Thursday, November 18, 2004

Aaaaaaaaaah...the joys of work....completely time to breathe....

so let me look back at my situation

I was working a lot. Then I did an MBA and I worked a lot. Now I am working a lot again.

How do I measure the return?

Monday, November 01, 2004

I will be starting work on November 15th - a dream company but not in my dream location.

I am in Asia right now. I will spend some time in Europe too before I start. I am talking to a lot of friends from my promotion, from other promotion, from businesses in general.

Some people have argued that Insead is a mirror of the world. Only a positive reflection then. Reality hits you hard in the face when you step out. I hear Pakistanese friends who moan about their families arranging marriages for them back home, I hear French friends who bash about some traditional French companies who did not want to recognize their degree, I hear Chinese friends who work for an old school Indonesian leader who cannot take criticism and must micromanage everybody, I hear Hong Kong friends who worry that high levels of mistrust in the new government will lead to an increased number of deals under the carpet and undermine Hong Kong's reputation for transparency; I hear a Paris fan who had to settle for Switzerland, an Africa fan who has to settle for Europe, a Tokyo fan who might have to settle for Shanghai. I hear European friends who must postpone their Asian dreams, Asian who must postpone their US dreams, disillusioned American friends who were just asked to be "fit for the job, without having to wave an MBA as a sine qua non condition to get in".

It will be interesting to see where all these people will, 5 yrs from now.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A personal project - before I start work - has taken me back to Singapore for a few weeks.

Monday, October 04, 2004

I just had a conversation with an Algerian friend. She is a truly formidable woman in my humble opinion.

There is a common stereotype about the Arab world, which associates Arabs with the typical carpet salesman, the "bargain" type. Even negotiation professors use this example as the ideal negotiator. Some people argue that well conducted negotiations make for nearly perfect market as there would be no need for price discrimination. This only holds insofar as you consider all of these negotiations perfect...Guidebooks "educate" tourists to negotiate everything, even a 10th of a cent on a cab ride. Note that most of these guidebooks are written by non-natives who have extensively travel (not lived) in these countries and that not all of these books will get reviewe by natives.

My friend was telling me that in general and for most common items, people just pay the price on the tag. People will negotiate only if they have strong reasons for doing so. For instance, suppose that the quality advertised for an item differs greatly from the observable fact. If the price on the tag is associated with the advertised quality, it might not correspond to the value of the item. This can be grounds for negotiations. What I understood was that Arabs do not negotiate just for the sake of negotiating, because it is a "culture" thing. I can then also understand if they become irritated at tourists negotiating because it is "fun", because it is just a game. We were taught that everything is "negotiable" - unless it is clearly illegal. Does it make negotiating everything desirable?

We also talked about languages. My friend shared with me that Arabic was a language of love and passion. I can try to talk about languages I am more familiar with. I experience Spanish as a language of passion and fire. It has Arabic roots. I experience French and Italian as languages of love. They have latin roots, and French slang contains a lot of Arabic terms.

Poetry does not translate well. It would be difficult to appreciate the beauty of a Pushkin or a Goethe poem without reading it in its original form. However, for many of us, a translation will be the only way to get exposed to the diversity and richness of poetry in Arabic. This culture offers many poems, songs and stories which are well worth discovering.

Friday, September 24, 2004

We still have not received our deposit back for our house in Fontainebleau (and we did not have any hot water for the last two months). So if anyone of you decides to live North of Fontainebleau, across from Barbizon, let me know. I can tell you if you will be dealing with our dreaded landlady...

No news from France Telecom. I bet they forgot me. But SBC Pacfic Bell conned me into paying for a lot of extra months of line rental because they forgot to disconnect my phone. I am going to use VoIP from now on, wireless access points or smoke signals. I think wired telephone companies hate me.
I talked to someone last night at a dinner - She's Canadian, lives in the US and spent a few months in Paris. I thought I should post this as it might be a useful lesson for anybody trying to "Frenchise" their English.

This lady was walking around Paris telling people that she didn't like American bread because she didn't like preservatives (too much in American bread according to her). She was also telling everyone that she was very excited (to be in France, in Paris, etc...). Preservatives does not translate into preservatif. "Preservatif " in French, as she found out later, means condom. And excited does not translated into "excite" in French. Excite (pronounce excitay) means "horny".

So this lady was going around Paris, telling people about how "horny" she was, and then adding that she really didn't like condoms. The poor Parisians must have been thinking: "and the world bashes about our liberalism! It should look at the other side of the Atlantic!"

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Just in case anyone's still listening.

I may have a job in my dream company...More soon...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

How strange - it seems that the blog URL gets redirected to some weird Linux page. I can't access it. I hope that you aren't experiencing too much inconvenience.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Some people have enquired about France Telecom.

I did manage to get them on the phone - as I put pressure on the law people to get access to their service directly. They indicated that the law office never passed on any of my letters (great...). It took me two phone calls to get them to realize that I never had a phone line. They passed the enquiry to their customer service department (I was talking to the claims and legal issues department) as they figured it must have been some sort of mistake but they are apparently months behind with their claims. I indicated that I was leaving the country and was quite anxious to close this matter off. They will do their best and they assured me that they now understood better the situation, although it was still puzzling to read that I had requested a line and claims not to have any. I invited them to visit the property and check for themselves. Anyway, it looks as if there is some progress...Back here, I now have to phone another local company who hasn't figured out that I left months ago and forgot to disconnect my number...For some reason I never get on well with phone companies anywhere I go...

There you go. The day things clear out completely and I become a trusted customer again, I will let you know.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Welcome to this journal, offering to the world the lunatic mood of an MBA ape participant. This journal is about living and studying in France, and living and studying in Singapore at INSEAD – an international business school. It started at the beginning of the first term, in August 2003 but because the primate could not figure out the technicality of Internet posting, it was brought online a couple of months afterwards.
This journal is as accurate, comprehensive and honest as possible. It was inspired by my predecessor, Lucky Goldstar, whom I must thank tremendously. Both the Lucky Star and the Immature Primate had noticed an information gap between the INSeaDE and the outsEAde world. I dearly hope that it has or will be of use to you, readers of all nations, who choose to gather around these words. These writings are meant as a service to you.
More information about Insead can be found at More information about MBA bloggers can be found at
If you cannot find the answer to your question in this journal, I will be happy to be of further assistance. You can e-mail me, by just clicking on the left-hand side of this page.
I must now go on with my life – and cannot wait to become a more concrete contributor to the global economy. I will summarize the key lessons I have learned at business school, and more specifically at INSEAD during the course of the summer. It will be a repeat of the main takeaways. I must wait and gain some perspective. This journal per say, ends here - unless anyone of you emails me with an urgent question that will benefit all - or if I hear something extraordinarily useful.

If you read some of the "Dean at INSEAD" posts again, and focus on the "seriously" section - some ideas might start appearing, after discussions with good friends and fellow classmates.

- Decision to go to Business School
- Application Process
- Choice of Campus
- Move and Expensive, sorry Executive Solutions
- First Periods
- Group Work
- Campus Exchange
- Elective Choice and Bidding
- Job Search
- Becoming a member of the INSEAD Family.

Regardless of the flaws of the program - like of every program - this year has been an AMAZING year.

I must thank all of you readers, supporters, classmates, sailors of the 7 seas. Thank you to the founders of INSEAD, visionary leaders of the global economy.
I will keep writing as I have much to share and explore with all of you – but today, I bid you goodbye.

Finance Monkey
Fontainebleau, 9th July 2004
Our Global Strategy Management professor gave us the most inspirational lecture to conclude is inspirational course.

“The successful companies are the ones that manage to achieve profitable and sustainable growth – however, the most admired companies, the ones that will go down well in history are the ones that are also the most ethical and that have had a positive impact on their ecosystem and society at large.”

“It is not necessary for all companies to go global to be successful. It is necessary for all companies to think global. A few years ago, Philips and Thomson did not count with a Samsung, the computing industry with an Acer, Dell with a Legend – or Zara with a Giordano. Ford did not expect Toyota to emerge, nor Lafarge Cemex.”

“There was an experiment done a few years ago – people put in vitro communism, socialism and capitalism. The experience is over and a mix of capitalism and capitalist socialism has won. However, has it really? Is it a victory to have 40 million people without medical coverage in the US? In that respect, with their slow and backward looking attitude, the French might be rendering the greatest service to humanity, as it pulls it back a little as, to me, the biggest question is: To Grow, yes, but how FAST?
We cannot make unlimited uncontrolled use of public goods, we cannot use up our oil reserves, without planning for replacement, we cannot burn down the Amazon forest, we cannot build cities and deplete the land from its natural rejuvenation mechanism, we cannot produce more carbon dioxide than nature can absorb, we cannot make more babies than there are daycare facilities, etc…”

“My recommendation to you is to take a stand – choose your values and represent them well in your communities. Do not hurry and weigh carefully the consequences of your action. Be what you say you are and the world will admire you.”
Heard in our BBQ last night

“I now understand why the French don’t travel – I went around the country and it is just amazing – so varied and beautiful” – South African MBA graduate

Heard at my last dinner at Ty-Koz
"there is an obvious equity agency cost at the school. There are some key shareholders: faculty, participants, alumni, staff and the power seems to reside totally in the hands of one of them..." - French MBA graduate
One last time, I would like to encourage INSEAD MBA participants to share more and more of their stories. Writing this journal has been a fantastic experience for me – and the more independent voices the better to minimize any biased opinion.

