Audible has some gmat books. There also some pod casts with videos by khan academy that are good. My other suggestion would be gmat Manhattan online interactive tool. Used that when they trailed it and my IR score went from 2 to 7.


 Women and work: international women’s day

Went along to a women’s event in my office to celebrate international women’s day. We discussed our experience of being a women in the work place and future challenges. Thought I would share my experience here.

Have I experienced sexism?

Yes, but not always overt. When I was seventeen I wanted to study psychology and went along to university open days. Now in the UK you ideally want your course to be recognised by the British psychological society. The university I was looking at was starting a new course and not yet recognised. I asked the course leader whether the course would be recognised in time, he told me not to worry my pretty head. I,of course, went to another university for that reason alone. I was gleeful when I found out later that the course hadn’t been recognised.

Yep; I have had the classic of having my bum pinched. I worked in a hotel bar and when I leaned down to place drinks ona table my bum was pinched by a customer. The son couldn’t decide whether to congratulate his dad or be offended on my behalf. I couldn’t decide either. I was in shock and he a customer, so what I could was limited. I think I just glared and commented that   Wasn’t appropriate.

How has the work place changed?

When I started in the civil service I was regaled with stories of what it was to be like included that if a women got married she had to resign.  Now of course that doesn’t happen.

My work is very supportive has good maternity benefits and both genders make use of the flexible working policy. We still don’t have enough women in senior management, but that the same as most workplaces.

Though more often than not I am still the only women in the room when I work on projects of a technical nature, specially when I’m at a clients. Be great when that less likely to be the case.


I don’t perceive my gender to be an issue in the workplace. In general I’ve found discrimination around my disability more of an issue. As I’m still single I also don’t need to overly worry about maternity offers, and balancing home and work. But those are issues that my friends are grappling with, both male and female.

But as i reported in an earlier post I was secretly glad I wasn’t accepted by Duke for their MBA programme as I couldn’t see how I could have kids and pay off the massive student loan I would have accursed. Some of that is just an age thing, and an inbuilt assumption that student loans don’t have repayment holidays if your on maternity leave. To widen the appeal of MBA for women can repayment holidays on student loans be built-in?

What has been your experience at work based on your gender? What do you think the future challenges are?

Cambridge MBA update

Well, in short I didn’t get an interview for the Cambridge MBA programme. My first thought, well that means I can buy a house instead.

I always thought applying for Cambridge would be challenging; mainly because it’s Cambridge.

I think there were two main reasons for my ding:

My qualifications: I have a good set of grades, but not stellar and if you want someone with straight A’s or a perfect GPA that’s not me.

Analytical ability: I got a phone call querying my ability to do maths based on my poor quant score in the GMAT, never a good sign. If my work and masters degree couldn’t reassure them, I’m not sure what would.


For just now I’m going to concentrate on getting a new job, buying a house and then look again at part-time MBAs. I more want a place of my own than a fill time MBA.

Cambridge MBA application submitted

I submitted my Cambridge MBA application in on time. But do have to say I took a laziez faire approach to the whole submission thing. Even went to the cinema the night before for a movie preview. I have to say reapplying is just much easier, done most of the thinking and have a better understanding of the process.

The process
Overall the application form was easy to use and well laid out. Could only find one bug. Would only make one suggested improvement. Have the PDF preview button within the main application site. Who wants to press submit until they are ready?

There were more essays than they initially suggested. Instead of two I was expecting I ended up I writing closer to five. The career objectives essay was specially odd. Found it really difficult to write, took me seven drafts to get a story I was happy with. Even tried to get some hint and tips from the MBA consultants essay analysis; not convinced their approach was that useful with a 500 word count limit.

My reference is usually really good, and chasing needed. However had a look at Christmas Day and no submission or even opening of the link. Got a bit worried. Chased him on Monday and he said thanks the reminders, he just forgot to load it up. So people, do chase, send reminders to references, they don’t mind.

The Cambridge MBA tries to make the application straight forward. It’s something they have largely achieved.

Short and long term career objectives

For my Cambridge essay I have to write down by short and long term career objectives as a part of the personal statement. Easy enough I said, done it all last year. Wrote the essay, gave it to my friends to comment. The end result: I need to go back to the drawing board on career objectives.

