A dilemma

If this is not your first visit then you will have seen that I’m a fan of Danny Bhoy, the Scottish stand-up comedian. I saw his show during the Edinburgh Festival last year, and once before that, but this year he’s not formally on the programme. You can find him doing guest spots though. If you also like Danny Bhoy then look for the tweet.  So what does one do when Danny is not to be found? Well I’m going to see Ed Byrne tonight. That should be something. And next week I shall see Sarah Millican. Equally bonkers.

Having thus exposed my preferences when it comes to stand-up I’m sure I have completely lost any respect that my MBAs might have had for me.

OK, so now were are four weeks away from MBA Induction Week. As always we are busy planning and preparing everything for the new class. I know for a fact that Alfredo is here already, from Mexico, and others will be here for the pre-sessional English course. I can’t wait to meet them all in person.

But this is of course also a sign that soon I shall have to say goodbye to the full-time MBA class – Hyunseok has left already and before we know it they will all have moved back/moved on to their new jobs. Incidentally, you can as always check the MBA profiles via our website. You will find some very clever people there.

The new MBA class is here -yeah!

Maybe you saw that we had a busy MBA Induction Week here last week. I certainly enjoyed it and it’s good to see the new class getting to know each other. Last week was all about introductions, career insights and some fun.

Courses began in earnest Monday morning so a lot of brain power being spent now. For some, those that have been away from education for some time, this may be a bit “painful” but soon they’ll all get the hang of studying again. I can already see the prospect of some exciting relationships based on mutual interests so I’m sure we’ll have a worth-while year ahead. This week and next our Career Development Manager Merri Scotney and I will meet with a number of our new MBAs to talk about careers. My colleague Eddie Cochrane, our Executive Development Manager, will take over from me in the third week as I’ll be heading off for a meeting with the GMAC people at their new headquarters in Reston, Virginia. A busy month actually, October, as I’ll also attend the GMAC European conference (this year to be held at Ashridge Business School) and my long-term friend Anna-Marie will visit as well.

Our new home

Monday is the first day of Induction Week so good thing that the our new home only needs a bit of dusting now. I like it. And the new MBAs who were here for our Early Bird receptions have expressed their delight as well so let’s hope we’re on to a good start. We had 27 of the new MBAs for the reception yesterday and the cafe was buzzing. And lots of exchanging of phone numbers as well.

With our new location between the lovely George Square and the historic buildings of Buccleuch Place, the school’s neighbourhood combines some of the nicest things about Edinburgh: the architecture and the green spaces. But next week will, as always when it’s Induction Week, be hectic. It’s a great time though, and I hope all our new students MBAs, MScs and undergraduates will enjoy their studies.

Where to begin?!?

That’s always the problem when you haven’t blogged for a while:

  • The Greek debt? (Still enormous)
  • The UK elections? (Confusing as ever and I’m not actually allowed to vote)
  • MBA news? (Always good)
  • The UK expenses row? (A continued disgrace)
  • The hefty losses faced by Morgan Stanley? ($5.4bn. Ouch!)

Well, there’s certainly enough to choose from.

During the last week or so Asian investors decided not to take up more of the bottomless Greek debt. This forced the Euro Zone to put their money where the mouth is and actually commit to something.  This they did on Sunday  and as a consequence investors are now treating Greek debt as the best thing since sliced bread. For the time being anyway. Whether or not this will continue will probably depend on whether an essential Greek treasury bill goes  through and whether Greece sends proper signs of economising where possible. An interesting side effect of this was reported in the Guardian yesterday when it reported a huge influx in Greeks purchasing expensive homes in the UK.

The UK elections, well it’s interesting to watch even if as a Dane I’m not actually allowed to vote. I’m allowed to pay my taxes, yes, but not to vote for those who will decide how to spend my taxes. The funny thing is that I’m allowed to vote for the Scottish Parliament because this is considered a local election.

On the MBA side things are hotting up again with the last stretch of courses and the MBA Consultancy project on the go. Come mid-May and after nine months of hard work the full-time MBAs will have completed all their courses. The MBAs on the International Business programme are away for their exchange in Singapore, China, France, Spain, Canada and USA.  They still have a bit to go because after the exchange they will move on to their internships.

The UK expenses row continues to astound those on the side-line. After investigations a few people are now facing fraud charges through bogus mortgage applications, invoices and rent claims. At first they attempted to claim parliamentary privilege. It is an immunity against prosecution that can be claimed by those in government protecting them from actions they have to carry out as a member of a legislating body.  (I don’t think one has to submit bogus expenses claims as a member of parliament, do you?) After denied this privilege they have now claimed and been granted legal aid which upsets many people but putting aside the fact that these people if they are found guilty have fiddled funds then, if they are not above the law (and they were told so) then they have the same rights as everyone else. Otherwise we undermine our own system because we have to obey the rules that we have set ourselves. Talks about means testing of legal aid are under way but until this has been implemented we cannot deny legal aid just because we are greatly affronted by these people’s actions.