New applicants have indicated that the blog was informative, helpful both for their application, and for their decision to apply to INSEAD (or not).
Recent admits have said that the journal provided sufficient data to support their decision to join INSEAD (or not), and of Fontainebleau or Singapore as a starting campus – and to get ready for a move.
Current participants launched into a Cluedo adventure to find out who I was and would often email me comments.
INSEAD graduates could perhaps get a fresh taste of the life in the abstract world of education and recall fond memories of their time on campus.

Other satellite readers, such as MBA participants in other schools, faculty members both at INSEAD and in other schools and people managing these programs have browsed through the journal and at times, send me an email or two.

I originated this diary for my friends and family – I believe that none of them actively followed it as some are still surprised when I announce them that I have graduated. They thought I was still backpacking in Latin America.

You can decide about the amount of time you wish to dedicate to writing – you can make it as fun, as descriptive, as deep as you like – just try to keep it honest!

If you want to talk more about blogging, don’t hesitate to email me.
When Deans are Finance teachers, we already know what it is like:

- Z-curve
- tuition fees rising with appreciation of the euro
- 18% women last year (fortunately up now but the Dean is moving to economics;-) )
- high bidding scores for electives
- no Finance elective would clash if you want to take them all, which will not be the case for all other electives
- A name that no one understands ;-)
- Periods bear names that aren't as creative as something simple such as GENESIS, ANTIQUITY, MIDDLE AGES, RENAISSANCE, REVOLUTION ...with a fixed number of electives in a fixed grid
- The Most Outstanding Professor of the year is a Finance professor, and I think that the Dean of te MBA program, Exec Ed and INSEAD are Finance professors...

Couldn't resist...Sorry...

I really like our yearbook - I cannot post here anybody else's profile without permission but I can give samples of the ones I wrote, taking out the names. Our classmates write profiles about each and everyone of us...

Here is X profile
Some argued that X was a power fanatic with an International Tech hat on, much like his president, except for the style of hat. In reality, he pushed the concept of non-authoritarian consensus building to its limits by making a series of controversial moves. He developed close contact dating techniques, through the delivery of self-defense classes to the 18% minority under threat. After running his own company and have little to learn from INSEAD, X nevertheless supported international cooperation by raising the number of languages per capita. We only regret his preference for useless dialects, such as French and Finnish. Admittedly, in the Olympics, it would be hard for this international patchwork to choose which flag to run with. The boldness and originality of his views on international affairs were magnificently illustrated by interventions in which he turned into a passionate walking encyclopedia. As such, he courageously stood against the abyss of ignorance of his national leaders. X also embraced true values in Singapore as he revealed to his senses the voluptuous secrets of Thai massage, the delights of Asian food, the vapors of alcohol and the power of female seduction. Most likely to win in a fight with Jacky Chang while enjoying caviar and champagne.

Here is Y profile
If James Bond were Indian, Y would get the role. His charm and social ease gets him whatever (and whoever) he wants. It is hard to imagine this all-smile, funky cool guy has contributed to half the world’s marketable technical inventions. When not breaking people with his wicked cross-over on the basketball court, he attempted to pick-up his French teacher with Level I skills. Needless to say, “ça va?” did not get him very far despite his Dawg gangsta look (he lowered his car seats all the way down!).

Y is gifted at almost everything he does: tennis, skiing, cooking, yet he generously pours wine into your glass at a party. He is the most credible and incredible person when he claims that grades rank second to learning and having fun (he never opened his grade envelopes, preferring to surround his cleverness with an air of mystery.) Y rules when it comes to handling “liquidity” products. He’d never run on a negative bash flow. Most likely to sell for a profit, then be asked to turn around the same company four or five times, before retiring a sublime millionaire with a delicate glass of vodka, at age 35.

Here is Z Profile
Ever want to get away from life for a short bit? Z's the person to talk to. Four months in Singapore were insufficient to travel to all the places she wanted to go. She generated more travel ideas than the rest of INSEAD and took us all over SE Asia. And more than that, she doesn't need transport like us common mortals! She sails. Really well.

Super Z, full of energy, enthusiasm and eternally rearing to go. Where? Nobody knows … But be careful of what you say, our class Lois Lane is always on the watch. However, this hard-hitting writer needs no Superman, her own super powers include a wit faster than a speeding bullet, a sports addiction hardly contained by volleyball, a charisma more powerful than a locomotive and a charm to leap over all men. Omnipresent and effervescent, she is a generous powerhouse.

From cycling through the forest of Fontainebleau, to dancing in the nightclubs of SingaPOMP, and back - she added color wherever she went. Let’s just hope she never gets a job as a France Telecom/UPS representative!

Most likely to be the first MBA woman to sail around the world (and write about it!)

Ooops, I have seriously increased my speed of typing in the past few months...

The quality of my grammar and number of typos have become inversely proportional and both have experienced changes conditional to this F1 writing style...for the worse.

If I was really serious about this blog, I'd have to read again all the posts and correct all of that. I apologize for the inconvenience, ask for your forgiveness and thank you for your understanding.

Yesterday, I had a lovely Italian dinner - even if my Italian friend left the pasta in the water 1 minute too many and complained for most of the evening about overcooked pasta. Nice Italian salad, nice Italian cheese, nice Italian pasta and nice French red wine. Topped off by a fantastic black coffee and wonderful company. What more could you ask, as your eyes reach into the disorder of a few branches in blossom, extending out to the sky in a silent prayer.

Today, I had an Australian-style Barbecue at my old house, hosted by my old housemates with South African, English, Australian, Peruvian and a Belgian lady to break the Commonwealth circle. I now bring my own food if I don't want to suffer from the now well-known vegetarian BBQ famine. One of the British guests works in healthcare. He indicated that the French have the highest consumption of drugs per capita in the world and the highest concentration of pharmacies per sq km. Apparently, on average, a doctor will prescribe 5 drugs after each visit and they would be very generous in their use of antibiotics. This is very bad as bugs get used to antibiotics and he reckons that within 10 to 20 years, the world will go back to what it was before antibiotics were introduced.

Another interesting part of the conversation hovered around the fact that the "Homeless" holiday package was one of the best sellers in Germany. Apparently, people PAY to get dropped off with plastic bags and no money in London for a week of begging and supreme survival skills. If people are willing to pay for THAT - my idea about opening an ice-cream business in Greenland doesn't sound so stupid anymore.

A peruvian guest was actively listening to a girlie conversation about whether men look better in speedos or in short (the Perfect Body syndrom struck again). We concluded that it depended on the original looks of the man, rather than on swim-wear fashion. He asked: "so do you prefer your underwear..." and was stopped by furious women, outraged at his lack of manners. Confused like hell, he had to explain..."I used to work for Procter and Gamble, I marketed sanitary towels, sorry it's a reflex, it was very important for us to know the type of underwear that women like to wear..." This is the greatest opening line I heard this year...

And if you are looking for a truly nice restaurant in a truly nice place, try Le Boulevard at the bottom of the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Never been there but everyone around the table recommended it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I was intending to offer the insights from our Global Strategy Professor and a general wrap up post - anything I am forgetting or that you need to know at this point and that I have not covered?
Now that this blog is coming to a close, I invite you, readers and beneficiaries, to provide some feedback. Not to me anymore but to INSEAD with respect to this kind of information, blogs in general, this blog in particular (I have graduated, it's ok to do so now), or with respect to the school. INSEAD is desirous to make things change when it matters to applicants and participants and they want to hear from you.

We can do this several ways.

You can either email me - with a subject line FEEDBACK. I will compile this feedback and forward it to INSEAD. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know. I'll be sure to remove your name.

You can contact INSEAD directly. Either INSEAD MBA Marketing or the general contact number and they will redirect your e-mail.

I have received feedback about this blog all along, from applicants, new and current participants, professors, Deans or ex-Deans of other programs (!) and MBA grads (from INSEAD and other schools). I thank all of you for your encouragements, keep them coming as this email address will remain valid for a while. It is very gratifying to hear from you. Don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of any help to you in the future - or if you know of any need in marketing or product development ;-)

You have been the best part of this blogging experience - good luck to you all!

If the Dean of Insead was an economics teacher, tuition fees would be agreed after a day long bargaining process in the September promotion and seats would be auctioned for the January intake. All classes would be made up of curves and they would all have to intercept somewhere. Text solutions would be banned. All cases would be graphical and could be explained with Italian food and German drinks.

The serious version is that

- There might be a core course, which everyone must take. Then people might be free to take more or less electives (with a minimum to graduate) and be charged extra if they want a few more courses. There would be an incentive not to bid all your points (such as some money refunded if you don't use them all, proportional to the number of points) so that no one bids artificially high for electives and they reflect the true value of the courses. There might a lot more flexibility easily built into the program which might last actually 12 to 16 months. People could choose to have a shorter program with more electives each period, or a longer program with fewer electives this period to follow their preferences. The time that could be freed could be invested in Clubs and various other activities...

Tuition Fees would not be called tuition fees, they would be called Student Tax. Every participant would file the number of courses taken after each period and the amount of tax owed to the school would be calculated that way. INSEAD would also try to price discriminate everyone based on their previous income, their desire to attend the school and get onto the Dean’s List to grab maximum surplus.

All professors would be allocated according to a bidding process, to make sure that everyone is able to log in its preference. Everyone’s curriculum would therefore follow as closely as possible everyone’s utility curve.

Offices would have variable opening times. They would remain open when its makes economic sense for them to be open, depending on their marginal cost and tax revenues.

