Friday, December 26, 2008

"Official Reason to go to USA" - Stanford Trip

After a very very tiring but equally exciting trip to LA, LV and GC, we reached San Francisco :) Phew!!! This is not because of being tired but because on the way back - 2 amateur USA drivers - Megha and Sid, drove along with Chatty.... Well, I would be nervous but I was sleeping away to glory - preparing for the hectic one week ahead of me.... We reached Chatty's place in SF by 11:00 pm or so and then were all raving about his house.... Very neatly kept, very well equipped!!! Spent some time on his playstation, listened to "Desi Girl" which was by now the trip song and some silliness on "Buttons!!!" (Megha was speechless and so were others but for VERY different reasons)... Anyway, after a good night's sleep, we all woke up and these guys dropped me to Stanford (Special mention to Megha and her Polka-dotted pyjamas :)...)

Day 1:
So, I reached after breakfast and immediately left for the Oakland Raiders game... 2 good things happened before I left:
1. Sid finally got to meet Kate and appreciate what I had mentioned about her
2. These guys saw my room and it was so mind-blowingly awesome that they were jealous (I got happy - ha ha ha)

"American Football"- All I can say is its an interesting game.... But unlike a continuous Indian game (football and cricket) this game keeps halting... Not like Basketball - where you stop game due to line cuts or fouls but like on principle... I cannot explain the game here now, but it was an awesome experience... Of course, I saw the cheerleaders and how they keep crowds entertained in this game....

In the evening, our hospitable guests divided us in groups based on the cuisines we wanted to eat. J'ai mange italien :))) (I speak French and not italian :)...)

Day 2:
3 lectures, 2 company visits and 1 game and dinner was the plan for the day.... Dean of Stanford - David Kreps came to give us a lecture on Stanford and its history.... During the lecture, it became clearer that IIMB is like Stanford and IIMA like Harvard... Culture, teaching methodology etc... Which is why I think, there is a Stanford-IIMB program and not a Stanford-IIMA program...

After this was a lecture by Mr. Guy Kawasaki - A successful VC and famed author of book including Rich Dad - Poor Dad!! Enlightening lecture and a very interesting person, in his
opinions and his style.... I took a liking to him instantly....

Finally, the academic session ended with Prof. Carole Robin... Importance of feedback was what she covered in the lecture...

Post this we went to "Whole Foods" where I ate Mexican food (henceforth, whenever I mention food - assume its Mexican or Italian) coz vegeterians rarely have too much choice and people like me who hate Mushrooms - even lesser choices :)))) And American portions are HUGE!!! Poor me... I could NEVER finish a single meal coz one small burito was like 2 meals for me :((((

Facebook where we learned about their culture and NUMMI - the Toyota and GM alliance where we actually saw a car being made in 54 seconds thru JIT system... It was fascinating to see the importance Americans give to culture and perfection....

Then was the BEST social activity ever... We went to Dave and Busters - a mall sort of place with games... I won so many games, beat Vickram in car racing and shopped for sweats :))) Good fun...

Fully satisfied I went to my room (aweeeeeesome bed - did I mention) to get myself all buckled up for even more hectic schedule the next day.... Oh, before sleeping I had to read a case for my classes the next day :((( (will anyone say I was on vacation - oh! I wasn't right... oops!..)

Day 3:
CEO of PepsiCo coming and tellin us how Indra Nooyi was a right choice of a leader.... Man!! that was inspiring... A sales class by top sales executives in Bay area telling students how to improve sales effectiveness with live examples and IHI case being discussed by the case writer himself.... The academic sessions were on a swing...

After lunch we went to IDEO - a design consulting firm... I saw the designs and I coiuld not stop thinking of Namu... She would have looooooved to visit that place... I wish she gets recruited there... It was fascinating... I took some pics for her... Hope she likes them....

We had free time then to work on our projects, after which we went for dinner and drinks with Stanford junta...

Day 4:
This was all-in-all a social visit... Stanford people took us to some tourist destinations in San Fran... I shopped again for a jacket - considering I was cold despite wearing 4 layers... Awesome deal I got on a black fleece jacket and got good deals for both Vickram and Bala...

