Our man at Stanford part four: Meeting and eating

Kiwi David Downs hob-nobs with some high-power international business people – and eats far more than he should

Let me tell you about the people who attend the Stanford Executive Programme. With 160 participants from over 45 countries, clearly I can’t do a detailed resume of everyone, so as a proxy for the whole class, I will just tell you about the people in my study group – eight of us, who are probably typical of the people here.

There’s Tim, who heads up the strategy team for a major telecommunications firm.  Tim’s already taken the whole class through a discussion around the Internet of Things (IoT).  Next is Pia, who runs a media conglomerate in Scandinavia, overseeing operations in TV, newspapers, radio, etc. She also can do far more press-ups than I can.

There is Hal, who manages around 1200 service stations across the southern states of the US and is a real gentleman. We have Remo, the head of a 200 year old private bank in Switzerland, and a stylish dresser. There is Martin, genius tech entrepreneur who sold his company for $1.3 billion to a major tech company (and yes, that did say billion).

Then Bridget, head of communications for a large US chemical company who has a master’s degree in engineering; and the Russian – an internet mogul who now has serious investments and interests in robotics, and was the first Tesla owner in Moscow.

And me, lowly public servant from Auckland who never invented anything or sold any company to anyone. Gulp. Talk about feeling inadequate!

But the powerful thing about spending time with other humans is that you quickly see each other as just that, people. Our study group gets together every night after dinner to review the work of the day and the cases we are reading for the next day. We each laugh at the same jokes (mostly), we seem to enjoy each other’s company and we certainly seem comfortable enough to debate and argue. 

Plus, I am the Class President so I suspect the Russian thinks I will have him shot if he is mean to me.

You end up doing everything together – studying, exercising, socialising and eating. Especially eating. The food is outrageously good. So amazing, in fact, that I have begun to take photos of it, like some sort of sad Facebook poser who insists on showing you their every meal (‘Look everyone, I had toast!’). I won’t do that, but I am including here a selection of photos of typical meals and so-called “snacks”.

              

To keep myself honest I also went out today and bought a set of bathroom scales, and I will include in these blogs a running total of the weight I put on since arriving. So that you don’t think too ill of me, I will also let you know how much exercise I have done.  Hopefully self-declared public shaming will help me control my desire to eat a chimichanga tomorrow morning.

Total exercise (last 7 days): 8.25 hours (not bad – better than I ever did in NZ).

But… total weight since arriving: +1.2 kg (oops!)

Stopping writing now, I need to go for a run and work off some of this food (before dinner).