Italians do it better (the MBA)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Branca Branca Branca...

Leon Leon Leon!
Look at the economist's cover page. Well, think about at Columbia first years as this soldier. Professional, very prepared, super equipped with top noch technology. That's probably how banks see columbia first years. During the first term they study corporate finance, corporate strategy, capital markets. Things that at IESE are done only from the second term on. On top of that, Columbia first years are exposed to an amazing number of seminars, company presentations and extra courses that make them extremely competitive in the summer internship market. Just to give an example, on saturdays there is the option to attend a 9am-5pm class on valuation. On friday, you can go to spend one day on the trading flor of a top bank. By the end of october a first year is able to do a DCF valuation of a company!
On the other hand, I was at dinner last night with a bunch of people from a bank and among them there were some of the bankers who met our IESE first years during the banking tour. Well... their first impression was not the best i have ever heard. Compared to Colubia's first years, IESE's remind me the mighty brancaleone troup. But honestly, I love it much more.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pimp my night

I was looking for a dress for these halloween days. Here in NY halloween parties start one week before and go on until tuesday. Amwesome. I was not sure if to dress like a superhero or something else but suddenly I stepped into this bycicle I said: this will be mine. And here is my outfit. Cross border between a pimp of the 70s and Lenny Kravitz! All da hoes fo' me, pleaz!


In medieval Italy moneylenders conducted their trade from benches set up in town squares. When a moneylender became insolvent, his bench was broken — sometimes over his head. This custom became so associated with insolvency that banca rotta, Italian for “broken bench,” eventually became bankrott in German, banqueroute in French and bankrupt in English.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

God is Love

Hundreds of years ago the majority of the people was tanned during the summer. They had to. They were farmers or other kind of workers exposed to the sun ten hours a day.At that time, to be pale like a WC was considered super cool. The grand grand grand father of Michael Jackson was ruling the dance floors. Today most of the people work in an office, eveyrbody is pale. Tanning centers are a succesful business, hip hop rules at Pink Elephant and Michael Jackson is on trial.

At the time of war and conquerers, it was very easy to sell a religion that promised peace & love. The target customers were people who saw their house on flames, their land stolen, their relatives killed on the battleground. The product was a religion that tells you that God is Love and life after deathis a place called paradise where everything is white and blue, candid and private bathroom for everybody. Wow. I would have gone for it. I'm sorry but today this doesn't sound so attractive anymore. The youth of today is not attracted by "god is love". Love is inflated. They want more action, adventure, guns, wars, virgins! Do you want to see a place where everything is white and blue and candid: take a plane and look out of the window. Have you ever seen a virgin? Religions, like everything, are cyclical. And now we know that this cycle lasts around 4000 years.

Ok, now i have to stop writing because the plane is suffering an incredible turbolence. No no, is not that i cannot type or that i'm scared of it. It's just too funny to watch at the old man sitting next to me. He is trying to eat his chicken served into the plastic box. The turbolence makes his arm move in the opposite direction of the plate and the whole thing is hilarious. It seems that the fork and the chicken are two magnets with the same polarity!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Thank you notes

During all the career shit that you go through during the MBA, whenever you get a business card you should send thank you notes to tell your interviewer how glad you are that they dedicated time to you and so on. Some times these emails are true, most of the times they are just fake, but anyway they show you are well mannered. Sometimes you feel you just really want to say thank you to people is close to you, and it's not a question of being well mannered, it's just something that comes from your inner soul.

Thank you Noelle, Marco, Huy, Matteo, Bertrand, Rafa, Ramon, Lamberto, Valerio, Mamma and Calatrava. For the email, for the quick chat, for the long call, for the couch, for the afternoon eating chips and dried mango, for the hug, for giving up the dinner with the blonde girl, for the cast, for the words, for the smile, for the songs, the small peluche, the capoeira and all the rest. It was a great weekend!

And thank you Vera for the 6 months before.

Ok i think i should write some thank you notes now.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

And then they killed the fridge

Another party, another long night of fun. But then a mistery sorrounds the house. Who killed the refrigerator?

