Thursday, April 3, 2014

Post MBA

Its amazing how time flies.

Its been almost two years since I completed my MBA at Oxford and went back into real life. Looking back, I still maintain it was a fantastic, transformational experience, and I wouldn't change a thing.

So what has happened since the MBA?

I returned to my former place of work where a merger and the prospects of being actively involved in raising a new fund appealed greatly to me.

And almost immediately accepted a position with a Development Finance Institution in Vienna, Austria

Friday, July 13, 2012

Interview With Business Because

So I was interviewed recently by Business Because ( Excerpts below.....

Blogging, Business and Bops with Bayo

The blogosphere can be a useful tool for an MBA student, says Oxford Said student Bayo Babalola

Bayo at Enterprise Africa
Bayo at Enterprise Africa
BusinessBecause has spoken to Adebayo Babalola, an MBA student at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, about how his award-winning blog, ‘Against Most Odds... my journey to Oxford for an MBA’, has helped both him and his readers through the veritable minefield of an MBA.

What is your background?
I am a Nigerian, born, bred and educated in the bustling city of Lagos. After working for five years in financial services (wealth management and private equity), I decided I needed to broaden my views, strengthen myself technically and vastly expand my professional network. Hence my decision to apply for an MBA.

How are you finding life as an MBA student?
Intense! Tough! Fun! It’s been a roller coaster year, from the early days when the biggest problem was trying to remember everyone’s names, the endless stream of balls and bops (the Oxford-specific term for parties), to the un-ending stream of assignments, projects and lectures. The one-year MBA programme is designed to stretch its participants intellectually, mentally, physically and socially.

How did you get into blogging?
When I decided to apply for my MBA, I needed to do a lot of research to choose a school that would be right for me professionally and, of course, temperamentally. I struggled with this for a while as all the MBA programmes looked the same to me (the only resource I used were their respective websites). There was no way to really tell the schools apart.....and then I stumbled on a blog by an MBA student atINSEAD. It was the first time I had gotten an inside view of a school from the perspective of a student and I loved it.
After that, I read blogs from many different schools and was able to make a more informed decision as a result. I decided I wanted to contribute to this pool of shared knowledge by starting to blog myself. I remember agonising over my first post, and I almost closed the entire blog after writing two lines as I was convinced no one would ever read it’s extremely gratifying to see that the blog has crossed the 15,000 page view mark.

What is the hardest thing about being involved in the blogging world?
Well, when I first started, I was my own audience so I could basically treat the blog as a semi online diary. But as readership grew, I had to be a bit more circumspect with my posts. It was also really difficult to blog consistently given the significant time constraints...there were times I would take a break from an overnight study session to put up a blog post.

Tell us the most helpful thing that being an MBA blogger has taught you.
I think it has helped improve my ability to express myself in writing. I guess subconsciously, it also helped me try to experience the best of Oxford (the city and the wider university). Given the intensity of the programme, it’s very easy to say no to a lot of extracurricular activities but a lot of the time I decided to do some things in the hope that it would provide good blogging material. Some of these activities ended up being the highlight of my stay in Oxford.

Have you got any advice for MBA students who are thinking of sharing their own experience online?
Just start. Even if you think you won’t find the time, or you might not be able to write in an entertaining way, just start putting your thoughts down. That’s what I did!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MBAT 2012

Camped in the library, looking at the sea of heads trying to figure out how to even begin to comprehend the amount of work that we would need to hand in over the next couple of weeks. The  beauty of the final term here at Oxford is that we get to pick electives that help build practical skills needed at our next jobs. With courses like Private Equity, Real Estate, Asset Management, Retailing, Negotiations, we've transitioned nicely from the academic focus of the first couple of terms to a hands on, real world focus. This also means that most courses are assessed via investment proposals, financial models and role plays as opposed to examinations. So after four days of bliss at HEC in Paris, most students have returned to looming deadlines and significant tests of time and people management skills. People management? Yes, we have very many electives to choose from and as such, it is unlikely that any two students have chosen the exact five same courses. The impact of this is that when students are put together to complete group work, they might have different deadlines and by extension, priorities. While one student wants to hand in his private equity group assignment as soon as possible so he can use the weekend to concentrate on his real estate assignment due the next week, his group member might want to work on his corporate valuation assignment now and save the private equity assignment for later. Anyway, I digress...

