Tuesday, December 13, 2011

As the Bloodstained Tears Flow on to the Carnation

Third white shirt of the week? Check! Black Suit? Check! White Bow Tie? Check! Academic gown? Check! Mortar Board? Check! Why am I matriculating again? No I'm not....its the third day of exams and i am simply putting out appropriate clothing. Yes you heard that right...we have to sit for 2-3 hours everyday, dressed up like that for five days and try to figure out the trigger for a colluding oligopolist. Sigh....we'll survive.

Another great exam tradition is 'Sub fusc is specially adorned with an appropriately-coloured carnation by students taking exams, which it is reputedly unlucky to buy for oneself. They vary in colour from white (for the first exam of a given set) through pink (for intermediate ones) to red (for the last one). This allows those who have completed their examinations to be singled out and covered in things by way of enforced revelry.It is said that the carnations vary in colour to symbolise the flow of blood-stained tears from examinees'.

We've had exams in Managerial Economics and Decision Science with Strategy, Financial Reporting and Finance to come....I think its been a general consensus that the exams have gone well so far...probably due to the numerous support classes organised by classmates. Its been a tough couple of weeks and we're all just glad its coming to an end.....the highlight of my week was the silent disco session in the library organised by one of my classmates http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL49r-aD72c&feature=share.

Finally I leave you with this awesome Ted talk by David, one of my classmates......http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGiHU-agsGY

P.S I don't know any of the gentlemen in the picture above (Thank you google)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Its the Little Things.....

When I was being interviewed, the inevitable 'why Oxford' came up. Of course having done my research, I gave the usual 'Oxford has a long and distinguished history with a reputation for educating leaders' among other stuff which sounded great then but had little practical implication. Having had a semester to experience this school, what have I grown to cherish? I would say its the little things like...

An awesome classmate facilitating an exam review session.

Getting a group of ultra competitive achievers to have such a collaborative outlook is no mean feat. Now I understand when admissions officers talk about 'fit'....there's such a huge collaborative spirit at this school that I feel that it would be tough for non-collaboratively minded people to fit in.

One of my classmates expressed my sentiment perfectly when he said 'I've never been in a class where the semester ended with a standing ovation for the lecturer; clearly we've all had an amazing eight weeks'. The standing ovation was for our Financial reporting professor who managed to make us love (or like at least) the course. To show our appreciation, we had shirts made with his catch phrase....

'Give Me Double Entry'.....

And it wasn't just him. Practically every single lecturer was amazing! Our Economics professor was so beloved by previous classes that a blog http://mungonomics.wordpress.com/ was created to capture some of his best quotes.

Our Decision and Data Analytics professor, in addition to helping me finally understand those regression tables, regularly has me in stitches with some phrases inserted in lecture notes;


The fact that the school is over 800 years old comes alive when you walk around the town and stumble upon signs like these;

Casually walked past the site where Boyle's Law was discovered and the microscope invented in the 1600s 
Bill Clinton was clearly up to no good in the 60s

Same for Bob Hawke. 2 pints in 11 seconds? That's no mean feat!

Looking back over the last semester, I am truly glad that I came here and wouldn't change a thing.....(and this overwhelming love for the school wasn't triggered by the fact that we were provided free beer today to commemorate the end of the term....ok maybe just a little bit)

Monday, November 21, 2011


Reading through my last post again, its clear those were the words of a sleep deprived man, driven over the edge by excess caffeine. I am happy to report that I am back within acceptable blood/caffeine levels after a weekend without any coffee! Its the beginning of week 7 and the end of term is within sights...scary stuff! The MBA is definitely all about choices...What do I mean?

Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford
This without doubt is one of the headline events at the school....leading practitioners within the technology space come together to discuss. Its a great opportunity for students to network with leading lights at firms like Google, Linkedin, Facebook etc. Some students even got to do what's called speed dating....a quick one on one meeting with one of the executives. But I decided to skip it and finalize my other assignments to free up space to study for exams. Although there are many potential benefits of sitting through the event, I feel that given my objectives, my time would be better spent at the library. Tough and potentially wrong choice but one that needed to be made. Meanwhile, another classmate is currently at the CBI conference in London, listening to David Cameron and the Turkish president give speeches....

Picking Electives for Next Term
We have to select two from six electives next term; Branding & Communications, Finance 2, Macroeconomics, Global Strategy, Rethinking Business and Strategy & Innovation. Now the question is, do I stick with what I am familiar with (Finance & Macroeconomics), specialise in finance, and deepen my knowledge of the subjects, or attempt to take on fresh knowledge with some of the other courses? After thinking long and hard, I decided to specialize in Finance and choose both electives. I figured that those two courses are most likely to improve my on the job skills. Thankfully, we have the option to audit (sit in on classes without taking examinations) an additional course, so I'll probably audit Branding & Communications.

Entrepreneurship Project
Here at Oxford, we're mandated to form teams of five to come up with a business idea and draw up a business plan for it during Hillary Term. There are loads of ideas to choose from as classmates and external bodies alike pitch their ideas to students. One of the great things about being in a school like Oxford is the interaction with other departments. Its arguably in this area that the benefits shine through as people come from different departments to pitch awesome sounding ideas to students. They'll most likely have invented something great and just need MBA students to draw up a plan to make it a viable business! Its tough to choose because of course, some of these ideas might eventually become full fledged companies! My instinct however is to do something different, something i've never done before...the easiest thing to do would be to do a finance related project, but in this case i would love to explore previously unchartered territories. So when I saw a classmate post the possibility of an EP in the sustainable solutions area (I'm being deliberately vague), I decided to explore the opportunity...lets see how that goes!

