Monday, January 20, 2014

And so begins week two

Week one at the MBA was something of a whirlwind. We started off our 'introduction week' with a 12 hour day, several assignments, and promises that 22 pages on the Japanese fax industry are important (turns out they are, and quite interesting too). That was followed by debates, presentations, an insane Amazing Race across Joburg (it was quite a day, I was stiff for the rest of the week), more presentations, discussions and basically head-spinning work. There is a lot of suddenly meeting people from industry, and a lot of 5-minute assignment (as in "you have 5 minutes to prepare _________, go!")

Between the insanity the people are amazing. I really like everyone in the class, from being super-friendly on day one and sharing our complete terror over coffee, to laughing and teasing when appropriate, to all kind of pitching in to share knowledge of our respective fields.

The weekend was spent reading and reading and reading. The tough part is that I'm such a newbie that reading a single chapter takes several hours. The plus side of spending several hours on one chapter is that I know the work inside out by the time I collapse onto the floor with a numb arm from writing so much.

I'm liking Economics, vaguely understanding Accounting, wondering when Marketing diverges from common sense and buzzwords and looking forward to Human Behaviour (later this week) and Research Methodology and statistics (next month).

I have had a couple of conversations with the people at work, I miss the girls terribly, and from the sounds of things, it's worse there than it was before I left. I have to admit, the feeling of working hard without being set up for failure is putting me in a fantastic mood, even though I'm also getting used to the feeling of waking up in the morning feeling like a truck has hit me head on (there is also unlimited filter coffee and a pretty healthy - if you choose the right foods - meal plan, which means by the time I get my first cup of coffee and fruit/pastry of the day I have usually stopped growling).

Here's to new experiences, to learning, to opportunities and to working harder than ever before!

Monday, December 30, 2013


Working notice, Christmas, housesitting (they have 6 dogs now. SIX.) awesome cricket series and everything else has become a bit much. For example, New Year is my favourite holiday, it is in two days time and I only have plans because I got a call from La a little while ago panicking about the same thing.

I spent my Friday night in front of the learning channel as they had a special on Financial Accounting and I am a newbie. Things I learned:

  • the learning channel is kind of like those Verimark Infomercials without all the awesome clips of bad actors injuring themselves.
  • I do actually know more than I thought I knew (thanks Dad for the lifetime of making me read financial statements).
  • Never take business advice from a TV channel. Geez i wanted to jump in there and shake them.
Anyway my head is spinning a bit at the moment, and I am stressing a little about the fact that I have four (yes four) days between finishing at work and starting the course to do a heck of a lot of prep work.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

They told me it started in January they said. It'll be fun they said.

I have a financial accounting assessment for next week. And four textbooks and two files to know by the first class.

I'm becoming more upset about losing my leave than about losing my bonus.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Entering the fish-bowl

So I resigned, a couple of days before I actually had to. I was unceremoniously given to the Bridezilla as a lackey, had my leave taken away and my Christmas Bonus revoked. The girls I work with were as awesome as ever (I will miss them) and the general feeling among my colleagues is absolute fury at the way I am being punished for trying to do something with my life. Of course Bridezilla is not being given anything that may interfere with her Pinterest habit (she really should have learned to hide that on facebook) and so all of my work is going to someone who averages 30 hours o overtime a week already. Morale is not good right now.

In the midst of all the chaos I went to the introductory cocktail party evening. I learned a few things:

  1. It is possible to go to a cocktail party and a Nickleback concert in the same evening although a cocktail dress and takkies look weird.
  2. The new fun game of these functions (developed by myself and P1) is called 'spot the trophy wife'. Long blonde hair and 8 layers of makeup (which was the description given to girls at my high school).
  3. I ran into two girls from my high school, fortunately they are students, not partners. Unfortunately the one I was friends with is doing a diploma, not a full MBA.
  4. There is a dress code for classes (ouch, losing christmas bonus)
  5. Laptops are mandatory (see above)
  6. Meals and textbooks are included (well that's something)
  7. Wearing heels for the first time in ages makes me grumpy
  8. I get along better with mining people than financial people
  9. The best people are those crashing the party from the TED-X talk next door (dammit)
  10. Everyone already knows everyone
  11. If I don't network enough P1 will sit down and refuse to let me go home (or to Nickleback) unless I go and talk to another 5 people.
  12. Other people are as scared as me.

