Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Next Generation

Hello, I am from the new batch of MBA students at HKUST, and I will try to continue the fine job that last years students started.

I am Hoi, born in the UK, with parents orignally from Hong Kong. I was working in Japan, Tokyo for the past 5 years and before that, in London. This year has already started with a bang. The campus is as beautiful as ever and we have been involved in some intense, educational and fun activities that have already meant we have had to leave our comfort zones. Maybe the pictures can help explain.

This years class is slightly larger, there are 91 of us, representing 23 different countries, so this year it is more international than ever before. I've just started the first week and it's intense. Lot's of group work, lots of assignments and lots of reading to do.. and then there is also career searches, recruitment talks as well as trying to balance a social life. For me, I've come here with my wife and 2 children, so I also have to balance that into the equation. I'm not living on campuse but just down the road from the school (7 mins by mini-bus), there is an area called Hang Hau where quite a few of the students live. Not eveyone wants to live in the halls, and Hang Hau is very convenient, all the shops you need are here, and it is connected to the MTR which gives you access to the rest of Hong Kong.
Hopefully I will find some time to continue posting... I will leave you with a short video..

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Almost time ...

I can't believe it's almost time to say good-bye to a few dear friends. Stefano's already gone off to Beijing. Arthi will be leaving next week. A handful of others are wrapping up their classes by early June and once the internship season starts off, those doing internships outside Hong Kong leave and may or may not return and those that remain, we'd rarely if ever be seeing each other. A few words for the Year Book.

The last one year has easily been the best year of my life. And the best times unfortunately fly by the fastest.

I will forever cherish the wonderful friends I made here from across the globe along with the memories of all of the fun events starting from the fun-times with Team NETWorks and the many Karaoke nights when I discovered several of my hidden talents. Winning the Mini-O and the Challenge round in Rice were two unforgettable moments of success.

Finals words to my classmates - It's a long walk back to Eden, Sweetheart. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Monday, May 12, 2008

China trip and the Earthquake

This one is for myself…. For being stupid and yet brave.

I decided to make my 1st trip on my own into the land of China, where I knew I would be dumb but still adventurous – the land of Xian – the 1st capital of China.

I booked my flight and my youth hostel and was very excited to leave on Sat the 10th of May at 8.20am. It takes about 2 hours to get to the airport from school so Im really worried and waiting for the bus at 5am ( The train starts at 6am). Finally at 5.20 my bus arrives and I head to the MTR, get my train and Im Central at 7.30 to check in. To my dismay the check in counter has closed and I have to go to the airport now in a frenzy. I panic on the express train and keep praying that I get on that flight. At the airport the check-in counter is closed and I plead to give me a boarding pass – with no guarantee that I will make it on that flight. I rush through immigration with my HK – ID (thank god for this – I dint have a line to wait in) and skip the line for security check with a lot of people giving me snide comments. However, I couldn’t care much at this moment and ran… security love to hassle hurried people so they made me open my bags and practically took all my shampoo,creams blah blah blah I hated it, cuz all expensive stuff was out now : (
Anyways, I locked my suitcase and RAN – I was scooting on the escalators and into the train and to my gate. It was 5 mins to takeoff – I gave them my suitcase and they gave me a ticket that said that my bag may not be on this flight. I gladly accepted and ran into the plane. Furious faces greeted me and I found my seat. Getting my breath I started a conversation with the Chinese lady by me. We ended up talking all 3 hours and I felt so good that time flew.

The landing was splendid, perfect weather 21C and Im in this luxurious van that has come to pick me from the hostel. I was the only Indian on the flight and in the hostel. The hostel was nice, clean and spacious. Its actually a hotel IMO. They speak no English here and I feel stranded. A classmate of mine wrote necessary sentences in Chinese for me and this was my saving grace. I went to my room and took a quick nap. During this time Chirag was frantically trying to call me but in vain. People did not understand what he was saying @ reception. I was blissfully unaware of this and started my city trip around 3pm.

