CRM software runs my life

Category: University

Graduating from my INSEAD EMBA

insead mba infographic17 months, 52 days of full time study, 3 major assignments and 10 exams later I have finally graduated with my Global Executive MBA from INSEAD! Given I now have the benefit of hindsight, let me try and answer some of the big questions I had going into the program:

Should I do the MBA or EMBA?

The MBA has an average age around 28, and the EMBA 38. If you have minimal exposure to the basics of finance, marketing and operations for example and can afford a full year off then do the MBA. If however you just need to know enough to ask smart questions of your team, the cost of a year off is very high, and you have 8+ years experience then you should do the EMBA. Many people doing the EMBA are almost there in a mid-life crisis scenario – they have achieved a lot and are financially very comfortable, but have no idea what really makes them happy. The EMBA program is really set up to help you explore that.

Do the MBAs and EMBAs cover the same content?

Overall yes, however in a much shorter time. EMBA’s cover in 3 days what an MBA would cover in 12 days over 3 months. That means EMBA’s have more assumed knowledge, readings must be read and you never walk into an exam feeling really confident as you often have 12 hours post-lecture to prepare. The EMBA course is also more practical, it doesn’t go into the theory as deeply but is very strong on the implementation and case study side.

Why INSEAD over a US School?

INSEAD celebrates diversity in a big way. It’s a constant throughout teaching, participant selection, group selection and even social programs. I genuinely think part of the selection criteria is to maximise the number of participant countries more than pure test results. Group exams, simulations and projects are quite common. Traveling to electives is organised in groups, often with people sharing accommodation. Sharing summary sheets before exams is common. There is a real sense of shared destiny. One key observation I had was that in US programs the exam results are published to all members, and the bottom 5% given a warning – three warnings and you’re out. At INSEAD no results are published, and make-up exams are held quietly at a later date. Don’t get me wrong, people still fail and drop out, but everyone bonds together and that makes for a strong shared rather than individual experience. Networking is 50% of the reason people are here, so don’t underestimate the benefits of this culture. It’s also the #1 or #7 school in the world, depending on which program you take.

What was the hardest part?

The hardest part for me was the switching cost. By that I mean having a tough week at work, and then flying out to take a tough lecture on a totally different subject. I have learned that my brain loves to follow a long term focus and become great at it, so constantly disrupting that was at times even physically painful. I had to become comfortable with taking a day or two of constant effort to switch focus. If you don’t switch off work emails for example, then your brain never really internalises what you were meant to learn. You can’t look back at notes, it’s really experiential learning. By that I mean that the actual MBA content is pretty standard across all the programs I have seen. The exceptional part about INSEAD is the quality of lecturers – they are incredibly passionate, entertaining and challenging to listen to. As an introvert, I walked away from many lectures just needing and hour or so to sit and reflect on everything I had just heard.

Prioritising under pressure would be the second hardest part, but I feel that the program was structured in a way that it gradually made this harder rather than hitting you from day 1.

What was the best part?

The people. 95% of the participants were “just like me”, similar life stage and questions. It’s funny when you bring a group of highly successful people together and they all realise how lost each of us actually is. The first few modules are academic focused and people are still presenting a facade, but then one by one people open up and confess their flaws and insecurities. Some people have total breakdowns, some people quit their jobs and some get divorced. That’s not great in itself, but if people are actually facing issues that have bubbled under the surface then I do think that’s a great thing. Be warned though that taking the time to hold a mirror up to yourself can be dangerous! If you push through that phase though then you will have a more honest view of yourself and the world. You can address some things while in the program, but not all. I walk out of the program feeling more confident that I know myself and have the tools to make my life and the life of those around me genuinely better. I just hope I can hold onto this feeling.

How have I changed?

I don’t think I can objectively answer that. I filmed a before and after video, so maybe you can tell me?

Starting an INSEAD MBA

Tomorrow I am starting the Global Executive MBA Asia programme at INSEAD, Singapore. The decision was a huge one, and many months after doing the entrance exam I am finally ready to start. I wanted to capture my feelings before I start, because I truly hope that I see significant change upon reflecting at the end. We’ll see in 17 months.