Having handed in the marketing assignment on time (Oxford are extremely strict about time limits. Any form of lateness leads to deductions....a classmate ran from the business school, assignment in hand at after printing his work at 11.50 am (with a 12 noon deadline).....I feared for him initially, but he clearly has the skills of a long distance runner as he made it to the High Street based Examination schools in 10 minutes), like good MBAs, we celebrated by heading to the swankiest joint in Oxford 'The Randolph Hotel' for a black tie celebration of a classmates's birthday...
Beginning of the night...looking all civilized

Later on....looking less than civilized...yes, the assignment was that difficult!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Zombie Diaries....

Sitting in marketing class, listening to people talk about pricing Louis Vutton bags and asking myself...'Bayo, when last did you have a meal?'. To my horror, I realize I haven't had a meal in close to 24 hours! To make matters worse, I'm not even hungry! The assignment submission deadlines are here in full force with the marketing assignment (60% of total grade) due on Friday. Panic! Shock! as MBAs discover previously unexplored segments of the library....a friend even inundated me with tales of strange ticking sounds he heard in the library one night as he tried to figure out how to price curled metal. He'd either had too much coffee to drink or the library's haunted by the soul of some poor MBA who wakes up screaming 'Correlation! Covariance! Help me Tomo! I don't know double entry!'. And it gets worse....i project a dramatic increase in 'sleep rates' during class from next week.....won't the lecturer notice? MBA's are skilled in various facets of life....well disguised sleep should be a piece of cake....we should definately have a 'best sleeping technique in class' category at our annual Sylvester awards....I think i know already who would win this award!

Ok...mini break over....back to trying to figure out how.....gasp! The lecturer's looking at me! I think she's going to ask me a question......Phew! False alarm....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Desi Girl! Desi Girl!

What on earth is Desi Girl? One sec....let me just google that.....Ok it means Indian girl. So why did I have that as the title of this post when I don't even know the meaning? Might be the fact that I'm sitting in the library, pumped full of coffee, reading cases, writing up assignments, and trying to keep my body going for another few weeks before the Christmas break. We have major reports in Economics, Marketing (2 reports), Financial Reporting and Finance due in a couple of weeks, asides spending time reading pre-assigned lecture notes and trying to catch up on formal dinners, Oxford Union debates, Private Equity OBN activities and a multitude of other stuff.

Anyway, enough of that....back to Desi Girl. We celebrated the Indian Diwali festival recently and I accepted to participate in a choreographed dance on stage with a group of friends (in keeping with my 'Just say yes' policy). This was a particularly brave decision as I am certain that Elephants dance with more rhythm and co-ordination than I do.....we were supposed to dance to this song (Desi Girl) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2C0SEIjc7A which is by the way my new best song. So we rehearsed a little.....

Our great instructor

and finally performed...and I managed to escape with my credibility intact (I hope....)
The video of the performance is here by the way....http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150523822442524

After the show....which featured performances from genuinely talented people and Ron's hilarious but politically incorrect jokes (I loved them anyway....comedic licence), we all retreated to some delicious food and awesome Indian music. Of course they played Desi girl again and you bet I was on that dance floor....digging it!
Private Equity OBN
Back to serious stuff....I was elected Chairman of the Private Equity OBN a couple of weeks ago and we've been busy trying to plan our activities for the year. We have put a team together (which I am very happy with) and also have the support of the absolutely awesome Prof Jenkinson. We had our first post election event during the last week when the managing director of a huge emerging markets focused fund came to speak at the school. The event went very well and I was quite happy with the turnout despite many competing events that night. I'm also busy trying to run the internal version of the VCIC (Venture Capital Investment Competition)....with the winning team going on to represent the school at the European finals in Barcelona next year.

Incoming Batch
It feels like just yesterday, sitting in what I now know as Seminar Room A (then it was just this big awesome room in this big awesome school), during the Open day/Interview Day in February listening to last year's MBA students speak about their experiences and wondering how awesome it would be to be in their shoes. Looks like the process has already started and there's an open day for potential incoming students scheduled for mid-November....looks like I'll find out how it feels to be on the other side!

Ok....battery low on my laptop....library shuts down in 10 minutes anyway! Time to go home and listen to Matan (my flatmate) talk about his weekend trip to Edinburg with about 20 of our classmates while I spent all weekend in the library (no I'm not jealous! not at all....)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Give Me Double Entry!!!!!

We're halfway through Week 3 and I've found all warning I received about the intensity of the program before coming here grossly understated. Every minute of the day is literally accounted for! I guess this depends on your level of activity outside of traditional classes. I try to be active in a lot of things, hence the pressure.

Anyway, talking about classes, we have six courses this term...Strategy, Decision Science (sort of like statistics but decision science sounds more intellectual), Marketing, Financial Reporting, Finance and Managerial Economics. I must say i've enjoyed all of them so far (mostly due to the lecturers). Tomo Suzuki (Financial Reporting) is definately my favourite! In Tomo's world, everything can be reduced to 'DOUBLE ENTRY!' I suspect the class has internalised this view point as a classmate came up with the double entry for buying a beer (Cash on the Right (Reducing Asset), Beer(Increasing Asset) on the Left....genius! An honourable mention goes to my Decision Science lecturer who's made the course bearable (almost) with his eccentric and highly dramatic performances!

I've however had to learn to adjust to the way classes are structured here. The lectures are based primarily on case studies which are made available in advance. Students are then expected to read (actively read) these case studies (typically ranging from 5-20 pages long) prior to classes and form a well considered opinion. Then a good chunk of the class is spent talking about the case and listening to other opinions....the lecturer hardly ever puts forth his/her opinion. Their job is to sort of guide and facilitate the discussion. We're also expected to question the lecturer's viewpoints (I almost had a seizure when a classmate got into an argument about a concept and the lecturer seemed to welcome the argument)! Coming from a background where the lecturer strides majestically into class, being the all knowing wise one, and reels out pearls of wisdom to his fortunate students, who accept his view point without question, this represents a significant shift. It can also be a challenge for those who don't have a lot of experience analyzing case studies as you're expected to hit the ground running. I'll recommend this book (Ellet, William. : The case study handbook :how to read, discuss, and write persuasively about cases) to anyone coming for an MBA....I wish someone recommended it to me before I came here! 

