Thursday, June 29, 2006

Terra Nova Market Research

Yesterday we had a talk with a lady from TerraNova Market Strategies. It turned out to be a talk about how to conduct market research...YAWN! Right? It started that way. We all took over the last two rows of the room. The guy behind me instantly fell asleep. The guy next to him was engrossed in his sandwich. My two friends on my left opened up a laptop, plugged in headphones and started watching an episode of 24. I just kicked back and started figuring out my schedule this week...

Slowly...After about 15 minutes, I began to take notice. hmmm...This lady is actually saying some good stuff! With each passing minute I was growing more intrigued. What first caught my ear's attention is when she said how her firm refuses to conduct focus-groups. I was like..huh,interesting. So I started paying real attention.

The main idea is that market research has become to companies, "what a lamppost is to a drunk; for support and not for illumination". Everything a company wants to justify a proposition, it just throws money at it to do 'market research'. The result of that is a stack of information that doesn't really answer the question. So, what does the company do? More market rescues!


Market research should be exploratory not evalualative. What companies do all the time is go to customers and ask them what do you think of our products. Most of the time, they have some idea of what customers are currently thinking and are using market research to support that information. That is evalualative market research. Exploratory market research discovers new realms for innovation. A market research report should not be a source of dread but a source of inspiration!

Therefore, TerraNova does not conduct focus-groups, but 'discovery workshops'. In addition to that, there was a host of other methods. I also loved how in-depth their analysis goes. For example, she went on explaining the drivers and challenges of innovation. I have requested her slides, so I might post them some time =)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I had interview #3. I told them before that 8am if fine because of the time difference. However, this time the person interviewing me was the person equivalent of the position I am applying from but in North Carolina. I wish I knew that :S We could have agreed on better timing. Waking up early is not a problem, because I normally wake up by 7am. The problem is that I am not a morning person. I prefer peace and quiet for the first two hours after waking up. I like to study and get some work done but prefer not to talk to people.
We had an all day workshop called ICE Leadership. ICE stands for: Integrate. Communicate. Execute. It was pretty cool. Angela is cool. She was trained in the military before working for Nortel. I also liked the 'mission' simulations. When it was my turn in the 'hot seat' I played the part of the CEO of the SuperBowl stadium. The crisis was that 20,000 people of the 75,000 are congested at the north gate. Cool stuff.
I get a reply back from company with more scheduled interviews. "I have asked them all to give you a hard time as I feel from the conversation we had you don't bruise easily :-))". uh-oh.Nice. Very nice. What did I get myself into? I replied: "I might not bruise easily, but I did cry watching Titanic ;-)" not really :P
Studying and assignments are never done. I am *so* grateful to certain friends who make it all bearable. Thanks... <3

Monday, June 26, 2006

Montreal: Day #3 - and back in Waterloo

One word about the F1 race: it's LOUD. Even though I was fortunate enough to take the advice of my good friend and wore ear plugs, that only saved me from going deaf. Nevertheless, it was fantastic! Here are the Results

Tips if you're going to watch the Grand Prix - or any car racing event for that matter:

  • Buy bleachers tickets! If you are going to spend money buying general admission tickets, pay a little more and get actual seats! Even if you are the type that goes very early with your chair on you back to get a good location on the grass, there will STILL be others who were there earlier! And they STILL don't really get a good view.
  • The advantages of a general admission ticket though is that you can move around and watch the race from different angles.
  • Standing right by the track fence is exciting when the racers are parading before the race. However, when the race begins...not healthy.
  • Wear sneakers, if you got a general admission ticket, so you can climb up the metal bleachers from the side. Don't worry, you won't look like a monkey because there are other cheap(or student) monkeys like you!
  • Don't stand up on your fold-up, polyester chair. You WILL fall. No, not even if you are a graceful ballerina.
  • Binoculars, water(unless you want to drink the F1 diamond-dust water :S) and earplugs
  • Finally, summer = sunblock, even in Quebec.

In general, it was a great experience. The atmosphere, the amazing cars, the continuous and relentless advertising, the cute bodyguards, the cold, sugary lemonade...everything was awesome! Veva and I went for a nice seafood lunch at the St. Paul market (mmm...clam chowder and lobster salad!) and treated ourselves to diary queen after the hot day we spent at the track. Then we caught the 5pm train back to Waterloo.

I was back home at midnight, tired as hell, went to sleep with a smile on my face for a well-deserved and hectic(what else!) weekend =)

Would just like to give a shout-out to my girl White witch. Congratulations on getting engaged! I was there in spirit girl! I wish you all the hapiness in the world =)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Montreal: Day #2

If there is a tourist prize for sight-seeing on steriod, Veva and I would have definately won today!