I wandered around the streets and it reminded me of India, the traffic, pollution , honking of vehicles, people just buzzing by you – everything…jus felt I was dumb in India. I walked to the Bell tower and watched a performance there very exciting Chinese music and then reading the map I went to the Drum tower and watched another performace. I met some tourists here and we just sat and observed the city and its activities for an hour from the top. Then I went around to the Muslim street the snack street and the mosque – I did some shopping and it was the Chinese vs Indian bargain – I wanted to save every penny and they wanted to earn every penny. Sometimes I got a deal sometimes they did : ) but it was fun shopping around. Its about 6pm now and the bell tower and drum tower are lit up and they look wonderfully beautiful – Chinese architecture shimmering in gold. I stroll down to the Xian wall and I climb up and rent a bicycle and ride for about an hour. Its good fun, I stop and watch the sun set and the City lights come up. I walk down to some expensive stores and try some expensive clothing. I’ve lost so much weight I need an M in Chinese size. Now I am tired and want to go back to the hostel, but I cant seem to find the right exit to the street that would take me back. I ask around and show off the Chinese card but no luck. SO I jump into a cab and he takes me back, I feel so relieved. I barely drop my bags in the room and I realize I’m late – I’m supposed to go for a Tsang dynasty show and the tour guide hurries me to the place. Just in time for the show, I enter the hall and Im not surprised, its packed with about 800 firangs. Im the only Indian here again. The performaces are very graceful and the music very soothing. I watch 8 of these and make small talk with the people on the table. Once the show is over Im escorted by the tour guide back to the hotel and Im starving but there is no store that’s open and sleep hungry.

The next morning, Im off to watsons and around to shop for breakfast. Its 8am the shops are open, shutters coming up and people getting ready for their day. I show off my Chinese post cards – No egg, no meat, no seafood – and its about 4 shops that show me the door. I finally try for some bread but no luck, so a young Chinese boy who is trying his English looks right into my face and asks “whats wrong with you” Im like startled but just say I need bread he walks me to a Wal-Mart and I get my bread and lotions : ) I hurry back and start my tour. To the Museum, the terracotta warriors and the hot spring. These are tourist spots and very attractive. I take a good bath in the hot spring and hope the minerals do good to me : ) Once we come back, I do some more shopping and get to a cyber café. Send some mails and call it a day. I crash and the next day Im leaving. So I visit the Pagoda and the Emperors tomb, this time on my own in a private car with a driver. I feel very rich but it’s cheap to rent the car here. So still on a student budget Im having fun. The pagoda is very nice and I head to the tomb. Its about 2.15 and Im mid way up the hill and suddenly I feel very tired and dizzy, Im like stit, I feel like im gonna faint and the world around me is wobbling and everything is shaking. Im so scared, I feel like im in some strange land and sick and no one can help me, I feel like im falling so I sit down but the feeling doesn’t stop, I look around the hills and everything is in waves and it hits me – THERE IS AN EARTHQUAKE. At this time there is no tourist in vicinity, so I jus sit there and think of how I can inform anyone. Very soon I see 2 tourists rush down the hill and I ask them if the felt the earth shake and they nod. Im so relieved, they sit beside me and Im so glad Im not sick. I feel happy that its jus the earth and not my health. Once the tremble stops they head down and I climb up. Im still not sure about the dizziness so I buy some water and ice cream and run down. I buy some warriors outside and the car takes me for lunch. I cant discuss the earthquake cuz he doesn’t understand me.

I take a nap on the way to the airport and get weird dreams of the shake. Im quite frightened but hell im alive. At the airport it’s a mess, all the flights are cancelled and its curfew. There are people everywhere, I soon recognize tons of them from tourist destinations. I push my cart in que and sit down and make friends, the night is long and people need company. We describe our experiences and make lengthy conversations. Im the only Indian on the airport and only Indian gurl too. I think im nuts to wander off into this land and get stuck, but again im glad im alive. Some people were evacuated from their hotels, some were rushed from the shower and from bed and everyone was frightened. Tourists give updates via their blackberries, the local CCTV is no good cuz its Chinese, the airport staff have no idea whats happening just that all flights are cancelled. I’m stranded in this country where I cant speak, I have NO money cuz I shopped till the end, I have no credit card or phone card, and I’m hungry. Finally 7 hours later the flights resume, its 1.30am and I’m glad I’m going home. I get my veggie meal at about 2am and sleep till 4. I get my taxi and Im on my way back. A quick shower a silent prayer and some rest. Im on my way to office at 9am and at Wan Chai no one seems disturbed. Everyone is in their own rush and no one even mentions the tremor but I cant stop thinking about it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hump Day Drinking - Every Wednesday 9pm!!!

Wikipedia definition of Hump Day:
An English language idiom for Wednesday is "hump day", a reference to making it through to the middle of the work week as getting "over the hump."

