All posts filed under “Rowing

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Rowing news I’m happy about

Earlier this week the Guardian newspaper broke rowing news that I’m very happy about; Leander Club has been informed by the Henley Stewards that they cannot enter Club-level events at Henley Royal Regatta.

To explain a bit, Leander Club is a bit of a gorilla in British rowing. Their boathouse/clubhouse is at the very end of the Henley Royal Regatta course, which means they are able to make a significant sum of money from hiring out facilities during the regatta. Additionally, they are able to raise a significant amount of money from ~2000 members that keep their affiliation (and thus get tickets for the facilities during Henley). This means that for the other 51 weeks of the year they are able to pay for highly trained coaches and heavily subsidize their athlete’s training.

For club rowers at Leander, rowing is essentially their job. They are expected to train for around six hours a day. There’s really no way to have any sort of reasonable full-time job after that. Club rowers elsewhere around the country train in their spare-time. Really serious athletes either sacrifice and work part-time to train more, or sacrifice everything else in their life to train. Where Leander athletes pay virtually nothing for membership and get kit and camps largely paid for, any other club’s athletes pay a lot of money (hundreds of pounds) on membership, kit and everything else.

My rowing club, Thames Rowing Club, does it’s best and has had some really good success recently. We do pay some fairly significant membership fees, but we have very impressive facilities, a top-level paid coach and an incredible boat fleet.

With such a dramatic difference between one “club” and the rest of the clubs around the country, I completely support what the Henley Stewards chose to do in this case. It’s simply not fair to consider their athletes in the “club” category when they are able to and expected to train so much more than any of their competition.

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Rowing, couples, and an elegant Jesus College dinner

The big thing that I was trying to focus on this weekend was the Four’s Head of the River Race, on the River Thames in London.

Last year I rowed for Thames Rowing Club; this year I rowed for my Cambridge college crew (Jesus College Boat Club). The race went okay, but wasn’t spectacular. Our crew had little time to practice together, so the actual race was about our third outing as a boat. A couple of the guys had never experienced the “Tideway” conditions on the Thames, and they were fairly brutal yesterday. (Pouring rain in the last five minutes or so of a 20+ minute race doesn’t make for happy rowers.) But at least we finished without any disasters. It’s a good step toward the real goal of college crews: Lent and May bumps races on the River Cam.

In other rowing news, Cambridge did quite well against Oxford in the Fours Head, winning pennants in both the Elite 4+ and the Senior2 4+ categories. And I’m happy to say that the Thames women won the Women’s Senior2 4+ pennant!


There’s something else I’ve been meaning to mention for a while… it’s a bit of an oddity of our MBA class. In a class of 150 people, there are four couples! (Where both partners are enrolled in the MBA.) The Times did a bit of an article on them titled “Lessons in love for high-flyers.” Note that the Kate and Peter they discuss are not the same as this Katie and Peter.


I forgot to mention that about a week and a half ago Jesus College had a Matriculation Dinner for all of the new graduate students this year. It was quite an affair; black tie with gowns was the dress code. I grabbed a quick picture of the table and table settings. When I saw that each of us had five knives, four forks and a spoon and was a candlelight dinner, it was obvious this was certainly a special Cambridge type of event.

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Cambridge MBA – My first week

This last week was an incredibly busy, invigorating, slightly frustrating but incredibly enjoyable week. I’m guessing that it’s pretty much par for the course for a typical MBA program, but it was still great to experience.

First impressions? LOTS and LOTS of information; stacks and stacks of forms, papers, passwords, cards and the like. Doing an MBA in essentially 11.5 months (instead of the US-standard 21 months) means that a LOT of things get compressed. At the end of this week I’m already on my third revision of my CV with the careers department, have signed up for Leadership Dinners with really interesting business leaders that will be visiting campus, and started Economics classes. We’re talking a serious firehose of information here.

A great thing? The people on this course. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and I’m still running into people every day that I haven’t really talked to. The class of 150 has already split into two streams of 75, and each stream has all of our classes together. I’m also in a study group with 4 other people for this term. There are some incredible people on the course, including a Fellow (aka full Professor) of Medicine here in Cambridge, a professional gambler, a former Goldman Sachs trader, three Army officers (2 British, 1 American) and many, many other interesting people. All told the 150 people in the class come from ~45 different countries. There are even four of us who are University of Michigan alumni! With mixers/drinks/BBQ’s every night this week, we’ve spent some quality time together already.

The University of Cambridge is also a very unique place. Everyone is assigned to one of 31 colleges, and these make for a very unique experience. I’m probably going to be more involved with my college (Jesus College) than many others because I’m going to be rowing with the Jesus College Boat Club. The only problem with this is that each College is where most of the paperwork for you as a student is done. Housing, ID cards, and lots more go through the Colleges, and largely out of any visibility or control from the Judge Business School. What it means is that day to day each person lives a very unique experience as they navigate through the University/College/Business School ecosystem. I had some issues hold me up getting my ID card (just got sorted out today), and also plan to be moving out of my private accommodation into College accommodation next week (a room came up free). With all of this, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Graduate Tutor’s secretary at Jesus!

By the way, the photo below is where I’ll have a room as of next week. Nice place, huh?

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Next week classes continue, but they’re largely background foundational classes in Economics. The real heavy classes start the week after that. Next week we continue to get orientated with IT issues (you have NO IDEA how many different logons and passwords I’ve had to enter/change/configure this week), get sorted at our Colleges, and continue to get to know each other. The end of next week finishes with official “Matriculation” events at Jesus College, including a photo of all us grad students in our gowns. But gowns are a topic for another time… (yet another Cambridge tradition/oddity).

Like I mentioned at the top, it’s been a great week, but also looks like it’s going to be an incredibly busy year.

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Heading to Cambridge to get my MBA

JBSlogo.jpgI’m very happy to announce that I’m off to Cambridge to get my MBA, starting in just a few short weeks. And not Cambridge, Massachusetts; I’m off to the original Cambridge, in the UK.

As a bit of background, the University of Cambridge is the second-oldest English speaking university in the world, having been founded shortly after Oxford in 1209. (Which means that next year is it’s 800th anniversary… wow!)

In October I will start the one-year Cambridge MBA programme. Clearly, fitting an MBA curriculum into just one year, with two consulting projects and an individual project means that I’m going to be really busy in the coming year. But from everything I’ve seen and everyone I’ve met there it’s going to be an invigorating experience.

I’m going back to school for a number of reasons, which I will explain in further posts. But when I chose a school, I wanted to stay in the UK, and I wanted to go to a school that would provide me the tools and connections to get me where I want to go in my career. Though it was only founded in the last 20 years or so, the Judge Business School already has a skyrocketing reputation. It’s ranked 10th in the world according to the Financial Times, though MBA rankings are of course highly subjective. Not only that, but it’s reputation in science and technology is unparalleled anywhere. (81 Nobel Prize winners, concentrated in Physics, Medicine and Chemistry) And who can forget Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Keynes, Alan Turing, and Hugh Laurie? (Well, maybe Hugh doesn’t quite fit in with the others…) I plan on getting back in touch with my engineering/tech roots as I prepare for my post-MBA career.

Each Cambridge student is also a member of one of Cambridge’s 31 colleges; I’ll be associated with Jesus College which was founded in 1496. The majority of sports happen on the college level, and I plan to continue my rowing with the Jesus College Boat Club, which has historical links back to Thames Rowing Club.

For anyone that’s interested, I plan on blogging about my MBA experience as much as I can in the coming year. If you’re interested in these posts specifically, I’ll be setting up a separate “feed”, which you can also subscribe to via e-mail.

It’s going to be an exciting twelve months!