Monday, November 12, 2012

What I've learned in ES2007S (Blogpost#6)

This module is probably the best and the most useful we chose for this exchange program. For this semester, I aimed to enhance my English communication skills. We all know that nowadays English has an increasing importance in the professional relationships and partnerships. And I didn't only improve my English skills, but my communication skills as well.

The benefits of oral presentations and speaking, in general

By doing several oral presentations I enhanced my abilities to speak fluently and clearly in English. Few months ago, I was not able to be that confident. Oral presentations allowed me to develop my PowerPoint skills as well. From now on, I would rather prefer the Steve Jobs style - elegant, sober and refined - to a more academic way to present. I learned that the less you look at your slides, the more convincing you are. And to achieve this goal, the slides need to be purified to their utmost. Also, oral presentations allowed me to remain comfortable face to an audience, without reading any notes.

Besides oral presentations, I admit that speaking twice a week face to an "audience" is really helpful. If you want to make the most of this course, you have to be hyperactive and to practice. Now I am perfectly able to talk with professionals who call me for an internship, what I couldn't have done several months ago. Last time, I have been called by L'Oréal and the HR did notice that I was taking Professional Communication courses. He told me that it was vital for the mission they propose because I would be charged to train people for them to change they usual practices. Now, I federate both the skills on an engineer and those of a kind of "commercial". This module can bring more value to your resume.

What I would have liked to do

I think that negotiation is a big part of Professional Communication. Unfortunately, I feel that we didn't really emphasize on this aspect. That is the only thing I have missed. I would have liked to deal with a special topic on which each team would have discussed, trying to convince another, and finally reach an agreement. I guess that the proposal presentation was sort of negotiation but it was rather unilateral.

Objective outlook

Overall, I especially developed my oral skills during this module, although the blogposts were very helpful for the writing skills. I think that we are all generally better at writing than speaking (I mean, for a foreign language). When you write, you can take your time to think about the impact of your words. When you speak, you need to be trained and to practice to make it natural and effective.

Finally I would like to thank all of you folks. The experience was amazing. Also, thanks to you, Brad, because you are a fantastic teacher and overall, a very cheerful person.

All the best for the final exams.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflection on Oral Presentation

Related to the presentation we led this Thursday, I thought each of the team members was very well prepared. We did rehearse for this final presentation. Now, I'm gonna write a bit more on my own part of the presentation, by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses it could have had :

My strengths

I think I was quite well prepared. I knew my material very good, and that allowed me to clearly point out the solutions and go straight to the main goals.

About the design of the slides, I think it was really clear and concise. The less you write, the better  it is. And as I knew the content perfectly, I didn't really spend time looking at the "screen" to see if I was on the right slide. I think this is a strength.

I wasn't disturbed by the remote, and never pointed it towards the screen, which is a natural reflex I know. The remote is very useful because it allows you not to take care of the keyboard for switching the slides.

The last strength I will enlighten is the clarity of my English. I think everyone understood what I meant. And it is partly caused by the fact that I definitely wanted to slow down the flow, and to make some pauses sometimes. I think it is effective for people to analyze and get what you say.

My weaknesses

The fact that I walked a bit, going back and forth, during the presentation was deliberate. Apparently some people thought it was disturbing (maybe for the person who was filming the presentation). Indeed I think it depends on the space you dispose. On a huge and long stage, it is appropriate. But in small areas such as the classroom, maybe it is not. So I will adapt it according to the space I have.

I thought our presentation was missing a touch of humor. Usually, I love making fun and doing some jokes during a presentation. But this time, I deliberately tried to be serious as it was a particular issue which you could not really make fun of. However, you should have smiled a bit more. It is the essence of a good presentation to make the audience feel comfortable.

Always I was trying to make it look like a Steve Jobs Keynote : pure, simple, clear and sober. He was definitely amazing at presenting.

That's all for my personal analysis of the performance. Should you guys have any comments or suggestions on it, please feel free to comment.

