120 School Days + 2,688 Miles = 1 Amazing LA Vacation

A couple of weeks ago I visited two of my cohort mates in Los Angeles.  It was freezing in DC, and the opportunity to cash in my miles and seek warmer ground was a no-brainer.

Shopping in Santa Monica

It was amazing!  Thirty minutes after arriving at LAX and after jamming my down wintercoat into my suitcase, I was eating lunch at a Santa Monica eatery with the sun on my face and the Pacific Ocean in my view.

The next few days were a whirlwind:  shopping in Santa Monica, racing down Pacific Coast Highway, soaking in the art and gardens at the Getty Museum, standing in line for an ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese near the UCLA campus, boutiquing in Westwood, riding the winding Malibu canyon on a Harley and stopping at the Rock Store off of Mulholland Hwy, bowling at the infamous bowling alley from the Big Lebowski (mark it zero, please), taking an hour to go 4 blocks in infamous traffic (ok, not so fun), and celebrity sight-seeing (I swear I saw Khloe).

1st Year MBAs (L-R) Alexandra, Jen, & Maria Teresa at the Getty Museum

As I sit here in DC a few weeks later, I smile as I think about how different this trip to LA was compared to my previous visits.  I’d been to LA a couple of times for both vacation and business, but I felt like I saw this trip differently.

For example, while in the legendary line getting my ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese for $1.50 and feeling an instant exhilaration at how cheap and delicious a deal this was, I then realized that this was an exact example of what one of my professors called “consumer surplus.”  Good thing Diddy Riese doesn’t know just exactly how much I would indeed be willing to pay for that there sandwich.  As I walked out of their shop, I wondered how Diddy Riese could possibly be making money charging such deliciousness at such an obscenely low rate?  I glanced at the long line that I had just been standing in and remembered the concepts of volume sales and cost efficient goods providers.  Gotcha.  Of course, both concepts flew out of my mind as I polished off the rest of my sandwich.  In fact, much of what I was thinking flew out as I finished such deliciousness.

Diddy Riese Cookie Sandwiches...a $1.50 slice of Heaven

Being an MBA student has given me another way of viewing the world around me:  it’s like I’m now traveling with 3D glasses with my newly acquired knowledge.  One semester in, I was sitting in my free ticket seat and wondering what dynamic pricing models my airlines had used in offering seats on the plane to wondering what the size of endowment and interest rate the Getty might need to operate such a facility for the public good.  It was as if I saw business everywhere and it made the strings of connecting everything so much more vibrant and clear.

I’m looking forward to going on one of the study abroad trips that Kogod is offering over the next break.  I’ll have gone through six more classes and learned a slew of other concepts and developed a host of skills.  On that note, maybe I’ll try considering consumer surplus while consuming macaroons and an espresso from Ladurées on the Champs Elysées next?  Oui!  Oui!

Caffeine = MBA fuel

Before this semester began, I had only drunk coffee one time in my life. I was about 3 or 4 years old and was really curious about what all of the adults were sipping on during the morning. This was at an age when just about everything I was eating/drinking was fruit flavored: fruit snacks, fruit punch, Fruity Pebbles, Froot Loops. Needless to say, my taste buds were less than thrilled to be experiencing the phenomenon that is Cup-O-Joe. I swore it off for life.

Should have stopped a few cups ago.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years. As I am faced with innumerable assignments to complete chapter upon chapter to read, and events to attend, I suddenly feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get a good night’s rest. How can I possibly be productive during these long weeks? Should I turn to the beverage I cursed as a child? Should I go against everything I had preached for so many years? DEFINITELY.

In the right situations, caffeine is a godsend and has helped me power through some of the longest days I have experienced as a student. My adult-style tastebuds have grown to actually enjoy the taste.

As a rookie coffee drinker, I quickly learned that you can have too much of a good thing (diminishing returns for you econ heads). But, I am pretty confident I have found the right balance to get me through the day without having me bounce off the walls. So when you need some fuel to get through those final few pages, a hot cup of coffee just might be your answer!

Such lovely weather and such lovely things, as observed by a commuter from the suburbs

I can see green grass everywhere now – with some yellow and brown leaves in between and pink and white flowers on the side – and it makes me smile, wide. The once cold and dry ride from Rockville, MD to Tenleytown, DC has inconspicuously turned into a beautiful escape I look forward to everyday. I think there’s nothing quite like the nature of nature – ever changing, abrupt, lovely yet dangerous, and the DC metro area roads definitely have one of the most scenic botanical topography for the suburban commuter. For any AU prospective student or anyone looking to move next year, I highly recommend exploring the greater metro area, especially if you drive. My recent relocation to a new place has been nothing short of great.

