Sunday, May 27, 2012

RIP Charles

Dear Charles

How is it there? It was a shock to all of us when we got the news that you had left us. We didn't really talk much, but I'll remember you for several things: that we played poker together, we did the business case competition and that you were always talking about tomorrow and getting a job and hoping for the best.

You would have turned a year older next week, and graduated in a month's time too. And for sure, I know you would have gotten the job that you were looking for. I wish I had gone to the Great Leap Brewery if anything, just to say hi one last time to you.

We're all very much in a state of shock now, but I guess life will go on, life HAS to go on. You will live in our memories as our class representative. And in mine as the guy who carried a Crumpler bag everywhere.

Where ever you are, I hope you are doing well. Flop your monster hands my friend and take it down.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Moving on

Now that the thesis defense is complete, and most of the administrative work has been done, everybody is getting ready to move on with life - be it to their new jobs in Beijing (not that many international students were able to get a good job) or to another country (especially to their home countries). But before that, a fair number of my classmates have decided to go on holidays, just to travel while they can afford the time before reality kicks in.

As for myself, I've opted to stay in Beijing as long as possible before I move on to start my new job with a start-up out of China. Unfortunately, I don't really want say much more about where I'm heading or what exactly I'll be doing except it's to do with online business development.

Truth be told, when I first heard about the job, it wasn't on the top of my list. While the business development factor was there, I wasn't sure about whether I wanted to join the online community. But after much discussion and thought, I do realize that I would like to be involved with the online space in some way or another - if not coding (which I can't do) then definitely with business development and such. The future continues to be moving towards online as it has for the past 20 years, and I feel that this is really an opportunity for me to be involved with the online space once again.

Like most of my classmates that have found jobs now, I found out about the job through a good friend who then recommended me for it. I am beginning to doubt the effectiveness of finding a job through websites (advertisements - be it Ushi, Linkedin or otherwise), the career development center and recruitment events. While there are some people who have been successful in doing so, a good number of people fail at securing a job through those channels. I would say that, another effective way is to do an internship, then parlay that into a full time offer when you graduate. Searching for a job that's advertised publicly is like a crap shoot.

Do I have much more to say? I don't really think so. The past 2 years have been an intense roller coaster ride, more in terms about learning about China, the language and the relationships I've had. Academicaly, Tsinghua University's MBA program is not significantly worse than that of other universities.

In terms of opportunities, China will be facing economic difficulties over the next 6 months onwards, hopefully, there will not be another economic crisis or the world as a whole will suffer. People will lose jobs regardless of where they are and families will suffer. If you're planning to come to the China party now, it's getting late, but for those who are willing to put it on the line, immerse themselves and go the extra mile, it's still a party worth attending. But don't come here with a sense of entitlement, because you're going to be sorely disappointed if that's the way.

In the end, I guess the question is, was it worth it? And the answer to me, is yes it was.

To those who followed my life for two years, thank you. I appreciate you.

To those who asked me questions, thank you. I hope you found what you were looking for.

To those who were my friends, thank you. I hope I was good enough a friend to you too.

To Beijing and China that were my home for two years, thank you. I couldn't have asked more for a home.

I would list down the people that I would like to thank, who have made my life memorable for the past two years, but that's just too long a list. If you ever happen to read this blog, and think you know who I am, I hope you had just a good a time as I did and think of me kindly.

Will I continue to blog after this? Most probably so. But very likely on another blog that I'll link to this. I seem to enjoy blogging quite a bit :)

Good night and good bye!!


Aggey - I'll find you my way


Flo Rida - Whistle (DJ Shamoon)

Re-Con - Calling

Hixxy, Dave Castellano and Fat Steve - Falling from the sky

Things I learnt

Over the past two years, I did learn a quite a bit - though mainly non-academic, and some, perhaps not really meaningful. But as I sit here and reflect on what I did over the past 2 years, I thought I would jot some things down. As I am likely to leave Beijing, and China to pursue my career, I feel a tinge of sadness, after all, Beijing has been a very enjoyable place to stay.

1. Forget that you're a foreigner - A lot of foreigners come here with a mindset that they are foreign and thus, should be treated in a "special" manner by the locals, or sometimes, they think that they are superior to the Chinese as China is still very much a developing country. If anything, that mindset would prevent you from truly being able to assimilate and adapt to the culture. It can be as simple as trying new food, or making friends, where you expect people to say/act in a certain way. That doesn't really work - come here with no expectations of how people will treat you.