Menus at the cafeteria would be taylor to fit every participant’s preference, represented by a preference curve. At the beginning of the year, every participant would be asked to set aside some money and indicate how many beers and pizzas they intend to buy out of this lot.

Benchmarking of program would be indexed based on a basket of goods (CMS, Faculty, etc…) and taxes would be adjusted in Singapore and Fontainebleau to reflect the local standard of living. This would work as an additional incentive for people to take classes in Singapore.

There would be a new fee, called Admission Fee which would be re-calculated every year based on the number of applicants and the number of seats in the program.

INSEAD would make decisions every year between Labor (Faculty) and Capital (computers and CMS) investments for a not for profit maximizing number.

It would export and import professors quite freely and trade brains with other universities. Their currency (MBA degree) would be re-evaluated every year by the Central Bank (Business Week Survey). Investments or Savings in Education would be necessary to adjust the balance of payments. Most participants would typically run a deficit in this equation, while INSEAD would count the bins.

There will be a welfare officer per participant and a governing agency per department (including parking department, which would fall under Transports). Deans would actually be elected with universal suffrage for a period of three years by all members of the INSEAD community (INSEAD grads could vote by proxy if they cannot make it in person to campus) and would select their governments. The Dean of the school would be called President, all the other Deans would be called Minister. The head of Operations would become Minister of Interior, CMS would be the Ministry of Labor, the MBA the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Before any change, it would conduct a general survey of opinions...

Every participant would be left free to adjust their consumption of Services and Education and when INSEAD’s expansion plans to becoming the biggest parking lot in Fontainebleau come to fruition, they will add Parking to the basket.

As usual, here is a wrap up about classes in P5

Managing Entrepreneurial Growth
My first impression was very positive as the professor was energetic, funny, with a lot of experience and seems to be truly interesting in making the whole experience a very unique one. If I look back at the course, I am not sure that I have learned so much. What he taught in this class had been previously taught in our OB classes, in our REP classes, in our Strategy classes or marketing classes. I found so many repetitions that I wish I had used my time for another course, that would have brought more new material.

I had a discussion with somebody about professors with a PhD or not. INSEAD has a couple of resident professors with no PhD – then it is a bet. Some are very good at teaching (I had a couple of examples in P4), very structured course, they bring a lot of professional experience and you leave the course thinking “wow, that was so great”. Typically, their subject will be very applied, very practical. Some are not very good at teaching, even though they probably are very good at their subject. They also lack the depth of thinking and theoretical explanation that a PhD holder would be able to bring.
The PhD holder on the other hand lacks contact with reality. One strategy prof was indicating that it was in Microsoft interest to play Intel against AMD. So why do they continuously provide Intel with advanced specifications and make sure that they program get tested on Intel’s platform, etc…and make Intel a preferred partner, etc…He could not answer. He replied: “theoretically, they would have an interest…”

Industry Competitive Analysis
The class in P5 was not taught by Karel Cool (who is one of the BEST BEST BEST professor at INSEAD) and I could feel it. I first thought that it would be great but the class lost momentum, the explanations tended to be too theoretical and modelized for my taste, I lost track of the key learning point and I didn’t learn as much about the best competitive strategies as I would have liked. I audited the course but I did the group projets (and that was a lot of fun). In all fairness, the professor was good and drew on class experience whenever possible.

Global Strategy Management
This is one of my best courses at INSEAD. The professor was truly excellent and can explain the world with a 2x2 matrix. You ask him where you should work and I am sure that he places you in a quadrant depending on your level of internal and external ties with his subject. He mastered teaching. He started off with a class case discussion, cold calling on people – skillfully taking the discussion where he wanted it to go, allowing to take various twists and turns to get the ideas out, then summarize the whole thing (with the matrix). Each class, he would summarize the key learning point of the previous class.
His intro class and his conclusion class were the most inspirational lectures I had at INSEAD. I will take the time to share what I remember from my last class.
He demonstrated superior knowledge, a rare openness of mind, a genuine curiosity for who we were, and a fantastic grasp of the key elements in the world. He positioned business on many different dimensioned, socially, economically, financially, etc…in a crystal clear way. I hope I can stay in touch with him. He is someone I would love to invite as a guest speaker if I need to get everyone to cry and feel inspired. He was a leader to me.

Financial Statement Analysis
Before I give my opinion, I must say that I believe that everyone thinking about graduating with an MBA should take this course. The professor started very slowly, then increased his pace. I liked it but I bet that anyone with strong financial background were bored to death after lecture 2. This is a general problem in such a program. I loved by Strategies for Asia Pac class but anyone born and bred in Asia would have found the class dull. In general, I thought that the professor was very clear, very good. I recommend he does not use Excel if he intends to have more than one participant use his financial model though. We lost many hours figuring out bugs in Excel rather than problems with our valuation assumptions.
I have said it before and I will say it again. There are many good business schools out there. All different and all similar in some ways.

All have some sort of specialty – tech, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship. All have a culture, that’s what makes them so special.

Be proud of the path you chose for yourself and curious about the others. Whichever way you go, once you have engaged on that path, don’t turn back. Share what this path has brought to you and when you get to a crossroads, trade with other travelers.

Ps: remember that all the opinions stated in this journal or purely mine and do not represent INSEAD as a whole.
Some of my classmates have been offered jobs, some are still looking. Regardless of what people will choose to do, remain humble and always remember how fortunate you are.

Your MBA does not replace experience. Learn from whoever you will work with, accept that you will not have all the answers but trust that you have everything in you to advance you well on the quest to the solution. Pick your battle and don’t waste your time on what matters little to you, your family, your country, your business.

Be generous.

Be thankful to society at large. You would never have gotten this degree without an education system, without various bits of infrastructures, without the knowledge accumulated over the past millenniums, without a market for companies, without support from your partners, families and friends, an old professor or a mentor. The list is long. Regardless of how much money you make, you cannot claim it as being all yours, as so many have contributed to your success.
Give back to society and become active in helping others to reach similar levels of satisfaction, whichever path they choose.

Do what you like doing so that you can do it with passion – and faith.

When facing hard times, remember that every problem comes with a solution. Your focus is to find it.
If the Dean was an entrepreneurship professor, the Director of the MBA program would be asked to make coffee and every manager would be called Vice President.

More seriously, there would be high innovation levels, as student projects, companies and faculties would often work together to improve the program, the visibility of the school in the financing and small enterprise business but also to act as a constant renewal engine in big businesses. This could be held as a huge flagship for banks, small businesses, consultancies (in need of ideas) and big businesses to come to INSEAD.

The Fontainebleau campus would be delocated to Sophia Antipolis and see its size reduced to the Singapore one. A third campus would have to be created on American soil.

INSEAD’s Motto would become: “petit mais costaud”

INSEAD would raise funds every year or so, and would maintain and develop relationships with the various VCs around the world. Members of top corporations and other educational institutions would sit on its board and provide valuable advice.

Every participant would be asked to come up with their own curriculum and be given a lot of autonomy in how they’d like to be graded. They would not pay a tuition fee but they’d have to get their own funding. They could raise new funds every period. In fact, the time you could spend at INSEAD would depend on the amount of funding you would raise. It might therefore take you several rounds before obtaining your degree. If you could also bring extra money for INSEAD, you could decrease by a couple of credits the minimum number required to graduate.
Each of the new curriculum and elective models and the past period grades would be carefully examined by the investment and faculty community to make sure that it made educational sense before granting the next round of funding. Every participant would be required to achieve inhuman rates of return in each class. Minimum passing grade would be risen from 1.8 to 2.5. Dean’s List would be given to the top three students to encourage more competition.

Admissions would be run through the famous 2 min elevator pitch. If a participant could sell its career goal and life in a nutshell in 2 min or less, he or she would be admitted into the program. They would be ask to accompany the admission officer from the ground floor to top floor of the building in an elevator and pitch their Career Model. On the way down, they’d have to answer “Why Me and Why INSEAD”.

There would be no class schedule as it would be considered a hindrance to high levels of creativity. Instead, everyone would have to constantly align their schedule with everyone else.

INSEAD would be very focused on growth and would have plans to open a 20 new programs every year. It would be able to deliver on only 2 of them but would keep advertising for 20. A third would actually just be late so half the promotion would have to delay its entry every now and then. It would also change its name to

Instead of maintaining contacts with recruiters, CMS (Career Management Services) would maintain contact with the workforce and provide the various core team members needed for the graduating entrepreneurs. They would schedule interviews for the various MBA participants, and have rooms reserved for the various functions. For instance, if an MBA participant was looking to hire a VP of Marketing, he or she would go to North Wing 4.

IPO would be a special finance course – and Finance 1 would be renamed Private Equity and Finance 2 would be renamed Venture Capital. Marketing Core Course would be renamed Bullshitting and there would be no requirement to take Process Courses to graduate. On the other hand, Legal Courses would become mandatory.

All doors would be destroyed at INSEAD. There would be no other services (drain of funds) such as cafeteria, travel agency, etc… on campus. MBAs would have to either do it themselves or not do it.

MBA would really not be cool funky fizzy enough for a product name. It would be renamed iGoBroke for the classic MBA edition and eHoliday for Executive Education and easyMoney for the Executive Program.
Our graduation ceremony was ok – I say ok and I mean good.