Event: Hump Night at Unibar! (AKA Wednesday Night Drinking)
Where: Unibar
When: Every Wednesday night starting at 9pm
Who: Everyone
Why: Last few weeks before people go out on internships and exchange

Zeopane on CNN Money

I am proud of being a part of the Zeopane Team. It now featured on CNN Money Website as part of the list of teams that participated in the RICE University Business Plan Competition.

Another feather in the cap.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Down the home stretch

This week marks the beginning of the end, the last semester that many of us in the 16 month program will be here in HK taking classes with one another. It really does go by fast, and it is hard to believe that while most will not graduate until January, being on exchange in fall and working over the summer limits our dedicated time to the program to 9+ months.

Although my load is particularly light this semester, the projects that are running in tandem keep me quite busy. Time is now split between class (1/3), Field study and Business plan work(1/3) and job/internship searching(1/3). While there is a lot of nervousness in the air for the ones who have not yet secured an internship, there is hope. The recent rate of offerings has been increasing, and it seems like every day another one of our classmates has the opportunity to say that they landed a most amazing internship opportunity.

Stay tuned, as my team will be participating in the HKUST International Business Plan this upcoming week and the competition sounds exciting!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Zeopane - Challenge Round Winners @RICE

Zeopane and I finally has something to show for the marathon 3 month effort that really all started in the second week of January. Even though we'd identified the product in early December, we didn't get down to beginning work on it till after the Winter break.

The next two months were really an experience to be remembered. Lost all contact with the rest of the world for a few days in between. Just managed to get by assignments, exams, classes and finally ventured out for my 4 week sojourn in the U.S that started on March 11th.

Carnegie Mellon University's McGinnis Ventures was truly an eye-opener on what some of these competitions can be. The competition far exceeded our expectations. Ventures with funding, sales orders, all due-diligence complete and some even already functioning. How were we - this fictional company with no US-Experience, no-Pharma Industry experience and no funding of any sort (even my CMU Ticket was self-funded :-)) expected to compete. We got hammered and did not even make the finals. Got some feedback which read - FDA Comments Naive!!!

We at Zeopane decided to turn the tables around, did our due-diligence on FDA in US in terms of how expensive it can be, SFDA in China and turned the story around to a China Story. This clearly was a great strategy. Even if we weren't the Pharma experts, we now clearly were the China Experts with 3 Chinese looking people on the team. With me, the Technology and Diabetes expert on the team, we were almost a complete team.

At Rice, we got some great comments. Some people rated us the best presentation among all the teams they saw. We had quite a few people convinced that Zeopane microneedles was truly a great product. We had one China based VC expressing an interest in talking further with us. Another India Fund wanted to know if I wanted to explore entering the India market with this product. Need to follow up with these two and all the other contacts we've made at Rice in between catching up with all the classes and exams I missed during my 1 month vacation in US.

Overall, by the end of the Rice Competition, HKUST and Zeopane had made its impact. The most unforgettable moment was when a couple of guys (not from HKUST) went up to the Karaoke Stage and started screaming "Zeopane, Zeopane". :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Zeopane - CMU Update

I know this update has been long overdue. I was just too busy catching up with friends in Pittsburgh, Columbus and all over the US and to some extent sulking over the CMU Results. Zeopane along with 11 other teams could not make it to the final round or even the challenge round. This might sound like a huge negative - but it really isn't.

In hind sight, we definitely had come up with a great product and a decent presentation. There were a few major issues with the business plan itself which were pointed out to us. And this feedback and the contacts we made is probably the greatest take-away from the competition. For future students, when looking for a product, you will need to look for a product in your area of strength. Pharma / Medicine wasn't any of our subjects of specialization and Diabetes / Insulin wasn't too except that I have more than a handful of diabetics in my extended family. This definitely hurt us to a great extent (not having someone with the tech expertise in there). Although I was able to answer most of their technical questions, I think having the expert speaking would have been a lot more effective.

Pharma was definitely one of the tougher tracks to be in. There were some really good teams in the Pharma track along with ours that didn't make it through to the next round.

Our team not having anyone familiar with the drug-approval mechanism in the US was definitely a weakness. Some of the terms like the 510(K) approval - our team hadn't even heard of it. On the other hand, some teams had already met the FDA and sought their views on how they should seek approval for their products.

And looking at the other presentations, one other huge weakness was not having the inventor alongside us. This greatly shows the inventor's commitment to the cause and the company (especially if he comes all the way from Hong Kong). We are now trying to convince Prof Yeung to accompany us to Rice since we do not have a faculty advisor for the competition since Prof. Larry is already in the US teaching in Darden.

