish the candidate from other individuals of his/her level.
3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major weaknesses?
4. Comment on the candidates potential for senior management. Do you see him/her as a future leader?
5. Describe the candidate as a person. Comment on his/her ability to establish and maintain relationships, sensitivity to others, self-confidence, attitude, etc. Specifically comment on the candidate’s behavior or skills in a group setting/team environment.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Writing essays to INSEAD

I'm working hard on my INSEAD essays, as the deadline (5th October) is approaching fast. I'm glad with essays, though some of them are very condensed because of word limit.
How to write an essay about career in 250 words? I'll tell you.
First, write everything you want about your career, sounding as logical as you can. This will be 600-900 words.
Second, structure this brainstormed draft and underline point, which you cannot throw away at any rate.
Third, condense every part as much as you can: rewrite every sentence, shorten your phrases. Be a surgeon. No regrets.
You have to have about 350 words by now.
Forth, eliminate any articles and comparisons you have (if you can).
Fifth, read it aloud and eliminate or rewrite anything that sounds bad.
You're done :)
And after it (paraphrasing a famous Russian anecdote about tea), throw away everything you've done - and write yourself a proper essay. :)

[UPDATE: Famous Russian anecdote about tea.
An old Georgian man, Head of the family, who was the one to know the secret of making wonderful Georgian tea, - is dying. The whole family gathers around him and asks for this secret not to be carried to his grave. And he tells them.
- First, take a thin-walled tea-pot. Pour some boiling water into it and stir for 30 seconds counterclockwise. Empty the pot. Then take finest Georgian brewing, put it in the pot and pour hot water upon it. Mind you, the water should be very hot, but not boiling! Close the pot and cover it with a towel for 5 minutes. Then take this crap away and make yourself good Indian tea.]

Two scholarships

Talking about money and scholarships... Chevening (that's a scholarship for 1-year study, up to 20,000GBP with the deadline at 20th October this year) would not apply to LBS. So if I don't want to miss the chance of getting the money, I have to consider such options as Cambridge and Oxford. And perhaps, Cranfield, Bath and Warwick+ Will I have time (and recommender's) to cover all these this year? I'll think about it tomorrow, as Scarlett used to say.
I've also found a great scholarship program (I'm not eligible for). You can be eligible, if you live somewhere in the regions (I work in Moscow, and it is considered as I already had my chance') and you are poor, but smart. Not for MBA though. This is IFP (Ford Foundation International Program), web-site, deadline: January, 17th. It's a kind of offer you cannot decline (dream one), but as I said, alas, it's not for me and it's not for MBA.

And yes, I've bought 'Peopleware' in Russian! Some guys have already translated and published it (in May, 2005), so my dream has come true. No I have a long queue of friends, relatives and colleges, to whom I advertised the book and who are longing to read it.

Education exhibition

Today I've been at the 7th Exhibition of British Education in Moscow. And I decided to write about this experience, though to my mind it was the least useful event I've visited so far (considering education, of course). Mind you, there were no top-tiers there: no Oxford, no Cambridge. They don't need participating in such events, people will apply to them anyway.
Reading admission chats, articles, talking to students and alumni, - I gather the inspiration to work on my application. But this exhibition was, in fact, disappointing. The first man I told about my age, degree and work-experience (he was MBA-adcom from some university) asked: Are you kidding? How did you manage all that? You are too young to do everything you're talking of'. Conclusion: I should provide more information about I'm so awesome, I can do many things at once' in my application in order to clear this to other adcoms+ Or maybe people like me never apply to the school where he was an adcom? Well, I think I won't - the school doesn't even ask for GMAT.
Mind you, I don't need any reassurance that I have a chance of getting admitted, because I truly believe, that I won't find this out until I apply. The major obstacle, as I am being told, is age. The obstacle that will vanish in some years, but at that time I may already have a husband (with an owning character) and children+ so the next time I would probably think about MBA again - age would certainly be a problem, but this time, irretrievable :)
A short time ago, I've quitted talking with my friends about me-wanting-to-study-in-London, because the first question they ask where have you found money?' The question, which, I hope, I will answer when time comes. Not now. First aim - get admitted.
Well, I think it's good that people keep telling me the things I do are just impossible. Any other person (probably my rival), would have stopped. So I'm going be the one who actually applies :)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Some photos from St.Petersburg

As I promised, I'm posting some photos we took while in Peter.

Sunset at Finnish Bay.

Firework in Peterhof.

Spas-na-krovi church

Russian Museum.

This is the spirit of Peter: scaffolding and luxury side by side.