On the one hand, it was GREAT to be around all my classmates, thinking back on this fabulous year and to share one last moment of joy with them. It felt good to finally be able to handle this piece of paper, the results of all these efforts and late nights. We all grew sad, as people left the club for new skies…

Here is the feedback I got from Singapore
- The guest speaker delivered the most inspirational speech ever. He is a very influential business leader in Asia and managed to get half the Insead crowd to cry.
- The reception was excellent: they had good drinks and good food
- The venue was superb (Raffles Hotel, one of the most expensive and luxurious colonial style hotel in Singapore) – got loads of Singapore Slings at that place
- The dinner was very good
- The faculty was there

In Fontainebleau, we actually all met at the Maison de la Chimie, in the middle of the various French Ministeres. All of my comments are minor as my overall impression of the graduation ceremony is fantastic. I will recall this as one of my grand moments at Insead – not because of the piece of paper, but because we were all there, at the end of our journey in the land of INSEAD, brothers in arms.

- parking sucks and the police is everywhere guarding the ministere, not a good idea to forget to pay for parking over there
- there was not enough seating for guests and families. INSEAD allows you to bring three people to graduation and knows in advance the number of guests, yet I know that many people had to stand. Some people crossed Ocean and traveled across half the planet to be there. It is respectful to seat them. In fact, the room is very small. I think that the venue was generally too small and it might be beneficial to look for a bigger one in the years to come, even if it means breaking up with the tradition (is the Chateau de Fontainebleau open for such ceremony?)
- I saw two or three faculty members. Our professors, all excellent, have largely contributed to making this experience an unforgettable one and it was sad not to have them share our little moment of glory.
- The speakers were good but not as inspirational as our fellow MBA
- The cocktails were very good as the Maison de la Chimie offers a very respectable face

Finally a couple of suggestions: would European business leaders value an invitation to such a ceremony (if it is made professional) and offer an opportunity for INSEAD MBAs to network during cocktail time? Or perhaps some French officials (after all, they were all neighbors on that day…)

Wouldn’t a weekend day easier on guests, who had to leave their work to attend the ceremony? My guests would have been able to stay with me after the ceremony were it not for the necessity to travel back to the other end of Europe to be on time at work on the next day.

The graduation party afterwards was awesome. MBAs rented a whole club in Paris, called Bus Palladium, near Pigalle. We had free drinks all night and our own DJ. Sandwiches were distributed throughout the night and we finished right on time to get our café and croissants in the early hours of the morning. T-Shirt marked INSEAD MBA July 2004 were distributed to all grads (and their cost must have been included in the price of the ticket) and we were all wearing them at the club. I painfully drove back around 6am, with two Japanese fellows…Actually, when I reached my car, some idiots parked on a “Stationnement Interdit” slot behind it, leaving me no space to manoeuvre. I had to move out of the parking spot, inch by inch and bumper to bumper. It took me close to 20 minutes…

We will miss such diversity, such an incredibly bright crowd. I will miss such a fast-paced and stimulating environment and the artificiality of a student status that allows you to concentrate on growing personally.

I long for becoming part of a new family, I can’t wait to work again – to build and contribute something tangible to my personal career, to a company, to society.
If the Dean of the MBA program was an Accounting professor, everything will be oh so organized.

Whenever you’d take a class, you would receive an automatic ticket that would indicate the number of credit left for you to graduate, the number of classes of that same course are left for you to take, the place and time of the next class and a summary of the homework due next class.
You could print out financial receipt for the tax authority, replenish your catering account and find out what your grades are by just swapping your ID card and entering your pin code.

Seriously - the number and type of electives to be offered would be much more dynamic. Every period, INSEAD would monitor the electives that go to bidding and lock these into the elective grid so that they are guaranteed for everyone. Then, there would be a choice of two electives by free slots. The most demanded electives win the slot.
There would also be a clear link between investments (such as good permanent people in the CMS department, vs transient people), or more people in the Fund and Scholarship department - and returns (better quality of students, higher acceptance rate, more funds, etc...) to help monitor the quality of these discussions.

Every activity would have a suggested time to completion, and you could enter all your task into a Monster Planning tool to get the best possible use of your time to maximize your return on investment. You would book your time to a billing code (E for Eating, D for Drinking, PS for Personal Study, GS for Group Study, the course code for course work, CMS for Job Search, N for Networking, A for Admin work, etc…) and INSEAD would monitor how much time you spend in non academic activities and optimize its process to minimize this time. It would also allow you to perfectly estimate the duration each task would take you by relying on this historical data and help you make decision around what to work on when you get closer to exam time.

You would know the cost of each class and if you were to miss one, you would get an email message indicated that you have just wasted x Euros on Strategy. This would work as an excellent incentive to keep you in class.

Every INSEAD department would be closely monitored and their efficiency levels would improve dramatically year on year, as their return on assets would rise to all times highs to finally be on the par with GE.

INSEAD would keep clear and open accounts and share its financial results and investment decisions with its faculty, board members, donors, workers, MBA participants and graduates. It would hold quarterly conferences and publish a private early report. Everyone donating money to the program could make suggestions as to how it could best be run, and would get feedback on their ideas. The use of the money would be totally transparent thus encouraging donors to give again year on year. Utilization rates of the money would become better and better (no wastage) and would be published in these reports. Quality levels would remain high.
Had coffee with our old MBA coordinator in Singapore – she is moving onto another role within INSEAD. She is the most efficient person I know. She was sharing with me her first impression of France. Heard in this discussion and Faithfully Reported

“- when I got to Charles de Gaulle airport, it took sooooooo long to get our luggage!”
“- we wanted to get food in Fontainebleau at 6.30pm on Sunday but there was nothing open!”
“- we wanted to go shopping on Sunday here but all the shops were closed”
“- I am taking two days off to finally get to see Paris”

Join the club
I thought I could share with you one of my most recent decisions.

Aside my full-time industry job, I have decided to be a writer. I have been writing for a very long time - although this is my first attempt at cyberjournal and digital thinking - and an increasingly large number of people have encouraged me to contact people in the publishing industry. So I will continue to be a writer, and I will try to make it public - this is what I won't control. It will be for the public to judge!
Well, I have moved out and I am now staying with friends - which is likely to be the case for the next few months. My old place has no hot water but now it does not affect me anymore. The landlady or her representative have probably not told us anything that resembled the truth (you must check the fuel level at the gauge, but then there is no gauge, etc...) but it does not affect me anymore.

Still many people around. We all gathered for an Italian Restaurant dinner last night. I am invited for a last Italian dinner with my OB2 project partner (the one who fed me pizza all along P2 whenever we met for this project). We were really supposed to write about the role of firms in society but at times I was distracted and must have written about the difference between thin crust and deep pan. Tomorrow, I have one last barbecue at my old house with my old housemate (he has not moved out, he will be looking for a job from here, as he loves climbing and prefers to stay around Fontainebleau/La Climbing Mecca). On Friday, I might catch up with our INSEAD Singapore Team, in Fontainebleau right now for some training. On Saturday and Sunday, I was planning on a trip down South (my favorite region in this country). On Monday, I am in England, on Tuesday and Wednesday in Paris (I just had to be in Paris for Bastille Day celebrations) and on Thursday on a plane with an acute case of soon...

I have not heard back from the France Telecom lawyer. I tried to call three times since my last letter (Registered mail), but I keep being asked to wait with a nice music and no one ever picks up the phone...Their "quelques instants" turn into long term lease.

Finally I got them on the phone but they told me they merely forwarded the letter onto France Telecom. They have not received a response back from them which is why they have not called me back. They agreed to give me the France Telecom "services des contentieux" (Spelling?) number which I just called. They never received a letter from the Lawyer's Office. In fact they never received any letter from me...
This could have taken a long time...

The lady was actually most helpful. I told her I had moved out and was planning on leaving the country altogether. She took my mobile number since I would be in France for the next week or so and promise to try to locate my letter and pass it onto their Customer Service department. She will call me back before my departure date to let me know the status of this enquiry.

I indicated my willingness to pay anything that was legitimate and my desire to have a clean record if this is just a mistake.

I have 20,000 different references

one for my personal France Telecom account
one for the bailif (who acts like a collection agency through the lawyer
two for the lawyer (their own and mine with them for France Telecom)
one for France Telecom through bailif (if I call France Telecom to enquire about this problem)
one for France Telecom but for the lawyer (like I just did)

I have found someone willing to buy my car. Must go tomorrow to the Sous-Prefecture to get the paperwork. I wanted to go today, only to find out that the Sous-Prefecture in Fontainebleau is closed to "membres du public" on Wednesdays...Great use of my time...

I must ship some boxes for my housemate. I will store mine in France until I know where to ship them to.

I still have a few things to post before I wrap up such as graduation ceremony in Paris, last Global Strategy Management class, etc...I might be on the late side for this.

My final post will be a condensed version of my most stupid conclusions for your benefit, and it will be preceded on general feedback about YOU, readers of all nations, who have been so active in your correspondence with ME, humble blogger from the land of INSEAD (our Yearbook takes the form of a passport from the Republic of INSEAD), a land with not one nationality, where everyone is a local and everyone is a foreigner. head...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

In February, the CEO of a leading French company came to INSEAD to address the MBAs.
The following morning, he was on the first page of the Financial Times as he had just been fired.
I went to a Chinese restaurant yesterday with a group of INSEADers still in Fontainebleau. We met three other groups of INSEADers. It is nice to see that a few days after graduation, we will have an overwhelming presence in this town.