2. Carry a pack of tissue with you - you really never know when you will use this. I would go into details, but let's not get too graphic or disgusting.

3. Looks and money get the girls - if you're planning to get laid, and get laid a lot, you had better either have the cash to flash or have muscles. Do take time to spend in the gym and eat sensibly, of the people I've noticed, if you're of Chinese heritage and you're tall and have muscles, it is much much easier for you to get some. There are some things that you'll never be able to change (black/blond hair, blue/black eyes, etc) but you can change whether you're in shape or not. In fact, if you're a Causasian and you're in good shape, you'll get it on even more.

However, Chinese girls are not necessarily whores. They're not all willing to jump into bed with you. Do respect them, if you want a quick lay, look for one willing to give you a quick lay, if she's not interested, move on. Don't assume that she wants to get freaky with you just because.... (I think this is applicable anywhere in the world)

4. Make good local friends - get to know a local friend, at least one very well. He/She will give you an opportunity to really explore Beijing from their perspective. As I've said before, the foreigner's Beijing and the local's Beijing can differ vastly. Also, it's an excellent way to pick up the language, if you have language partners, try to avoid sleeping with them - that messes things up and skews the relationship.

5. There's only so much clubbing that you can do - your money is better spent on traveling around Beijing and the rest of China. If anything, at least hit the major cities (including the tourist places). After a while, stumbling back at 4am after two bottles of Grey Goose gets pretty boring.

6. Don't whine about China - if you're frustrated and you feel yourself beginning to hate China, go somewhere else. Don't stay in China and be frustrated and tell people you hate it but you don't want to leave, that just doesn't make sense. Yes, admittedly China can be frustrating, but be adaptable and move along with the program.

7. Get a smart phone - whether an iPhone or Android, get one, nothing less (I don't know about Windows Mobile though, but most applications here are for either of the former operating systems). They have them really cheap here (RMB1,000 for a Xiaomi) so pick one up if you don't have one. If you don't have a smart phone, you're going to miss out on a lot of opportunities to connect and communicate with people here.

MBA Program

Don't expect anything, don't expect anything out of the academics, and don't expect anything for your career. Do your research and build your own networks. People you meet will tend to assume two things about you;

1. That you can speak Chinese
2. That you understand how to business in China

And the only way you're going to be able to do both of that is to immerse yourself thoroughly in China and experience it and work hard.


Sy & Technikore - Where were you

Friday, May 4, 2012

What now?

What now is exactly on my mind. If you come to Tsinghua SEM, you'll finished writing your thesis somewhere end-April, polish it up and it's due by the second week of May. Other than that, you don't really have much to do aside from looking for jobs. But if you start looking for jobs now, it's a little bit too late - most of the decent jobs have been pretty much taken and you are stuck looking for jobs that trickle through the Career Development Center (CDC).

If you're not too picky, a good place to start is on LinkedIn. Start applying for jobs through LinkedIn, I know classmates who seem to have had a pretty good hit rate on that; at least they're getting called for the first round interviews. But of course, some of the jobs seem pretty mediocre. I would seriously advise you to start looking for jobs sometime in August of your second year - at least prepare your cover letters and resumes and start networking. You can never start too early on that.

The other option is to look at NON-MBA jobs, such as jobs with IBM, P&G, and all the larger companies. You won't be able to join their specialized MBA programs/management programs, but you'll at least have some job of sorts. You won't earn a lot and you may not have the similar opportunities you would have had if you were on their programs. But that's a solid option to have.

So, what else is there to do? Well, you could explore Beijing especially if you like to take photos. Slightly before this time, it's a good 2 weeks of spring, where the weather is cool and not too hot, so go to places like 798, Nanlouguxiang or even Tianjin. Go with a partner, preferably one of the opposite sex, it's a lot more fun that way.

If you want to go to gym, there are 2 gyms located in Wudaokou, one at TUS Park and one at Lotus Center (I think it's Nirvana). Nirvana is the most expensive one and not as nice as the one at TUS Park. I think there's another gym at Wenjin International Hotel, but I'm not too sure about that. Choose TUS Park's gym at B1, it's pretty cheap and good. If you have decided to stay in Liudaokou, there's a Chinese gym at Jinma Dasha, where the Starbucks is. It's not too pricey and gets the job done.