One of the other suggestions we got from one of the judges was that we should probably just focus on manufacturing the microneedles and let the specialist pharma companies decide where they want to use it. The only problem we have with that approach is how to convince the Pharma companies that this works.

Overall, some great feedback, lot of learning and the realization that HKUST has a long way to go in terms of even being close to a good school for entrepreneurship. HKUST does not claim to be big on entrepreneurship. But just what being a good school for entrepreneurship dawned on me during the competition looking at the other teams, their commitment to their product, the huge investments they had made (more than hundred thousand dollars) and how much further they were into making their product commercially viable.

Looking forward to leveraging some of this feedback and giving an improved performance in Rice.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Asia Moot Corp 2008

We could have won everything, but we had to leave a little something for the others. In the end, we walked away with:

Winner - Best Presentation
Winner - Best Written Business Plan
Winner - UBS 60-second Elevator Pitch
A whole lot of experience
A whole lot of contacts
A feeling of pride

It was truly an amazing B-school experience that no one should miss out on. One that really shakes your core beliefs of what business is all about. The buzz we were able to create amongst the press, judges, and general audience was amazing for us, our product and HKUST.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Monoxidize Saves

This is a big part of the HKUST experience. HKUST is not known to be a school that is strong on entrepreneurship, but supporting teams to participate in business plan and case competitions is really something that the staff and students throw their best efforts and all available resources towards. Everything including the kitchen sink.

Building a Business Plan is something I have wanted to do since my dot com days. The idea that you can create ideas and value from the ground up is one of my romantic business school dreams. Tomorrow it will be put to the test as my team head to the Asia Moot Competition in Bangkok.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rice and CMU - Two B-Plans / One Team

Just heard from Rice University, Texas that Zeopane, our company has been accepted into their business plan competition. We are really excited about it. This seems to be a great week. Here's an excerpt from their mail.

"Congratulations! ZEOPANE Microneedles has been invited to compete in the 2008 Rice University Business Plan Competition! This year we have had a tremendous response, receiving over 280 intents from graduate programs across the world.

As one of only 36 teams selected, you will be able to compete with teams from top programs for a Grand Prize package of over $225,000; a total of 52 cash prizes will be awarded raising the competition total to over $600,000.

In addition, you will have the unmatched opportunity to meet and network with over 160 venture capital principals, early stage investors, and successful entrepreneurs who will serve as judges for the competition. Winners from previous years were offered additional seed funding from these judge/investors."

The only thing that we are not too happy about is the school insisting on us having to split our teams instead of allowing us to go for both. Hard decisions to follow. Will keep you, the readers posted.

Friday, February 29, 2008

London Calling

This picture was taken by me back in 2002. It is the Royal Albert Hall in London where I saw Wynton Marsalis as part of the BBC Summer Proms Series. Why is this relevant to the HKUST blog?

Because I've been confirmed as one of the school representatives to study at London Business School in the fall.

And wouldn't you know it, Randhir and Prathap will both be joining me.

I am really excited about taking my education to Europe. Many of our classmates will be exchanging to some truly fantastic schools all over the world, and it is a testament to the rich exchange relationships that HKUST has with the global business education community.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Add oil Team USC!!!

Team USC will now be the first of many teams to go out and represent HKUST in a case competition. They will be going out to USC Marshall after spending the last month or so analyzing a case on XXX Media Co. and their windowing strategies.

I had to look this up after almost every classmates' MSN status changed to "Add Oil, Team USC". My lesson for the day to my non-cantonese readers -

add oil - It's a cheering exclamation in Cantonese. It's actually pronounced "Ka-yow"! Which in turn means add oil, not literally!

ADD OIL, Sushma, Simon, John, Mark and Sam.

And the celebration's on monday once you guys are back with the cup.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blogger No. 2!!!

Curtis's post made me realize I hadn't introduced myself. Doing that now, although a little late might still be ok considering that we are still not too many posts into the blog. And it gives me something to blog about. And the speciality about me, even if I don't put in picture, my post can run into pages together, especially when I'm bored to death with nothing to do.

Who am I?

