Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The typical summer vacation for b-school grads involves travel through many countries, so we’re going against the grain on this one. The general consensus is that in 10 years the $7-10k that a 3-4 week vacation would cost us will be long forgotten while the memories of Europe will be invaluable. I take issue with that reasoning for a couple of reasons. I’ve always been adamant about taking all my vacation each year, so I don’t think this is my last opportunity to go to Europe (and as a consultant I may have miles and points to use in the future that I don’t have now). Furthermore, I can’t imagine a more relaxing and invigorating way to spend my “last free summer” than lounging at the lake for nearly three months.
The clearest sign of my HBS “transformation” was my long chain of idle thoughts while walking through the knock-off market in Shanghai over Spring Break. Rather than spend the time wondering what we would do the next day or how many more hours Jie would spend shopping, instead I found myself fascinated with the supply chain and industry structure around the market. Take the supply of fake Louis Vuitton purses, for example. It seems to me that these products are probably manufactured in small shops around China and then shipped to the major knock-off markets, probably by a few powerful distributors. These distributors then turn around and extend financing on some undoubtedly draconian terms to the merchants that then sell to the public. This raises all sorts of interesting questions about securing inventory, payment terms on purchases, margins at different points in the chain, and so on. I guarantee that none of those thoughts crossed my mind when I was in the same market three years ago, pre-HBS.