One of the groups we met had a funny adventure. They were all invited by an Asian participant to have a typical Asian dinner. Her parents are over and they had spent the whole afternoon chopping and cutting things. In the evening, they started frying and steaming the chopped and cut ingredients. A lovely lemony smell invaded the house - just in time to make everyone realize that as the cook ran out of vegetable oil, they picked another type of oil. Not understanding French and not discouraged by the picture of dead crawling and flying bugs on the bottle, they used lemon grass-based Mosquito repellent as cooking oil...Fortunately, they realized before consuming the lovely dinner that they were at risk of serious poisoning (and the first person to notice would have been the next September batch, not arriving before late August...). In the end, they had to throw away all this magnificent food and join us in the restaurant...
The friend who bet on Greece winning the UEFA cup is now rich and has taken off for the summer to exotic places.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I promised a small post on Cabaret...I must thank the organizers for their creative talent - and the rest of Insead for their contribution. It was a fantastic show. Here are a few excerpts to give you a taste of how funny things were...

The introduction unrolled on a big screen, spoken with a very grave and rasp voice, a la Hollywood "I want to sound serious and dramatic". Dramatic Lord of the Ring intro theme in the background.

I amar prestar aen. (ee amar prestar ein). The world has changed.
Han mathon ne nen. (han mathon ne nen). I feel it in the water.
Han mathon ne chae. (han mathon ne hai). I feel it in the earth.
A han nostron ned wilith. (ahan nothon ne gwilith). and I smell it in the air.

Much that once was, is lost for none now live who remember it.
It began with the forging of the great dings. Three were given to the investment banks: Immortal, well paying, and toughest of all firms.
Seven to industry: Solid firms of history and product and craftsmen of cheap smelling French perfumes and wooden crates.
And nine, nine dings were gifted to the consultancies who above all else, desire spikes and overly structured thinking.

For within these dings was bound the strength and the will to govern every career.

But they were, all of them, deceived; for another ding was made. In the land of INSEAD, in the fires of Mount Acceptus, the Dark Lord of CMS forged, in secret, a master ding.

And into this ding she poured her cruelty, her malice and her will to dominate all careers.

One ding to rule them all.


The entire show was the story of two elves (N and Z) trying to fight the curse of the INSEAD Ding. The acts populated their travels throughout the land of INSEAD. Here is the small act that accounted for the Wharton exchange and partnership program.

N, the small elf stands on the side of the screen. The director of MBA Admissions at Wharton is filmed and displayed on a big screen. N talks in the mic, the Director's part was recorded. Together it looks like a real life conversation. N is on the phone - so is the Director, in her office. This was filmed at Wharton, in the Admissions Office by INSEAD students during their time tehre. I must salute the acting talent of the people at Wharton and their willingness to lend their time to this act.

R: Wharton Admissions department, can I help you?
N: Yes, um can I speak to the director of admissions?
R: This is her.
N: Uh hi, this is Nick Tolley calling.
R: Yes?
N: So, how is the weather there?
R: The weather is fine. What can I help you with Nick, you're starting to waste my time.

N: Um, well Rosemaria...
R: That's Mrs. Martinelli to you, thank you very much.
N: Right, Mrs., I was just calling to check on the status of my application...
R: You were dinged.
N: [Nick continues talking not noticing] ...because I really need to make a decision pretty soon...
R: Dinged.
N: ...because I applied to a few other schools...
R: Ding.
N: [another uncomfortable pause] sorry, what did you say?
R: We dinged you!
N: [short silence and then asks again] I'm sorry?
R: We dinged you. Are you listening? Do you understand? You were dinged! You know, Lord of the Dings
N: ...but, I don't understand.


N: ...but...
R: You're such a ding that we even have a bell with your name on it.
N: But...
R: I heard of this place, lost in the woods, in the middle of nowhere. It is a nice forest, would suit you fine, I think it is called...DINGSEAD, perhaps you might consider send your application there.


Our two elves, at some point, must sit an exam - it is a marketing exam. They both sit down at a table and we hear an intermix of voices (all precorded but it does look like they are speaking, and it does feel like we can hear the voices in their head)

N: A marketing exam…what are the odds of that? I must be able to pass it this time! Prenom - DOLLY…D-O-L-L-Y…

Z: Good, let’s get going. Question number 1: You are a large European business school located deep in a forest with many boars and few women. How do you expand your student body beyond French engineers and ex-consultants and ensure at least 10% women?

N (stamping his forehead with his hand): Doh! My prenom’s not Dolly. NICK N-I-C-K…

Z: Ok, first I need a framework. What would work here? SWOT? Five forces? How do I segment this?

VOICES: twenty seconds of voice. Pascale (finance), Hibon (poisson and statistics), Lucy (Finance), Yannis, (another e1/e2) prof, Prashant (Marketing) giving their most famous quotes that the whole promotion will recall with a smile

For instance: "how do you know this is not a probabilite question? Because it does not say probabilite in the question!" - Statistics Tutorial Professor


VOICES again mixed of various professors and of the lost thoughts of the exam takers: [Z shows frustration; collapses on his desk.]


N: [N taps a bewildered Z the shoulder] Mate, what’s today’s date?

W: Ok, times up, I’ll take those. [Flips through] These are horrible. I can’t let you pass with these. You guys are stupider and uglier than a naked mole rat.

Z: Perhaps we are, old wizard, but your time here grows short and your power is weakening.

N: Soon you will be banished to the west wing along with the rest of the…[shudder]…finance department.

Well done everybody!!!!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

MBA en Vacances

As I said before, a small Insead MBA fleet gathered in the port of Saint Mandrier, in Toulon Bay, for the end of year Sailing Trip. Cruising with MBAs is not the same as cruising. Let me illustrate this point with carefully selected anecdotes that I am extirpating from blurred and fond memories of one of the best trips of the year. It summarizes well the core of the program.

I drove down with the other skipper and we stopped along the way to buy some rose wine for our much awaited typical provencal dinner, offered at the family beach house of one of the participants on the trip. Her grandmother cooked a fantastic Soupe au Pistou. The other skipper tried to convince the old lady who sold us the wine in a tiny village South of Lyon that he should be doing marketing for her. The label stated that the one was a Domaine de Tricastin. Tricastin also happens to be a nuclear power plant.

-“Madam, if you allow me to make one comment, this name on your label is a clear liability”
-“I don’t understand, we have been using this name for 8 generations, our wine is very good”
-“it could be radioactive now, if you intend to sell this through the main retail channel, they’ll give you a hard time, you could really boost up your sales by removing this Appellation”
-“we don’t sell through Carrefour, we want to remain very traditional, this wine is very good”
-“I am sure that it is good but still, this name is not going to help you sell much, actually, perhaps we could try some of your white, red and rose to verify quality levels”
-“ok, hold on, I need to get the credit card machine at home. I will leave you here with the bottles for a second. Don’t drink it all please”

Satanic wine did not turn our trip into Titanic II – the dinner was very good and the house lovely.

The first day was a bit hectic – I left the group temporarily as I had to fight the French administration and transform a procedure that normally takes 1.5 months into a 5 day job. I went through three different offices and spent my entire day waiting for the opening times of such offices.

- First lady at the city hall: “no, I can’t call the Prefecture, they don’t answer the phone if the Grand Public calls, they are not an information center but I don’t think that you can designate a proctor to pick up your stuff on Tuesday”
I thought that the “Grand Public” was actually paying for this information and service out of their taxes but I might have been mistaken, it is possible that the prefecture also earn revenues through clever overseas investments and need no taxes.

- At the prefecture: “Where is the so and so office?”
- “downstairs but they open at 12.30pm so you need to come back later”
When I come back and reach the so and so office a big sign on the door says: “We do not receive members of the public anymore, please file your request at the city hall”
- “how can I get to see these people, I have my file stamped by the city hall and they told me to bring it here because it was an urgent request”
- “well, I don’t know, I am not supposed to talk to you, I am not paid for this service”
- “can I speak to the “chef de service””?
- No, I am not paid to give you his number, you need to go back to the city hall
At the city hall: I don’t have the number of the chef de service, they consider us the Grand Public and all I have access to is an automatic voicemail – there is a 20 min walk between the two buildings
Back to the prefecture: “ok, I need to talk to this guy, I need this done by Tuesday”
“-oh, but it takes 1.5 months, we have a lot of work here, so it won’t be done by Tuesday”
-“I am filing an urgent request and I have all the papers that you need to justify the urgency of the request, so I need to deposit these papers and leave this place, someone will collect them later”
-“yes a proctor is fine but in 1.5 months”
-“I would like to talk to your superior”
-“to get the number”
The superior got me the number in no time – the guy is sitting in that same building but was not supposed to be back before 2.30pm so I had to wait before I could give him a call”

“-hello, Mr so and so, chef de service”
-“Hi, my name is FM I left my paper work with your staff earlier today and they told me I needed to call you to find out when it could be ready”
-“Yes, I was reading your file just now, everything’s in order and you have indeed justified the urgency of the request. When do you need this by?”
-“ideally Tuesday”
-“no problem at all, it’ll be ready for pick up on Tuesday afternoon at the reception, I am glad to be of help to you and have a good day”

What a nightmare.