What else have I been up to?
A-Z Bop at GTC....yes that's a real person (well done Daniel!)


Sexy Sub Fusc....a Bop right after Matriculation where students have to wear something from their Sub Fusc (official matriculation outfit) and try to look sexy....(Matan, Elias and I all trying and failing miserably) I have 'sexier' pictures of people who totally pulled sexy off....but I shall spare their future political careers.

With Ananth and Haben at the Emirates living it up!

Good times...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Three weeks in....

Three weeks??? Already??? Time has absolutely flown by...leaving the relics of parties, dinners, induction sessions, career sessions, OBN meetings and episodes of 'How I met your mother' (That last one is specific to me) in its wake. Let me attempt to recall some of the memories....

One thing i have learnt within my short time here is to 'Just Say Yes'. You'll find that your best memories are formed by saying yes to the strangest things. So when someone said...'Let's go punting', my natural instinct was to say no (given that I'm as good at swimming as Ashton Kutcher is at trying to replace Charlie Sheen). But I said yes.....and we had a great time!
With Manish, Ines, Joe, Mario and Matan
Trying to make it seem I wasn't terrified
Celebrating our safe return

Food Update
So after my fifth burger in two days, I realised I had a problem. My creative side kicked in...there had to be a solution. I needed Nigerian food desperately....and then it hit me! Look for a Nigerian church! Where many Nigerians are gathered, surely Nigerian food shall be in abundance...and i was right. I went to a Nigerian church and met a lady who specializes in making Nigerian food in bulk and selling to desperate souls like myself. Now I have a big bowl of Nigerian stew sitting in my fridge....I can finally call Oxford home.

OBN Election Update
I decided to run for the Chair of the Private Equity OBN and sent in my 250 word personal statement. I also organized (with the help of a few friends) an information session on Private Equity which was very well received. I spent a lot of time on the presentation but the reception from my classmates meant it was time well spent.

Dinners, Bops & Pub Crawls
These are three words that will come up over and over again during the course of the year. There seems to be a dinner happening somewhere in Oxford every other day. Bops (don't google this, its an Oxford specific term) also mean parties and colleges regularly have them. My college had one last week which I missed and has another tonight which I WILL NOT miss. They're usually themed parties and tonight's theme is A-Z (come dressed as something starting with the first letter of your name). So I need to figure out something starting with the letter B. I've still not figured out what I can go as. All I have so far is Brazillian model and seeing as i'll require plastic surgery for that, i'll probably have to pass. Pub crawls are basically crowds of people moving from pub to pub...zombie style!
We had our college induction dinner last night.....good food, wine and conversation with amazing professors that must have forgotten much more than we know...

Career Stuff
Had a meeting with a career counsellor who reviewed my cv and cover letter. Had a great chat with him about the future and 'finding myself' (yes terms like that are in fashion when you are doing an MBA). Sent off an application to a bank....fingers crossed.

Still can't figure out what to go to the party as....might just settle for going as a.....wait for it........BLACK dude!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

End of Week -2 at Oxford

Yes you read that right! We just ended week -2 (negative two). Oxford (being Oxford) has its very own calender! Next week is Week -1 and the upper week (when we are confirmed as students of the school via matriculation is Week 0 and then 1,2,3 (i'm sure you get the drift).

There have been so many activities already that it'll be tough to cover everything. The easiest way to do this would be to cover the week chronologically so here goes....

Monday & Tuesday
First day at SBS. Had breakfast with my roomies at the YHA (Matan and Martin)....got a few weird looks as we were all suited up (got some baked beans on my tie!). We were scheduled to have Boot Camps for careers in Management Consulting and Finance over the course of the week. These boot camps sort of provide a fantastic overview to careers in both sectors and enable students focus on their areas of interest during their job search. This is especially important as being in a 1 year program mean you'll need to start applying for jobs almost immediately.

We made the 2 minute trip to SBS....greeted by a sea of smiling faces in black and white. Handshakes everywhere.....necks bent.....ears strained...as people tried to make out each other's names in the chaos. 150+ nervous MBA students meeting each other for the first time. Thankfully we had a pretty active facebook group, making it easier to recognize some people. The sound of Derek's (Director of Careers) horn (yes horn....very effective I might add) interrupted our uneasy conversations....'please  proceed to the hall' he said.He introduced the sector consultants, who took over and took us through two days of  CV and Cover Letter prep, interview tips and nuances, and a good overview of the management consulting business space.

Both sessions ended about 6pm and most of us retired to what is likely to be the 'default pub' for our class....THE OXFORD RETREAT!


We had a free day and Matan and I decided to use it to sort out all our admin stuff. At this point we had moved into our Flat at the RAC. We had to get our University ID card from the college, open our bank accounts, register with the police, register with the NHS, and buy essential items for the house. In the evening, we all headed to another pub called 'The Jericho Tavern' for a party which went on till four apparently (I escaped at about 1am....Matan didn't).

Thursday and Friday
We had the finance bootcamps on Thursday and Friday. I had been contacted by the careers team the week before with a request to make a presentation to the bootcamp, along with about four other people about my life in Finance. I agreed to it and saw myself ushered on stage, immediately wondering why i agreed to it. With what seemed like thousands of eyes on me, I fiddled with the microphone and drank a lot of water....making sure i was well positioned in between the other speakers. Why? I didn't want to be the first to speak! I think the secret to presentations however is familiarity. The stronger your familiarity with the subject you are speaking about, the easier it is to improvise....a key attribute of a good presentation. Thankfully, I was talking about my personal experiences so I think I did quite well.