If you like pool, there are several pool centers (I didn't know that they were pretty hard to find until I tried looking for them). The first one is around the corner from Ten Year Cafe. Walk from Ten Years Cafe towards Wudaokou in the small alley and on your left will be a hotel, the road will also split left at the hotel. Just walk down the left road until you come to a large building (it's literally 1 minute from the hotel, so it isn't that far). That's the first place, the second place is at thw Wudaokou Hotel (I think that's what it's called), where the cinema is (opposite Hualian). Next to the ICBC ATM's is the entrance, just go down to B1 again - this one is pretty nice, decent tables and cues, except it's way pricey, I think it's about RMB50 per hour. If you want to play 4-ball or Korean pool, there's one on the left side of the cinema called Dama Billards in the little alley (you have to enter a staircase and walk up 3 flights of stairs).

Alternatively, if you fancy playing computer games, just go to B1 of Huaqing, at the entrance next to the McDonald's in Wudaokou.

Come to think about it, there really isn't much to do in Wudakou.... you can always go to Propaganda/Solutions to pick up girls/boys. Any night will be a good night, just don't get drunk there, the dodgy alcohol they serve will make you sick, literally.


Jaime said

"Thanks! I already read that book, it was really fun and interesting. Actually IB was not my first choice either. But, right now the construction industry situation is not that good, and I have experienced myself how architects are exploited for a misserable pay, so I thought that if I had to work that much I would better be payed well. Appart from these, I believe working in IB would be very challenging and would help me learn about how business are done. Sadly I don't really know how to break in... "

Hi Jaime... (thanks for being such a consistent reader, we should have coffee one day :) )

Well, truth be told, most jobs are somewhat horrible. To be honest though, I have rarely, if never, heard about architects going into investment banking. By and large, most non-finance people who go into finance tend to be engineers, physics, science etc. I may be wrong, but investment banking usually doesn't focus on hiring architects. If I'm not wrong, you once mentioned you're a PhD? I think it might be easier for you to transition into consulting instead of investment banking.

I know that you would like to be compensated as much as possible for your work done, we all do :) not that I'm trying to discourage you from going into investment banking, but you should consider other options and widen your focus a little bit.

1. The higher paying jobs are front office - sales, business development, client management - and not operational jobs. You need to keep this in mind when applying for jobs, while operations is a critical part of any business' success, operational people not only do not get paid that well, but also tend to have less recognition and career opportunities. Good operations people are hard to find, but employers tend to think that they are easily replaceable (perhaps when compared to a star busines developer/sales person etc)

2. Money can be made in any job, especially in niched industries - commodities, specialized manufacturing - you make more money when you're specialized in something and not just a generalist. However, having said that, it's interesting to note that the specialist that becomes a generalist makes even MORE money because they have technical skill (which is valuable) and are able to work across different roles (which is important), allowing them to transition to senior management.

3. Challenge has to be met by passion. If you want a challenging job, you need to be passionate about it, or you will never be able to take the stress, the challenges or even the hours that you need to put into it. While money is a strong motivator and people work for years in finance, most people in investment banking tend to move out after a couple of years, some go back to school, or go into a specialized finance job (PE/VF/HF is they're very good). Unless you're passionate about making money for the sake of money, you will be hard pressed to survive in any environment just because you want to make money.

To clarify, there is a difference between making money and making money for the sake of money. One wants to make money for material gain, the other just loves to make money for the fun of it.

4. The best way to learn how business is done is by doing a business, or working in a business where you are involved with the business. Not by doing an MBA or by working in an investment bank or by being a consultant. While you do learn about business in those three mentioned ways, you will only be able to see very focused areas, or have a very shallow exposure to actual business.

I would suggest (I might be wrong here), but if you wanted to learn about business, this is the route that you might consider doing. Given that you don't have a background in business, and you do need to learn the basics, consider the following.

i) Work in a commercial bank with their commercial loans department. Here, you will learn about the cash flow of the business and what goes in and out, more importantly you will have the opportunity to speak with 100s of CEOs and Finance managers about their financial requirements.

ii) I'm sure you've done this, but start reading blogs on entrepreneurship and business. There are plenty of them, do a quick search and subscribe to them. They will offer insight into different parts of business, sometimes, a very in-depth view as well.

iii) Do a business :)


Clazzi - Love & Hate (Korean)

I'm told it sounds very 80's... but I think it's very nice.

On that note, you should watch the original Korean version of "My Sassy Girl".