Went to Pier 39, boat ride, cable cars, Union Square, Golden Gate bridge etc... Photos and more shopping done and we came back tired to the room... Other guys went out pubbing but I stayed back as I had to prepare a case for the next day - CEO of cisco was coming and I dint want to look stupid...

Day 5:
It was an all-in-all academic day...

After an ok-ok lecture by the head of Dodge & Cox, we had an awesome case discussion by Prof. John Morgridge - ex-CEO of cisco... Mindblowing session... I strongly believe that even if the prof is brilliant, the person coming himself and teaching a case written on the decisions he took, makes a huge difference... completely satisfied, I spoke to him after class and he asked my name... shook hands with me... and patted me on my back for a nice question... Wow!!! it was the highlight of my day...

Then was my career counselling session with Virginia who I had met in India earlier.... This session was mainly a feel-good session for everyone but the pessimist that I am, I felt bad :(((( But thats not important...

Lise Buyer - by far my most favorite lecture - showed us a very unique perspective in life by sharing her learnings from the finance career... Here again, I was putting awesome CP... I just realised... When there are such inspiring people in front of u, you automatically feel like asking them questions...

Chairman of BCG then came and gave us gyaan on how is consulting adapting according to the economic downturn....

Prof. Brady came and spoke about US Elections and how the process is conducted... How is the 2 party system eficient... The discussion concluded on lauding India for having so many diverse parties and still maintaining democracy...

A not so useful international communication session concluded the day after which we left for Leo Joseph's residence - an Indian GSB Alum who hosts SAIL students every year.... Interesting person again!!! He likes an idea, starts a company and then sells it off for a hefty amount for a living... Then takes a break for a year or 2 till he finds the next new idea :))) In short, rich man with an awesome house, lovely family and an pleasant demeanor.... We had a wine tasting session here where, Aurelia - a wine consultant demonstrated her proficiency in knowing wines by their smell, color etc... It was so much fun... Everyone came up with random ingredients based on the smelll and I JUST CUD NOT differentiate between the different smells... All smelled the same - BAD!! It was then I realised I HATE wines :))) After dinner at Leo's I went home whereas others went clubbing again...

Day 6:
Second last day and it was the first time when I got late, missed the gang and had to go on my own to the company we were visiting... Pacific Biosciences, the company was awesome apparently but I dint quite understand anything due to the delay... After this, we went back to campus where we made our presentations... We had a small photosession with the insti photographer, a Career Life Vision lecture by Prof. Andy Chan and attended the L-square equivalent of Stanford - LPF... It was here we met other GSB students and spoke to them in an informal setting...

We went for dinner at a restaurant on campus and generally bonded with the Stanford counterpart by discussin hajar issues...

Day 7:
Last day with them... They had their exams so all of them couldnt join us to the Monterey Aquarium... Good place... I saw a diver feeding the fish LIVE and I myself took behind the scenes tour where I could feed the fish :))) Americans make an experience out of everything... The way they explained everything to everyone, the way they go out of their way to make tourists spend etc. all is very comendable... I keep feeling that people in India should learn this... First we dont have such places, and the little that we have like Essel World - the staff is so curt and not helpful... We have a lot to learn - really...

After this we went Bowling!!! I sucked at it :((( Wonder why??? I did play decently but here I was like awfulllll.... After this I left for Schwab (the place where I stayed) to collect luggage and leave for domestic airport to go to Seattle...

It was a fun week - right mix of acads, corporate and social activities... I think such exchange programs are so much better than those 3 months one... I mean you dont get homesick and you still enjoy... Yes, you have little sleep but I think you can do without it - after all you ARE DOING YOU MBA :))) More about the latter part of the trip follows...

2 comments:

Sid said...

I hope none of the future SAIL students reads your blog. You have clearly not left them a chance to discover by experience. :P

Viraj Datar said...

seems like a fully loaded week... and yes, the professionalism, customer experience and novelty that the American tourist attractions create is totally something worth copying for us.... :)