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Posts Tagged ‘HBS’

My buddy over at Pas-de-Soucis is onto something.  

Some days I have this strange feeling that I’m attending a US business school that’s been plucked from somewhere on the east coast and plopped in the middle of the forest in France.  Like that sister college to Harvard (you know, the one you’ve never heard of.  one that doesn’t have enough of an endowment to feel like a 5-star hotel that is HBS.)  Well, sort of like the east coast but way less liberal and self-aware.  Okay, maybe Georgia then.  Or North Carolina.

All of our cases are written by HBS press.  Most of our readings come from the Harvard Business Review.  We speak English all day – which, I must say impresses me a great deal.  The fact that our Croatian and Bulgarian and Chinese classmates speak English fluently – some having not lived outside of their home country – is frankly super impressive.  I still don’t know more than 25 words in French.  But I make do with convincing noises and my eye-rolling and exasperated exhaling are very French.  Trust me.  And I must be looking like I belong because on the last trip to Paris I got asked for directions twice.  I thought about pointing randomly, but then fessed up that je ne parle pas français.   

During class we discuss the WACC of an American airplane manufacturing firm, the culture change initiative at a Michigan sausage stuffing company (quote dude in class: “all this touchy-feely BS is just so midwestern American hokey”), or look at creative accounting practices of Tyco and WorldCom.  We’re taught by 3 professors on loan from schools in the US: Berkeley, Duke, PennState.  Every now and again we’ll discuss the IFRS standard, or the parallel trade of prescriptions drugs between the UK and Greece.  But those examples are few and far in between.

I’m not complaining.  I miss home, and I don’t think INSEAD should reinvent the wheel when it comes to business education – it was founded by Harvard profs who wanted to bring the cashcow that is bschool to Europe.  Something like that anyways.  

I suppose that the very basic materials we’re covering in P1 are not conducive to deep discussions that bring out those cultural differences that make INSEAD what it is.  Ask me again in P2, okay?

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Take that, HBS

My undergrad institution always felt itself to be in competition with Harvard.  We’d hiss at any mention of Harvard during lecture.  We’d make jokes about how the only hard thing about Harvard was getting in.  We’d gossip about how little they had to study and how nice their dorms are.  We cheered at the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon puts the douchebag Harvard dude in his place.  We’d revel in the stories about our drunken frat boys pissing on the statue of John Harvard as part of their induction rituals.  We looked to the story of a Harvard girl who killed her roommate as evidence that everyone at Harvard was unhinged.  We were bitter when they stole our finest professors – the joke went that when a prof left our school for Harvard, the IQ at both places went up.

In reality, we were terribly jealous.  We were jealous that we didn’t have private bathrooms as undergrads.  We were jealous that they had the Harvard Yard while we had a sprawling urban campus.   We were jealous we had to pull all-nighters and didn’t have grade inflation.  We were jealous that their school had instant name recognition even among the rednecks of Missouri.  Even though our school regularly placed in the top 5 in all of the ratings, sometimes above Harvard, our midwestern friends’ moms would look confused and ask, “Oh, is that military?”        

Looks like being across the ocean might not change things much.  Maybe sometime next year, I too will work out my insecurities by poking fun at Harvard in a snappy, witty video.  

There’s legitimate reasons a plenty to choose INSEAD over Harvard.  For one, Harvard is in Massachusetts whose residents are deservedly called (M)assholes.  Boston/Cambridge has terrible weather, food (by metropolitan standards, not by US), and low standard of living for those on a student budget.  BUT the symphony is amazing.  (I know… it’s a top priority for all MBAs!)  

INSEAD is in France.  While the French are not known for their helpfulness or friendliness, I forgive them in favor of the most amazing jambon and cheese in the world.  The students live in drafty, overpriced chateaux instead of in drafty, overpriced Cambridge apartments.  The relative isolation of the forest allows the year to be spent focusing on networking and friendships within the class, instead of picking up easy BU girls at the Kong in Harvard Square.  The campus exchange allows one to study on three continents in the course of 10 months. 

The class at INSEAD is truly international.  Check out the recently published Business Week profile of Harvard’s class: [in %]

Africa  1, Asia 10,  Eastern Europe and Central Asia 1, Latin America and the Caribbean 4,  Middle East 2, North America 71, Oceania 1, Western Europe 10

And now, INSEAD’s:

Africa 3, Asia 26, Eastern Europe and Central Asia 7, Latin America and the Caribbean 6, Middle East 6, North America 14, Oceania 1, Western Europe 37

Harvard is two years instead of one.  My friend Jon (not to be confused with  Jon the Pervert or Jon the Douche) lamented that after a year and a half, he was still bleeding money, but no longer learning anything.  That’s true for any two year program.  My friend Sandy mentioned that after one year at Stanford she was ready to get back to doing something productive.   

What matters is what’s important to you.  And you can justify just about anything to yourself once you’ve made that 30K EUR payment.  

I guess in bothering to write this post, I’m sub-consciously admitting to still carrying that chip on my shoulder.  Somehow I doubt anyone at Harvard is making videos or writing blog posts about how Harvard is so much better than INSEAD.  They don’t seem to need to prove themselves to anyone.

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