Sep. 15th, 2009

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The Kadi university faculty and a couple MBA students got a car and drove Michael to the local tourist sites.  There were two local sites, one a nice big Indian temple.  Michael enjoyed the temple, but he really got into the well.

The Kadi stepwell was a dark, evil ruin of glory; it was the best thing Michael had seen yet this trip, and the most interesting landmark he'd seen in India. Imagine an underground temple, totally subterranean, going down and down and with all the intricate sandstone carvings we remember from Fatepuhr Sikrhi and the Red Fort.  There is a giant circular amphitheater with balconies, going up hundreds of feet. You go down all the way to the giant well at the bottom; way way way up above is the sky. But it's a dark creepy well, and filled with screeching sounds from bats flying in every direction shrieking constantly.  It looked exactly like Khazad-Dhum in the Lord of the Rings.  There were stone cut spiral staircase going down; you couldn't use your hands to guide you through the darkness because you'd grab a bat.

After that, Michael said I would have to see it. But his guides said no, this is nothing. The one in Patan is even bigger and more elaborate.

[ETA: Turns out, Patan has even better carvings, but it's not as dark and dismal and foreboding. I want to see both.]
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Michael was a guest judge at the big state university's MBA project conference. It was a good experience.

The flagship university in the area, at the city of Kadi, has a 2-year MBA program. The summer after it, students work in Industry doing a research project on the company they're working with, write a report on this research study and present it at a conference. There were different businesses, including big names including Tata motors and others.

Representatives from Indian companies flock there to hire the MBA students. Michael enjoyed lunch with the HR director of The Times of India, who was very proud of the paper having the largest circulation in the world. While we're here, Michael and I read it whenever we have the chance.

There was also a heated contest/competition. Each set of presentations was in different sessions. The sessions have three judges: one MBA professor, one industry supervisor, and another professor (such as Michael). He judged 17 presentations, and found them really interesting.

Some presentations were incredibly good. Some were... not so good.

One good group stated its objectives for its research study right up front, and the questions they would use to demonstrate the objectives. Then on every slide, they showed: this is the question, here is a table of the data clearly demonstrating the answer, and summarized at the bottom with a single sentence of why the data proves the explanation. At the end, it felt like that group knew everything there was to know about their topic.

The lesser-quality presentations spent 15-20 minutes talking all about the history of the company and what it does, but didn't ever mention what they personally did while working there.

The other professor judge didn't feel like he had to avoid hurting the student's feelings or stroke their egos. If a project was bad, he spent 10 minutes aggressively grinding them into dust. After a while, Michael felt more free to critically review the students (but he was much politer). The other judge's questions were like: So how do you do market research? What techniques do you use? When did you learn those techniques? You learned them in the third week of this class in the last semester! Did you pay attention? Obviously you didn't. So obviously you didn't spend any time this summer at all! What did you spend your summer doing?! (You get the idea.)

Michael criticized only a little, very carefully. For instance, there was the group that had slides full of densely-packed, light blue text on a white background. Michael stated, very slowly, it is bad when you cannot read the slide. So that's practical advice, and hopefully not too offensive.

All in all, it was a good day for Michael.

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