If you picked up the WSJ this morning then you will have seen the story on the front page (in the Europe edition) about the losses faced by Morgan Stanley fund. The $8.8bn real estate fund may lose a substantial amount, about $5.4bn following from property investment that turned out to be, hmm, well, pretty awful.  Check Anton Troianovski and Lingling Wei’s story through the link below.

And now you’ll have to excuse me ’cause I’ll be off for a few days. Nice!

(If you are unfamiliar with the idioms used in this, in italics, then check this site: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com)

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Two down, one to go

With just one more exam to go before the Easter break I’m pondering the fact that the class now have completed two-thirds of their courses – a one-year MBA is a hectic but powerful thing! It’s not just that you get all the knowledge in one year but also the fact that you only have to consider opportunity costs for one year. In favour of the two-year model is of course that things are not as hectic and that students have more time for extra curricular activities. Although judging from the Google group for this year’s MBA class a one-year programme allows for plenty of time for extra curricular activities! And that’s good. Supporting each other is essential in an MBA and the social stuff helps providing the glue for that. But changes are afoot. The students on the MBA in International Business have either left already or are in the process of packing their suitcases to leave for their exchange partners while the students on the full-time MBA programme are now allocating time to get started with their consultancy project. At the same time a selection of students on the Shanghai International MBA are preparing to come to Edinburgh for their exchange so we’ll see some ‘new blood’ added to the classes. It will be very exciting.

Despite my writing so copiously about the MBA programme I do get involved in other programmes and I have some undergraduate dissertation sitting on my desk for marking. I do like to get involved at different levels. Otherwise you can easily end up in a situation similar to ‘group think’ and that’s not good for anyone. And that’s actually why I occasionally choose a different route when going home. It’s the little things that make the difference. why do’nt you try a different route home today? Try it and see the new thoughts that pop through your mind.

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Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

WSJ Europe today features on its front page the words: “FSA beefs up staff, takes aim at banks”. Apparently the UK Financial Services Authority will now hire several hundred employees to help police banks’ actions in the future. With this move the number of permanent overseers stationed at each major bank is to double. That of course is nice to see but if my memory serves me it was the skills of the overseers that were lacking. Banks had come up with such convoluted instruments of debt management that the average FSA overseer couldn’t assess what was going on. This is to some extent supported by an admission, also in the WSJ Europe edition, by the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro that the SEC was unaware of an accounting method that would have seemed to allow Lehman to hide some of the risks it took. Hence, the headline of this blog entry: “But who will guard the custodians themselves? So can we ask not just for more overseers but more skilled overseers?

You will know that I had the pleasure of attending the MBA fair in Rome last Saturday.  Although the fair was not very busy I found the attendees to be of very good quality and I spoke to a number of interesting people.  If you were there and I didn’t have  a chance to speak to you then please get in touch. I had some time for sightseeing in the Eternal City and I took a day out to meet with my friend Anna. Coming back after a few days away is always hectic and I’ve been rushing around ever since, trying to catch up with even just a couple of days away from the office. What amazes me the most though is that very soon the students on the MBA in International Business will leave for their exchanges and I know for a fact that some of them I won’t see again. After the exchange comes the internship and then the work on the Capstone Project.

Next stop Washington DC

This is an invite to come and meet a school representative and alumni at the two MBA Fairs in Washington DC and new York, organised by QS TopMBA. This of course is only relevant if you are looking to join an MBA programme.  If you are then make a note of the dates: 25th and 28th February.

So what is all this about attending an MBA Fair from your living room?  Well, the University of Edinburgh Business School has been invited to participate in the GMATCH MBA and Master Virtual Fair. It is an exciting new initiative by GMAC, the organisation that owns and administers the GMAT® exam.  The event is on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 and you can connect on-line with admission staff of leading graduate management programmes.  Register now so that you can meet us in your own living room.

I can hardly believe it but the students on the MBA in International Business are now already preparing to move on to their chosen exchange partners. It seems like it was only yesterday that they arrived. After that they will move on to their internship so please let me know if you are looking for an exerienced MBA student to work for you for three months over the summer. It can be anywhere in the World.  You can check the profiles of all my MBA students via:  http://webdb.ucs.ed.ac.uk/management/msm/student_profiles/index.cfm