One of four famous horses of Klott on the Anichkov bridge.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Trip to St.Petersburg

All God’s children need traveling shoes…

© Tanita Tikaram

I was going to write the post a week ago. But I managed only today, because I had no time at all since that. So, to the news.

I’ve got my transcripts all nice – translated and notarized so they look very impressive now. I did 4 copies of transcript and diploma and it cost me about $100 at Hors (, I can recommend this notary firm). Not cheap in my opinion, but I haven’t searched, so I can’t compare.

I’ve also prepared documents for my visa. That was not such a short process as it sounds. And tomorrow, Aeroflot airlines begin to hand out cheap tickets to London and will continue till 24th of September. I’m not sure whether it is wise to buy the ticket while not having visa yet, but… Well, I still have some time to think about opportunities of getting the ticket now and paying $150 or getting it after getting visa and paying $400+.

I’ve started drafting essays for INSEAD (describe-your-whole-life-in-no-more-than-250-words) and having problems with word limit. I guess everyone has, so I’ll think about it later, because first I need to brainstorm the framework.

Talking about life not connected to business school: I’ve gone to St.Petersburg (or as we call it: ‘Peter’) on weekend with my friends. And that was a trip!

Walked along Nevsky (5 times)… check

Been to the fountains of Peterhof and seen the greatest firework I’ve ever seen (Peterhof was celebrating its 300th birthday)… check

Gone to tour around the channels on the boat (well, that was freezing!)… check

Been inside the Spas-na-Krovi church (fantastic mosaic!)… check

Drank coffee and eaten the famous Peter’s apple ‘shtrudel’ (sorry, ‘apple pie’ is not the exact translation, and the dictionary cannot help)… check

Taken lots of photos… check

That were the most interesting points of my check-list. I checked them all!

And we were very lucky the weather was wonderful.

I strongly believe that Peter is the second ‘must see’ city in Russia. The first one is, of course, Moscow. I’ve been to it three times and I really enjoy going there. Architecture, museums and cuisine – three foundations of the city. It has also been considered as the most ‘polite’ city of Russia, but I don’t know whether it still upholds the reputation.

Maybe I’ll post some photos as soon as I get them from my friends :)

Ah! As for shoes – my new blue Sketchers turned out to be great: my feet didn’t ache at all in spite of all those long walks around the city!

And I’ll have to finish a project till the end of the week, so I’ll be really-really busy.

Good luck to everyone who is preparing for exams and gathering documents! The road is long, but interesting, and you meet a lot of great people along :)) Nd find yourself good travelling shoes first (even a towel is not that important!)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Irish stew: transcript translation, exhibition, recommeder's presentation

...the advantage of Irish stew: you got rid of such a lot of things.
© Jerome K. Jerome

Today I went to the notary about my transcript. I was told: you're not the first, lady, and we do not need your own translation, no, thank you. Anyway I gave them my translation and my money, because I don't really care about the price now, I care about getting everything done on time. So I hope to receive the translation on Thursday and will tick another mark on my list (and will write about the outcome later).

Yesterday I visited some event called Business Education Exhibition (description
here in Russian). It was mainly devoted to Russian business schools, executive and on-line programs, so I was not hoping to get anything useful. But actually I did: I found a great journal - 'Harvard Business Review' (russian site, american site - american is better, because it has some articles online for free and not only abstracts). I'm reading a September copy of it now and I think it is the most interesting one I've read lately (including 'National Geographic', 'Playboy', 'Company' and 'Money' ;)).
Just for reference I checked how much the journal costs (I got it free - as a visitor). Well, it costs a whole lot, I even stop to think before buying a book for such sum! (about $14 a copy, while other journals mentioned here cost from $1 to $4).

Presentation for Recommenders. That's not required, but I feel myself better with it, than without :)

I used the following sources to gather thoughts:

1. "Recommendation letters too?" (

2. Mave's posts about recco-letters: 1 and 2

3. A number of Articles form starting with this one

4. Posts by ClearAdmit: 1 and 2

5. Presentation of some guy from McKinsey

If I missed something important, please, share in comments :)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Busy schedule