The MBA tournament in Paris was a wonderful collection of students from 13 of Europe's top business schools (LBS, Cambridge, Cranfield, IE, IESE, HEC, Insead, Manchester, RSM, Esade, Lancaster and Tias Nimbas) competing for top places in sports ranging from football to petanque. Naturally, the schools with two year programs and the hosts had a natural advantage as they could send larger contingents. Oxford put up a good showing, taking fourth place overall. We won rowing (naturally), silver medals in men's football, ultimate frisbee, handball and bronze in petanque, golf, climbing, badminton and salsa. Most importantly, we had the time of our lives, forged a stronger bond within the group and met other interesting MBAs from other great schools. At this point, surely only pictures can truly tell the story....enjoy!

Off the bus at HEC, Oxford MBAs are in town!
Go Blues!

My personal highpoint, scoring the winning goal against Esade to put us in the quarterfinals

War faces
The cox of the rowing boat is traditionally thrown into the water after a regatta win. Christine appears particularly pleased with that tradition
The victorious rowing team

The guys enjoying a welcome break from competitive sports

We were definitely the most colourful school....the dodge ball team


Tug of War

Some saw chocolate bars falling from the skies, while others saw an asteroid hurtling towards earth....that's the only rational explanation for this picture

Watch a video montage of the weekend here if you have 15 extra minutes....

*Snaps back to reality*. Logging into Capital IQ to look for cash rich businesses for our leveraged buyout assignment....take me back to Paris....somebody!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Payback for the Boat Race

On April 7th 2012, the 158th annual boat race between crews from the University of Cambridge and our very own crew at the University of Oxford held in London. It's a massive event, arguably one of the biggest and oldest inter-collegiate sporting events in the world (the first edition was held in 1829). 'The race came about because two friends from Harrow School, Charles Wordsworth of Christ Church College, Oxford, and Charles Merrivale of St. John’s, Cambridge, met during the vacation in Cambridge, where Wordsworth’s father was master of Trinity. Wordsworth went rowing on the Cam, and the two school fellows decided to set up a challenge. On February 10 1829 a meeting of CUBC requested Mr Snow of St John’s to write immediately to Mr Staniforth of Christ Church stating ‘that the University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.' 

We had a couple of MBA students among the Oxford crew and were understandably gutted when Oxford lost the race when one of the rowers had his blade broken after a clash of oars. This was after the race was restarted (with Oxford in the clear lead) after a protester had dived in the water. The defeat (more appropriately, the manner of the defeat) left us seething and provided added motivation for the Oxbridge MBA games to hold a couple of weeks later. Every year, Oxford and Cambridge MBAs face off in a number of events to claim bragging rights for the year. The games were held in Oxford last year, so we had to get up at dawn and make the three hour journey to Cambridge....not that it made much difference to the results though. We won football (5-1), cricket (9 wickets), badminton (9-0), basketball (45-20), Table Tennis (6-1), Tennis doubles (6-0), foosball (2-1), and petanque (11-7), we lost in only one event (cross country) due to a manpower shortfall. 

We retained the plaque (Oxford also won last year's edition)

The basket ball team trying to look mean

SBS United!

It was a good weekend, filled with friendly banter with the guys from Judge. 

On another note, this blog won the clear admit best of blogging awards for 'most entertaining student blog' and best representation of student life. It also came second in the best overall blog category....with that award going to Jeremy Wilson's excellent blog. I remember stumbling upon the best of blogging awards a couple of years ago while doing MBA research, I couldn't have imagined back then that I would also be a recipient. Thanks to all that voted! 

We head to Paris tonight for the biggest sporting event of the MBA year.....the MBAT! Featuring all the top schools across Europe, it promises to be four days of non stop action, networking and partying, limited only by the knowledge that we all have tons of papers to complete right after the tournament....but we'll survive!