Friday, April 20, 2012

The beginning of the end

The thesis is very much done now, in fact, most of my classmates have been out and about celebrating the last few weeks before we all go back to reality. There is a certain bittersweet happiness as it's all come to an end, but yet, we would all like to be able to have the fun that we had - but going forward, we all need to start work and making money. While the program was not the best, we still had fun with classmates who became good friends (not all classmates become good friends, be prepared that you will dislike perhaps even half of your classmates).

When it comes to getting jobs, I guess the trick is to sign as soon as possible, or rather, as soon as you're satisfied with the package. A friend of mine who tried to negotiate his package found his offer recinded when the company decided that they would delay the project and didn't want him anymore. It was quite an unprofessional move on their part and now my friend is stuck looking for jobs again.

As for myself, I have a verbal offer, and am waiting to finalize it as well as hear back from another company which I've had more than the usual number of interview rounds with. I guess over the next few weeks, things should be finalized, unfortunately for me, none of those companies are in Beijing, or even China. So it looks like I will be leaving China for the future plans which really makes me a bit sad because I enjoyed Beijing immensely. Beijing grows on you and you either love it or hate it....


Jaime said

"Hi, I am a PhD studetn at Tsinghua, already wrote you some times. I just realize you already worked for an investment bank. Could you tell us, how is it? I mean, the job load, payment, why did you quit...

Last thing I wanted to ask you if you could recommend me a SEM professor, experienced with mergers and acquisitions. I want to do my dissertation in that topic, and it turns out that my professor doesn't know too much about it"

Hi Jamie

An investment bank is huge, covering M&A, DCM, ECM, Private Banking, Sales and Trading etc.. I'm not really sure which aspects you would like to know about. Personally, I don't really want to talk about what I did at the investment bank, I feel it might reveal a bit too much. But, I recommend that you read the following link and the book "Monkey Business". However, I will try to share some light about payment and why I left.

How much you earn at an investment bank depends on what you do and how much you suck up to your boss. Where I did investment banking (not Goldman Sachs), people got paid a decent salary and received between 4 to 12 months of bonuses, depending on the economy etc. Monkey Business addresses this topic in the book, but I feel that the book is more relevant to New York and maybe London/Hong Kong.

Why did I left investment banking? I left investment banking because I was bored of doing the same thing over and over again, tired of telling clients that we would make a lot of money for them when in reality, the markets were unpredictable (in general) and because I felt that there was very little upside to staying in an investment bank - I don't really like finance that much. So having all those things on my mind, I decided that it would be best to leave.

Now, what I can say though is that if you do work in a bank (commercial/investment), you will be able to learn finance pretty well, and you will be able to transfer those skills sets over to business. So all in all, working in finance for those couple of years turned out pretty good. Although by the end of it, I was waking up everyday and asking myself why did I work in finance even though I couldn't stand it. And so I left.

Most people are interested in investment banking because of how much money they can make, or how they're able to leverage that and go into private equity/hedge funds/venture capital. That does make sense, but money elsewhere can be equally be as good or better if you find the right opportunity. Personally, I don't know how many people move from investment banks into PE/HF/VC, but I think in general, only a small percentage are able to make the move. People would be better off doing what they're passionate about, I think it would be much easier to make money that way.

As for Tsinghua SEM professors that specialize in M&A, to be honest, I don't know of any of the professors that actually had hands on experience with M&A. The best thing would be to ask the MBA office for the list of professors that have had experience advising on M&A, it would be much better that way instead of just speaking to the current Corporate Finance professor (who I think doesn't have experience).

A day in the life of an investment banking associate

John Rolfe and Peter Troob - Monkey Business


Re-con - Without Doubt

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sex in Beijing Part 1: Whoring

So, let's start this somewhat risque topic with a disclaimer. This may offend you if you think paid sex is dirty, and that hooking up for a one night stand is a bad thing that you will go to hell for. Also, from a male's perspective (not necessarily mine) - this post was assembled after interviews with several people who apparently, do know how to have a good time.

First, we'll talk about whoring today. Every guy is interested in that at a base level. Yes, it costs money, but yes, it's a sure thing, and yes, people do, do it, regardless of what they say.

But let's face it. You're in Beijing, there's only so much hanging out with the guys you want to do, sometimes, you just wanna get down and jiggy with it. But what can you do? Well, as a rule of thumb, Beijing has officially no vice - that's officially. Why? Because it's the capital city of China and they've got to keep it clean. And that's another reason why it's so safe to walk the streets at 3am as well.... alone.

