Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring into Action

With Easter soon approaching, I figured it was a good time to do a bit of spring cleaning... on my blog. I hope you like the new streamlined design!

It's so hard to focus today when all I can think about is my exciting evening ahead of me. Tonight, I'm going to see The Hunger Games and then I'm going for dinner at Deca77 for the first time afterwards. I also think I'm looking forward to this because it means that I won't be staying inside studying!

One of my classmates (who is from Colombia) has been promoting the Lend Your Leg mine awareness campaign, and I was happy to join her in this cause as the 1,035th leg number. You can find more information about the campaign here. It is amazing to see how a small group of activists in Colombia have started such a widespread international cause; we hope you can help to raise awareness.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Online Brand

It's hard to believe that, just a couple hours ago, I was eagerly sitting in my Small Business Management class discussing the Tutti Matti case. Now I'm about ready to crash, even though my mind is still racing thinking about all the work I have to get through this weekend.

People often ask me how I have time to manage my blog during the MBA program. Well, one wise alumnus from HEC Montreal advised me of the importance of having at least one "thing" outside of school during the MBA. She was absolutely right. For me, it's my blog. I have very little free time, but when I have it, I spend it focusing on my blog. It's something I enjoy, providing me with stress relief and a great way to capture the ideas I've been learning along the way. I was reading an article today about the importance of maintaining a strong personal online brand, so hopefully in the end my creative outlet will be doubly beneficial, allowing me to record my memories, but also develop a positive online presence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shark Tank

Wednesday is my Marketing day, with Global Marketing in the morning and Managing Products and Brands in the late afternoon. The two classes complement each other very nicely. In fact, for the team assignments for both classes, my teams chose a recommendation that was different than that of the professor, but interestingly both professors seemed to have the same solution:  launch a new brand. Maybe that's the answer to all Marketing cases? Here is a photo of my team after our Flare Fragrances presentation for Managing Products and Brands.

It's funny that all members of my team seem to have interests in both Marketing and Entrepreneurship. With that in mind, I think we could all learn a lot from ABC's Shark Tank, so I am sharing an article that lists seven entrepreneurial lessons inspired by the show.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Head Start

Although I did not accomplish as much today as I had hoped, I am very happy with what I have gotten through. My Managing Products and Brands team has prepared our case analysis of Flare Fragrances and it is nearly ready for tomorrow's submission. We have also discussed our presentation, so we are set for tomorrow's rehearsal.

I also managed to get through nearly 100 pages of reading for next week's Visionary and Entrepreneurial Thinking! I knew I would need to get a head start on the reading because I looked at the associated assignment and it seemed like it would be pretty time-consuming. In the end, I was right - it took an extremely long time to do some deep thinking about my vision. At least I was finally able to get ahead on something this semester!

My P8 team has also made some headway, as we have scheduled a screening with the NFB for the film we will be working on marketing this summer. Fortunately, with this opportunity, we'll get to start thinking about our project in May.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fun and Games

I can't remember the last occasion when I had enough time to sit down and watch something on my Netflix. The only thing I have time for in my seconds of "free time" is the Draw Something app on my iPhone. I recommend the game to anyone who wants to be distracted for only a few minutes a day (I am talking to you, MBA students!).

Considering that we have used Legos in two classes to demonstrate a business point, a recent article about a new advertising campaign at Legos caught my eye. Marketing and Legos, right up my alley.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Global Marketing

This morning, after reading my Carrefour's Misadventure in Russia case for Global Marketing, I happened to come across a related article in the Globe and Mail. The article talks about Cirque du Soleil's entrance into the Russian market, the risks involved, and the lessons learned. This was a perfect example of a global brand entering the growing Russian market, and the insight was extremely helpful for the preparation of my case write-up. The article was also obviously of particular interest to me considering my upcoming summer trip to Russia.