May the best team win!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Clear Admit Best of Blogging Nomination

Turns out this blog has been a brother out and vote here


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Cost of The MBA

I know what you are thinking. Seven months into the program, I looked at my bank account, briefly contemplated closing it down and getting a piggy bank in its place, and decided to rant about the financial cost of the MBA. Sorry to disappoint you...while getting a piggy bank is probably the logical step given that it can comfortably hold the remnants of my life savings, I'm actually here to talk about the 'Intangible' costs of the MBA. There are tons of articles that talk about the tangible costs; school fees, lost earnings, college fees, living expenses, and other incidental costs and as such I would like to touch on those frequently ignored intangible costs that prospective applicants and students would be wise to prepare for. 

With the sheer number of lectures, assignments, speeches, conferences, competitions, dinners, parties and all the other events MBA students have to get through, its a tough ask maintaining relationships with family, partners and friends not within MBA circles. I can only imagine how many times my girlfriend rolls her eyes  when i go on for the umpteenth time about this great speaker and this awesome conference....luckily for me, she's extremely understanding. The MBA can take its participants into this parallel world that makes it difficult to invest the time required in maintaining pre-MBA relationships. Perhaps for these reasons, a good number of students choose to bring over their partners, most of whom are actively involved in student life and are friends with lots of students.Whatever you decide to do, I think its important to think about it before hand and come up with a strategy that works for you....

Mental / Psychological Costs
The intense nature of the MBA, when added to the competitive job market can put a huge strain on MBA students. Your resilience and mental strength will no doubt be tested in one way or the other. People who aren't used to failure getting multiple job application rejections, students who've always been the best at everything realizing there are smarter people in class, students who have never done anything quantitative in their lives suddenly faced with the sinking feeling that comes with not understanding any of the weird looking formulas and equations. I could go on....every single person would have had to develop some kind of mental toughness over the course of the year to deal with the MBA. I think prospective applicants and students should have these at the back of their minds before they start the program;

  • There're going to be people smarter, stronger, taller, more articulate and generally more awesome than you are. Deal with it and learn from them.....
  • Prepare yourself in advance for possible rejections on the job front, its not you, its them. By getting admitted into a top tier school, you are likely to be competing for the best jobs with all the other students from the best schools. Convincing employers that you are the right candidate for a role is a daunting task and requires significant time spent networking, drafting cover letters, networking (repetition deliberate) and practicing cases (where relevant). Its important to keep your chin up if for some reason you encounter setbacks by way of rejections. Spread your net as wide as possible, explore unconventional options, your dream job at the start of the program might just be different from your dream job at the end of the program after you've been exposed to many your mind. 
  • If you belong to the group of people convinced you would fail some courses due to your non-quantitative background, listen up. I have a friend who fell into that category at the beginning of the program...she ended each class wondering what she was doing there and couldn't understand how everyone else seemed to understand what the lecturer was talking about. But she also stayed behind each class to ask questions and put in a ton of effort....she got distinctions in those mean feat! So fear not.... 

Beer, Kebabs, Coffee, Insomnia, late nights, pizza, marathon study sessions, crazy parties to blow off steam.....need I say more?

P.s: For those that googled this in a bid to come up with financial estimates, about 40,000 pounds for school and college fees and anything between 700 to 1200 pounds a month (depending on who you ask) for living expenses. Of course there are many incidental costs depending on your interests so prepare accordingly....*takes a peek at bank account again* sigh

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Week In The Life Of An Oxford MBA Student

What exactly do Oxford MBA students do? Do they spend all week at the pub? Or in the Library? I'll answer this with a typical MBA phrase.....'It Depends'. Some people focus on academics and spend most of their extra time doing 'book' related stuff, others focus on sports and are almost always on a boat somewhere, rowing for their colleges or Oxford as an institution. Some recognize the importance of networking and focus on the social side of things. The vast generality of the student population sort of lie in the middle of those three extremes....attend all (most) classes, hand in assignments on time (only just), do all (most) of the pre-assigned readings, attend a couple of parties/balls/dinners a week, attend 2-3 career events a week and listen to a couple of debates at the Oxford Union. 

