Monday, March 28, 2005

Signing off from Singapore

[I’d hoped to post this before heading off to Thailand, but I never had the chance. I’ll be following up with more from Thailand and, looking ahead, I hope to discuss more on another passion of mine, digital delivery of music, film and other art. Anyway, here’s what I wrote roughly a week ago upon leaving Singapore for Bangkok:]

Following an eight-hour Powerpoint marathon of presentations (mercilessly, ours came last) at the National University of Singapore and a subsequent “capstone” dinner, things are concluded in Singapore and thus for the school portion of this excursion. So, before I mentally check out for Thailand, I’ll try to divine whatever lessons on this trip that recency permits.

I’m satisfied with our work and feel some indifference about whatever grade we receive. I don’t mean to sound sullen or defiant about this, but I’ve noticed that business school tends to train consultants, rather than managers. No surprise, considering the rate at which MBAs take consulting posts. I guess my thoughts echo those of Henry Mintzberg, whose book, Managers, Not MBAs, I look forward to reading. Still, nowhere is this tendency more evident than in the style-over-substance, analysis-over-action emphases in the average MBA presentation. Business schools are notorious for being havens for Excel and Powerpoint virtuosi who, upon penalty of a Singaporean caning, couldn’t tell you which way is up in the simplest business scenario.

Personally, I suspect a lot of the As I've gotten have been for projects that are still collecting dust on comapanies' shelves (probably deservedly so). So, for a swan song project, perhaps this one will be different.I think our work answered some hard, granular business questions. Our client is considering moving a substantial portion of its hard assets to a third-world country and to address the matter with a 30,000-foot view would be wildly inappropriate. I doubt I need to be disabused: I'm sure we bored people to tears with our detailed risk analysis, in-depth discussion of tax considerations and business entity formations, to say nothing of our extended commentary on what Vietnam’s impending WTO accession implies for business law and accounting standards there.

Apologies for the rant. This really was an exceptional trip and I hope this blog shows how enlightening this experience was for me and how much I enjoyed it. I got close to a lot of classmates with whom my only previous interaction was a nod in the halls at McCombs. I managed to unburden myself of some of my churlish, Western-centric view of the world. I avoided the plethora of illnesses that can wrack a large group of Americans traveling in Southeast Asia.

I look back on all of this with gratitude: to the trip organizers who kept our activities informative and efficient, to my classmates who refused to suffer a dull moment, and to God or whatever divine force that afforded me the mental clarity to get as much out of this as I have. Lastly, thanks to you, the reader, for playing along and offering valuable feedback.




Post a Comment

<< Home