The long term
The short term I’m fairly clear on, but the long term. Well that hazy, really hazy. So in my month of searching I’ve had several ideas from running a successful regional theatre, fixing the next Detroit, fixing tescos to being a business school lecturer.

As all the long term ideas are a bit crazy, I’ve gone for the classic wanting to work for the World Bank when I’m older.

Skills needed in the future
The next challenge is that I also need to be clear what skills I have and what I need for my future career. To help with that I’ve gone the for classic of trawling through guardian jobs and Linkedin and to find out what skills Chief Executives need; if only more of those jobs were advertised with person specifications.

Applying for Cambridge MBA

I’m well and truly back on the horse. I’m officially applying for the Cambridge MBA.

Application process

Upside applying this time round is soooo much easier. No GMAT to take, no trying to figure out what my offer is. I done all the hard work last year. Which means I should be able to put together  a decent application in a month which also allows me to apply for scholarships. Wow!

I’ve got off to a good start by lining up my references and, and my amazing team of essay checkers. I’ve even written first drafts of both my essays. Admittedly the personal statement needs a radical rewrite but at least it’s words on the paper.

Insider view

There just one bit I’m struggling with and that getting an insiders views of Cambridge MBA. Thankfully, LinkedIn come in handy and someone from my wider network was willing to chat. Even six weeks into the course and he was still chirpy and happy about the experience. His one piece of advice for the application make every word count in the essays.

It would be great to get another view or two about reality of studying at Cambridge for the MBA. Anyone know of someone who studied at Cambridge for their MBA who would be willing to talk about their experience?

It’s Cambridge

One really scary aspect about applying to Judge business school, is that I’m applying for Cambridge. I’ve loved Cambridge ever since I visited it when I was eight.  Every so often I suffer from a massive inferiority complex and self doubt.  But I have to remind myself, I got an interview from Duke.  I’m OK, I’m not going to get laughed at.  But I suspect I will have a couple of swings before the application is over.

Cambridge Colleges

One of the fun things about applying for Cambridge is  choosing a college.  This is my short list:

  • Hughes;  Is a postgrad only college with a large concentration of MBA students.
  • St John; pretty, rich, sporty and has its own punt.
  • St Catherine; An old college in the centre of town with easy access to the business school, it has a college hockey team and the college sports grounds have an astro.
  • Corpus Christi college; small, old, good community engagement and the opportunity to experience traditional Cambridge college.
  • St Edmunds; Is a postgrad college, and there a good opportunities to mix with a large number of international students and those studying the sciences.  The grounds also looks really good. But it might be a bit out the way.
  • Kings; Not only does it have a great chapel, it also seems to friendly, welcoming and has a photographic dark room.

In case your interested the Student room provides a quick summary of the Cambridge colleges.

Which one college should I choose?

Cambridge MBA open day

The Cambridge open day wasn’t quite what I was used to; no sample lecture, no hard and heavy sales approach. And it even started with a sandwich lunch.

Overall I liked the approach, it was laid back, friendly and allowed us MBA’ers getting to know each other. This was just as important as the school visit.
So I found out that we had a glamorous lady from Ferrari, a lot of people working in healthcare including a GP, and the normal sprinkling of lawyers and bankers. The group was bright, friendly and international- though most of us work in London. My kind of people.

The school emphases its collaborative nature, its connection to the wider uni, and the benefit of interacting with students from other disciplines; all that I’m looking for. It also heavily emphasised its entreneurenship and access to Cambridge tech circle/ siclion Fen.

One of the odd bits of the Cambridge experience is the emphasis on socialising with your college. I tried and failed to find MBA societies. Socailising is done through the college; a bit different but I think I like it, no goldfish bowl living. So next challenge is picking a Cambridge college, suggestions?

Even better the business school is smack bang in the middle of Cambridge which is awesome. I’m sold!

Overall, I think the MBA undersells it self. It might be a deliberate choice, or maybe it’s waiting for more famous alumni before it starts. But it’s worth look if your looking for a slightly different experience from the normal MBA fishbowl approach.

Back on the MBA wagon

Know how I said, i’il do a part-time MBA? Well, I’m thinking of climbing back on the full-time MBA wagon. This time with an European focus.