This is Randhir Hebbar, born in the temple town of Udupi, near Mangalore in Karnataka, brought up almost entirely in Bangalore. I did most of my education in Bangalore (Bethany, NCJ and UVCE) and worked in the IT and ITES space for about 6 years with a 2.5 year stint in Columbus, OH, USA - Mostly IT Consulting and Project Management. I've traveled all over the US, looking to exchange to London to do some Europe traveling. My biggest complaint about myself is the fact that I haven't traveled enough in India. Curtis has seen a 1000 times more of India than I. Hope to rectify that some day.

My MBA Story?

I made it thru CAT and ditched IIMs for the US Onsite trip on the advice of a few gurus (friends) who thought an MBA before you become a manager is not really worth your time. In hindsight, I really believe that is true. You can of course disagree with me and we can have a big debate over this. But that's my opinion. So if you are less than 2-3 years work-ex and you ask my advice about doing your MBA, you know what my answer is going to be. Of course, there are always exceptions.

Finally after managing a team for about a year, I realized that I just couldn't do what I or even my immediate boss was doing for the rest of my life, needed a change for the better and applied to ISB. Just doing the ISB App helped me learn my mistakes and the HKUST App was surely a 100 times better than the ISB App. And the ISB interview was fun in hind-sight. This nerdy guy trying to prove that he was better than me and that being an ISB Alumnus made him some kind of super-human. The HKUST Interview was so much more professional and to some extent so much more easier that in hind-sight, I wished it was tougher. That would have made me feel like I'd earned it. :-) You can never satisfy me, can you?

The HKUST Experience?

It's been an awesome journey so far. I've had some super experiences, learning everyday, from peers, from profs, from alumnus and lots of crazy fun times and parties here. Just meeting people from all these countries, some really special characters, working with these special characters is something wonderful.

The Highlights: All the Free lunch/dinner/cocktail parties, Mini-Olympics, ELP/RP, Case Competition, Exam-Fever (that one dreaded week in December), the past month of crazy B-Plan work and of course that hard-work paying off.

The next big event is obviously the CMU Business Plan Competition for me. Looking forward to doing well there and coming back richer (at least in terms of experience and learnings :-)). And of course, a well-deserved potential one week break in US and meeting the Columbus gang.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New Guy

你好, Namaste, and Hello world.

My name is Curtis, a brand new contributor to this blog! Big ups to Randhir and Arthi for keeping it alive for long enough for me to join in on the fun.

Who I am:
I am in the FT2007 class and plan to graduate in Winter of 2009. I am a Chinese Californian born into the suburbs of Stockton, CA. I went to school at UC San Diego for my undergrad and started my "professional" life in the San Francisco bay area where I worked in the educational field. My life was turned upside down in 2005 when I decided to move to Beijing for a little while. Since then, my travels around Asia have reached out to India, Russia, Korea, Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and plans for more in the very near future. The official reason why I came to HKUST was because Hong Kong plays such a big business role in this region. The unofficial version is that I wanted to be closer to Cantonese food!

What I bring to the table:
1) Some experience living in China
2) Native to the US
3) Experience living in the shared rooms on campus
4) The pleasure of serving my class as the MBA Association President
5) Member of the HK American Chamber of Commerce
6) Pictures(1 picture per post is usually my rule)
7) A history of blogging(

It is a pleasure to meet you all and I look forward to any comments or questions that might come about!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Directory of posts on HKUST

We will try and keep this as a directory of posts in the blogs of HKUST Students ordered by date starting from my Interview experience. Even though we don't have the numbers of the bigger B-Schools, this is a good start.

HKUST Mini-Olympics in pictures

The EIU ranking Celebrations

HKUST is EIU# 20

Gruelling second week in HKUST

Some pictures of HKUST

Decks cleared for entry

Randhir talks about his interview

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cantonese Numbers Tutorial!!!

Here's your first Cantonese tutorial - A must have to eat at LG5 where they call these numbers to get your order. :-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pagalguy Thread Link

Prathap and I decided to put in some effort to help out potential candidates to the next batch of HKUST as they try to find if they fit into the HKUST scene. Here is the link for those that found this site (that's rarely updated) before the Pagalguy thread

We've had a great response so far and our response has also translated into a great number of applicants applying to HKUST. Now its upto the Admissions committee to pick the best of the lot who'll take this school to greater heights.

Pour in your questions there so next round and year candidates of HKUST can get the information they need from there.

HKUST - Now World# 17

The press release from HKUST

What does it mean for us? Greater recognition of our quality and better branding once we head back to India.

Congrats to ISB for debuting on the rankings at #20. That's a strong debut. :-)