Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Consulting summer internship in Sydney

I have done so much in the past few weeks both on and off work that I feel I can write a book on my summer internship and time in Australia. I am still a blogger though and I will make an attempt to distill all that in a blog post. As a result this post would naturally appear more as a laundry list rather than insightful write up of my experience. Hopefully in the near future I can follow up with some thoughts and reflections.

After the first couple of weeks of settling in I was beginning to get deeply involved in my project. The project was an organizational transformation initiative for a Business unit for a huge telecom company. As part of this initiative we were looking at Profitability analysis, operational performance, organization, performance evaluation, service and growth strategy all organized into different work-streams. I got to own a work-stream as well as contribute to analysis and discussions in other streams. Our team was based out of Melbourne so I was on the road for most of my internship. I definitely did enjoy the traveling-consultant lifestyle but it does get tiring. Another interesting aspect of my team was all the five members were from different continents. It was also somewhat reflective of the diversity in the office. For obvious reason I cannot divulge the details of the work I did but it was definitely exciting and I got to contribute a great deal. Darden first year had prepared me really well for this internship as I was well versed in different business areas as well had more than adequate analytical, communication and leadership skills to excel in my work.

Our company also organized numerous events and social activities. These included the Sydney harbor bridge climb, several lunches and dinners with other consultants at some of the best restaurants, client briefs with partners, AFL (Australian football league) experience at MCG in Melbourne, experience sharing meetings with consultants and managers and a dinner at partner's houses. There was no dearth of activities to keep us engaged and entertained as well as give us a good insight into the lifestyle of consultants, managers and partners. To add to that we also indulged in the office social events and the consultant off-site.

We (SAs) did get together to plan a few events ourselves. First was an exciting trip to Blue Mountains where we hiked one day and explored the ‘Jenolan caves’ the next. The place is just a couple of hours drive from Sydney but being there it felt isolated and exotic. All of us really loved this adventurous experience. The second was a trip to Phillip Island where the highlight was seeing the penguins, feeding the Koala, wallabies and kangaroos. I have never seen these animals live before so that was great first for me.

I would sum up my summer experience as very rewarding both on and off work. I don't think this post does justice to that but if you get an opportunity to see some of the pictures you will get a better taste. I came off learning a lot, enjoying myself, developing good relationships and not to forget getting the offer! I was definitely very pleased to secure the offer. Too wrap it all up we received personalized cuff links from Tiffany and co as parting gifts. With the summer internship wrapped up I am excited to get back to Darden for the Second year program.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The best and the ‘West’

The Olympic fever is on and the Chinese have put up a spectacular show. Whether it’s the amazing infrastructure they setup, the flawless execution and organisation, the hospitality of the locals, the sporting crowds, or the spectacular performance of its athletes blowing away the opposition, they have been impressive. Any which way you look at it they have done a brilliant job and I admire them for that. I think it truly deserves applause no matter your viewpoint on the Chinese political and human right situation.

However, it seems that nothing Chinese achieve is going to be good enough for the ‘West’. I have news feed from different sources across the world just so that I get different perspectives on complicated issues around the world. Views from the western media on Olympics have been particularly intriguing. Before the Olympics started there was furore over Chinese human rights record and the Tibet issue. Western media blew the Chinese apart conveniently forgetting parallels such as NATO occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guntameno Bay, attacks on minorities and migrants in US, ruthless detention on illegal immigrants etc. Then there was huge outcry about polluted Beijing and China’s irresponsibility when it comes to climate change. China accounts for 13% world’s Carbon dioxide emissions with 1.3 Billion citizens while US accounts for 25% of world’s emission with 300 million citizens. Add to that it is the only developed country not to have ratified the Kyoto protocol. Ah… and there was the opening ceremony where the Chinese had the girl lip sync to the song sung by another girl, presumably because of physical appearance. I agree that is very prejudist but aren’t these values transported out of the west where ‘fashion industry’, big labels, reality beauty shows and ‘who wants to be a supermodel’ rule? What about the controversy of the underage gymnast in the Chinese team. To my knowledge Gymnastics is the only Olympic sport where the age limit applies. I guess the objective is to prevent children being pushed into the sport and being exploited. Then why does it not apply to other sports such as swimming where Australia is happy to push 15 and 16 years into Olympic competitions. Also how can one claim these girls are underage, just by appearance? It’s very apparent to anyone with some understanding of Asians that due to their culture and physical attributes they look lot younger than westerners. Having said that, they could still very well be underage and the Chinese may have cheated but to assume this and pass judgement is plain ignorant and prejudist.

The ‘west’ has time and again raised the issue of ‘freedom of press’ in China and Russia. They say it is the only way to ensure unbiased reporting of events. Well! If you look at the past 5 years of American journalism or even at the events currently unfolding in Georgia I would have serious doubts about this claim.

Coming back to the Olympics, so why is there such a huge outcry against the Chinese? Is the ‘West’ jealous that someone has challenged their long standing dominance or are the Chinese just oppressive, dictatorial, cheats and child abusers? You decide!!

One person I am sure the Chinese are grateful for is ‘Phelps’. Thanks to his extraordinary performance American press has finally something good and relevant to talk about.

Disclaimer: I have not run any fact check on this, neither do I claim to have an unbiased opinion on the issue. I have just attempted to put forth my thoughts on what appears to me as a very hypocritical stance whose underlying motivation is not very clear to me.

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