With AU’s great geographic and meteorological position, I was thrilled to learn about the launch of the new Master’s Degree in Sustainability Management. I truly believe that the risks and rewards resulted from the environment will dictate the financial future of our generation. Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh. We’ve been brutally hit by natural disasters one after another in the past few years, as the depletion of natural resources continues at an accelerated rate. A friend laughed hard when I recently told her I am a “parks and mountains” type of person. But, I can’t help but think about the impact of my energy consumption every time I reluctantly pay for the bolting gas price to fill up my economical 2001 Corolla after I hit the I-270, I-495 or my favorite route MD 355.

The onset of the lovely weather has also stimulated my social life in the past month. It’s amazing how weather impacts my mood. I confess I have been somewhat anti-social during the first three months of the semester, primarily due to the cold weather (it is a good 20-30 minute drive to DC), work, and relocation (may I add HW?). The impact of de-socializing has been so significant for a social butterfly like me. I miss the stories I had intended to collect in between the intersections of Kogod hallways as I mentioned in my last blog. I felt a large vacuum in a very important part of my life.

In the past month, I signed up as an Admission Ambassador for the MSA program and I am already listening to a whole new set of stories from the incoming students. I attended a “Dish with the Dean” event where I got to meet Dean Durand personally for the first time. The interaction with my fellow students and Dean Durand elated my student experience at Kogod to another level.

I taught myself to not head straight to the Katzen parking lot after class. Instead, I have learned to look up events taking place on campus in the evening. Separating from the MBA crowd has definitely compelled me to re-think my socialization strategy.

Attending Graduate Business Association events in the evenings has also helped me reconnect with my peers. I am also making a conscious effort to change and re-adjust as a commuter from the suburbs and it has worked out perfectly. Completely unplanned, the semester is winding down on a beautiful note (so far).

As all of us are wrapping up the semester, I hope the summer brings in gentle waves of luck for each one of us as we embark on our internships or jobs; and joy for our lazy summer days with lots of lager beer around a pool; or whatever else we may find interesting.

Signing off, Sudipa

A weekend in South America

This past Saturday I attended the wedding of a close family friend in Bogotá, Colombia. The young parents on my Thursday night Avianca flight were shocked when I mentioned that I was traveling to South America for the weekend. The short trips that my sisters and I made to Colombia meant a great deal to our immigrant father and made for a once-in-a-lifetime weekend.

Bogotá is no small town.

This being only my second trip to my father’s hometown, my dad and uncle were intent showing us as much as possible. Thus my South American vacation was full of rushed car rides and little sleep. It was awesome.

Saturday morning we were up at 6 am to get ready to visit Monserrate. Next, we went to the Museum del Oro which featured some of the most interactive exhibits. The wedding on Saturday night was “espectacular” and the bride was a “princesa”. Sunday morning we were able to sleep in until 8 before attending a family reunion on a “finca” about an hour outside Bogotá. Three packed days but luckily hundreds of pictures to help remember them.

Family reunion on a farm

I took on a great deal of risk traveling when finals are only few days away and group projects are nearing culmination. It would have been impossible for me to make this rushed trip without the support of my classmates and professors at Kogod. Even though I am in the process of catching up now I am immensely grateful for the understanding that my teammates offered me before my trip and upon my return.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend two amazing events in Colombia and I have my great friends at Kogod to thank for that.

Kogod women

Christina, Lavana, Sajal, and Silvia

This Thursday will mark one month until exams and the close of the semester.  As I look back on my first year at Kogod and anticipate my summer internship in corporate America, I instinctively reflect upon some of my most meaningful relationships I’ve developed — those with fellow Kogod women.

Although I have always surrounded myself with thoughtful women whom I cherish dearly, the relationship with Kogod women is different.  Business school is a time of self-improvement where students devote an unimaginable amount of energy to reach personal goals and maximize potential.  And, let’s face it, as business women, daughters, wives, and mothers we will encounter different life and work challenges than our male counterparts.

Out on the town during DCs Restaurant Week

For these reasons, we have an unspoken bond in knowing that we need one another to lend a listening ear, give the final push, or provide words of encouragement.  As highly educated, driven women reentering the professional world, relationships with older friends may change.  Differences in professional and personal lifestyles or no longer connecting through major life changes may sever ties with old friends.

But we Kogod women share similar goals in our pursuit of success.  Knowing this, we will support one another in our personal and professional lives now and into the future.

Kogod in a NY minute

One of the great benefits to attending graduate school on the East Coast is the proximity of so many great cities. Last week the students at Kogod enjoyed a much needed Spring Break. While I was unable to travel to any exotic locations, like some of my classmates (I’m looking at you, Amanda), I did go to New York to visit friends and family.

Having originally hailed from Staten Island, it was nice to be able to travel back north. I was very fortunate to have a colleague from Kogod join me. My friend Kristen decided last minute to come to New York for a fun filled 36 hours. Kristen, who grew up in Ohio, had only been to New York once and I was intent on showing her as much as we could fit in.