You had a bad day... (Oh.. Holiday..)
© David Powter

I have my transcript in Russian signed and stamped (great thanks to a friend of mine, who went to the University three times to catch right people!). I even have done the translation. So all I need now is a notary.
I've also drafted my presentation for recommenders.
But it's a pity I cannot find time for my essays (though I have an idea what I will write in that "culture-shock" insead one - I've had it a week ago, actually).
I thought I will be free this week, because I've finished one project and my regular activities were not so urgent. Two next projects were due at the end of September, so on Wednesday I was going to work with such a happy face (probably) that people on the streets kept asking me what time it was.
Naive and happy girl!
All of a sudden I'm at a client (another one) and we are resqueing with a friend of mine a part of the project - like Chip & Dale - for the next 2 weeks. In the evening I'm so tired, that the only thing I can do - is have some supper and go to sleep.
This weekend I was invited to a barbeque and the next one I'm going on a trip to Saint-Petersburg with my friends. I wonder, how I will manage everything on time?
But I believe, that everything is happening on purpose :)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Searching for scholarships

Money, it’s a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
© Pink Floyd

You know, it is better to look earlier than later, so today I've been browsing through different sites and looking at available scholarships. And I've found lots of staff... which I'm not eligible for *sigh*.
So I'll post the most interesting two here, maybe it will help anyone ;)
1. Great fellowship for women, who want study in the US - at (deadline 1th of December, 2005, amount $18,000)
2. Motorola contest for current students - all about seamless mobility (deadline 15th of November, 2005, amount $10,000)

Oh, and if you see any relevant scholarship (Russian, female, want to study at LBS) - please, let me know :)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mostly transcripts

The future is yours, you hold the key
and there are no walls with freedom...
© Phil Collins

It's easy to say "I'm starting". But this week I got a brand new project, so I'm sitting at a client and no internet, just work, work and work. Not complaining, because that's really the job I love to do, but no internet when you need it - ah...
So deadlines and essays are out.
I decided to widen my list of schools with INSEAD: read the blog of willy-nilly, thought that if I enter, that would be great: French cuisine, revive my French, just a year - so no point in saying long goodbye to friends and family, etc. Yeah, but the first deadline to INSEAD is the 5th of October! I hope this will accelerate me and give me time to practice, before I really start doing essays for LBS. And no suprise there - great topics (I mean at LBS, because at INSEAD... this "culture shock" topic... I'm nonplused).
I know, that it difficult to start, so I decided to do the easiest thing - find out what 'transcript' is - and I found this article (text in Russian, but transcript example in English). I did myself a form in *.doc, I'll print it next week and take a take a day off on Friday (I hope I'll have the chance) and go to my alma mater (and I hope there will be someone at the university already). If I'm lucky, I'll have the course marks written out and stamped, if not, I'll ask one of my friends to do this for me the week after next. So then I'll need to translate that paper into English and sign and stamp again at some notary.

Phil Collins will give a concert in Moscow on the 20th of October - I definetely want to go there!

Monday, August 15, 2005


I’m here again!
© Take That

Enough rest for now, or people will keep asking me about my sunburn. Let’s return back to computer and to my normal greenish face color ;)

I decided to write some inspiring post, since the last one was of a ‘useful’ kind. Maybe this will, too.
Anyway, from time to time since I decided to take the first step on my way to MBA, I (and everybody else, perhaps) have a kind of desperate mood like ‘I won’t be able to’, ‘I’m not fit’, ‘Who do you think you are, Trump or Einstein?’, ‘I’m too young (too old)’, ‘enter-your-fear-here’. This is very dangerous mood and it is essential to get out of it as soon as you can. So here is my recipe:
1. You are smart, you know? Or you won’t figure out how to decipher M.B.A. and got thus far. So remove all doubts about your brain functions.
2. This MBA-game is not a point in life like get it or die. It’s just a moonlit path: if you look hard for it, you’ll find it. If not, it doesn’t matter, cobbles are not that big at night. When you spend time on preparation - you don’t lose it even if all this effort won’t bring you to a place of your dream - because you are growing, you are thinking, you are finding your way and you are investing this time in yourself.
3. Don’t take this too serious – it’s your great adventure!
4. Why don't you better go and do something useful like write an essay?
Cook your inspiration with these 4 ingredients and add your own to taste.

I'm thinking about coming to London at the end of October. How do you think - will they let me to attend Sundowners? ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

GMAT done!

