From the monthly archives:

May 2012

Another mark in unwinding my MBA experience at George Washington University School of Business: last Friday, May 18, I was at the GWSB Commencement Ceremony. The spirit of the event was very celebratory. Seeing all my fellow classmates the last (but one) time coming together was very special. For me the Commencement celebration was the first of this kind, as we did not have these elaborate ceremony in my undergraduate time and country.

Incidentally, the day of my GWSB Commencement was also a Prom day for my older daughter. So after my Commencement we took her to the restaurant where she had a pre-Prom dinner with her classmates. I was still wearing my gown, hood and cap on the way to the restaurant. What an irony: two grads, father and daughter :-).

There is really not much to say, though, because it is hard to relay the level of emotions and exuberance that was flowing among my fellow graduates. If I manage to find the script of the Commencement speaker, I will add a few quotes later, as there were some good things that rang a bell for me personally. So I will just post a few pictures from the Commencement Ceremony at George Washington School of Business-2012.

There will be another post with pictures from the George Washington University-wide Commencement Ceremony that took place on Sunday on the National Mall.

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Last night I went with my wife to a Graduation Gala -2012 for GWSB. The Gala was held at the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery. Quite an impressive venue at night (someone told me they were not quite impressed with it in daylight). I have mixed feelings about the event, though I mostly managed to redeem the whole experience by the end of the night.

First, as we entered the courtyard I was surprised to see so many unfamiliar faces. For some reason I had thought it was an MBA graduation gala only. Turned out it was for all masters’ programs in GWSB: all flavors of MBA, MSPM, MSIST, Finance, Accounting, Tourism, etc., AND the undergraduates. That explained why I had hard time to spot familiar faces in the crowd at first. It was a humbling experience to realize that I did not know most of the people, unlike in my previous venture at MBA Gala. ;-) Later on I turned it into a benefit by actually meeting new people I would not be able to meet otherwise. It was also fun to spend some time with my Project Management buddies.

Second, I somehow did not get into the dancing mood this time. I hardly entered the dance area for the whole night. Even though I enjoyed shmoozing around all night, without dancing the night was somewhat incomplete for me.

Third, the most disappointing thing was that not many of my graduating MBAs came to the Gala. I enjoyed seeing whoever was there, but frankly I was expecting to see most of my graduating class. It seemed to me that considerably less than a half of the graduates showed up. One of the reasons could be that it was a week night and everyone, at least from part-time MBA program, had to go to work in the morning. Still, it’s a shame they missed this last chance to have fun and say hello. The Commencements are coming this weekend, but it will be more formal atmosphere. And I bet you, everyone will head in their own direction once the ceremony is over.

At least I had a chance to meet some new people, including a surgeon who got his Healthcare MBA online, and an undergrad. I would never meet them and have some interesting conversations if not for the Graduation Gala.

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On Saturday Washington, DC was a host to an annual highly popular event: Passport DC – Open Houses at Washington, DC Embassies. Last weekend it was open houses from countries all over the world, and this Saturday it was just the countries of the European Union.

Last time I had a chance to attend this cultural celebration was three or four years ago – in my pre-MBA life. After that I could not go because of my regular routine of spending whole weekends on homework assignments. But now that it is all over, I can do again fun stuff. Come to think of it, I suspect I will be posting a lot about my post-MBA fun, because there has been a huge penned up demand for just having life/fun in the last three years that will be released now.

I had some commitments in the morning, so I started my travel around Europe (or along Massachusetts Ave.- depends on perspective you choose) quite late, around 2 PM. That meant I had only two hours before all participating Embassies closed their doors. Still, between Dupont Circle and the British Embassy I was able to catch glimpses of a lot of exciting stuff going on.

Most of the Embassies had huge lines of willing guests. I specifically wanted to get to the British Embassy, because I had read that they were preparing a lot of activities and expositions to showcase the country in the light of upcoming Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Therefore I did not go inside any of the Embassies along the way, except one. With the rest of the Embassies I was just watching (and at one point – participating) the folk dance performances.

Embassy of Luxemburg - Passport DC 2102 Open House

Embassy of Luxemburg - Passport DC 2102 Open House

First, I visited the Luxemburg’s Embassy. Small area was open for visitors, with some artwork and fun facts sprinkled around the visitors’ pathway. One of the highlights of the Embassy was a magnificent bed of roses in front of the building, everyone around me were taking multiple pictures of those beautiful flowers. I took just one – to give you an idea.