Instructions weren’t clear and my lot (I picked up 3 other people in Marseille airport) could not find the boats easily. It took us an extra hour to roam around the coast near Toulon to identify the berth. We had forgotten to buy French Sailing Association licenses to be covered in the event of an accident (I wasn’t sure that my US Sailing membership would be of much use in this country) – we ran late for shopping as I became the critical path, people wanted me to review the various ingredients to make sure that they were “boat-compatible”. I missed the boat inspection and had to delay mine by 12 hours…
We sucked at PoM and continued to do so during the week as we would regularly leave port much later than originally planned. We changed twice destinations due to changes in the wind, we ended up with twice as much food and drinks as we would need, we couldn’t get to a harbor one day because it was full and we were unable to reserve ahead of time and driving a couple of early return to a train station took one entire morning instead of the planned 45 minutes.
I must now turn to the other boat not to be accused of selfish chauvinism. Two crew members traveled with quite a few clothes but unfortunately did not have enough bags to store them. They used trash bags and stowed away everything. Highly efficient and diligent crew members saw an immediate need to clean and unload trash. They took these trash bags to the nearest container and transferred the ownership of the clothes from the crew members to the city utility services. When the two poor crew members returned they could not find half of their clothes and sadly had to write off their investment.

Boating with bright MBAs…One can expect that a few of them will get fascinated by the GPS and navigation system and calculate your route 10 times over, when you can sail but just looking at the coast. The VHF was also the target of renewed interest. My boat was San Peyre, the other skipper’s boat was Jerkat.

“Jerkat, this is San Peyre, Jerkat, this is San Peyre, do you copy? Over”
“San Peyre, San Peyre, this is Jerkat, we copy loud and clear, over”
“Jerkat, Jerkat, this is San Peyre, do you have our rice? Over”
“San Peyre, this is Jerkat, let us check [pause], yes we do sorry, over and out”

We also intercepted on channel 16 some strange messages such as:

“Bateau situe au 43 degrees Nord et 6 degrees Est, svp, reportez-vous en canal 70 pour inspection. »

After multiple missed communication attempts, this message turned into English
“Will the boat located at 43 degrees North and 6 Degrees East switch NOW to channel 70. This is the French Navy and we would like to inspect your boat.”

However, most of the time our communication lines were broken on Channel 69. We would hear

“San ssshshshshshsh, thshsishssshsh Kat shshshshshsh, over”

Some of us made some mistake such as:
"ok so for a Mayday call, you just press this button here - he is pressing the button - and you say Mayday Mayday Mayday, you see, like this?
Immediate response was
-"hi, I just heard a Mayday call, where are you?"
- Oh shit, just called out for help, mmm, it was to demonstrate how quickly these calls are picked up

Cell phones became the emergency contact lines but it was difficult to hear them in the wind and difficult to recharge them at anchor. Clearly, we could improve our IT infrastructure, get some sort of satellite link up between the two boats instead of shouting from deck to deck and wake up everyone around us when entering port.

That evening, we all gathered at a creperie for a typical Breton dinner. Various bits of the conversation took place in Mandarin, Dutch, German, French, English and Spanish as the composition of the crew was as follows

- Chinese
- Dutch
- Guatemala
- Australian/Malay
- Swiss
- French
- Bangladesh/British
- German
- Indian/American
- Austrian

Subjects of utmost importance such as the various strengths and weaknesses of the various European teams engaged in the UEFA cup were discussed. The person next to our table came to us and asked: “what kind of group are you? I hear all these different languages spoken…” We are the INSEAD Family.

The first full day of sailing. We introduced an Activity-Based system as we were facing a Force 7. Since most of the crew was inexperienced, we decided to go out with only one boat and all the experienced sailors and to offer the rest of the space on board to everyone else. This was activity A. Activity B consisted of shopping, negotiating with the charter company and buying shower token at the harbormaster. Activity C, after some research on the dress code on French Beaches (Speedo vs Boxer) resulted in lazy hours tanning in the sun. The expenses for shopping were logged into a carefully crafted Excel model (remember, we are all MBAs) on a mini portable computer. All expenses were discounted and brought back to the first day of the cruise so as to not to penalize early payers. The boat lease figured as an operating lease but we capitalized our assets: the two skippers and the accountant and amortized them over the duration of the trip.
It is important to be thrifty on a boat as there is limited supply of everything. Using peanuts as baits to attract preys and to increase supply levels of food and various other required sources of energy is an important part of the survival kit. Perfect Body (a special crew member) demonstrated this as he started to throw peanuts to feed fish when we were at anchor in PortCros. Fish responded well and a seagull camped on the boat for a few minutes to eat the pasta salad out of his plate. When you throw things in the water, anything comes up to you, even MBA participants from a neighboring boat. Before we knew it, we were throwing peanuts at K. and S. both of them trying to come aboard our yacht to replenish their personal inventories. Clearly our boat had a much more functioning managerial accounting system as our food levels were never down and our ability to dedicate resources to create value out of this base material in the form of meals of superior quality commanded respect.

Finally, we exported our talent to the island of Porquerolles, under sail. One of my crew members, a Dutch football fan, was about to blow in the sails to make sure we would reach our destination in time for the match. We tried to calm him down by serving him beer after beer, thus increasing our investment levels in welfare by instantly reducing our drinks savings on board, we could hardly hold him in place. He walked to the bow – or front of the boat – perhaps hoping to reduce the distance between him and Holland playing. His ability to watch the match was seriously hampered when we realized that the harbor could not accept us. We anchored in a tiny bay close to the harbor. This same Dutch football fan precipitately inflated the dinghy and paddled ashore to get a lift into town to a local bar. Rafting for Holland…The rest of us cooked a lovely dinner to balance the capital account as we just suffered a precious crew loss, opened a couple of bottles of French wine and felt captured by the beauty of the sunset, unveiling the quiet beauty of the sea and the rapacious silence of the night.

In the morning, we got up fairly early for a long navigation day to Saint Tropez. As I was preparing coffee for the rest of the crew, mostly asleep, I hear the German representative on my crew shout:
-“I need change for the pains au chocolat, hurry up on deck”
I obviously thought he was joking. We were at anchor in a bay with many other sailboats. Our dinghy was back, still inflated but its outboard motor had run out of gas, so he was not going to go to a bakery anytime soon.
“Hurry up please, the guy’s waiting!!!!”
The guy’s waiting? What guy? Well – only in France will you find a floating bakery, mounted on a zodiac, going from boat to boat to sell fresh bread, fresh croissants and fresh pains au chocolat. There was a clear moving demand on part of clueless boating tourists like us for succulent breakfast material and the supply curve, embodied by this little zodiac, skillfully maneuvered to intercept it. We had a fantastic breakfast on that day.

The following day was excellent and very quiet as winds picked up only fairly late. Whenever we needed to trim the sail, or tack, we disturbed a chess game on the starboard side as people had to find other ways to amuse themselves. You might wonder what all this has to do with statistics. Well, let us examine the situation with the lens of a statistics professor: The chess game box claims that it contains 16 white figures and 16 black figures and does not even give a tolerance interval. It is only normal that we should test this claim to find out whether we have overpaid of underpaid for the game. we observed that winds in the past few days started to pick up around noon to painfully die around 6pm. If this pattern remained, we could start running a regression model, if we could identify the thermal and other meteorological parameters affecting the wind and predict what the conditions would be the day after. I could see two fish through the deep blue waters around the boat. How easy would it be to count the fish in the waters off Hyeres harbor by just fishing and cooking out a small sample of the population – and assuming that this population is normally distributed, despite the fact that Fish in French is Poisson, one must not fall into the trap of using a Poisson Distribution. This could help reduce our shopping bill quite significantly – assuming our Guatemala Fishing Expert can transform his claim into results. If we identify a strong depletion in the marine population around our boat, it could even provide an excuse for his being unable to feed everyone on board on that evening: if there is one fish every 47 cube meter of water, the likelihood of his 2-inch long hook to catch one is low.
Lastly, it really is clearly in our interest to calculate the probability of bumping into Elton John while in Saint Tropez, depending on what time of the day we choose to visit the city.

We clearly must not forget our financial skills. We used the CAPM model (Captains Agility in Ports and Moorings) to select the various crew members and keep an even balance of skills on boats. The risk profile (beta) of each boat clearly influenced our relationship with funds. It is logical to think that, for example, the consumption of alcohol would increase the risk to bankrupt the boat against rocks. Well, the amount of alcohol on board evidently increased our cost of capital. Both our boats were highly leveraged as most people financed the trip for the duration of the week, lending funds to the most disorganized among us, who did not find the ATM in Saint Mandrier Harbor and who were too afraid of potential hidden fees in Saint Tropez to withdraw any cash until the last day. Unfortunately, we did not turn in a profit, so there will be no tax implication. We always managed to create options so that people could choose to invest their time one way or the other, taking a view on the availability of chicks in Saint Tropez Piano Bars, on the increase of wind speed and on the presence of a Perfect Body on San Peyre. Sailing at night forced some of us to be awake and on call, while we put to sleep the people whose resting time had been most ravaged by the strip club in Saint Tropez below deck. When anchored, butterfly-style swimming could only be attempted by Perfect Body as no one straddled to try to imitate him. In order not to make anyone jealous with his abnormal and superior returns with babes, he would often isolate himself when in port, at the local beach.

The following days we spent the day visiting the old and narrow streets of Saint Tropez and one of my friends joined us aboard. I had described him as having a perfect body. The fleet now referred to him as PB. Saint Tropez harbor is full of extremely expensive and inelegant boats, populated by white shirt crew members, who like to show off on deck, pretending they are the ultimate masters on board. There is a lot of respect on the part of local for these people. The other skipper was walking around town when he was harpooned by a guide selling some sort of touristic tour. The skipper was wearing a Singapore Yacht Club shirt. The guide noticed and apologized profusely. This piece of trivia needn’t take our attention away from the point of this paragraph. Perfect Body was very good at leading people and groups. Typically, female eyes were quite attracted by his quiet and happy demeanor and they would quite naturally gather in small groups around him. He is also a nature lover and would rapt their attention with beautiful melodramatic stories about why the butterfly could fly so fast as to catch up with the boat, how unromantic microorganisms would turn the sea into a stroboscope at night or why secattas stopped singing when the temperature drops below 30 degrees C.