Even though Beijing isn't Shanghai, or close to Dongguan (apparently the sex capital of China, or rather, the whoring capital of China), you can still negotiate for love at certain places.

i. KTV - there are KTVs and then there are KTVs! KTVs tend to have female companionship. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get laid. Most KTVs tend to keep it pretty clean - above the belt. However, they are not cheap, if you head to a Chinese KTV, you're paying RMB100/RMB200/RMB300 or for the companionship of the lady. If you head to a Korean-style KTV, a night out would cost a minimum of RMB3000 (room, some alcohol and some ladies). But again, nothing below the belt. Some KTVs allow negotiations to be made between you and your lady privately, while others do have a pool of girls that are willing to get down for the right price. You could always ask the manager whether it's possible for you to take the girl home and he/she might point you out to which girls are open for negotiations. From what I hear negotiations are usually around RMB 1,000 (Korean KTVs) and around RMB600 onwards for Chinese KTVs.

ii. Name cards - every once in a while, you'll get name cards slipped under your door. Especially so if you're staying in a cheap hotel. There's a picture of an alluring girl and a number to call. I have been told that, never ever call those numbers. Simply because the girls that come look nothing like the girls in the picture - false advertising. And also, sometimes the girl shows up with some guys to jack your shit, so not safe and not advisable.

iii. Clubs - so, what do you do if you really want to get it on in a relatively safe way? Well, there are several options, if you have a thing for Mongolian girls, go to a bar called Maggie's at Ritan Park, if you like Chinese girls go to Xiu at Park Hyatt and if you like Russians, go to Chocolate which is on the otherside of Ritan Park. There, it's up to you to go up and approach girls, of course, you should do it discreetly incase you approach a girl that ISN'T interested in negotiating her love. At Maggie's, just about every other girl is open to ideas, at Xiu, look for those standing around the fringes of the bar by themselves, and at Chocolate, I've got no idea. I'm told that the price ranges from RMB 800 to RMB 1,200 per night. Go later and you might get it cheaper.

iv. Barber shops - yes, seriously, barber shops. Again, I'm told that you should look for barber shops with plenty of girls sitting around dressed in short skirts. I'm not sure how the system works, but I think you negotiate somewhat while sitting down in the chair with a girl's hands up your pants and you may move it to the back of the shop where there's a nice little bed for you. I think the price ranges around RMB 300 to RMB 400. I couldn't find anybody reliable to tell me.

v. Girls on the street - they seem scarce but not that scarce. My friends tend to get approached by girls on the street every once in a while, especially at key nightspots late at night. What more can I say about this? You may check Houhai, 3.3 and other areas. But I doubt there's a sure fire way to be able to single out the girls that are wiling to sell some love for the night until they approach you. Prices start at RMB 600 to RMB 1,000, but you can always negotiate it down, especially if it's late at night. I suspect it's because they would like to make some money before everybody heads home to sleep.

vi. Outcalls - outcalls or so they're called, is basically a home delivery service. In a way, the name cards is an outcall, however, if you're going this route, you should probably get a reliable number and delivery. Search hard enough on the Internet (hint: forums) and you might be able to get a few numbers of people who might be able to assist you in your search for love, lust and pleasure. You've got to becareful again, for reasons like being jacked come into mind, but in general they have more to fear than you do - because the police would be more than happy to come and tear them apart. I think prices are around RMB600.

vii. Taxi drivers - get a reliable taxi driver, preferably a black cab driver that you use every day and isn't going to jack your shit, and he will probably be able to arrange it for you. Courtesy of my black cab driver, he's been offering me a 21 year old student from Hebei who will show me the meaning of love for RMB400 an hour. Please keep in mind I haven't accepted his offer and have no intention of doing so. Of course, you will get taxi drivers that offer you all kinds of shit when you're stumbling out drunk from Vics or Spark, but I really advise you against taking their offers unless you REALLY know them well.

And there you have it, the several ways you (a guy) can whore in Beijing. Keep it real, keep it safe and remember to use a condom.


Buzz, Barry Diston & Stevie D feat. Jess Palmer - Alone


Definitely worth listening to. It's a remix of.. Alone? Can't remember who did the original, but this version is good.

And since I haven't posted something for a while, here's another song. A favorite of mine

Al Storm - Move Those Feet

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