No rest for the weary

KO and LL in Times Square

Once we arrived in Manhattan, we pretty much didn’t stop moving until it was time for Kristen to leave. Lunch in midtown was an easy choice. Pizza was the only food group on Kristen’s mind. And with only a day and half in the Big Apple, we had to make sure we covered all our bases… pizza, bagels, coffee. After lunch with my college roommate, Nick, who was also gracious enough to be our host, we hurried downtown to do some shopping. Shopping in weekday Soho was rushed but luckily bountiful.

With about an hour to get back, get ready and get to a Times Square pub for networking, Kristen and I booked it to the subway to travel back up the East Side. The Networking for Professionals event at O’Brien’s was definitely worth the rush. We had the opportunity to speak with several experts in their given industries. Kristen (interested in finance) and I (interested in marketing) were the perfect tag-team. Our time at the event flew by but we both walked out with a better idea of the New York market and some great contacts.

With no time to spare, we rushed to Hell’s Kitchen to grab dinner with Nick. After dinner, we hopped in a cab to go back over toward where we were staying. Our classmate Kate and her mom were staying one block south of us while they had their own NY shopping adventure. We joined them for post theater drinks. They had just seen The Addams Family (very jealous). Meeting someone’s parents is always a great way to get to know more about them. It was really fun to hang out with Kate and her mom for a while with Kristen in a new city. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to take a picture at the time.

Beat the bus

When we woke up on Wednesday, I was really disappointed that we only had a few hours in New York. So we were in a rush again. We traveled uptown to grab some bagels and visit museums. I was in heaven with all the Kandinsky’s that were being exhibited at the Guggenheim. We spent about 2 hours walking down the spiral gallery. As a huge fan of the Met, I had never been to the Guggenheim and was really happy to have a new experience in New York with my good friend.

Then it was back downtown for last minute shopping. And what do you know? We bumped into two other classmates of ours! Big city, but small world. Kevin and Julie Jones just happen to be in Soho at the same time as Kristen and me.

Look who it is

After a rushed 5 minute conversation, we were running again. This time Kristen needed to make her bus.

The city that never sleeps

While many of my colleagues at Kogod plan to stay in Washington, D.C., my career search has mostly focused on the New York City metropolitan area. It’s hard to believe that I will be coming back to New York after almost 9 years away. But $40 round trip bus tickets are a small price to pay to stay in touch with close friends. Even though I am excited by the opportunities that exist in New York, I look forward to sharing New York with my new friends when they inevitably come to visit, hopefully often. It’ll give me an excuse to break out my running shoes….

Global Innovation: Paris and Prague

 

Global Innovation at the L'Oreal Plant in Paris

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend their spring break in a classroom. Unless that classroom is in Paris.

When I signed up for the IBUS course on Global Innovation, I did so for a few reasons. First, the class is the only at Kogod’s international business department that has a European focus (the subject of my undergrad degree). Second, the course includes travel. Third, travel meant spending spring break and Paris and Prague.

We all know that one of the highlights of Kogod is the international atmosphere here, which is augmented by the many opportunities to take short study trips abroad. Whether it’s Brazil, China, Argentina, South Korea, or Europe, twice (or even three times) a year you can take a class that not only teaches you about doing business in a foreign country, but actually exposes you to engaging with business in that country.

For me, going to Paris felt like it would be a homecoming. Having spent all of my life since age five studying French, all of my college years studying French history and language, and four months living abroad in Paris, I felt like the first leg of the trip would be a piece of cake.

How very wrong I was.

Seeing Paris with Professor Tomasz Mroczkowski was like seeing an entirely new Paris for the very first time. Our group of 22 — mixed full-time/part-time MBAs, SIS grads, SOC grads, and some undergrads — was folded into the renowned European business school, ESCP. Apart from taking class with incredible professors, we went on a whirlwind tour of French companies to study innovation at France Telecom, NYSE Euronext, and finally, L’Oreal. By the end of the trip I was exhausted (and craving steak frites), but ready for more in the Eastern European city of Prague.

Having never been to Prague, I first thought I would be completely lost. I didn’t know a word of Czech (I now know how to say hello, please, thank you, beer, and water), and I certainly didn’t know the city like I did Paris. But Prague exceeded my expectations, and quickly took the top spot in my personal list of most beautiful cities. The academic portion was incredibly enlightening, and extraordinarily impressive. Our meetings were with the leaders of each featured company: the directors of strategy for the Czech energy company Cez; marketing, customer service, and PR executives of Vodafone Czech Republic; the leader of the US Commercial Service in Prague; and the CEO of GE-Walter Aviation.

Despite moments of exhaustion (it’s amazing how much you can fit into a day…), the trip was constantly eye-opening, and incredibly inspiring. Now back in class in DC, I find myself many steps ahead of where I was before the trip. The exposure to different cultures’ approach to business has changed the way I think about business, and has made me able to take the theories in class at Kogod and synthesize them in a way I hadn’t been able to before.

So in short, spending all of spring break in a class room wasn’t half bad. Let’s put it this way: I want to do it all over again.