On Saturday we had the 'Oxford Pursuit'.....a seven year old Oxford MBA tradition (gasp! an Oxford tradition that's not centuries old?). It basically involves being randomly split into groups of six and provided with a map, and 15 questions about the city of Oxford. The questions required physical examination of a lot of buildings and a lot of detective work. It was a good, although tiring experience and though we didn't win, i learnt a lot about the city.

Feeding is my biggest problem here.Practically living on bread and butter.....I might need emergency cooking classes! One thing that's also clear from my week here is that focus and prioritization is absolutely critical. There's just too much going on....too much stuff to do. There's always a party, or a meeting, or something and school hasn't even started. So I think it is essential that I streamline my goals and identify specific activities that would help me achieve them.

OBNs (Oxford Business Networks) are student run organisations that focus on particular areas of interest. After my talk on private equity, i've been encouraged to run for the chairmanship of the private equity OBN by a few classmates. I had previously considered it but was torn between the PE OBN and the Strategic Focus on Africa group, which is an SIG (Strategic Interest Group). I have decided to run for the PE OBN although I know it would be a tonne of work! So help me God....

P.S This post is so long because I'm not sure when next I'll have the time to post.....mad times!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Arrival in Oxford...

Tired....Dead tired! I suspect those are words i'll use frequently over the course of the year. It's just the second day and i'm starting to realise how intense it is. Ok let me start from the beginning;

Landed at Heathrow at about 5pm and headed straight for the Central Bus station at the airport to take a bus to Oxford (return ticket costs 26 pounds). The bus ride was smooth (a little over an hour) and came with free wifi.....so i was able catch highlights of the Man U-Chelsea game (What a miss by Torres!) on my ipad. Knew before hand that my flat at the RAC wouldn't be ready so i had booked a room at www.yha.org.uk/find-accommodation/.../hostels/oxford/index.aspx. 
Pretty cheap at about 30 pounds a night and its right next to SBS but you'll probably have to share with four other people. I was lucky to get my flat the very next day so i've moved in. Here are a few pictures of my flat

My Room

Sparsely furnished living room


I must say i'm very happy with the flat. There are tons of admin stuff left to do....for example, every student has to have his/her laptop registered with the college to enable you have internet access. Had to escape from the Management Consulting bootcamp (more on this later) and walk all of 30 minutes to get to my college site (Green Templeton) to get an appointment for later in the day and then walk all the way back to SBS to have my picture taken for the profile book and then back again to have the laptop configured before heading home (via Tesco to pick up some groceries. My flatmate (who is a very nice dude from Israel) and I would need to go shopping for basic stuff like microwave ovens and other appliances not included in the flat. Of course I need to open a bank account, register with the police and NHS (all Oxford students are covered by the NHS) and do other stuff i'm sure will come up over the course of the week.

The weather's been surprisingly pleasant by the way so long may it continue!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Two weeks to go!

Here's a list of administrative tasks I had to do before heading out to Oxford.....

  1. Confirm by email if you will be accepting the offer - Done
  1. Pay your 15% non-refundable deposit - Done (Came to £5,445)
  1. Submit your Offer Acceptance Form - Done
  1. Supply your Financial Guarantee documentation - Done
  2.  College placement - Done (Green Templeton College - GTC)
  1. Confirm acceptance of your college place - Done
  1. Secure your accommodation – college/private - Done via GTC (Rewlew Abbey Court)
  1. Obtain a visa - Phew.....Done, after three nerve wracking weeks
  1. Return your Student Contract to generate your University Card - Done (Had to return a hard copy of this as per school regulations)
  1. Pay the balance of your fees - Done.....I now qualify for bankruptcy protection
  2. Register via student self-service - Done
So its official! I'm enrolled at Oxford! Six kings, 48 Nobel prize winners, 26 UK prime ministers, 7 current holders of the Order of Merit, 12 saints, 20 archbishops, 18 cardinals, 1 pope and one Bayo Babalola.....

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Countdown Continues - A Month to Oxford

So Cesc Fabregas signed for Barcelona this morning, the Nigerian Under 20 football team lost in the quarter finals of the Junior world cup last night and my pot belly has refused to evolve into a six pack....despite depriving myself of 'junk' food for the past few days....so its safe to say that i'm on the lookout for a 'pick me up' this morning....

The countdown continues....in about a month, i'll be packing my bags and heading out to Heathrow for what would hopefully be a mind blowing year of fun, stress, knowledge acquisition and even more fun! I am excited while nervous....excited at the possibilities that lay ahead and nervous at the total deviation from the familiar. I would be going into a city where i have no friends or even anyone vaguely familiar. I am particularly apprehensive about food. I am a Nigerian and by definition we love spicy food...our entire diet is brimming with spice. I've never been out of Nigeria for longer than a week before and I remember heading straight to a beer garden or restaurant from the airport to save my tongue from the blandness it had had to endure all week. Luckily, practically everyone would probably have an issue or the other. But first things first, I need to get my Visa issued.....in Nigeria, the UK operates a drop box system where you download and fill the forms, include all necessary documents go get your biometric data captured, and submit the form. It typically takes about 3 weeks to a month so fingers crossed.