Sorry, you need Java to play this game.

This is a game I wrote in java last year.


Move LeftZ
Move RightX
Drop Depth ChargeSpace

Email Marketing Problems Explained

Email Delivery FlowchartEmail marketing is not just spam, it is an important way of updating and maintaining a relationship with your customers. For many however it is a black art (literally) plagued by blacklists and emails disappearing into black holes. The various explanations for failed email delivery however are often highly technical and involve trial and error to resolve rather than guaranteed solutions.

The first resource that I created is a 1 page document to explain the problem areas in the email delivery process. It is simply entitled Email Delivery Explained (click to download the PDF). It is by no means comprehensive, but it is instead targetted at first time email marketers and budding e-sales people trying to understand the world of email marketing. If you found it interesting and want to know more, or want a great email marketing provider, then check out the MailChimp Resources page.

The second resource is a very cool program called Litmus. This software validates your email marketing collateral against the various email clients (desktop clients such as Outlook and Lotus, as well as web based clients like Hotmail and Gmail). It will provide a visual image of exactly what went wrong and where, so you can keep tweaking until it looks right. Not only will it improve your email marketing presentation, it will also check the content against spam filters like Norton, SpamAssassin and many others. You really can’t be much more thorough than that!

Simple Cloud Computing Explanation

Cloud Computing should be understood as an evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach to delivering software. I think the rPath video below is the best explanation I have seen of Cloud Computing. It represents this evolutionary process without getting bogged down in the technical jargon, it even uses a car metaphor (which everyone loves).

Java Starfish

This was a project that I completed for the 1st year Advanced Software (SOFT1901) stream at Sydney University in 2002. It is a good example of some of my java capabilites, especially applet work. I will post the full applet online in the near future. Click for the full-size image to see more detail:
2D Population Graph Population Density Shade Map Population Balance Pie Charts
Screenshot of Simulation Running

Uni is Over

After 5 years of study Uni is finally over! It is a pretty weird feeling, extremely
happy yet kind of weird that the routine I have established is going to be broken.
I will miss the late starts and extensive holidays, but I guess the pay of a full
time job and a close office environment make up for a lot of that.

I apologise for not updating my blog often enough, I had a few final exams to get
out of the way. Now that is done I have updated to the latest version of dasBlog and
will be making some other tweaks on this page. I will even be changing this server
over to 64-bit once Exchange 2007 comes out in December.

Tomorrow morning I will be heading off to Daydream
, which should be absolutely amazing. Below is a picture of the resort I
am staying at (in an Ocean Balcony Room!). I bought it through
I highly recommend that site, I have never used it before but I managed to get the
room for half price! I will be taking my camera with me and will hopefully get some
nice shots while I am away.

Last time I was away (in Noosa) I managed to get a few good shots. I have included
one below which I resized for a 1680×1050 monitor (20-22in). It looks great with the
Vista theme, the grey of the rocks matches quite well. Click the image below to see
the full version:

Anyway now I am back at work there will be lots happening! When i get my thesis back I will post up some photos and let you know how I go.

Busy, busy with my thesis!

There is a simple reason why my blog hasn’t been updated lately, I have been absolutely
snowed under with Uni work. Primarily the work is related to my thesis. You can read
my thesis blog at the Usyd
portfolio website
 or even read
the RSS feed
. The project I am working on is developing a CRM system for a
small/medium business, in this case my employer, Naiman
. It is an extremely interesting project for me and I really hope that when
it is completed it sparks some interest inside and outside the University. Essentially
it is a best practice framework for a small or medium enterprise (SME) to implement
a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), and it uses a Customer Relations Management
(CRM) solution as an example. Lots of acronyms I know, but it takes it a lot further
than your standard implementation and reveals some (I think) unique spins on SOA.
Ah well I will publish it on this site once it is completed, perhaps it will get picked
up and published somewhere… 🙂

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