I’ve climbed on to the wagon far enough sign up for the forte event in London this evening.

Only one downside, I might need to take either the GRE or the GMAT again. I thought the GRE might be easier as they are more dyslexic friendly. Justing reading what the GRE entails got me very anxious, specially when I saw the maths. So might need to reconsider that plan.

I might need to consider living with my GMAT score and focusing on schools which run their own tests or have an open mind regarding GMAT scores.

Anyone got any thoughts on the GRE v GMAT question?

Update: went along to the forte event had a good discussion with a couple of schools. Conclusion; no need to resit a standardised test. Some are aware that GMAT does people no favours; while others recommend their own test.

Dsylexia one year on

I’ve wanted to write a post on my blog about how I’m managing my dyslexia and stress 12 months on. But I needed to wait until I had a couple of incidents to report.

I would say my dyslexia has changed. For instance I now mix up my b and d’s. I haven’t done that since I was I’m primary three. Let me tell you it’s a pain in the neck. Unfortunately it means I also need to figure out how it works.

Brain overload
I’m now also really sensitive how I take in information, it’s very easy for for me to get information overload.
This means I now need to take smaller chunks of information at a time. This means at the height of the work project I need to take brain rest more seriously; so that’s regular breaks in work and in the evening that means lots of trashy tv and books. No studying!

And this has also impacted my pace. I’m now slower at work when I’m undertaking reading heavy documents. That not always to my benefit nor my projects.

I also need more than one teaching style to take in the information. So good teaching is an vitial. Unfortunately this has had an impact on me attending church. The straight forward verbal heavy talk, hurts my Brian. So I’m needing to explore other teaching styles.

I also find it more difficult to shut out multiple voices. My brain overloaded on a training course when I was getting help from one trainer and then other started to speak at the front. Before I could have tuned out the other trainer.

project work
When leading a project I need to dip in and out of tasks. I’m not as good at that any more. So I now assign whole days or whole chunks of time dedicated to admin. Admin days are helpful as it allows me to get through a number of small tasks and then allows me to concentrate on larger chunks of work during the rest of the week.

Challenge like always is balancing my strengths which is making leaps and quickly analysing written information. While being able to clearly show how I reached the conclusion and from what pieces of evidence. Always more of a challenge when I need to show evidence rather than the logic leap.

But I’m surviving. Next step thriving.

How to stay sane on a project

I’m leading my first project since I fell ill last year. Personally I thought it would easy managing my stress as after all it had been a year since I got ill and I’ve learnt. Plus, I managed to apply to business school and pass an exam. I mean how hard can it be?

My manager asked what objectives I had for the study; I have one. Stay sane (or not go nuts) during fieldwork. I’ve been finding out this is not so simple in practice.

Techniques to stay sane
So here are the hints and tips I’ve picked up from a friend to help me achieve my objective;

  • It’s normal to be wobbly; so no need to worry about the odd panic attack.
  • Takes a lot of positive reinforcement to break bad thinking habits and develop new ones. There some useful CBT techniques admittedly I’ve learnt most of them, but I need to write them down; not just do them in my head.
  • Regular breaks are important. So going for a coffee or tea break is a good way to break up the day.
  • Ideally daily cardio exercise; it burns off the stress hormones. So when it gets busy, exercise becomes more important! So I go swimming most weeks on a Wednesday lunchtime. I’ve signed up for summer hockey and started a 5k training plan. Oh, I’m due to start tennis lessons. So, yep this should keep me occupied. (Tennis ended quickly after I had a bit of a meltdown. Now going to stick to the running.)

Here’s some other stuff I’ve put in place

  • making the effort to go to lunch everyday and have a break away from my desk.
  • my calendar now tells me when I should leave the office. I hope it will help work life balance. (This is working really well, I now have to consciously chose to work late.)
  •  Built in socialising during the week to give myself a break.
  • Updated my ereader with lots of trashy books.
  • Trying to well behaved about bed time; doesn’t always work when I have a good book on the go.
  • I’ve also signed up to the cycle for work scheme. I have this bright idea of cycling to work during the summer. Will let you know whether that happens. (just picked up the bike today…next step finding the route to work.)
  •  Booked holidays in advance; so I have no excuse not to take them! Next trip commonwealth games.
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