I've been thinking about setting goals for the year. I read in an Oxford Alum's blog that you can only do two of three things well in Oxford.....Academics, Socials and Sports. Academics for me is absolutely key....its my intention to get on the dean's list (A list of the top performing students in the class) so as to counter my relatively weak undergraduate gpa. It might be an issue during recruitment season when companies have their pick of the best business school talent in the world. I would also need to look for 400 hours during the year to study for CFA. So that leaves one more slot....do i pick socials or sports. Now socials are important, afterall one of the reasons to come for an MBA is to create an extensive international network and you can only do that by socialising extensively. I also like sports...football is absolutely critical to me and i've been looking forward to the annual MBA Tournament in paris since i first started considering going back to school. I would like to believe I can engage in both and still do well in class. I guess time would make that decision for me.

Finally, the thorny issue of finance! My wonderful parents (bless them) have given me most of the money required. I have estimated that the entire year would cost me about £54,000 pounds....thats a very conservative estimate by the way. After also throwing in my life savings, i just, only just have enough to cover my expenses for the year. Its a tough decision to have to make......a significant investment. But like someone once put it, its not too much to pay for the priviledge of being an Alumni of the great Oxford University for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, the school has very limited loan and scholarship options so it has to be 100% self funded. This is something the school needs to change. We're (some of the incoming students) looking to work on this with the school.....

On that note, I leave you to mourn the demise of my once great club......

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CFA Level Three....Finally!

'Dear Adebayo Oluwaseun Babalola,

Congratulations. I am very pleased to inform you that you passed the June 2011 Level II CFA exam. You are one step closer to achieving your goal of earning the globally respected CFA charter.'
I got the email yesterday and after waiting for over 24 hours without receiving this...
'Dear Adebayo Oluwaseun Babalola,
We apologize for having misled you. You did not pass the exam. But on the real though, how could you think a nitwit like you would pass our 'prestigious' exam? Kindly re-register for the level 2 exam if you want to continue claiming to be a 'Level 2 candidate.''
I can safely scream...YAYYYYYYYY!!! I'm just glad that i've crossed this bridge....third time lucky i guess. Now the question is...do i attempt to take the level 3 exam while at Oxford next year. It will be extremely tough...deadlines are crazy and from the stories i've heard, my all-nighters would be taken up by Oxford. I will pay for the exam because i need to be registered for level 3 to have it reflected on my CV and then make a judgement call on how much study time I need to allocate to the exam without affecting my performance in school.
Oxford Update: Trying to round up the admin tasks. Sent in my student contract last week and should receive my SBS email address soon. Also about to apply for the UK visa....hopefully there'll be no issues with that. Also getting to know more of my classmates via our Facebook group....it's extremely active and someone's always discussing something which is nice and makes it easier to communicate. I've also been selected to blog for SBS on the official blog page http://mba.sbsblogs.co.uk/....another Yayyyyyy!!!! I requested to be considered and sent a link of my blog and the request was accepted. 
Happy times....now reaching for a glass of wine....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Countdown to Oxford....

Sitting in my hotel room in Ghana, watching Paris Hilton on Piers Morgan's show complaining about fame and its bad side. Bad side? Can we switch places please (without the sex tape of course). Came to Ghana to write my CFA level 2 exams (for the last time i promise). The exam went ok...studied hard, but the CFA is anything but straight forward, so fingers crossed. I promised to paint the town red yesterday after my paper but those plans went down with a whimper as a little rain and the allure of guilt free tv defeated the almost non existent party animal inside me.

So CFA out of the way, I can now drool about resuming at Oxford in September. Whats been happening? Well, mostly administrative stuff.....got admitted to Green Templeton College and....ok, let me explain the Oxford collegiate system to you. Oxford, being Oxford, had to be different from other schools. Its sorta like a holy trinity....the University, the College and the Department. The University, handles examination and other University wide activities. The department handles lectures and other academic related functions and the college is where you are accomodated and enjoy other extra curricular activities. This is probably a less than precise description but i'm sure you get the picture. So to illustrate, I have been admitted to the University of Oxford. I will be provided accomodation and partake in other extra curricular activities at the Green Templeton College and be lectured at the Said Business School.

I've secured a flat at the Rewley Abbey Court (RAC), literally round the corner from Said Business School. Its a two bedroom flat and i'm scheduled to share it with an Israeli scientist....a fellow SBS student. Decided to stay at RAC because of its proximity to the school...walking or cycling 20 minutes everyday in the dead of winter doesn't exactly appeal to me. Downside however is its called off site accomodation as its not within my college grounds so i might not really interact with non-mba students as RAC is understandably populated by MBA students. But consulting with a number of current MBAs helped me make my decision as i'll be spending 98% of my time at SBS. We've (MBA students) also been communicating with each other via facebook and google....should be a fun group!

But for the next few months, i'll just cruise through work while I mentally unpack in my flat at the Rewley Abbey Court.....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

End of Part One...

My day started with the typical nervousness and incredulousness of such big days....I woke up at 4am and immediately checked my email account....nothing! I got to work and tried to appear productive while hitting the refresh button every ten minutes....nothing! I went on a few online forums (gmatclub, papalguy) where fellow mba applicants were waiting nervously all over the world....nobody had heard anything!

At about 12 noon, I went into a meeting that would go on to last two hours.....tried checking my email account several times on my blackberry but couldnt seem to log on. It was probably for the  best because the managing director of my firm was in the meeting and i cannot say for sure what my reaction to getting the email would have been! Meeting over, I bounded down the stairs and ran to my desk.....three unread mails! One of which was from the admissions guys at Oxford! Of course I checked the irrelevant emails first and then slowly clicked on the one that mattered....

'Dear Adebayo
I am delighted to confirm the decision of the MBA Committee to'

I blacked out for a second, my colleague said I started thumping my chest like a gorrilla but to be honest, he's not a very credbile source.....I  remember standing up from my desk, smiling and looking decidedly retarded! My colleagues noticed of course and converged round my computer to read the rest of the email...