All the best for your coming examinations or projects, and see you on Monday.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Attempting to communicate with a Chinese - Blog Post #4

[A bit long but can't shorten]

Two weeks ago, my friend lost his cell phone after a night of drinking and partying. I texted my friend's phone, in case someone would have found it. Much to my surprise, someone called me back !

I was called while I was at work. I immediately answered : "This is my friend's phone. Can I take it back ?"
The guy tried to say something, stumbling out some incomprehensible words. I asked him for an appointment, trying to articulate the best I could, but he didn't get a word of what I said. I was talking with a foreigner, incapable to get one word in English. But he finally managed to say : "... ... yeah ! Chinese ... Marina Bay Sands !" So I found a Chinese girl. I explained her the situation and asked her to tell the man that we could meet at the MBS at 10pm. She finally got an appointment the day after at the Marina Bay MRT station at 10am.

I immediately told my friend that the phone had been found. Just in case, I asked a friend of mine the Chinese translation for "Where are you ?"

The day after, we were on time at the spot. I called my friend's number but I directly fell on the voicemail ! Good joke. We spent 30 minutes pacing up and down the corridors of the MRT station but nobody. I tried to call him back twice again, but without success. Finally we gave up and separated at the MRT station.

I was shopping when I've suddenly been called back by my friend's phone number !! I tried to speak slowly but he didn't get what I meant. It was so frustrating that I got angry. I said in Chinese : "Where are you ?" "Marina Bay MRT... SMS" I understood that I had to text him :"Marina Bay MRT Station. 11.30am" I took the first cab I met, telling him to run over the Marina Bay MRT.

Arrived at the station, I couldn't find him. I was in distress. I called him back, and asked him : "At which exit are you ? A, B, C or D ?" And he answered : "huuuh... ahhhh... yeah" I was about to implode !

Finally, I asked an employee of the Hotel to tell him to come in front of the hotel. He seemed to understand and I couldn’t explain my relief when I saw him coming to me with the phone in his hand... What a hard work ! I warmly thanked him with some gestures. Here, the intercultural barrier was the language. In addition, I was phoning him, so I couldn't use gestures or body language, which was really frustrating.

Edited #1: Thanks Dhanya

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cover Letter - Blog Post #3

Cover Letter & Job Offer
My Resume

Guillaume UBALDI
University Town, NUS – 28 College Avenue East
 Singapore 138598
Phone: + / Email:

September 9th, 2012

Object : Application for a «Technical Product Development Internship»L’Oréal

Dear Sir or Madam,

           Presently as a third-year student at Grenoble Institute of Technology - Industrial Engineering, I am writing this letter in the context of an internship in L’Oréal. Within the framework of my academic training, I will have the opportunity to carry out an internship as an Assistant Engineer from January, 2013 and for a duration of approximately 3 months.

            I am contacting you because I am particularly interested in experiencing your production centre based in the Paris area. Improving my knowledge of the industrial world within the engineering department of one of the most prestigious cosmetic groups represents an attractive challenge. Besides, I am a regular consumer of numerous L’Oréal products, which I find at the same time essential and innovative. 

       For the mission you propose, you are looking for an innovative person, highly motivated, fascinated by L’Oréal and avid to bring his/her own stone to this monument : I can confirm, in all modesty, that I possess these assets. As part of my studies, I have already carried out a project during which I have designed a tactile table for cooking. This experience will help me because your mission appeals to someone who has already been trained to innovation and new product development. In addition, I am a great fan of your company and of the proportion it has assumed the last years. This admiration can only reinforce my motivation and my desire to perform. 

  Finally, in a world where interpersonal relationships are growing, I strongly think that communication has an important role to play within a company. Aware of this, I am currently attending some Professional Communication courses at the National University of Singapore. I am pretty sure it will be a helping asset for this mission.

           Therefore, if you entrust me this mission, it would be with a lot of motivation and conviction that I would take up the challenge. You can contact me at any time through the e-mail address you will find on the top of the letter, or directly on my mobile phone.

I look forward to your response and I thank you for your particular attention.