I'm feeling glad!
© Gorillaz
So, I’ve made a frame for my picture - and I’m absolutely content with it. Now the time comes to think about brushes and paint ;)
But before I’ll go thinking about transcripts, recommendations, scholarships and all the other things – I have a pile of promises to fulfill (I’ve done some already – cleaned the flat, for instance, or written this blog entry) and a heap of books to read. I decided to give myself a week of a free life. But after it, I’ll make a plan for myself and will start fulfilling it.
So, how did it go? ;)
First, I should say, that I’m not a native speaker and I have never lived somewhere in an English-speaking country (that helps when you pass the test, sure), and I’m afraid this ‘backfired’ at my Verbal. I have spotted that if I see an easy problem, I understand it and do it in English all right, but as soon as I face a tough one, I have to translate it in Russian, so I lose time or answer wrongly. I checked that idea with a friend of mine, to whom I sent some of the toughest ones’ – when he translates the problem with a dictionary, he does it right, but under time-pressure he sometimes misses the point. I just wonder, how it is to pass the test for a native.
Second, I have a strong background in math, so Quant was no problem for me – it was important just not to forget the words like reciprocal, factor, multiple, range or gross profit… because I know what to do, when I see them in Russian, but if I don’t remember the translation, it won’t help me.
Third, I was lucky with AWA-topics – they were about job-candidates and some company crashing – so I had a lot to say. Well, AWA-results will tell.
Anyway, I know I could have done better, if I devoted more time to preparation (I began looking for books in May, started doing Official Guide in June, but have done only half of it or even less before passing the test). Yes, I have a lot of excuses for myself such as work, friends, family and the famous law of 20/80. But I said to myself, that I would be content with 650+. I actually got over 700, so I’m feeling glad.
AWA Tips (for non-natives, like me, mostly)
First, don’t worry about AWA. It won’t count towards your score and many AdComs don’t pay attention to AWA marks (or so they say). But there is still a possibility, that they will check your style – to be sure, it was you who wrote your essays for school and not some highly-paid consultant.
I have downloaded all the 280 essays from forum, written in quite a good quality and read about 1/3 of them (I devoted a whole week to this). I have made a template for myself and practiced it with 8 essays (4 Issue, 4 Argument), until I felt confident and words like ‘furthermore’, ‘similarly’, ‘in addition’ spread all over my texts. You can see, I’m still writing close to template with all those ‘first’, ‘second’ and ‘third’ ;)
Quant Tips (for 48+)
Be sure you know all the words concerning math. Check tough questions at forum (or any other forum of your choice). Understand the strategy that underlies probability and evaluation problems (they are usually appear as the top ones). Practice DS questions.
Verbal Tips
– there are a lot of guides and strategies about this one on-line, and it’s important to learn all about parallel constructions, apples and oranges and the rest. My strategy for difficult sentences is to use some sort of ‘bubble sorting’:
1. Eliminate as many chances as you can. Don’t panic if you see nothing to eliminate at first.
2. Compare A and B (if they are not eliminated, of course). What is worse? Why? (it’s very important to know ‘why’) Chose ‘the best one’.
3. Compare ‘the best one’ with the next one. Is the latter better? If yes, make it ‘the best one’
4. Continue until you have only one choice left, which is ‘the best’ :)
CR – practice to understand GMAT logic. Kaplan disc helped me a lot – they have some useful tips about finding the better choice if you have two left: try to refute both – which undermines argument most – is the answer.
RC – I’ve read a lot about strategies for this one, but I don’t use them, because I have no time to draw maps, etc. I do the following. As the text appears I read the first question. If it concerns some special part of the passage I read that part and answer the question. By the time I have a general question in front of me, I have already read and understood about half of the text.
Preparation for test-day
If you take test on Saturday, take a week of holiday at work. Revise your error log on Monday and Tuesday, do a ‘real test’ simulation on Wednesday (revise errors) and another one on Thursday. Don’t prepare on Friday – go for a walk, swim in the swimming pool, clean the house. If you definitely want to practice, revise some concepts for SC and read a bit of AWA essays.
On the test-day, have a good breakfast (if you love pasta, fried potatoes or roast beef – cook it in advance and get up with a feeling of ‘Vienna-waits-for-you’). Take with you a bottle of cold tea with sugar (your brain will need it during the breaks).
Use ear-plugs. Even if you’re alone in the test room, there will be a lot of distracting noises around - don’t let them get you out of your flow.
Have a good mood and a winning mind. There’re lots of people who did it and who did great. Even if you don’t do it now, you’ll make it a month later, so there’s nothing to worry about.
So, that’s it and enough of GMAT. I’ll write my database with all resources on a disk, sell all prep-books next Monday and forget about it for the next 5 years.
As soon as I wrote that, I remembered how I got my driving license: I passed the test when I was 19, got the document, valid for 10 years and… stored it in a box at home, since I didn’t have a car. I nearly bought one this spring, but changed my mind: I decided to leave the money for my business school, so I’m still commuting by metro ;)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Women and MBA [versus children & family?]