I would attempt to paint a more explicit picture of life here (admittedly through my somewhat limited perspective) by going through my week thus far and my scheduled activities over the next couple of days;

8-11am: Had breakfast, worked on my part of the Finance 2 assignment, replied emails.
11-1pm: Met up with other members of my Finance 2 group to discuss and agree on answers to the questions.
1 - 5.30pm: Headed to the common room at SBS to work on the financial model for my entrepreneurship project and simultaneously watch Arsenal beat (destroy) our rivals Tottenham 5-2 with fellow Arsenal fans Ananth, Haben and Sreekanth and poor Tottenham fan Monesh. Also caught a glimpse of the penalty shootout victory by Liverpool in the Carling cup final.

6.30-10pm: Entrepreneurship project brainstorming meeting.

10-1am: Sort out dinner, check emails, send emails, check careersconnect (our in house careers portal) for interesting job postings, watch an old episode of two and a half men. 

8.45am-12.15pm: Developing Effective Managers class....I had to do push ups in front of the class to help the professor illustrate a point about obedient staff.

12.30-3pm: Hung around the common room to work on the planning for the forthcoming Private Equity forum and read the cases for the next day's Operations Management class.

3-7pm: Went home to grab lunch and rest for a bit.

7-10.30pm: Entrepreneurship project (EP) brainstorming session.

11-3am: Sort out dinner, check emails, send emails, check  careersconnect for interesting job postings, watch a movie (bad idea...forgot I had a football training session at 7am)

6.30am: Alarm goes off for football training session....I can only lift my hands enough to press the snooze button.
6.45am: Alarm goes off again....snooze (you get the picture...Captain Alejandro won't be happy but....reset alarm to 9am)

10-12am: Head to school for planning meeting for PE Forum and to go over school notes from last week.

12.30-1.15pm: Planning meeting for European finals of the Venture Capital Investment Competition (we would host the finals on March 10th)

1.30-4.45pm: Operations Management lecture

5-7pm: Light research on potential speakers for PE forum

9-12.30am : Dinner with friends (including an alumni from a couple of years ago)...awesome Indian/Malaysian food and lots of wine.

8.45-12.15pm: Finance 2 lecture

12.30-1.30pm: Grab lunch, hang out in common room

1.30-4.45pm: Macro-economics lecture (with the brilliant Oren Sussman)

6-8pm: Operations Management review class....selflessly facilitated by two of my course mates (Wiebke Pahl and Satya Amu)

9pm: Sort out dinner, check emails, send emails, check  careersconnect  for interesting job postings....slept early (about midnight).

9.30-11.30am: PE Forum planning meeting with Faculty adviser

12.30-2pm: PE Forum planning meeting with the school's events co-ordinator....dashed off to catch the last half of a Macro-economics review session facilitated by another brilliant classmate (Bryce Eakin)

2.15-3.30pm: PE Forum planning meeting with a second faculty adviser...

3-6pm: Send emails...Happy hour (all drinks at the school bar at half price) started at 5pm..had a few drinks and had a football team meeting in the common room to plan this weekend's tournament in London. Write this blog post.....

Tomorrow (Friday), I'm scheduled to have an EP Meeting with our supervisor, have a brainstorming session with my other EP group members, be part of a current student panel at the school's open day, have a meeting about a Macro-Economics assignment, be part of a 'town hall' style meeting with my fellow MBA students, and end the day at a friend's flat (a fellow MBA) who just got a grill and wants to host a barbeque. Then of course, I'll head off to London to participate in the LBS Tackle Africa football tournament where we hope to win the cup....

Of course, not all weeks are like this as some have a little more social activity than this week as had. There are also regular dinners (I have one next week), balls and hockey games to watch (Oxford plays Cambridge this weekend with three MBA students part of the team). 

There are also conferences (I am attending the London School of Economics Emerging Markets conference next week).

Juggling all these activities can be tough...but would I have it any other way? You bet I won't.....