Irish Folk Dance- Passport DC -2012

Irish Folk Dance- Passport DC -2012

Next, I stopped at the Embassy of Ireland and watched a couple of dances there. I was amazed at what an elaborate legwork is involved in those dances, some variation of tap dance, I would say.

Just around the corner was another dance performance in front of the Romanian Embassy. There, again, not only I watched a couple of dances, but also participated in one simple two-step dance when the audience was invited at the end of the formal performance. What a fun it was!

Latvial Folk Dance- Passport DC 2012

Latvian Folk Dance- Passport DC 2012

Next stop was at the Embassy of Latvia where I enjoyed watching a couple more folk dances.

After that I was going straight to the British Embassy without stopping. Once I got there the line was long but was moving steadily. I got in line in anticipation of some great time.

Royal Marine at British Embassy - Passport DC 2012

Royal Marine at British Embassy - Passport DC 2012

At 3.20 PM when I was mere 50 yards away from the entrance checkpoint a uniformed guy, looked like a Royal Marine, announced to us that the Embassy is closing admission of the guests, because the event is closing at 4 PM and they would need time to process the guests that were already in. He also explicitly added that “there are no exceptions for anyone”. Here is the picture of the guy who closed my entry to the UK ;-)

Italian Fairy - Passport DC 2012

Italian Fairy - Passport DC 2012

It was a disappointment, and I headed back to Metro. On the way back I spotted a line to the Italian Embassy, which I joined. I finally got in at about 3.50 PM. I had a look around the visitors area, checked out a few vendors, and some art exhibited there, took a picture of Italian Fairy (never had seen such long eyelashes in my life, fake ones of course). I also bought some Italian desserts, just to experience the taste of Italy. I spent there a total of 15-20 minutes and it was a nice closure to my Day in EU.

So, you might be wondering by now, what was the lesson in international business. It is simple: the way the time is treated in different countries in Europe, as was illustrated by the contrasting policies of the British vs. Italian Embassies.

The south Europe in general, such countries as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc., has a much more laid-back way of life. This laid-back attitude translates in how they do business, communicate with each other and the world, which I had firsthand experience  during my Study Abroad program in France; and hate austerity measures after screwing up their economies, for that sake.

The northern European nations, on the other hand, are much more pedantic, punctual, and formal, with that “no exceptions” attitude expressed by the Marine. That’s why I was still welcome at Italy at 3.50 and turned away from UK at 3.20. I have no grudges, but it is helpful to keep these peculiarities in mind when doing business or even just traveling in different countries across Europe. And, as turns out,  you can experience these differences even without ever stepping outside the Washington beltway.

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Updated on May 15, 2012. Here is another link to short goofy moments at Commencement speeches: Gotta Watch: Best commencement speeches.

On one of the news sites I ran into a link to 12 Great Graduation Quotes . Those graduation speeches are always aimed at 20-somethings college grads who have their whole life ahead. I am kind of late to that train, but still many of those quotes are universally aspirational.

My favorite one from the link above is “… Stay hungry. Stay foolish”, by Steve Jobs. Of course it may indeed sound foolish taken out of context, but this is an incentive for you to follow the link and read the whole quote. For me personally, the idea of “being hungry” was the one that lead me to pursue the MBA in the first place. So I can relate to it.

After reading those quotes I googled around for more graduation quotes. Many of them are recycled on multiple sites, but I will post here a few links to get an inspiration boost, that is if you need one.

Here are a few graduation quotes that mused me most:

It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days.  ~Isabel Waxman.  This one is so true. If you had a chance to follow this blog for a while, you read quite a few lamentations related to the “hardships” of the MBA program in business school. And then in my last post MBA- Happened, I already started spiraling down the vicious circle of self-pity and nostalgia. ;-) More quotes here.

A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that ‘individuality’ is the key to success. – Robert Orben. This one is good too. I will actually have to experience this in person next week by going to two Commencement ceremonies, one for GWSB, and the other for the whole GWU. Will post a picture. More quotes here.

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. – Theodore Roosevelt. This one I like because it was the one closest related to MBA graduates. ;-)

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MBA – Happened

May 5, 2012

On Thursday I had my very last MBA class. I personally count it as the official end of my MBA program at GWSB. Of course, I still do not have grades for any of my classes, I still have commencement ceremonies and celebrations, and I still will have to wait 6-8 weeks to actually receive […]

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