The end of this day was a mini-race in light wind as we headed toward the port of Cavalaire. Our strategy was very clear and three-fold

- Use Perfect Body to distract the other boat’s female crew
- Use our Guatemala General to boost our morale
- Drink up the rest of the wine to lighten the boat and increase our speed

It worked wonders. We had such a boat specific advantage (in the person of Perfect Body/Human Pole), superior drinking capabilities and fantastic entertainment value that we won.

We improvised a Latin American party after dinner topped off by a Rum based fruit salad, dancing on deck to Salsa and Merengue rhythms. Everyone finished off with romantic dances, wrapped around their other half or the mast, disappearing off in the moonlight…

The last day allowed us to enjoy some sailing, wine, bread and saucisson during the trip before a celebratory dinner in Porquerolles. One of the crew members made a comment to me and compared our boats to two different organizations, both functioning and operating well but with very different cultures.

One was very organized, always on time, with not one thing out of place in the main cabin, everyone gathering for cooked meals and sharing tasks spontaneously.
The other one was perhaps less organized and formal, more spontaneous and funky, always late, with people sometimes deciding individually when would be a good time for an improvised sandwich and with a mess level below deck above average.

Both boats had a fantastic time!

The feedback that has reached my ear is all positive and seem to echo my general impression that this was one of the best trip of the year. So good that we all decided to turn it into a tradition and we are welcoming ideas for next year already.
It is exciting to find oneself at such a crossroad of opportunities. Many people accepted early offers to limit their downsides. I have chosen a different path to maximize the upside. After such a plethora of change this year, it feels worth spending time to shape up our career paths – if it came down to just finding a job out of necessity, we should all feel confident that it would be possible.

It is also good to get our priorities right. Tonight is football at the Frog and Rosbif (owned by Insead alumni) in Paris for lager, ruby bitter, wheat beer, bitter and stout, fish and chips, chicken curry and various other British Pub Food in front of the UEFA Cup finals!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Welcome to an Insead PhD Student - See Blog linked on the left hand side of this page!

Good luck!
Tonight I am having dinner with one of my housemates as he will be leaving on Sunday. Tomorrow, a group of Insead Recent Grads will head up to Paris for the European Cup Soccer Finals and celebration. Next week, I will be having dinner with my Italian OB teammate and probably with a German/British couple before they had off to new horizons.

I must also
- pack
- visit Vaux le Vicomte
- finally see my Paris friends
- start again my job search
- resolve France Telecom
- sit last sailing exam theory part
- attend Bastille Day in Paris on July 14th
- do a couple of interviews
- sell my car
- see off gradually all of my Insead buddies

before taking my return flight on July 15th.
If Dean of the MBA program was a Marketing professor

Seriously, the school would focus on segmenting its customers: small and medium size companies, banks, VCs, Private Equity, Consultancies, Industry - national and global, establish priorities and develop a clear value proposition for each of them: what does an INSEAD MBA as a new hire can bring to them - how USEFULLY DIFFERENT is it compared to another MBA? The structure of the sales channels (CMS) would be designed to mirror these priorities. In turn, it would select good raw material and develop its product and process to produce something that's wanted from companies, as a very dynamic feedback loop would be created. The school would monitor levels of satisfaction, etc...and number of companies desirous to recruit on campus, or via INSEAD's special relationship program. In fact, it would reuse relationships made during the executive education programs as the school would be organized by segment (across MBA and executive education), although of course, participants in all courses would be mixed to ensure diversity, cross selling and bundling would be possible. This would help a lot also for the organization of National Weeks when students request sponsorship and it would make full use of the richness of contacts and breadth of knowledge brought to school all the time. There would be a lot of internal marketing too, as feedback and new ideas would be encouraged on part of everybody.

Insead would be re-branded IBS (International Business School) and it would seriously crank up its spending on advertising. It would run campaigns in the major business newspapers, features its alumni on National TVs.

It would start versioning its MBA to capture more customer surplus and price discriminate candidates. Insead would launch in 2004 Deluxe MBA, in 2005 Premium MBA and in 2006 MBALite in addition to the MBA Classic Edition in existence today.
Insead would continue to offer executive education of course. There, it would introduce new features, such as Online Learning that would encourage people who have taken a course to continue improve their skills and go through practice exams on the web. It would run two types of models: subscription based for heavy users such as major corporations and pay-per-use for individual.

A HotLine to Prof H. would be open for anyone with an urgent question about their business to a 0865 number, at a cost of 0.15 euros per minute.

In order to attract more women, male professors would teach in Speedos in Singapore and in Lycra costumes in Fontainebleau. Their picture would be published in the advertising material.

Insead would develop a strong copyright policy and any company hiring MBA students from the school would be obliged to post on their website the well-known INSEAD-INSIDE label.

Bidding would also be banned. Instead, students could get access to premium courses and premium professors for a logical price premium and instead of entering their bidding choice, they would be asked to specify their willingness to pay. Professors would get a cut which would act as an incentive for them to get good reviews and perform well.

CMS would offer three levels of services
- CMS for ALL: which is the current level of services, available to all paying participants
- CMS Special: which would add features such as membership to networking associations, access to high flyers in major companies, preferred interview slots to avoid getting up too early or traveling back too late, drinks offered to the interviewee as well as the interviewer
- CMS Ultimate: which would act as Head Hunters and Search Firm.

CMS Special and CMS Ultimate would be available at a premium and open to alumni. Membership-based, renewable yearly and paid in advance of the service.

There would be several types of restaurants and food delivery services to offer a wider choice to Insead participants

- Automatic Machine, ASP 2 euros, serving chocolate bars, crappy sandwiches and sodas
- Fast Food on Campus, a franchise of Quick the famous Belgian Burger brand – ASP 4 euros
- Delivery of basic ethnic food, such as Chinese and Indian curry 24hr a day – ASP 6 euros + 2 euros for delivery
- Brasserie type food serving wine and other traditional dishes – ASP 15 euros
- Upscale restaurant at Le Cercle offering decent dinners – ASP 30 euros per dish, excluding wine and service

There would be numerous surveys throughout the year to monitor participant satisfaction and to test new products. Free Trial periods would be introduced for seriously original offerings. Cross Selling and Bundling with Insead’s local partners such as France Telecom and SingTel would allow participants to purchase for instance and MBA Premium with a year Mobile Phone Subscription at a reduced price.

Insead would seek other partners, outside the academic domain to help with delivering the products: IT, Catering, Telecommunications, Printing, Sports and Fitness services and various other necessary materials would be acquired through very clever deals and revenue sharing schemes. There would be a special efforts around scholarship to enable more people to choose the program. Agreements with the local governments would be signed to allow good tax deductions across the world and encourage further participants to choose Insead.

The school would operate to the highest standards of professionalism and quality and would build everything around participants. Welcome Drinks would be offered on the first day of class and a Farewell Drink would be offered on the last day of class. Class Material would be matched with the type of product (lousy copies for Classic and Lite editions and leather cover binded books for Deluxe and Premium editions). Participants in the Deluxe edition would also get Oakley sunglasses, Parker Fountain Pen, A Palm Pilot, a HP notebook and a set of business cards as a standard welcome package, largely compensated by the increase in their tuition fee. The level of benefits for participants of all editions would be increased.

Parking Lot spaces would not be paid for by all participants but various subscription models or daily-based usage fees would be taken off everyone’s ID card.

Outward Bound Weekends would take place in EuroDisney in Fontainebleau and in Bali in Singapore.

Insead would stick up its wall its new pledge and mission of the various departments.

For instance the IT department would have
-“ we pledge to solve every participant’s problem within 15 minutes”

All in all, participants would have a hell of a time and would be able to enjoy lifelong advantages with the Insead-branded merchandise, the Insead Journal, the Insead Golf Club, the Royal Insead Yacht Club of Lymington, the Insead Cricket Team, Insead United Football Club and various other derivative ventures the goal of which is to maintain high levels of networking among participants and collaborators.
Graduation Speech by Guiseppe. Thank you Giuseppe for letting me post the speech on this journal. The whole promotion elected Giuseppe to represent the class and stand up in front of everyone for one last address, based on an outline that he circulated. Giuseppe once told me that he loves organizing shows - and his being the main force behind Cabaret would naturally illustrate one of his many talents. His is a fun-loving outspoken generous creative energetic and charismatic Italian. One of the most appropriate people I can think of to represent our promotion. His speech was one of the most inspirational speeches of the ceremony - which I will comment on in more details in a future post.

"I am very proud to stand up here to receive the Ford Prize"


• [ENERGETIC] Congratulations – you made it!
• Today, I have the great challenge but also the privilege to represent our class, so diverse and talented. Thank you for the opportunity!

