Tag Archives: school

Ready to change how we think

28 Sep

Going to business school is a personal decision, based on all kinds of things.  What you do now, what you’d like to do next, what new ideas you have, how interested in business you are, and a host of other factors that shape your thinking through the application and acceptance process.  Notwithstanding this very personal vision, many of the experiences my classmates and I have shared so far have been somewhat “broad strokes”, touching on the traditional areas and sectors that the “typical” business school student is likely to be interested in.

But what if you are not typical? Clearly we all like to think of ourselves as unique, and to some extent we all are. But equally, in a business school setting, there are going to be several people who delight in the idea of 12-hour work days as investment bankers, thrive on the excitement of the trading floor, and leap out of bed at the thought of complex financial modelling.  I’m not one of them, I’ve realised, but figuring out what I don’t want to do early on is a good thing, I think.

What I really want to do is change the way we think about stuff and the people and companies who make it, sell it, use it and deal with it when we’re done.  I’ve written about stuff as a consumer and as an owner, and realised since moving into a small student bedroom that living with less stuff is not only possible, but kind of peaceful.  I’ve been practising my “elevator pitch” to my classmates, and researching companies, organizations and people who already seem to be thinking about stuff differently.

Now, it’s early days on the research front, but I thought I’d share some cool things I’ve found so far.  Some of these may be familiar, while others may spark some new interest.

  1. Look to your right, over there in the side bar.  Click on The Story of Stuff and see with Annie has to say about things.
  2. Check out this blog post by Joel Makower, the founder of Greenbiz.com, and a “guru of green” I think has some neat things to say.  The book he recommends is now officially on my list.
  3. While you’re browsing through the blog roll, stop on by The Clean Bin Project, which chronicles the great things Jenny and Grant did and learned in living “waste free” for a year. I was lucky to meet these two about a week before they took off on a cross-Canada bike tour this summer, and they are doing something special.

So here’s what I’m ready to test through business school, and hopefully get some of the best brains I know (my classmates!) to think through this with me:

  • How do we make better stuff? The kind that’s good for the environment, and for people, and for the companies that make them?
  • Is a stuff vs. services conversation something we’re ready to have? And who should we have it with?
  • How much, and what kind of stuff, is “enough” in a finite world, a closed system with limits on all kinds of resources?

You probably have ideas about your stuff too. Let me know what you think – say it out loud.

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8 new things before breakfast

20 Sep

Well, I made it! Oxford is now home for th next year. There’s more things to blog about than you can imagine, but here’s just a taste from the first 24 hours. It’s my 8 new things before breakfast:

  1. Luggage trolleys with brakes! This was a fabulous discovery at Heathrow as I headed down a steep ramp to the underground walkway to catch the bus to Oxford. Turns out brakes are far more effective than purposely crashing into the railings every few steps as a way to slow down.
  2. Tipping isn’t always OK. I tried to tip th bus driver for helping me with all my bags, but he gently informed me, “It’s your money, love. I get paid alright!”. I didn’t get his name but he was great at helping me get to the taxi stand, er, I mean “taxi rank”.
  3. Pear trees can be tall! There’s one I can see outside my window, of which I’ll post a picure next time.
  4. I walk slower than everyone else here. A woman pushing a stroller with a toddler overtook me on the sidewalk!
  5. In a city where building a new building probably requires a royal decree, reuse is taken to a whole new level. There’s a restaurant down the street housed in what used to be an old church! More pics on that to come as well.
  6. The Oxford University Press has the greenest grass I’ve seen so far anywhere.
  7. The zig-zag markings on the pavement aren’t weird street art by tipsy line markers. According to the highway code, it has something to do with no overtaking.
  8. Taking a shower involves pulling on a string to turn on a switch that turns on the showerhead and water heater. The string is by the door – on the opposite side of the room from the shower. I was already IN the shower when I learned this lesson!
  9. I love English breakfasts! I got to discover this at about 3 p.m. on my first day here, which by my calculations was about 6 a.m. Vancouver time, and therefore appropriate!

Well that’s it for my first post.  I am now internet-ready, so will be able to provide more updates in coming days.  Look out for a complete post on unlocking and activating a cell phone, uhm, I mean a mobile (gotta get with the lingo!).

Me and Gran go back to school

26 Jul

My grandmother was born in Barbados in 1913.  At the age of 10, unlike many girls her age, she got the opportunity to enter the prep year for high school.  Two years later, her father passed away.  Facing tighter financial circumstances as a result, her mother opted to take her out of school to save school fees.

Two generations later, I’ve had the benefits of attending high school, attending university and achieving a first degree in engineering.  And now I’m heading to Oxford to do my MBA at the Said Business School. Said is an amazing institution with an ethos closely aligned with my own interests, backed by the incredible legacy of the University of Oxford.  I’m excited beyond words, and very proud of having been accepted to a program that I’m sure is going to exceed my expectations and challenge my boundaries. 

It’s a bit mind-blowing to be honest. One personal concern? That I’ll live up to my grandmother’s legacy. Despite not finishing high school, she was accepted to train as a nurse in her early 20s, and went on to become the first female pharmacist qualified in Barbados.  She raised 5 children and helped many more in the neighbourhood, in the very tough post-World War II economic conditions in Barbados.  She never learned to drive a car, but she was full of other knowledge that helped her touch many lives. She left some big shoes to fill.

 My grandmother and I were both born in the summer, me in August and her in July.  Today, she would have been 97 years old. Looking back on her life, I can’t help but wonder what she would have done with my opportunities. More importantly, what will I do?  Wherever she is, I hope she’s looking out for me.

Happy Birthday Gran.