Shortest surname ever

Not only is one letter, not only it is a vowel, it is the shortest of the voewl to pronunciate!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Intellectual property

Even if nowadays investments in emerging countries are "cool" and "exotic", several things must be considered that might be more than just an issue. Among these i would mention corruption, poor legal system, weak coporate gonverances, transfer of assets and equity and last but not least, the lack of intellectual property. Somewhere this concept is missing at all, somewhere else the concept exists but the poor legal system and the conflict of interests makes it difficult to be enforced. This regression just to say that reading The Economist (October 14th-20th 2006) i'm amazed to see on page 9 how the journalist used a term that I used on this blog few weeks ago. Cereal Killer! Hey that was mine!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Eccheccazzo! (italians rule at columbia)

So far the Italian community of Columbia has proven to be super cool. Most of them are McKinsey sponsored people, which makes me re-think my opinion about the company's culture. They are really nice, smart and party-lovers. Good mix isn't it? I share with some of them some classes and team-projects and I'm really going along very well with them.
Last week we met at a very cool party at guesthouse, one of these top clubs in NY where people line out for hours before giving up and going somewhere else. I don't like to queue for clubs and i went there just because of some contacts of Serena. We were guests of someone table and I faced a continuous flow of bottles of alchool that threw me on the ground in few hours.. I was very wasted but still conscious! Yesterday Valerio invited me to join him and others to the French Tuesday. This is a be-weekly recurring event in NY which takes place every time in a different club. Apparently these french are trying to keep the event for members only (valerio, who is a member, told me that to be elected you have to be invited by other members and the submit your cv and other stuff... bah!). The invite said "Dress code: business chic". I've been through business casual, business smart, business formal... business chic found me a bit unprepared at 8pm... 30 minutes before the appointment. Ok.. let's go for the suit.
Before going to the party we met some people at Serena and Medea's place. They have a fabulous flat on the 72th. I love wooden flor,red briks and pop-art on the walls! Other people joined the warm-up at the flat. Ops.. what i see... jeans and sneakers. Mmm.. puzzled face (mine and valerio's). Ok let's try to go to this french party. The guy at the entrance was french obviously.. with that typical o-ring lips expression... So we started to enter.. crossing the fingers for the guy in jeans. Ladies first! The guy, keeping the eyesight to the height of the waist kept repeting for each of us entering..
Fuck! He stopped the guy with Jeans. So.. REWIND! Everybody out. Ok we cannot leave one guy out alone.. let's go somewhere else together. We went for dinner and I have to say that to be a plan B was really nice. We laughed so much! Here is Valerio trying to show how big was the diamond on the ring of a columbia student recently get engaged (but Serena immediately pointed out that size doesn't matter, it's the purity that counts).

One thing I need to mention about the recruiting environment here. There are a lot of presentation and events by banks and consulting companies. More than in IESE. Every day there is a schedule of 6 presentations at least. Impossible to attend all of them unless you have the gift of ubiquity. However, the funny thing is that all the students dress up in super business formal attire. Nice suits, shining black shoes, cufflinks, leather bags. Wow.. very serious stuff is going on here. But then you go there and what happens during the presentation? They offer you pizza and beers! But not analcholic beers. Real beers! And very greasy pizza! So you are there with a bunch of first years eating pizza and licking sticky fingers (every body licks his/her own)! Is it serious? In IESE this would never happen!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I'm sitting in my room at the Marriott desert ridge resort. It's 2 in the morning, New York Time. I decided not to take into account this 3 hours delay otherwise i will fuck up my biorithm.
What am I doing here? Nothing. Just enjoying the weekend offered by BCG. Me and Lamrbetto left on friday from NY to come here and meet anothe hundred of BCG alumni from all over the US and have some fun with outdoor activities.
As I said, i left from NY on friday. Probably the worst flight of my life after the one I did when i was 2 years old and I jumped from the window. At the time I cut my head and you can still see the scar when I have very short hair. This time I was almost dying from dishidratation. The flight was 2 hours late. Ok fine, can happen. But once they get all the people on te plane, we had to wait on the track for 2 hours. There were almost 50 flights lining up to wait they turn to take off. The captain said is always like that in JFK on friday. And while the plane is waiting to take off, nobody is allowed to stand up, not even the flight assistants. So.. no water or food for other 2 hours. The the plane took off. Wow... now finally we can have some water.
But still.. no water. Because the US Airways probably went into some cost cutting project by McKinsey and there were only two assistants for 200+ people. So we had our first glass of water only after 5 hours. Very nice. Flight US Airways.
Trying to spend this 8 hours on the plane i start reading the usual emercengy card. And I noticed that here in the US they know they have so many fat people that they need to include them in the emergency plan. Look at the fat lady on the picture below. She is soo fat tha she cannot bent on her legs. Well it's nice they think to minorities like fat people (even if i bet here can be a majority). But.. where is the fat lady now... oh, they forgot her on the plane!!! Ok, flight apart. Today we had an outdoor activity in the desert. Offroad with the HUMMER! Amazing! At a certain point I also saw the death on my side telling me "hei george, no jokes now, it's your turn!". Yes because the slope was very very steep and we went into a hole.. ok too difficult to explain but this Hummer is really a supernatural car, i don't know how it didn't flip over! With me, together with lamberto there was also Elisa, the official recruiter of BCG all around the world and future colleague of mine in Milan. Don't be fooled by her pretty face, you will fear her during the case study if you have an interview with her!
Ok now it's very late. I need some sleep! Good night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Columbia Classes (so far)

After one month I think I can give a fair assesment of Columbia classes I choose.