We woke up at 8am, had a nice waffle breakfast then started our journey. Suffice to say that we might not be able to pronounce the names of the stations, but we have become experts using Montreal subway system!

  1. St Joseph Oratory
  2. Little Italy
  3. Mont-Royal Street
  4. BioDome
  5. Olympic Park
  6. Planetarium
  7. Notre-Dame Basilica Light Show

If you look at the subway station, you will notice that we went around in a circle around the whole of Montreal. By that, we have covered the essential touristic attractions for Montreal except for The Botanical garden. We just couldn't fit it anywhere! After we came back, we changed and met some friends for dinner at Crescent Street. It was insane! Free concerts again. The city was so alive!

After that, I met Confused Arab Chick! That girl is so cool! She was incredibley friendly =) It was getting late, so she took us to the top of Mount Royal for a breath-taking view of Montreal at night. Thanks CFA! You rock, girl ;)

After CFA dropped us at the hotel, I signed in to blog about the day before I fall asleep. I know what you are asking now...SunShine! Where are the pictures?!?! Well, as I started, I asked Veva to give me the SD card so I can copy the pictures. Guess what...she couldn't find it =( The theory is that when she droppped the camera during dinner, the SD fell out!

So after changing into my PJ's and settling in bed to blog, I change back and accopany my friend back to the restuarant. We searched the floors with the waiters. Sadly, no luck :( As a result my friend I am sad to tell you that there will be no pictures tonight.

I really wanted to blog more about each place we went to. But again, I am tired and ruined. Plus, it is a bad sad that we have lost all those pictures. Tomorrow is the Grand Prix, so the weekend is not over yet =)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Montreal: Day #1

Finally, a trip for PURE fun rather than work. I'm on Montreal for the Grand Prix Formula 1 !!!!! Yes, world, I do know how to take a break once in a while and enjoy it =) I did take work with me of course, but, heh I'm betting against myself $10 that I won't touch anything :P

Different people from the class decided to go to Montreal with me and Genoveva. Most are going just for fun and not the F1 itself, so we didn't take the bus together or anything. Genoveva and I woke up Friday morning at 5am to catch the train at 6.50am from Waterloo. We arrived at...4pm. By the time we actually reached the hotel and checked in, it was 5pm. We were exhausted.

Nevertheless, not wanting to waste time, we got dressed and went to explore. Number 1 on our list was old Montreal. We saw everything!

There were some moments when I felt was in Beirut from the amount of Lebanese people. Generally, Montreal has a lot of Arabs! But it is also sooo beautiful. The impression that I got in the Winter was so unfair. It's georgous!

My friend and I walked from Old Montreal all the way to down-town. The city is so alive! We were starving, but I insisted on inviting my friend to a Lebanese restaurant. Ooooohhhh...warag 3enab, hommus, sambousak, baba gannoush,(heart) kebba (heart), fatoush, shish taouk...etc. The whole nine yards!!!! She loved it. Personally, I miss this food soooo much. Don't tell anyone, but we ate more than nice, elegant girls should eat :P:P:P I also got her to try Shisha! I personally don't like it, but I wanted her to have a wholesome Arabic dinner experience :P The waiter was happy to oblige and let her try a couple of puffs without having to order one! Tee-hee...very fun pictures!

I also met up with a friend from DAH who studies there now. After dinner, we walked down crescent road. It was great! So many activities were going on campaining for the F1 teams. The best was an open concert by Honda. They were singing Footloose, Thriller, U2 and all the favorite oldies! We hung around a bit, but we're SO TIRED by 10pm.

Ok, gotta go to sleep now. We're waking up really early again like real tourists!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Get one and put it at Kabayin Al Nouras :P

Although I don't know why we still want to watch the World Cup...yea, Go Yal-A5dar...whatever...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

We're changing the world =)

You Rock, Manal!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Not again

My wisdom tooth is annoying me again. However, this time on the other side. So annoying. I don't have time for this. I got a finance test a finance project on Monday. Didn't finish

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The life of a jet-setter

...not as a glamorous as it sounds. quick re-cap of the events of the last couple of days:

Boston: Sunday through Thursday

I met a lot of exciting people! Most notabley, GC venture capitalists. had dinner with them. I also met three of the companies they invested in. JumpTab have a great culture! ChoiceStream are competing in the same space as my practicum company and the last company is the company that will bring on the next generation of Internet TV (oh, I was in love!) I might apply to one of those start-ups.

I also met Jose and Ken Morris from the MIT Entrepreneurship center. What a character Morse is! Apparently, he had visited DAH in jeddah before and was not impressed (thx DAH). Harvard was cool as well. took a pic with papa harvard. We learned a lot from the seminar at CHOATE and the talk at the "Talk to an Angel" event at MIT. Note to self, IP lawyers are cool!

