Sunday, April 18, 2010

Columbia Admit Event - Act II

For a change, my wife and I made it to the event on time. The deli was overflowing with people and to me it occurred that more people had showed up this time. Well, not being in the middle of winter must have helped. Within a few minutes we were ushered into the hall to welcome our keynote speaker. Dean Hubbard gave a short speech on why we should all come to Columbia. Diana Taylor spoke at length about her career(she never did anything for more than 4 years). It was particularly interesting to hear about her comments on being a board member of Citigroup (the only one with regulatory experience). The most remarkable moment was when she asked the audience - how many of us wanted to go to Investment Banking? A mere four people raised their hands, it was pretty surreal.

From there, we moved to the Cluster welcome. I was part of Cluster 3 and our peer advisors made sure we had a great time. We played the quiz again and our team (Party of Five- yeah we couldn't come up with anything nicer heh) came close to winning it. If only we remembered CBS was founded in 1916, oh well!

Next up was the lunch reception. Unlike last time when we all went to different
restaurants nearby, this time around we all assembled at the magnificent Low library. The tables were divided based on different clubs, so we could decide where to sit based on our interests. I chose to sit with the people who do god's work ;) and had a great time listening to Ryuji (current student, IBC co-president) about recruiting for banking. According to Ryuji, IB recruiting is better now, and should be even better for us. He impressed upon us how quickly the banking recruiting starts, the events begin around
late September. He recommended buying a few good suits, there were times in the first semester when he wore a suit everyday. One thing I figured is the fact that being in NYC is a double-edged sword. One thing it gives access to recruiters like nowhere else but it also means we spend more time on networking than others. Another takeaway from him was- try not to get Low Pass in any subject (Honors, High Pass, Low Pass...) as banking recruiters ask about our grades. We also had a representative from Deutsche bank (Sean Gupta)
who remarked on how perfectly all of us timed our admits, he was very optimistic about the markets and was pretty confident about great recruiting seasons in the future (yay!). All in all, a good lunch and a great conversation with Ryuji. I left for the first class visit session in an upbeat mood.

Prof. Usher spent an hour discussing a very interesting case on Finance and Sustainability. As a stark reminder that we were signing up for further studies, a week ago Prof. Usher had sent everyone a 20 page case to read for this class. The topic and the case were interesting enough, so I didn't mind :-). But to be frank, with all that food in the stomach, I badly needed a coffee...After the coffee break, we got started with the E-cademy awards. Prof. Cliff Schorer did an outstanding job presenting the different ventures,
I think everyone was sold on how great CBS's Entrepreneurship program was. Here are a few interesting ones- 1) PayPerks,  a debit card which is preloaded with the paycheck amount so an employee (without a bank account) needn't spend money on cashing the check. 2) PilotVault- a website for showcasing unaired pilot shows and audience testing 3) 99- a comic book based on virtues mentioned in Holy Quran, this one is already a big hit in middle-east and one interesting fact was that the entrepreneur's
class themselves invested a million $ or something in the venture! (my favorite) 4) Recyclebank- this one is making big bucks as well, it's like a rewards program for recycling and many others which were equally interesting and with great potential. All the presentations were great and I felt immensely proud about the network I'm going to join :-)

Prof. Bruce Greenwald didn't waste anytime getting into the core of the financial crisis. He said it was not a case of any single bad actor but an inevitable conclusion to the way international finance players carried out its business. With couple of interesting statistics backing him up, he also showed how Alan Greenspan's office was irrelevant in context of how Fed could/couldn't improve the economy. It was a very
informative lecture and I for one absolutely loved his wisecracks and many things he mentioned made more sense as I recently read a great book on the crisis- Too big to fail. In his view, the economy was going to be like this with less or no growth for many years with unemployment around 8-10% as it is now. He mentioned there will be enough jobs for MBA graduates but many others won't be so lucky :( He got a lot of cheers
when he mentioned USA needn't worry about China- as per him China is stuck with US$ and unless they move a large segment of their people out of manufacturing, they had no other way but to keep increasing the $ reserves. Many valuable insights, hope I would be able to sign up for his class(es)!

As an indication of how CBS and NY went hand in hand, the evening ended with a reception at Bloomingdale's with a brilliant speech by Michael Gould (CEO). Mr Gould, frankly mentioned how we were all destined to be successful no matter whether we went to Wharton or Chicago or Columbia.
He encouraged everyone to follow our passion and mentioned how NYC is the best place to be! His passion for NYC was amazing but then he supported Red Sox! Everyone had a good time munching on hors d'oeuvres, drinking some great wine and interacting with other admits at the end of
a very long day. When Mr.Gould asked how many of us had decided on joining CBS, I noticed a huge majority raised their hands.

CBS had done a good job with the event, showcasing some of its best professors, best students/alumni entrepreneurs and the best of what NYC offered. I left with my wife and a couple of others to a nearby restaurant- Serendipity where an outrageously yummy 'forbidden broadway sundae'
was waiting for us.

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