I looked at my calendar for this week, and it turns out I have six assignments due this week and only five classes. Doing the math, yes, that means at least one assignment per class. Looks like it will be a busy week!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My eXistenZ

My schedule is such that I am spending this Saturday night reading about the American Motors Corporation and the success of Mitt Romney's father for my Being a CEO class. Politics aside, I am not usually this person. I strongly believe in having a work-life balance (or in this case, a school-life balance), but with my new classes and assignments, there is little time for anything outside of school. And FYI, work-life balance is not just a personal concern; it is also key for saving the US economy (see here).

At least I have already accomplished a lot this weekend. Yesterday, I met with my Managing Products and Brands team to start preparing for our Flare Fragrances case presentation which will be this week. I also went to a meeting for my Campus Abroad Russia trip, which is looking to be a very exciting two weeks this summer! Today has been focused on my Visionary and Entrepreneurial Thinking assignments, which allowed me to bring up my Cultural Studies learnings. Who knew that my viewing of the film eXistenZ  for a Cultural Studies course would come to inspire me during my MBA studies?

For anyone who speaks French, I strongly recommend watching the video below featuring HEC Montreal alumnus Michael Long, who was a guest speaker during my Visionary class this week (his presentation in class was in English). His entrepreneurial story is inspirational, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Small World

Thursday is by far my most trying day. I have over six straight hours of class and I don't end my school day until 9:45 PM. Add to that the fact that my Being a CEO class on Thursdays has weekly team assignments. This inevitably meant that we were still working on our first assignment up until 15 minutes before class started. I don't foresee the next three weeks' assignments being any different. Fortunately, I do have a great team for the class, so at least that makes it easier.

In my Small Business Management course tonight, my professor announced that we will have a guest speaker on Week 5. It turns out that the guest lecturer is my friend's uncle Peter Hart who is the CEO of Rideau. What a small world!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Upon Reflection

I'll be extremely honest in saying that it is really difficult to manage both an academic life and a personal life even on a good day in the MBA program. Throw unexpected factors into the mix and things get extremely complicated and difficult. I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all my friends and family members who have been patient with me during this program. Your support has meant so much to me. I know that I cannot often be there, but I am always with you in spirit.

Now onto the good news, the things I have sacrificed my time for... My P8 team has secured a client for our Supervised Consulting Field Project. We'll be working on a marketing mandate for the National Film Board (NFB)! Furthermore, our Coordinator arranged for us to work with my Marketing Management professor from P3, who is exactly the person I wanted my team to work with. To say I am looking forward to this project would be an understatement.

This current P5 has, for me, created a completely different shift in the MBA program. For two of my classes, there is an emphasis on soul-searching, rather than theories. I am appreciating that I have this chance to perform a self-reflection, since that is one of the reasons I entered the MBA program in the first place. It is also a change to enjoy the subject matter in all five classes. Now the only trouble is scheduling team meetings, rather than being forced to sit through boring course material. I had my first P5 team presentation today (which, happily, went very well!) and it was so much more enjoyable to speak to a class of engaged students!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Madness

I was supposed to go to Ottawa this weekend, but with all of the upcoming assignments I have due, I just couldn't fit it into my schedule, sadly. I didn't want to let my teams down and make everything more difficult than it needed to be. Hopefully, our assignments will now be amazing!

This morning, I went through each syllabus for my classes and created a schedule for myself for P5. It turns out I have 23 assignments due within the next five weeks! (I have included in that figure my case competition business proposal, since that has essentially become a sixth course.) I don't even want to think about how many pages of reading it all adds up to, considering that the Codex for one of my courses is 500 pages!

This weekend, HEC Montreal is hosting the Sustainability Challenge 2012. I just found out that the HEC Montreal team placed third in the case competition. Congratulations to the team! I'm anxious to hear the rest of the results.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Night Lights

My life would be so much simpler if eating and sleeping were not requirements. I can't believe how insane our new semester is! It is true that I love my new courses, but the amount of work that is required in P5 is crazy! Usually, the first week of every semester is pretty calm because it just involves readings and scheduling with teammates. This semester is completely different, as we are scrambling to create teams and already do team assignments that are due next week. I'm trying very hard to keep my cool. Cupcakes help!

