Spending Christmas vacation skiing with my sister’s new in-laws in Switzerland sounded like a great idea, as I hadn’t skied in 12 years. And these were no ordinary in-laws; these were the extreme sportsman/lets-go-climb-some-ridge-that-has-never-been-skied-before types. I figured this activity would be the perfect mental and physical exercise for the upcoming EuroTrek. So I donned my James Bond backpack, complete with inflatable balloon, walkie-talkie, and avalanche beeper, and we started skinning (climbing) up the ravine. An hour into the climb our guide, Hans, had us stand behind a large rock while he blazed a trail ahead. As he continued on, he turned to us and said, “Isn’t it beau………”
Unfortunately the rest of his sentence was muffled by the avalanche that quickly swept him up/down/over and under. Being a Swiss commando, he told us on the walkie-talkie not to follow him-like that was ever an option. Hans ended up fine, and emerged an hour later from the ravine unscathed, but sans skis and poles, to the welcoming sound of the helicopter sent by the Swiss Avalanche Rescue Team. Later that day, as we all sat at home recounting our adventure, I was reminded by what my father had told me before I left for the vacation. “Son, Jews don’t belong on mountains.” Wise man, wise words.
Departing Switzerland, I had to endure a conversation with my taxi driver-in French-at 3 AM-about the merits of Swiss cheeses. After surviving this extreme form of chit-chat sport, I thought I couldn’t be better prepared for the onslaught of EuroTrek 2001-oh how naive one can be. So I walked into the hallowed halls of the London Business School, careful to avoid the bits of pre-shrunk wrapping on the floor. Here was the opportunity to meet the best and brightest investors Europe had to offer. Conversely, they had the opportunity to meet the greatest business leaders of tomorrow (or the second greatest if you’re an avid believer of the gospel according to the Financial Times).
Resume and business cards in hand, I took my place amongst the 120 other attendees. I never had a chance to sit in the sky deck before, so I indulged myself in London, and grabbed a seat up top. By the end of the panel discussion I had identified my targeted future employer and proceeded to walk down towards the center of the room. As I approached said target, I was unwittingly stopped in my tracks by a classic pick-and-roll play by a fellow HBSer. Having regained my poise, I focused on the next potential employer, only this time, finding myself shoved to the side by a well-executed straight-arm to the neck. What was happening? It would appear that Europe brought out “The Rock” in my schoolmates. I was startled to find that these culprits weren’t my classmates-oh no-it was much worse. These were second years without a job-the most cunning and ruthless sort of business school students found in the wild. Turning to my friend Nadine Haj-Hasan, I suggested we call it a day; we were clearly unprepared to do battle with our upper classmates. Instead, we decided to retreat to the safety of doing some shopping at Harrod’s. Yet, here too, fate had played a nasty trick on us. For it was the beginning day of the much vaunted winter sale, another story altogether.