Monday, December 16, 2013


So I found out that I got into the most prestigious MBA in the country (and Africa I think), and Mandela died. The world went completely off-kilter. I don't want to write a whole thing on what that meant to me, it has been done, many times, far better than I could. While he was an old, tired man who deserved a rest, he meant a lot to every single South African. The reason that I grew up largely in a healing country. The reason that we didn't have to pack up and run away to a different country. The reason that I have come to know and love so many people who might otherwise have been considered not even citizens.

I read a news article about people visiting Mandela's house and how the street vendors selling cold-drinks are making a fortune. I remembered an old project I worked on where people dug sand out of a vacant lot for building, which then became a rubbish dump, and within two weeks someone had set up a sorting centre to take the rubbish for recycling. I think there is no better tribute to someone great than to see the spirit of this country where a plan is always made, an opportunity is always taken, if money can be made someone is doing it.

I love this coutnry, and I wish people would stop focusing on the crime and corruption (fixing and focusing are different and fixing should be done), and start looking at the amazing South African spirit and potential.

That is a legacy fit for a great man.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ch-Ch-ch-changes part 3

So I showed up to my entrance exam so terrified I thought I might throw up. I hate being in a situation where I don't know what to expect, and I had done some extra studying the night before and not done as well as I would have liked. I sent La and S messages, made sure I was writing with the pen they gave me for graduation and tried to breathe.

Two and a half hours later I bounced off on a coffee break having had the best fun of my life. I won't say anything about the content, just that it was amazing. Two and a half hours later (after the CA sitting next to me had gloated that he was finally outpacing me once we hit the financial maths stuff) I slouched out of there feeling miserable.

The two weeks of waiting for results was pretty bad too. I figured I'd come out as above average in at least one and an average for another and below average in the dreaded maths. Fortunately the results came in a day early - above average in all three! All I can think is that everyone else was as tired as me by the end and my disaster was slightly less catastrophic than the norm.

I called the admissions department to request a fast-tracked application so that I could find out in time tor resign if I got in, and a week later got told to report three days later for orientation. I didn't bother asking for study leave and filled out the orientation questionnaires in absentia.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ch-Ch-ch-changes part 2

So deciding to do the MBA was just step 1 in a pretty scary process of applying for it. Bear in mind that when you've spent the best part of a year being called an idiot, it's rather hard to sell yourself as amazing to a course I don't meet the entry requirements for (I don't have the experience, but the PhD for once actually counts in my favour). There are application forms, an essay (a 300 word essay. That took more time to cut down to the word count than to write), photographs, references (costing a lot in humility and chocolate) and the dreaded Entrance Exam. The application form asks about everything from academic performance. work experience, life in general, your hobbies (please account for any time not allocated to a hobby between high school and the present), leadership experience, haircolour, DNA sample...

The entrance exam, besides costing a fair chunk of money to write, is one of the most secret things I've ever had to deal with. I was told I didn't need to prepare, and I did the natural research and came up empty. I decided to study instead for the alternative test - the GMAT just in case. One test exam in I had hit an amazing 22% and panicked, managing to get a days study leave to actually write it and studying before work in the morning, after work in the evening (I re-learned long division!) even mid-conversation with the ever long-suffering P1.

The strange thing is, as stressful as it was, for the first time in ages I enjoyed myself. I felt parts of my brain wake up and start stretching and I was improving the whole time. But just as I was getting to feel slightly better about the situation, I was told to work the weekend before the exam, as well as an late evening meeting. I went to the boss and asked if I could have a day study leave in exchange for all the overtime and was told that it wasn't possible as I was a)too stupid, b)too slow, c) too careless etc etc as I had had to do half of Bridezilla's work and was not able to dot every i in time as I had 10 000 pages to write in 5 days.

I realised I was making the right decision,  and made sure that my application was for full-time