I’ll go wherever you will go…
© The Calling

I’ve been trying to put down the thoughs about this subject for quite a long time, but I finally wouldn’t do it if so many people hadn’t asked me to (well, they actually didn’t know what I was going to write about so the blame is mine, of course ;)). And though I try to devote as much time as possible to my GMAT prep, I decided not to postpone my blog-activity further.

A number of people are interested in the question “what the meaning of life is” (yeah, I know, 48 ;)), but I guess, many women have an ultimate answer for this one – children. Most men won’t share this point of view, because they traditionally assign the meaning of life to career, power, or simply “good life”. And I’m sorry for those women who think that children are silly and annoying rascals (but yes, they can be, like anyone ;)).
I’m reading blogs of MBAs and future MBAs for some time now, and as I have spotted, approximately 1/2 of men have family (and/or children), while most women do not. Wives and girlfriends are easily following their partners, but if a girl wants to go for an MBA, she usually leaves her partner (or her partner leaves her). The only exception, I notice, are men, who have (or going to have) an MBA themselves. Seems really like you cannot eat the pie and have it. It’s a weight on my mind, even though I know the reason for their behavior. Correct me if I’m wrong (or maybe two-year full-time students are just a wrong sample? ;))
My mom used to say that the higher education a woman has, the fewer children she’s got. And – the higher you go, the higher standards you have for men whom you can marry :) I won’t try to refute the latter, but as for children… Well, it seems impossible to prepare, study and then work (to pay back the loan) – and have kids simultaneously. Kids are out of question for… 1-2-3… 5 or so years. Or not? Any success stories about husbands leaving everything and going with their wives or babies at lectures? ;) [Obviously joking. But there is only a part of joke in a joke: my family says that I already have 2 diplomas – my mom was going to have me while she was doing hers.]

I guess that is why there are fewer women in B-Schools that men, and not for any other reason: it's difficult to handle one or more 20-year-projects (bringing up a child) and do anything serious along.
Opened America, as usual ;)

[UPD: I've found an interesting article on about families and MBA]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

New GMATPrep tool and a cool T-Shirt

Good girls go to heaven…
© Meat Loaf

I’ve downloaded Limited Summer GMATPrep Software from this link Dave posted on his site. And it looks rather different than those I did a month ago (and math seemed a bit tough to me yesterday night – but maybe I was just exhausted?). It seems the test is going to be the same - since I'm going to take money-back version by Person Vue – that’s great to know in advance, many thanks to Dave.

One of these days I’ve seen the boy in a T-shirt which said: “Good boys go to heaven and bad boys go to London”. I want that T-shirt! ;) (better change ‘boys’ for ‘girls’ though)

UPD: Yes, I've bought myself this T-Shirt half a year later :)

Friday, July 15, 2005

A bit more about books

Who knows what could happen?..
© Avril Lavigne

Things tend to happen all at once. For example, you receive an offer from a business school and on the same very day you receive a job offer you always dreamed about. Or you schedule an appointment with a friend and at the same very place (city with millions of people, thousands of places to eat) you meet another friend of yours. I call this luck. I am fascinated with it.
As I have said, it’s a pity that the book Peopleware is not translated into Russian yet – I would like to do it, but – alas! – don’t have time. I live with that idea for about half a year, but after pronouncing it aloud (writing actually :) ) – is there someone above us listening to such things? – yesterday I came across an interesting publishing company: there are three men, who read books in English, liked them and thought it’s a pity, that people can’t read them in Russian (just like I did). And they came up to an idea to start a company, buy rights of translation and publish books. They have already published a couple of books and wrote some books of their own. So I sent an e-mail to them about the wonderful book of DeMarco and Lister and in two hours received a reply from one of their directors: at the same very time he was writing an ad ‘Offer-Us-A-Book’ for their site, encouraging people to come up with the books, that were not yet translated, but were worth it. And here came my letter (what a coincidence!).
So I gave him a copy of Peopleware and we agreed, that we’ll get in contact after he reads it (and decides whether it is worth publishing). Maybe I’ll even participate in the translation (that’s the thing I like), though I don’t know if I am reliable because of my GMAT-essay-transcripts-project-work-and-so-on :)

Enough of Peopleware, there’s another book I’d like to talk about. I’ve just finished Michael Dobbs Whispers of Betrayal. It’s a wonderful book, that I would advise for light-reading to anyone. It is funny and good (don’t believe in words that are written on the cover, the make it sound like some kind of thriller which it is not).
It is about good Army soldiers, that ‘were retired’ and decided that they want an apology from politicians (because they were politicians who forced those cutbacks in the Army). Soon this ‘matter of honour’ transformed into a kind of war, in which soldiers made fun out of politicians and politicians made fun out of themselves. The right book about broken lives and clever men. It is impossible to get a happy end in a book like this, but the author manages it somehow. I enjoyed the Whispers of Betrayal very-very much.
And I also know, what I will be reading next week ;) – Harry Potter comes out tomorrow, so… Voldemort beware! :))))