Introduction to Venturing:
Very good class. You learn how entrepeneurs started their ventures. You analyze typical problems like financing the venture, dealing with taxes and laws regarding ownership and liabilities.. and so on. The professor is really good even if I hate the fact that he project this atomic clock on the wall and 10.45 sharpt he starts. If you come in at 10.45.01 you are out! But seriously. Not even one second! At the beginning i thought it was a joke.. until I saw him in practice. A part from that, i think in this class there is a really useful thing that other professors in IESE should do. Basically students have to submit a survey about your opinion on key facts about the venture and what you will do if you were in the shooes of the entrepeneur. Than the day after he create a presentation with a merge of all these opinions clustered by type "financing/execution/idea/business plan".. and from that the class builds up the discussion. This saves a lot of time and makes class participation more effective!

Turnaround Management:
Turnaround management. Just by the name you know that this class is super cool. This course sucks! (like Goldman)
This class is horrible! First of all I don't understand what the professor says. Ok that's my problem. However, the class is basically "applied accounting". It's nothing more than dumb adjustment and forecasts on of sales and balance sheets, an application of what you learn in the first year at IESE. So you spend 3 days in preparing complex excel models that have the only complexity of being tricky in the way numbers are hidden in the text of the case. And that's it. Sometimes he says that turnarund is all about understanding customers, understanding people and the organization. But then he doesn't go further than that. Learning points so far: ZERO!

Private Sector and International Development:
Very cool class about how the private sector is influenced by corruption, juridical system and other factors in the context of the emerging markets. My takeaway for this class will be a framework to better understand private equity in emergin markets (i.e. India). The professor is super young but super cool. He is very funny and even if the classes are mostly lectures, he keeps the class attention and participation very well.

Advanced Corporate Fiance:
If you loved corporate finance, you'll love this course. If you didn't maybe was just because of Estrada. This is basically corporate finance applied in the real world, where you have to deal with risk management, options, companies in emerging markets, small caps and so on. The pace of the class is much faster than with Estrada at IESE which is justifiable by the fact that they expect people really into the topic. I'm the misfit. The professor is amazing. He is a banker, and he has so much experience that he really goes into the detail of each transaction. Talking about VW he also went into the different production process of an alluminium engine versus a steel one! And again in borland he explained us everything about databases in the early 90s.. I love the way he pronounce the word "finance" and "cash flow" but it's hard to explain. One day i will bring my camera and record his voice (or.. if u see me around just ask me and i'll imitate him on the spot)! I think it's a great class even if it's going to be tough.

Ok now after this boring report, I share with you some Comments of The Week!
Talking about an entrepeneur who wants to open a restaurant with piano bar in Pittsburgh: "A piano bar in Pittsburgh? The steel city? I fear for the piano man!"

About an ex-model ex-morgan stanley woman: What makes these former models think they can be successful entrepeneurs?

About a Drycleaners business: If Hardvard dorks can't open a drycleaner, we are all doomed

Same guys who wanted to open the drycleaner: Too bad they missed the opportunity for on-campus recruiting

A guy wearing a suit enters the class 5 minutes late. Professor: i assume you are not used to make up your tie.

Conversation between a student who always bullshits and the professor. The students raise his hand and then desists from talking. Professor: This is called self-moderation Students: Yes, this is one of the things I learned in business school Professor: Mmm.. usually this is something that you learn in your childhood.
This is the roof top Marco where me and marco are used to go as a starter for the clubbing nights. Soo cool.
And just below it, lot's of clubs like cielo, pm, marquee, home, guest house..

Monday, October 02, 2006


Today, reading the Economist (don't be shocked, I don't understand what I read), I didn't believe my eyes. It's just a few weeks that I'm missing from Barcelona and news about my death are already sneaking in the business world. I'm not surprised by the news about my death itself. It's well known that famous people face this issue. Osama is said to be dead but then a new video is found on TV. And the other way round. My grandmother is convinced that she has seen Elvis Presley in her bathroom last year. And my dog was the only other witness. But unfortunately he is dead (mmm.. quite a "thriller/spy story" I would say).
Ok but back on the track. I was saying that the thing that surprised me most was the fact that there is already a New King George. WTF is that? Is that a king George. Come on... how can be credible a guy dressed up like that. This guy can only make serious comments!

Now look at this advertising in the NYC underground. I didn't understand what they are advertising.. but if yuo look carefully I would say that the only one who celebrated something here, is her husband.