'offer you a place on the 2011-2012 programme.
Your interviewer was very impressed when they spoke to you during your interview and the MBA Committee has agreed that you meet the very high standard expected of an Oxford Student.
We hope very much that you will accept the Committee's offer and join the 2011-2012 class. We aim to welcome another class of around 230 to the next MBA, allowing each student to benefit from close supportive and constructive relationships with Faculty.'

There is no better feeling than opening up that email that tells you all your work has paid off....one of your dreams has come true...you have achieved what you set out to achieve.....

This marks the end of the first chapter.....and the beginning of a new one....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cranfield MBA Interview

I had my Cranfield MBA interview yesterday. The Cranfield School of Management is in Bedford, on an isolated old airforce base. I got on the National Rail train from the London Euston Station to the Milton Keynes Central station (cost about 17 pounds for a one way ticket). The school usually sends a complimentary bus to meet interviewees at the station. Unfortunately, my train was a tad delayed so I had to take a taxi to the school (should cost about 16 pounds).

I was very well received by the Director of the MBA program and he took me upstairs to his office to commence the interview. He thanked me for making the effort to come all the way from Nigeria and asked me to give the pre-arranged 3 minute presentation. Cranfield provides a topic that the interviewee would talk about for 3 minutes at the start of the interview. Mine was about a piece of legislation i would like to see enacted in my country. I talked about the lack of a freedom of infomation bill and how its impeding good governance and accountability in Nigeria. I also gave an example of how Senators in Nigeria don't account for money given to them for constituency projects. The tricky part was the timing....I had a 50 second band around the 3 minute mark within which i could make the presentation (i.e 2 1/2 minutes to 3 1/2 minutes). Anything outside this band would be penalized.

After the presentation, he questioned me further about the bill.....is it currently under consideration? is there any lobbying being done? Thankfully, my geeky interest in politics paid off as I was able to answer the questions satisfactorily. He then proceeded to the traditional MBA questions.....why mba? why now? Have I applied to other schools?What are my plans post MBA. The good thing about doing two interviews so close together is that you learn from the first one....during the Oxford interview, i was nervous and tense while i was calm and relaxed during the Cranfield iterview (wish it was the other way around though).

Generally, the interview went well and I got a feeling I was in (though u never know). Thing is, even before the interview I had started to have reservations about Cranfield. Its clearly a good school with top faculty but I'm unsure if its best placed to help me achieve my goals. What are my goals?

I want a brand that would open doors for me all over the world. I want to meet exceptional people and create a network of lifetime friends from all over the world. I want to improve as a private equity professional. It was never in doubt that Oxford is better placed to help me achieve these goals but i've just started to question Cranfield's ability to help me achieve any of the goals at all.

While the Cranfield brand is a good one, it is by no means door opening (not in Nigeria at least). There are very little finance courses (not to talk of private equity specific courses) so i'm unlikely to gain specific PE skills.

Still thinking about it though.....

P.S There's absolutely nothing to do in the town....beware!

Addendum (25th February 2011): I got an admit with a £5k scholarship! Now dancing away.....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oxford Said MBA Interview 2011

Although I was interviewed by only one person (a director in the school's career services department), one other person was present....my brain. I feel like my body and brain were seperated during the interview and as such it was a three person conversation. How did it go? Read on......

Interviewer: Hi, Can I get you anything?

Bayo: Hi, I would like some water please...

Brain: You nitwit! Did you just ask your interviewer to get off his chair and get you water like some errand boy?

Interviewer: Sure.....one second....returns with water.....Ok, so why do you want to get an MBA?

Brain: Yes! Go for it Bayo! We've practiced this question a thousand times.....remember?

Bayo: Confidently adjusting pose.....I chose to come and study for an MBA because i feel that,.......pause....because i feel that...

Brain: OMG! How did I get stuck with such a dumbass? Why on earth are you stammering? You should know this thing like the back of your hand!!!!!!!

Bayo: mumbles something about private equity, and the need compensate for the poor quality of management teams in Nigeria.

Interviewer: Scribbles some notes......

Brain: You see, he's writing that you are a total waste of space! He's furious that he has to listen to you dribble on and he'll rather be playing ping pong with a wall right now....

Bayo: still mumbling about private equity and poor human capital in Africa

Interviewer: Ok, why Oxford?

Brain: Surely, you can't mess this up? Honestly, if you mess this up, I will haemorrage!

Bayo: Ok, Ok, I can't afford a Brain Haemorrage during an interview.....Oxford has a 900 year history of educating leaders, I want to be a part of that history. I'm also attracted to the school's private equity institute and the opportunity to learn from the world's leading practicioners in PE.

Brain: (Speaking pidgin english) Na God save you.....

Interviewer: What would you bring to the class?

Bayo: Now sounding confident.....I think I bring a unique perspective to the class. There can't be a lot of people in the class who practice private equity in emerging markets so i'm confident i can be a good platform to validate some of the theories taught in the private equity in emerging markets class.

Brain: So a couple of good answers and you think you have arrived? I am ashamed of you! You practiced these exact same questions over and over again and you still couldn't sound smooth and suave.....you disgust me! If you rob me the chance to spend a year in this place, I will never forgive you!

Bayo: I have worked in financial services all my career and believe i would be in a position to help my less quantitatively oriented classmates during group work as I expect they'll help me in subjects I'm not familiar with. I also believe I would contribute to the class in social and sporting way as i play football and would seek to represent the school in the MBA tournament in Paris....

Interviewer: smiling.......Big win for Arsenal on Wednesday eh?

Brain: Ok....i know i warned you not to include the fact that you support Arsenal on your CV....who does that?