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Some useful links to DaRaverLA posts (GMAT & Essays)

...Doesn't live here anymore.
I'm sorry that's all there is to it...
© Roxette

I came across a very interesting blog of DaRaverLA. He's not there anymore, but he has some really valuable posts. I would like to provide links for them here, because I think they will be useful to anyone, who's starting the Journey (like I do):
1. GMAT Math tips
2. GMAT Verbal Tips
3. More GMAT Verbal Tips
4. Very good advice about writing application essays
5. Just a funny post about math in different business schools

Friday, July 08, 2005

Grief and sorrow

All we are is dust in the wind…
© The Doors

I was shocked to hear the news about terrorist attacks in London. Shocked, but not surprised… I feel awfully sorry for victims and their families, I feel sorry for people, who were stuck in transport and couldn’t get home, I feel sorry for relatives and friends, who lost nerves trying to get through the lines to hear anything from their beloved – in order to get sure everything is OK… And I feel sorry for the feeling of insecurity that many Londoners now have. I know this feeling, I live with it every day.
New York, London, Moscow… to be continued, I’m sure…
In today’s world, nobody anywhere can feel secure, because the most violent animal on Earth is MAN. I think, we made a mistake somewhere along the way, and it is considered normal to sell weapons to those, who are not ready for them (yes, that is illegal, but it happens everyday); or give ideas to the minds that are not ready and use those ideas for evil purposes. Let’s imagine, we had no money, but had just an equivalent of karma – like many forums and communities have now in the Internet: you express your ideas, you behave politely, you help others – you earn karma and people respect you. You become not ‘a man from the street’, you become ‘one of the top ones’. And now imagine, there would be some fast (cheat) equivalent for getting this karma (for example, kill a man - get his karma)… this will make all the system down. In our real world, money was supposed, perhaps, to be something like this karma – you work hard, you get it, you are able to exchange it for what you want. But they don’t show you are good, or you can be trusted, or anything… Like I said, we made mistake somewhere and we are now paying for it…
I think that it is important to live for the future (else: why go to the University if die tomorrow, yeah? Why spend the whole day at work, when the weather is so good?). But there is also a good advice to live every day like your last one. As I understand it: love your beloved today, when they are with you, alive, and not tomorrow, when they become a memory (it is easier to love and appreciate and feel sorry for a memory, I know), do the things you want to do today (go buy a pass to fitness center, begin to learn Italian, etc.), because you may not be able to do them tomorrow.
Every cloud has a silver lining, if you look hard for it, or so they say.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Books must read

I'm gonna get dressed for success...

© Roxette

I have a credit card now, I have registered for GMAT and I can order books from Amazon. So it’s time to talk about books :)

I’m a books worm – I love reading. Commuting to work for about 2 hours a day, I have time to read (what else to do in a tube?) – and I use this time :) I also read books before going to bed (not now, now I read GMAT textbooks and do GMAT problems…)

I read both in English and in Russian (cannot say I read in German, because it was just one book so far). I like fiction and I also like good business books – the latter I’m going to talk about.
I’m not going to tell you about books in UI-design and eXtremeProgramming – if you are an IT-professional, you may know more than I do. If not – then it won't be interesting to you.

I’d like to talk about finance books, project management books and the like. Any comments about these are welcomed – I’m going to spend some money at Amazon ;) Pre-MBA reading lists are also welcomed.

Let’s get it started… yeah…

Project Management

  • Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister, Peopleware – is a definitely ‘must read’ book.
  • Ed Sullivan, Under Pressure – is about project management in small and medium IT-company.
  • Edward Yourdon, Death March – great book. And I read exactly at the time of participating in some kind of ‘dead’ project. You will get to know how to survive in them without this book (you'll have to), but this book gives all the necessary guidelines in painless way.

General books (just for a start and if you think of becoming an entrepreneur one day)

  • Bill Gates, Business @ the speed of thought – this is a kind of book, that tells you: "What, you are still sitting on you a**? Go and grab that opportunity NOW!"
  • Jim Collins, From good to great – another good book about why ordinary companies become great and why others don’t
  • Jonas Ridderstrale & Kjell Nordstr√∂m, Funky Business and Karaoke Capitalism – both books are short and extremely motivating

Finance books

I was advised to read David Bach, Smart Couples Finish Rich and Suze Orman, The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life, so this is where I’m going to start.