In the midst of attacking my new courses (Visionary and Entrepreneurial Thinking, Global Marketing, Managing Products and Brands, Being a CEO, and Small Business Management), I am also involved in other things (preparing for a business proposal case competition, securing a marketing project for P8, seeing a friend I hadn't seen in 9 years!, etc.). The good news is that I should have my team's P8 project confirmed shortly. In the meantime, we have taken our photos for our CV document. Introducing...

5 Senses Marketing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Keep Smiling

Yes, it is true that I am no longer here:

However, my new classes after the March Break have kept me smiling all day long. I started the new semester this morning with Global Marketing and then in the late afternoon I had Managing Products and Brands. Wow, there is a huge difference between the core classes and the electives! First of all, I am more interested in the lecture material. Second of all, the rest of the class is engaged. Finally, the professors seem to be more excited about teaching the specialized courses. I do realize that these classes will probably be more demanding, since we have more deliverables and we are managing different group assignments, however I am so happy about P5 that it doesn't seem to matter to me. I already love my new classes!

For anyone who reads my blog that might be interested in applying to HEC Montreal (and I strongly recommend it), the Director of our school's MBA program recently talked to the Globe & Mail about tips for submitting a successful application. The article can be accessed here. Good luck to all applicants!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Gif to Myself

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I'm back from my island vacation and as you can see, I had a good time.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Life's a Beach

We made it! Our core courses are officially over (as long as we all passed Corporate Finance II)! There is only one thing I've got on my mind as I pack for my weeklong trip to Turks and Caicos:  relaxation. I'm still tense and sleep-deprived since we only finished at noon today, but I'm sure that once I see a sandy beach, it will be pretty easy to relax and enjoy it.

This end to P4 is kind of bittersweet. For our future courses, we will no longer have preassigned teams with all of the same group members. Everyone will have a different schedule at school. The good news, though, is that we will be taking classes that we have chosen ourselves, and that means no more Finance for me! Though I am unable to attend the end of semester celebration, I just want everyone to know that it was a pleasure seeing you every day. I hope that you have a fabulous March Break and I wish you the best of luck in your future semesters! Until then, I will be on the beach pictured above.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Final Exams

We had our Strategic Management II final exam this afternoon, so we only have three exams left to go. After the exam, I read this article about the link between culture and strategy, and frankly I found it to be pretty helpful as a review for my Strategic Human Resources Management final exam that will be tomorrow. The article emphasized the importance of people within the organization and creating a culture that supports the company's strategy. This sounds exactly like the main message our HR professor highlighted:  The HR strategy should support the business strategy!

Thinking about exams, I suddenly had a brief flashback of what it was like to take final exams during my undergrad at McGill. For most of us, we would take our finals in a huge room in the gym, alongside many other students taking exams for several different classes. Because of this makeshift exam room, there was often a humorous element - a desk that would spontaneously collapse, someone sneezing uncontrollably, etc. At least I can laugh about it now!

With my HR review done and my Finance formula sheet complete (above), I just have to prepare my notes for my open-book Operations exam, and then I'll be all set. Two more days and then my stress headache will be gone!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Apparently there is a link between Canadian immigration and Operations Management! I felt like my old world and new world were colliding when I read this article about an immigration overhaul. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to build a just-in-time immigration regime, and coincidentally we learned about just-in-time in our final Operations Management class today.

This momentous day marked our final day of core courses. We just have to get through the next three days of final exams and then it's March Break! We took a class photo right after we had finished our last class. Look at all of our smiling, happy faces!

We will all be trudging through the snow to make it to our finals this weekend, but I am sure we will have happy thoughts of vacation on our minds. I know I will!