Bayo: Yes, Lagos went beserk after the match. You would have thought it was Nigeria playing......long discussion about football where Harry Redknapp, Graham Taylor and Watford were mentioned by the interviewer and I threw in a 'It'll go downhill for Harry Redknapp as soon as he gets the England job'.....

Brain: you're lucky that the arsenal thing worked out in the end...

Interviewer: I see you want to work in a private equity firm focused on emerging markets.....Well, to be honest, they don't exactly come banging on my door asking for MBA's how do you intend to secure a job like this? Can you name five of such companies?

Bayo: Well, I'm particularly attracted to the IFC because of its focus on the social impact of its investments....

Interviewer: Well, the IFC is not exactly a private equity firm

Bayo: Yes i realise that but the skill set requirements are similar. Companies like Emerging Capital Partners, Aureos Capital, Actis, Kingdom Zephry would also be attractive to me. I also intend to secure a study leave from my current employers.

Interviewer: That's smart....

Brain: blushing......Okay, maybe you're not so dumb afterall....

30 minutes up......

Interviewer: Thanks for coming Bayo.....enjoy the rest of your open day

Bayo: Thanks Derek....Have a good day

Oxford MBA Open Day

I arrived in the city of Oxford to the magnificent sight of the Said Business School building.....a fantastic piece of architecture... I was received most graciously by a smiling Liz Buckle (the MBA Marketing Officer) and then ushered into a room filled with other people from around the world also looking to do their MBA at Oxford. There were two nice Singaporean architects working on projects in Morocco, Egypt and other countries in the middle east, a Norwegian management consultant who, together with a few of his friends started a small spin off consulting outfit in Norway, a Ghanaian PhD holder from Warwick, a Chinese gentleman who owns a software development company among others.
The day started off with a nice presentation by Darren (a member of the admissions team) where he laid out some facts......they had well over a thousand applications last year most of which were from Asia and North America. They extended interview invites to about 500 people and admitted about 232 people an implied yield of 50% post interview and about 20% post application.
We had a question and answer session with current students where they were supposed to cut the 'bullshit' out and tell it like it is. To be honest, there wasn't much bullshit to cut out because the earlier presenters were all frank and honest. This was followed by lunch where we got to talk and network which was excellent.
The next activity was a presentation by the MBA Director....he was nice, frank and funny and tried to give his presentation in a way such that it answered important questions like 1 year or 2 year, Oxford or Wharton and Europe or North America. I left at this point to have my interview (more on that later).
I returned just in time for a brilliant lecture in Strategy by a Professor at the school. It was hands down the most brilliant and funniest lecture I'd ever been in and i must say it left me wanting to have such lectures for a whole year (yeah i know they must have gotten their most entertaining lecturer to do this but it doesn't matter, if all their lecturers are a quarter as entertaining and brilliant as he is, i would have no complaints)
This was followed by a presentation by the Director of the school's career service (he interviewed me (gasp!)). He was also very surprisingly frank. The crux of his message was....don't expect companies to want to rush you just because you have three freshly minted letters in front of your name. Its a recession and employers are no longer in the habit of paying people £60k a year to 'find' themselves......you must bring something to the table on day one! He also encouraged people who had unique experiences, cultural advantages and skill sets to focus on those unique attributes and use it to sell themselves during their job search.
I stayed and chatted with a few people before heading for the Oxford station for my train back to paddington. The school is literally next to the station and as such commuting via train is hands down the easiest way to get to the school. Just get to the popular paddington station in central London and board a 'first western' train and stop at the Oxford station (I think the train's final destination is Hereford).
My post open day impression? I now reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally want to attend this school.....

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Visa? Check! Tickets? Check! Time off work? Check!

I'm scheduled to travel down to the UK on the 17th of February, attend the Oxford Open Day / Interview on the 18th, spend the weekend enjoying the finer things of London and commute to Bedfordshire for the Cranfield interview on the 21st, and return to work after the red eye flight of the 22nd!

After perusing blogs for most of last week, the recurring theme from people's Oxford MBA interviews are the three whys....Why MBA, Why Now, and Why Oxford?

In other matters, I'm right in the thick of my studies for the CFA exams in June....sigh....one day, one day....these struggles will end...

On that depressing note, I ask that you wish me luck....


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The dreaded e-mail.....

I received an email in August 2008, informing me that I had passed the first level of the CFA examination. The joy i felt was indescribable! I guess my joy numbed the torture of having to wait an entire day by the computer, hitting the refresh button like someone suffering from the dreaded OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and totally ignore the need to appear to be working. Since then, I have received two CFA 'failure' emails, one MBA rejection and numerous job application rejects via 'the dreaded email' with practically no positive news save the Toefl results last week.

You can imagine my consternation when I got out of bed on Friday the 4th of February, expecting to receive a decision on my application from the Oxford Business School....yes, via email. The thing about such days is that you know you are acting like a retard but you just can't help it. How do you explain checking your email at 4 in the morning knowing fully well that the admissions staff don't resume till 9 am? Will the admissions lady suddenly wake up at 3am, pick up her blackberry and send me an email? Well, I'm ashamed to say I checked my email every 15 minutes from 4am!

When at 3pm, the dreaded e-mail still hadn't come, I went to lunch....of course, the rice tasted like saw dust.. I got back to my seat 30 minutes later to see that I had 3 unread mails.....one of which was from the school.....of course I opened the other two meaningless emails first......then i nervously clicked on the email....

Then I read the words that made me feel like Dr. Sid (A nigerian artist) when he wrote his song 'over the moon'. I had gotten an interview!!!!!! This time, I didn't care I was in the office.....I jumped up, did a 'Tiger Woods' fist pump and started doing my impression of 'alanta' (a popular nigerian dance step).....Thankfully the office was almost empty....the two guys in the office at the time knew I had applied to Said and after initially looking at me with alarm etched on their faces, each other with confusion, and back at me with the realization of what had happened they congratulated me.....