Fiction, but business-related

  • Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged - I wrote a post dedicated to this book here.
  • Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister, Deadline - a president of some country decides to make a great experiment: he launches a number of software projects to create rival products to software bestsellers. He also asks the manager to try different approaches with different teams (3 teams are working on one project in parallel) and see which one is better.
  • Eliyahu Goldratt & Jeff Cox, The Goal - This is a theory of constraints described in a captivating way. A manager of a plant tries to make his plant work. He has 3 months to make it profitable. Day-by-day, week-by-week... will he succeed?
  • Michael Ridpath, Final venture - this thriller combines four areas I am keen on: the hero is an MBA grad, works in a VC on the high tech and healthcare start-ups. Someone has killed his father-in-law and he needs to find the killer quickly or else the police is going to accuse him.
So, that was really a short list, but I think, it will grow larger (with your help too).

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Some tuning: Want to be notified about new messages in blogs?

Here by the ocean waves carry voices…
© Michael learns to rock

Last month I read in Guillaume’s blog about getting notified about recent blog entries by e-mail. I decided, that this is a good idea: not read the blogs from time to time, but be notified as soon as something new comes out.

So, I didn’t want to change my mail-client to Mozilla Thunderbird (by the way, I already have a lot of mail in my mailbox and don’t want another huge pile there!). And I didn’t explore the opportunity of Bloglines, where you don’t need to install anything, but can acquire everything on a single browser-page (correct me, if I’m wrong). Instead, I searched for some programs, that collect blogs, and came across RSS Bandit, so now I have a smiling yellow face in my tray ;)

I’m notified not only about MBA’s blogs, but also about entries in ClearAdmit (it was not easy to find their atom feed!) and Ed Brill’s Blog. Maybe I’ll add some more blogs to my list later :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Clubs at LBS

Mickey Mouse club
We'll have fun
We'll be new faces
High! High! High! High!
© Mickey Mouse Club March

One of the essays in Application Process this year was “What type of student club or campus community event do you envisage yourself initiating?”. I am not sure, whether there will be the same essay next year, but I’ve been thinking for some time about clubs I would join (or organize). I was searching for LBS Clubs and by chance found this link with all clubs, present at LBS.
I would like to ask LBS MBA2007 (KV, Suzy,, what kind of clubs are you going to organize (if it is not yet a secret)?
I wish (in future) I could join Swimming Club (to swim for MBA Olympics - I love swimming and go to swimming pool at least twice a week) and Women in Business (naturally, why not?). I’m thinking about Italian Club (I love Italian food ;)), Snow Club (not surprisingly for someone, living in a country, which one third of the whole year is covered with snow :)) and, perhaps, Tennis Club (been playing tennis since the age of 7… ah, tennis rackets were so heavy then, I had to hold mine with both hands…). And I also have an idea about organizing a community of my own, but I won’t disclose the idea yet :)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

GMAT resources on the web

I was lost in France…
© Bonnie Tyler
I decided, that I will name my posts with a proper title and the words with “©” place in the epigraph. Else it will be too difficult to find anything here after some twenty posts.
I will not provide a full list of GMAT resources here, but I will write some, that I found quite useful. All the resources listed below are free of charge (or you can receive some useful info in them for free, and pay for additional info or course).
GMAT Club - good forum with lots of materials and help (available to registered users). You can pay for some materials, or you can receive them for free if you contribute a certain number of posts to the forum (a big number, I should say). There are a lot of good advice there, for example to keep your error log of every single error you make in order to revise them before your exam. Then, it's a wonderful community, which can help you prepare for the exam: post your questions, get explanations, help others - explain what they don't know.
Test Magic - also a great community around GMAT and other tests.
ScoreTop - another forum with lots of information. For example, you can easily get 3000 of additional RC questions (registration not needed), or pass a timed quant test on-line (registration needed) or find Kaplan Workshops and GMAT+ or download all AWA essays. (Thanks to Forrest Gump for this link!)
POWERPrep Software - direct link to the practice test download (registration needed).
You can also download AWA topics from that site.
I haven’t found a single free of charge complete book worth of reading in the net, but here is a link for some CR problems from Official Guide.
GMAT Tutor has good plans of preparation strategy (you can also find such plans on the forums above. Many people, who score high, post their strategies in forums), a list of idioms, tips and tricks.
GMAT Study Strategy from Dave - this is a very useful resource together with Dave’s blog. A single grade list of easy-hard questions in Official Guide is lot more you can gain from many other sites. Dave devoted a lot of effort to prepare this outstanding piece of advice about strategy and books, and all other stories.
Strategy for CR (and other sections) - not very long but quite useful guide for all GMAT sections.
Questions on your e-mail
DeltaCourse - a new math question every day, both easy and hard ones.
Manhattan GMAT - a difficult math problem every week.
These are the links I have found most useful (I know there are a lot more out there - but we don't have time to explore them all. After all, we are to pass the test, not to enjoy the process, aren't we?)
As for myself - I have read through strategy sites, done POWERPrep tests (if they are computer adaptive, then they are adaptive in a different way, than that we are told in textbooks), receive questions on e-mail and do them. I keep track of errors I make in an error log, and I also arranged a database for myself, where I put all links, articles and other materials, which are related to MBA. ;) It is a good thing to do, because you will not worry, that you’ll miss or forget something.
As for epigraph - it's easy to get lost in all these data, you find in the net :)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Choosing the School and searching for GMAT Literature