We visited Genzyme not bad. The largest green building in NA. had BOSTON CLAM CHOWDER! I missed it so much! Last time was in 2000. and of course, went shopping!!!! I bought a new suit 70% off! Finally, it was raining like hell! but, we survived and finally returned to Waterloo on Thursday.

Meeting + Riyadh: Friday through Tuesday

I went to a company on Friday morning in Cambridge before I left for Riaydh. I forgot to mention that I am working as a consultant for this company until August. They were recruiting from the MBET class and selected two applicants; me and another guy. Very interesting stuff. My first professional consulting experience! On Friday was our first meeting. We discussed requirements and deliverables as well as took a tour of the factory. I can'y disclose the name of the company because I signed an NDA . More later ;)

After the meeting I picked up my bags and headed to Pearson to fly to Riyadh. Cisco is flying me there for the final assessment. And the nightmare begins...

Yes, yes I must be me. It's my fault. I must have upset the airport gods in another lifetime. Why else do I have SUCH BAD LUCK with airlines?

To make a long story short, Air Canada put my CONFIRMED reservation on standby. sounds wierd, doesn't it? They bumped me on the next plane to Heathrow. As a result, I missed my connection on BMI to Riyadh. I called the company's emergency line. They found another flight the next day and booked a night at Hilton Heathrow. The details I missed of course, include the drama and tragedy show that I played in. I post another time the complaint(hate) letter that I am sending to Air Canada.

The next day I get on an SV airplane and reached Riyadh at 10pm. A car from the hotel picked me up. God, I missed Riyadh. It looks so different yet feels the same!! I left in '99, so I have never seen al Faisaliyyah and al Mamlaka before. However, the dry, calm yet threatening atmosphere of the Saudi capital is the same =). I was checked-in a room in the 34th floor. The view was fantastic! Unfortunately, I was too nervous to sleep. I dozed off around 3.40am and woke up at 6.30am. You can imagine that my red-shot eyes were not very elegant :P

But, despite the jet-lag, the no sleep and the nervousness, I think did pretty well =) My next post is going to be about the whole event that lasted all day and the experience of being on of two girls among 20 [Saudi] guys applying for the same job! Bottomline is that I survived! My mother didn't make it to Riyadh. Instead, I did manage to squeeze in a quick night-out with my old homies from Riyadh from 7 to 9.30pm. We cruised Riyadh's 'tahlia' and had some drinks at some funky cafe. I rushed back and took a car from the hotel to the airport and flew to back to London.

I reached my beloved Heathrow at 5.30am. It was so surreal. One of those rare hours where heathrow is kinda empty and calm. It was so empty and I was so bored and sleepy that I was tempted to dance the funky chicken on star-bucks tables! LOL I was afraid that i would fall asleep and miss my flight to Toronto. Fortunately, I did still have some sane cells awake, so instead of doing the funky chicken I window shopped the closed designer shops over and over and over. When the shops opened I had my regular honey and vanilla-bean smoothie from Boots. FINALLY, at 8am they announced the gate on which to board the plane to Toronto. Guess what... Air Canada was delayed AGAIN. So, we didn't actually board until 9 and took off at 9.30. The Norwegian girl next to me was going to miss her connection to Alberta. I told her Welcome to Air Canada!... I really hope those a******* go bankrupt!

The airporter bus dropped in Waterloo after another hours. Back at my apartment, I just COLLAPSED and slept. I must be mad for the stressful life I lead. But, I love it and I wouldn't have it any other way. Besides, this is the time, when we are young and 'healthy', to live life to the fullest! I am sad I missed seeing my family and friends in Jeddah, but I had to come back for classes. Wish me luck! I will know if I Cisco will hire me in a week.

I am searching for apartments in Amsterdam anyway :P

Thursday, June 08, 2006

On the bus - I love wireless!

wow, what a trip! The last couple of days have been so hectic!! Right now, I am on the bus, waiting for the late risers (Grrr.. don't you hate those people with no consideration for others?) This is the first time in days that I have been able to post. Boston is just awesome!!!!!

I will post the most interesting pictures once I download them. However, I don't that will be done until a couple of days. I am un-packing and re-packing again tonight when I get back to Waterloo. The reason is that I got a flight to Riyadh tomorrow! The final round of Cisco interviews is on the 12th. They're flying me over there.

My mother is going to meet me there =)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

the 14-hours trip :S

For some reason I didn't fully realize what it meant that we are going from Waterloo to Boston by coach (bus). I thought it would probably take 8 to 10 hours. Also, I will be among friends and we brought a lot of movies to play. It should be ok if not even fun, right?