• But what is INSEAD to all of us?
• To me, and to many of us, INSEAD means four things…
o Academic excellence
o Unique Lifestyle
o A source of new friendships
o An Ideal Multicultural World to live in

• Academic Excellence: 23.5 courses, more than 600 class hours, an average of 250 cases (or about 3,750 pages, always read just 1 hour before class), we have learned - even "I" have learned something. With 147 world-class faculty, and facilities in 3 different continents, we are lucky to attend such an Institution.
…But INSEAD was much more than just academia…

• Unique Lifestyle: just one number… 1 to 6. No guys, I am not talking about the ratio of women to man (even though by a strange coincidence, it appears to be quite similar)… but the ratio of time asleep versus time awake for a typical student while here at INSEAD. Sleep 4 hours, and live the rest… and how did we live them? To the FULLEST! There was no reason not to: infinite number of dinners in the amazing settings of the châteaux that hosted us; hundreds of parties, 4 formal Balls, 2 Cabarets (where we finally could all show our real skills), skiing in Chamonix, partying in Dubrovnik, sailing in the South of France, dancing in Brazil, countless nights out in the heart of Singapore and many other fascinating places.

• A Spring of New Friendships: but more than anything, this was an amazing social experience where we built incredibly strong new friendships (and more, in some cases); we studied in the same cubicles, shared opinions about how to solve a real-life case and we passionately argued about it; and when the work for the day was over (ah, who am I kidding? When for the day we would just Call it quits!), then we would spend more time with other mates going for dinners and drinks. New friends helped us during the year choosing the right job, or just applying for the right position; negotiating effectively a salary, or (if not that advanced in the job hunting process yet) just choosing the right tie or dress for the job! But we, as friends, went much further… some of us shared the same hotel rooms on vacation, others sacrificed their leased cars to their Sunday-driver friend (and never saw the car again!), others even shaved together (as a true bonding experience)… and LET’S LEAVE IT AT THAT!
… and maybe all these friendships would have never flourished, if it was for the incredibly diverse crowd that surrounds us…

• An Ideal Multicultural World to Live In: in fact, our promotion represents more than 70 nationalities. Throughout the year we learned about most of them through the traditional INSEAD National weeks that we had here in Fontainebleau and in Singapore. We learnt, amongst other things, about Chinese calligraphy, the sensual movements of Arabic belly dancing, how to play a didgeridoo, and the old and traditional Italian art of gesture management. Sipping espresso at the bar in the morning, we got used to hear at least four or five different languages being spoken around us. 90% of us live abroad now: 100% of us now have to deal with French bureaucracy – this is a real cultural challenge! As for our language skills… we CAN speak at least 3 languages… we CAN, ok???? From this multi-cultural environment though is precisely where we learnt the most (more than with the books of Accounting and Finance)… through the exchange of opinions and laughs among each other, so different in backgrounds, education, professional experiences and even principled beliefs… and yet we found common ground. Today, we do not even know which invitation, in which country, to accept for this summer… would it be the French Coast, China, Portugal or Brazil? I don’t know! And we want to go to all those places to still be together, because these 10 months were NOT ENOUGH to be together!!! We wanted to do more!

• This desire to do more is what makes this place so special. INSEAD bond us together and made us need the others around us. Now, it will be difficult to part from each other, and go our own ways… but we all know we need to. After all, this is why we came here on the first place.
• We came to INSEAD to learn, to change and to do better and greater things once we left. We learned (come on… we did learn!), we certainly changed… now let’s move on and make an impact on the real world.
• Personally, at INSEAD, I decided to live this year with passion and excitement, having a clear impact among our community, and making sure future generations of students would have a tough time doing better than what we did.
• I believe this is how we should approach the life awaiting from now on.
• Let’s be action oriented: waiting for things to mature and develop is quite a boring process… we need to make things happen – NOW! Once you leave this safe environment, be ready to take risks… now is as good a time as any! Get together with some of your buddies and start to make things happen. In our hearts, many of us want to be real entrepreneurs… show some guts… realize your dreams!
• Have a good impact on society: an impact that you can be proud of, in the short and long term. We want to hear about it when we meet again at reunions… we want to read about it in the newspapers, and want to see how you have improved your own community.
• Finally, live with passion more than anything else. INSEAD has been a great example. Life (like INSEAD itself) is too short to be lived less than profoundly and fully… live with the same energy the rest of your life, as if Graduation day was always coming on the 1st of July. Love what you do… and show to all the others that you love it. Because ‘passion’ at the end is the only TRUE MOTIVATOR… REALLY!

• This year was special for all of us: for most of us it was among the most eventful, inspiring, challenging, and fun years of our lives… for this, I want to make sure we thank our families and partners for their continued support and patience; the faculty, and all the rest of the INSEAD staff, because they *are* indeed world class … and finally, all of you, great INSEAD’ers without whom, well this school would have been quite a lonely place… LITERALLY!
• INSEAD’ers… individually you are great people, but together you are much more...
• It is indeed a cliché, but I truly feel close to many of you today as a brother. And as a brother to you all, I promise today to respect you and to love you in the years to come. But as a good brother, I also promise you that I will always hope you do the best with your life and will be quite blend and sincere if I believe you are not doing so.
• I hope you make the same promise to the colleague next to you, that you will call them when you are about to make a big decision, because no matter how smart or mature that person is, a decision made together, is much better than one made alone – and together, especially the Insead bunch which is so diverse, we will better have a grasp of what is good for our society, and what is not.
• I worked on this speech while in Dubrovnik. It was difficult though, because to summarize in seven minutes what we as a big family went through, how we changed, and where we should all try to head towards, from today on, is an incredible challenge. I wish we don’t let go of each other… I wish we remember this year as vividly as we just remembered it today… I wish we will make an impact in this world, and that when we meet again, in 5, 10, 20 years… we will still be proud of being each others brothers and sisters!
• Today, I represent all of our class before our loved ones… from tomorrow, I hope you will also get the courage or representing all of our class before your communities.

Best of luck in the future Giuseppe, I will be reading about you in People Magazine when I find out that you have taken over the organization of the Cannes Film Festival.
I had lunch one of these days with a Malay, Australian and Italian friend on a lovely terrace in the sun facing the most famous and come to think of it quite unique carousel of Fontainebleau. We talked about differences between Wharton and Insead as two of these friends had gone to Wharton.
We picked an example: Cabaret.

Cabaret (or equivalent of) at Wharton is a huge production, perfectly oiled that students prepare months in advance.
Cabaret at Insead is a huge production, full of original and cynical acts that students prepare weeks in advance that intermixes songs, dances, jokes, acts around the school and fun things that happened in France and in various countries.

This might be fairly representative of Insead - the international diversity of its participants confers to the school the ability to generate an equally diverse set of original ideas and levels of creativity and entrepreneurial behaviors run high. Not everything works perfectly - like in a small enterprise - but it is an endless source of fun.

And as they put it in Cabaret - One Ding To Rule Them All
If the Dean of the MBA program was a Process Management Teacher, Insead would be run so well…

There would be no queue at the canteen which would now serve only one dish per day as a focused factory.

Seriously - everything would be thought as the management of the customer and everything could be aligned properly - as everything would be linked. And the customer isn't necessarily what you MBA applicant is Work In Progress (granted, a LOT OF work in progress). The customer are the recipient of this INVENTORY: they are the RECRUITING Companies. Marketing then targets the customer, operations can target the MBAs to better their experience, increase their value at a reasonable and meaningul cost. CMS and Marketing can work together and Admissions, Course Teaching would become only a process. Scholarships will support but the value proposition for donors would be a lot clearer. You do an INSEAD MBA because someone will BUY THE PRODUCT, not because there is a lot of different products on the shelf. Faculty would be the people who can work on the products, the engineers and the Research that makes it better and better each time!

Flows through the program would be highly optimized:
First day: you get your locker, your laptop, your course material for the year and your ID card to pay for the restaurant
Any other day: you come in through the door, get tied up at a chair and various professors march in front of you to carve in your head the key learning points of the day
Last day: you walk up the stairs to the stage from the left hand side steps, get your diploma, smile for the picture, shake the Dean’s hand and walk down from the stage on the right hand side.

Holidays would be banned as a delay in this flow and a disruption in the learning environment. With the time saved, additional courses could be offered at a cost of 2000 euros per course.

There would be no Pascale or no receptionist but a 0800 number manned by a call center in Dublin that MBA participants could call if they have a problem. There would be no IT support on site. Any problem could be resolved by calling the World IT Center for Insead, located in Bangalore.

CMS would work perfectly, all companies would have to go through Insead’s Interviews infrastructure which would log your interview time, automatically sends you all press material and biography of your interviewer the minute they get your CV.

There would be no one at the bar to serve you beer or coffee. Everyone would swap their card, press up a couple of button to receive the drink of their choice. Even entry to the bathroom would be tightly monitor with this card and additional capacity could be brought online after Happy Hours as the new yield management program would pick up a raise in utilization rates immediately.

Exams would be delivered through a satellite system simultaneously in SG and FTB – all students would be isolated by means of headphones systems which would cut off all noises from the outside world, they would be prevented from asking questions with a gag and handcuffed to their papers for the duration of the exam.

There would be no mistake around exam rooms, past questions being asked again, etc…

Electives bidding would not be required anymore and there would be a perfect management of supply and demand. Everyone would get what they want when they want it but the choice of electives would be reduced by 50% in order to get rid of marginalized subjects.

There would be no direct line between participants and professors as you would go through the main filtering switchboard

- if you are an MBA participant press 1
- if you are an applicant press 2
- if you are an alumn press 3
- if you are an executive education participant, press 4

Priority levels were inversely proportional

The degree of professionalism reached at Insead would match that of GE, but the degree of perceived friendliness would match that of the US Army.