I've sent the school an email requesting that my interview be scheduled on around the Cranfield interview so i can conduct both on the same trip.....

2011 is looking like a good year....Long may it continue!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The emotional roller coaster that is the applications process!

It's been a roller coaster couple of weeks as i've experienced a broad spectrum of emotions......sadness, depression, anger, humiliation, joy, relief, and disbelief!

Sadness and Depression: I got rejected by Cambridge after I had put in everything into my application. It wasn't the fact that i was rejected, but the manner. The curt email told me that all my work for the last few months wasn't even good enough to get them to want to meet me. Thankfully, i've had some experience with disappointment so i was able to pick myself up, send in my oxford application and start my cranfield (my back up) application.

Anger and Humiliation: I found out that I would have to take a test of English specially for the Oxford application. To them, if you haven't lived or worked in the US, UK, Australia or New Zealand, you don't understand English. To make matters worse, they had a minimum pass mark of 109 over 120! I know I can speak English, but I had no clue what to expect from the test....I knew there were four sections, Reading, Speaking, Writing and Listening, but i wondered what i'd have to do to ensure such a high score. I booked the test and went to take it on the 21st of January......when I got there, I felt totally humiliated. The test centre was filled with teenagers just out of high school trying to go to the U.S to study. MBA applicants don't usually have to take a test of English! I'm sure they looked at me and figured I was a farmer or something who started school in his late teens......

Sadness and Depression (2): I started the test....the first two parts were alright.....the reading and listening because they were multiple choice...i breezed through them...I was also comfortable with the writing.....and then came the speaking section. I should have been warned when the guy beside me started his session. He was to articulate why he envied sportsmen and artists....he started....'I like sportsmen and artists because.......coughs, coughs, nervous glance at me, coughs, clock ticking, I like sportmen and artists because, because, because,.....errrrr.......shit (i think that's what he said)....head on the table, time up'! I self righteously wondered how anyone could be so ineffective at communicating......and then it was my turn....the first of six sessions involved having to listen to a lecture and summarize it.....time to prepare after the lecture? 30 seconds....time to speak, 20 seconds! I listened to the lecture and tried to take notes.....shit, this lecturer's speaking too quickly! Slow down! What did he just say? Did he just talk about igneous rocks and volcanoes? What d hell is that? Time up! 30 seconds to prepare! Okay....just look at your notes and you'll be fine....time is running bayo! Stop thinking and look at your notes! Okay...shit! 15 seconds left...okay....and then i hear a voice saying, please speak after the beep.....who d hell pressed the fast forward button????? After the beep, I managed to mumble some words about rocks, volcanoes and even more rocks.....This sequence repeated itself for all the other speaking sessions and i was sure I had blown any chance i had to go to oxford. As i was about to leave the center, i checked my emails and realised i had received one from oxford.....they acknowledged my application but stated they won't be able to consider it until they received a satisfactory toefl score! And that I had until the 28th to produce it or i'll be bumped to round 3......Now round 3 is bad.....its horrible.....its the last minute round where schools don't really take chances...they go with tried and tested profiles. They also try to avoid people that could have potential visa issues because of the short time frame. I asked the toefl guys how long it'll take to get my results and they stated three weeks....that'll be mid-february at the earliest! Shit! Bye Bye Oxford.....Cranfield.....my last hope! Hear my plea!

Joy, Relief and Disbelief! : Cranfield heard my plea and invited me for an interview....first positive news in ages! They wanted to do a phone interview but I wasn't taking any chances! I told them I would like to come over.....I booked my ticket and will travel on the 17th, the interview's on the 21st. I decided to visit oxford as well on their open day on the 18th.....hoping i'd see something about the school that'll make me feel better about not going! Out of the blue, I received an email saying my toefl results were available online. How is that possible? In a week? With shaking hands, i logged on and checked my results.....Reading 30/30, Listening 30/30, Writing 29/30 and Speaking 26/30! A total of 115/120! How is that possible? I stood up and was about scream in joy when i realised i was in the office and couldn't really explain why i was taking toefl....i converted it into an attempt to stretch, yawned and sauntered into the bathroom where i punched the wall vigorously in suppressed excitement. With trembling hands, I reached for my phone and called Oxford, i explained my situation to the amused admissions officer who agreed to send my application in for the second round if i could get the screenshots of my results to her!

What next? I should hear from Oxford of Friday whether i'll get an interview....if i do, i'll just combine the oxford and cranfield interviews in one trip......fingers crossed!

No prizes for guessing what i'm praying i'll title my next post.......

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Judge Business School - Admission Decision

'Many thanks for your application to the Cambridge MBA program. The admissions committee has carefully considered your applications and we regret to say that it was decided not to invite you for an interview'.

With those words, the guys at Cambridged reached into my stomach, pulled out my intestines and used it to make 'asun' (a local Nigerian delicacy). Months of work down the drain! The worst part is I really can't be mad at anyone. Not myself because I know I put my back into it. Not the guys JBS because I know they receive over a thousand five hundred excellent applications and have to pick the top 10%. So who? Surely I can find a way to blame the government, that's what they are there for!

Well, as a man, I have to dust myself up and move on (Who came up with that by the way? Are women supposed to wallow and wail?). Sent in the Oxford application, a little happier with it than the Cambridge app so fingers crossed. I've also added imperial college as an additional back up school and will apply to them in addition to Cranfield if it Oxford doesnt work out. I'm also adjusting mentally to the possibility of not going to school this year. The tricky thing is my firm's being merged with two others so it'll be interesting to see how this year pans out.

By the way.......Happy New Year!