Archive for April, 2012


Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Last Sunday, we had the INSEAD-BCG Olympics, a whole day of sports activities on the beach at Sentosa, sponsored by my employer (which also meant that I had to do some work in the organization of the day, but I had a comparably small responsibility).

The day started off with some people doing a run from INSEAD to the venue at Sentosa, a run of ~9 km. Most people, however, went to the island by buses (or later by themselves by taxi). The activities themselves kicked off at about 11:00 am, with competitions between the sections in volleyball and football. Overall, roughly 200 people attended the event: about 50 people for each of the sections of my promotion, and again roughly 50 people for the previous promotion (who are currently in the midst of their job searches and therefore have less time to attend an event like this). Over the course of the day, we also had competitions in dodgeball, tug-of-war, and a swimming relay.

In addition to these “serious” competitions, every section also had a list of “fun” activities to complete in order to earn points and potentially become the overall winner of the Olympics. These fun activities included things like building a pyramid out of section members, taking a picture of ten section members doing a handstand, or ordering all section members by first name and taking a picture of that.

My own responsibility over the day was, in addition to coordinating the buses, to be the referee for the football matches – not a really easy task, especially since over the course of the matches the competitive spirit of the teams began to increase, and I had to take some tough and debatable decisions. However, in the end everything worked out alright.

The day ended with a ceremony in which the winner was named (not my section, unfortunately), followed by a barbeque dinner, and music and dancing on the beach or even in the water.

We left the venue by bus at 10pm, being completely exhausted but also very happy, after a full day of sports and fun. Some pictures follow.

NUS Business Case Competition

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Last week, two other students from my class and I participated in a case competition organized by the National University of Singapore (NUS) MBA Knowledge Management club. For this competition, the team had to work on a case study for roughly a week, and then present their findings to a jury of professors and other experts at NUS. The other participants in the case competition were groups of MBA students from various business schools in Singapore: NUS, S P Jain, Singapore Management University (SMU), and INSEAD.

The provided case was interesting: It described the UAE-based, government owned Islamic bank Al Hilal and its success story over the past two years. It did not, however, pose a concrete question but rather asked for an evaluation of their success so far and potential pitfalls for their future growth, which initially made it hard for us to decide what we should focus on.

Despite the fact that we did not win the case competition, we learned a lot in the experience. Among the lessons learnt were the following points:

  • Start the analysis from the industry rather than the individual company, and include findings in presentation
  • Frame the scope of the answer soon to outline a potential story
  • In a strategy question like the one in this case, put an emphasis on competitive advantage and its sustainability
  • Streamline the presentation: don’t reiterate, don’t include detail you don’t want to present, focus on most important aspects with rationales

In summary, the case competition has been a valuable experience, which begs for repetition to see if the lessons learnt can improve the output the next time.


Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Last week, we had the infamous INSEAD Dash. The Dash has been a tradition for a long time, and while I do not know its origins, it was fore sure a fun experience to be part of it.

On the day of the Dash, almost the whole class assembled in the morning in front of Heritage View, which is the condominium where I and a large proportion of the INSEAD students live. Everybody was wearing costumes, most of them rented from costume shops across the city. A very colorful crowd that assembled there indeed 🙂 After everyone had joined, the group then moved to campus – some literally dashing, others normally walking the 10 minute walk that I take every morning to school.

At school, everybody assembled in the courtyard for picture-taking, breakfast and small talk. Most people kept wearing their costumes the whole day, including in classes. A truly hilarious sight, a classroom full of Romans, bunnies, Indians, ducks, and many other strange creatures. The professors are obviously already used to this and didn’t let the students’ apparel distract them from their teaching.

In summary, it really was a fun day, and not quite the usual MBA routine. Some pictures follow.

Diving trip to Pulau Dayang

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Two weeks ago, I went for a diving trip over the weekend to Pulau Dayang in Malaysia. The trip was organized by the INSEAD Diving Club, one of the multiple sports clubs that are offered for students to join. The main purpose of the trip for me and roughly 30 other students was to get the PADI Open Water Diver certification, which will in the future allow me to rent diving gear and go on diving trips individually.

Prior to the trip, we had to take theory lessons (conveniently offered in one of the amphis at INSEAD by the diving school and trip operator) and also conduct two pool sessions in a swimming pool of a school here in Singapore. During the theory and pool sessions, we learned the basic skills required to dive, such as how all the gear is handled and also things like how to clear your mask from water underwater, how to breathe from another persons air supply in case your own runs out, or how to do an emergency ascent.

The trip itself started on Friday night after all participants had finished their classes. The trip to Pulau Dayang, which is a tiny island off the Malaysian east cost, took about seven hours – first by bus, then by boat – so we arrived on the island in the middle of the night. The accommodation was really basic (double bunk beds) but we were on the island for diving and not for luxury after all.

Saturday started in the morning with breakfast and some obligatory announcements, and then we headed out with a boat for the dives. We did three dives on Saturday, returning to the island to eat (and allow the nitrogen in the blood which increases when diving to slowly decrease again) in between each dive. The first two dives were again mostly about demonstrating the skills that we had learned during theory and pool sessions: mask clearing, regulator recovery, regulator clearing, alternate air source, fin pivot (neutral buoyancy), hovering in the water, CESA (controlled emergency swimming ascent) and finally finning around. The third dive was more about moving around underwater and discovering the marine life in the area: we saw a huge turtle, and also some cuttlefish.

We spent the evening on the beach, quite exhausted from the whole day of diving, and went to bed early to be fit for the second diving day. Sunday brought two more dives, the first one being more of a leisure dive going down to 18 meters, which is the maximum debt for which Open Water Divers are certified (there is a more advanced course which allows for deeper depths), and the last one also comprising a demonstration of navigation skills using a compass underwater. On the last two dives, we also saw some amazing marine life including another turtle, cuttlefish, lionfish, barracudas, clownfish and parrotfish.

After lunch, we still had some time to relax on the island because the tide didn’t allow us to leave immediately, so we worked a bit on our tan and enjoyed the provided food. After another seven hour trip back to Singapore, I finally arrived at home shortly past midnight.

All in all, it was an amazing and interesting weekend, and I am definitely planning to do more diving during my time here in Singapore, most likely also doing the Advanced Open Water Diver certification.

Some pictures follow, unfortunately I do not have any of me in the gear or any underwater pictures. However, the beauty of the island and the clarity of the surrounding ocean is quite obvious from the pictures.

© 2012 – 2018 JF Goetzmann — Impress