First of all, after the third movie, I was bored! I actually *wanted* to work! Unfortunately, my laptop died after watching one movie on my own.

Then, we made like 7 stops? Once for coffee, once for lunch, once for dinner and couple of others along the way for good measure. That is not counting the stop at the border for 'registration' for non-canadians (ahem, ahem). My friends had a laugh how they would leave me there if the US border patrol refused to let me enter :P hehe. Actually, I was one of those who finished quickly regardless of the extra questions I was asked for the sole reason of having the good ol' green passport.

Ok, here my tips if you are going on a long bus trip:
  1. Strategize your laptop usage as there are no power outlets on the bus (whaaat? no power! oh kill me now.)
  2. A bit of innocent flirtation with US border patrol will go a long way (not true for individuals of the males species :P)
  3. Make sure that ALL your downloaded movies are at least VCD if not DVD to play on the coach's DVD player.
  4. BRING A PILLOW (some ppl did...what would I have done for a bit of support under my neck after the 7th hour!)
  5. Yes, taking a lot of stops to use normal bathrooms instead of the joke in the back of the bus is convenient. However, take in consideration that unloading 25 ppl then boarding them back is going to take 30 minutes at least!
  6. Don't invite or encourage your friend to sit beside you because after chatting for two, you will envy those who are sleeping across two seats (lol i was one with the two seats, but all of us shifted regularly to allow some ppl to sleep and to chat with different ppl)
  7. Bring an MP3 player or something, cuz ppl tend to do wierd things when they are bored. Ex. sing wierd songs in a southern accent with that thing you blow into (what is it called again?)

There are lots more but there were my personal lessons =) We arrived around 10pm and took 30 minutes to check-in. Some people went out for a bite and to check out the town around 11pm, but I was too tired. Plus, we're about a 20 minute ride from downtown, so for those who don't know me, let me explain something:

Being a smart, strong and well-balanced woman doesn't eliminate the fear of taking the subway and walking down the street late at night. Yes, people who have travelled with me outside KSA find this out very quickly, lol. Around 10pm max, I tend to get scared. I clutch my purse like a floatie in the ocean, my eyes keep shifting everywhere and I begin singing the "let's go back home" song. Call me a geek, call me a party-pooper but having fun doesn't mean not being responsible!

As a result, I skipped out on going out tonight, but I'm sure we will have ample time in the following days to enjoy ourselves :D Also, I knew I wouldn't enjoy myself because I wasn't prepared. When I visit a new city (I stayed in Boston before, but that was back in 2000) I like to have a map, know it well, know where I'm going exactly and how I'm coming back. I don't like to just take off (especially at night)

Anyways, there is one sentence that always gives me a natural high:


So, stay tuned, lots of news and pictures for those interested in hearing more about HBS, (heart!) Sloan (heart!) and the latest news from Boston!

P.S. Verdicts...

Old School: D

Office Space: -N/A- I was anothe movie at the same time

Open Water: A!

The Fast and The Furious: -N/A- fell asleep

Being Cyrus (some modern indian movie): B+ - it was surprisingly pretty good!

Napolean Dynamite: F - this movies sucks! I don't what ppl find funny about some loser who dances like a freak.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I (Heart) Boston!

Our class is going to a trip to Boston tomorrow! I'm so excited! In addition to a job interview, we're touring HBS and MIT! This our schedule:

Sunday June 4th
Travel to Boston: Coach will leave Needle's Hall at 8:00 am sharp.

Monday June 5th
  1. 7am - 1pm: Attend New England-Canada Business Council. Address Sheraton Colonial Hotel & Golf Club.
  2. 1pm - 3pm: Tour MIT and Harvard if possible.
  3. 4pm - 6pm: Meeting at the MIT Entrepreneurship Centre

Tuesday June 6th

  1. 8am - 10am: Breakfast with General Catalyst Partners
  2. 10am - 3pm: Visit Partners + Presentations
  3. 2.30pm - 4pm : Business Idea Pitches back at General Catalyst Partners
  4. 4pm - 6pm: Free time in Harvard Square
  5. 5pm - 6pm: Interviews for GC Scout
  6. 6pm: Barbeque dinner at Charles Hotel

Wednesday June 7th

  1. 8am: Breakfast at Choate
  2. seminar titled "Start-ups 101" (which they normally present to the MIT Entrepreneurship program)
  3. 3:30pm - 5pm: Tour Genzyme's corporate HQ
  4. 7:00pm - 8:30pm: MIT Enterprise Forum "Talk to an Angel"

Thursday June 8th
Travel back to Waterloo =(

wish me luck!