Hey Joey, c'mon tell me 'bout your dreams…

© Bon Jovi


In March I came across a contest, - organized by some good Russian newspaper – the winner of which would be awarded a place at Durham School of Business. I began searching for articles and essays to get the idea “why MBA, why now”, I searched the Durham site and found out that the place was awarded in distance-learning program… what a pity!

I appreciate distant learning and all the advantages of Internet, but I still think, that it is better to study full-time and in person, because, first of all, you can devote all your time to studying, second, you have face-to-face contact with staff (I have always preferred vis-√†-vis exams to written or test ones, because I’m not able to use my charisma during the latter *joking*) and finally, get to know your classmates, build you personal network, which is the next (for someone even the first) big thing apart from the education itself.

So I didn’t take that chance, but I started thinking about MBA.

Then I came to a presentation, organized by British Council, about getting master degrees in UK (that was a really helpful one!), found out about ratings and resources. Going through those resources I surfed to LBS site and registered. They sent me their catalogue (surprise!) – and at that point I began to think about LBS seriously. I read through the catalogue, then the website, then began searching about LBS in BusinessWeek-Forums and eventually came across these blogs. :)

I already knew, that there are also Oxford and Cambridge MBA programs (not forget about Durham) in UK and INSEAD in France (and a lot of other great schools, like IESE, but they won’t put me closer to UK). I feel that I’m missing something, having not researched them properly, but I like to focus on one important thing and do all my best about it. And then – I’m lucky, I know that, I usually do it from the first attempt.

STEP 3. LITERATURE FOR GMAT (useful for Russians!)

When I was preparing for IELTS, I have found all the materials I needed in the Internet, but I couldn’t find the same thing for GMAT. It seems to me, that this test is not so popular among Russians as IELTS (many people pass this one for immigration to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and they tend to help each other).

So I found out that in our major bookstores (in Moscow) and even online ones there are no books for GMAT (except for Barron’s, but it’s the same as “no”). I went to American Center (Nikoloyamskaya, 1, metro Taganskaya) and found a great variety of books for GMAT, SAT, GRE, TOEFL, but they don’t give them home. Stay there and study… Although my trip was not in vain: they gave me phones of shops where the books may be:

  1. Anglia, (095) 299-77-66. They usually have Princeton Review (great!), Arco and Barron’s
  2. Angliskaya Kniga, (095) 928-20-21. May already have something.

And in a week or two I decided to phone MBAConsult (the company that prepares for MBA) and it turned out, that they also had books! (Official Guide, Princeton and some of Kaplan’s)

I found out, that most GMAT-takers in Moscow order books from Amazon (you must have a credit card anyway to pass your GMAT – else it will be very difficult to register) and wait for them for about 4 weeks. Amazon is also a great source of discovering whether the book is worth buying or not.

And at last - it’s possible to buy second-hand books (I will sell mine when I pass the test :), but it’s a game of chance: you need books quickly, but they maybe no one wanting to sell.
I don’t know how people in other cities of Russia manage to get books, it seems an impossible task, really :)

Well, I’m preparing right now. Quant is nearly easy (I get more than 90%), but Verbal seems impossible. I cannot really master the logic of it.

So I’d better go and study and post some good web-resources a bit later.

*Little bit more about HSMP

You can get a HSMP without MBA – first of all, you must qualify, then you have to gather a lot of documents, wait for 2-7 weeks about the decision and finally you must find job in UK. But with MBA from TOP50 all you have to do, is provide your diploma – and you get the visa (it will be definitely easier to fing a job ;).