Best regards,

Guillaume UBALDI

Edited #1: Thanks Tasha ;)
Edited #2 : Brad's advices

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Agreeing without complaint : that depends... (Interpersonal conflict)

Last March, in the framework of our studies, two classmates and I were charged to carry out an industrial mission at Areva (leader throughout the world in nuclear power). This mission dealt with the protection of the information about a confidential chemical process. The main objective was to come up with a mapping on which the flow of information related to this process was detailed. This was to prevent any leaks of confidential information. We had 13 days to achieve this goal.

Moment of clarity

Quickly, we realized that our tutor was rarely available for helping us, and that particularly annoyed me. One day, as we were struggling to get information from the employees, he came up with a new idea : "What if you designed an action plan to avoid any leaks ?"

The mission ended soon.

One of my partners and I were frustrated and angry about this sudden moment of clarity. But the other one - a diplomat by nature - thought it was perfectly normal that our tutor changed our objectives without realizing the workload it represented. I was shocked by his behavior. I wanted to tell our tutor that it was a bit exaggerated, but our last partner said absolutely no. From this moment, the situation remained tense.

A touch of anger

We began to discuss with our partner, telling him that it was unacceptable that our tutor was, at first, completely absent and, on the other hand, that he could suddenly come to us and entrust us to design a whole action plan. I wanted to write an e-mail to our teachers, but our partner said : "No, it could affect our score". And I responded : "I don't care about the score ! If you behave like that, accepting everything, you'll be destroyed when you'll get a job !"

My partner had this special talent for never getting angry. It looked like I was speaking to a wall.

At the end

Finally, we did the job as required, without complaining to anybody. But there is still this touch of anger inside me. This frustration which pushed me to almost insult my friend because I refused to be a doormat. He thought that we had to do what the superiors told us to do, unquestioningly. But I finally realize that he was not responsible for this situation.

As my reaction was counterproductive, do you think, nevertheless, that it was justified ? How could I react otherwise ?

Edited 18/09/2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The importance of effective communication skills

I think communication is the basis of the social relationships between each being (human, animal or even vegetal). If we didn't communicate, the humanity would probably collapse. Because communication is the only way to solve a problem, to introduce yourself, to tell somebody that you love her/him, ...

Besides this essential aspect, skills in communication are all the more important to make it effective. By effective, I'm implying when the communication process is perfectly adjusted, making every single message clear, concise, coherent... The 7Cs. But especially convincing !

When I was young, I used to do some acting at middle school. I didn't really like learning whole pages of lines, but I enjoyed acting on the stage because I could give free rein to my imagination and to my abilities to make people laugh. I think that acting is a really good means to learn a lot about effective communication skills. Because when you want to make people laugh, you actually try to be clear and concise in the way you'll tell the joke. You also try to use the appropriate gesture, or face expression, at the right moment, and which will make the audience laugh. 

Effective communication skills allow people to convey their message with style, courtesy, strength of conviction and charisma. Those are the best ingredients so that your interlocutors are suspended from your lips and definitely agree with your words. Real communication skills allow you to convey convincing messages, and you can be respected for that. 

Later, I will be a supply chain manager. To my view, a manager has effective communication skills if he is highly persuasive and comprehensible by his colleagues. And that's maybe the most important aspect for me, as a future manager : the ability to convince people with those skills.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A little about me ...

Hey folks !

As I'm a new blog user, I need to introduce myself...

My name is Guillaume. I'm from France, more particularly from the city of Nice on the "Côte d'Azur" (see the beautiful picture above). You probably have already heard about the French Riviera ? Soon, you will hear this accent escaping from my mouth, which makes the fame of French people !

I'm here in Singapore with my friend and classmate, Maxime, who will take part of this course too.
I'm 23 (in September) and I study industrial engineering in Grenoble Institute of Technology. I will be studying in NUS during one semester.

I came in NUS first because it's a very famous and recognized university. And that's a privilege for me to study here during one semester, to enhance my knowledge in industrial engineering but also to improve my communication skills. On the other hand, I chose Singapore because it's just the best place in Asia where you can easily travel all around Asia (Australia as well) at relatively cheap costs.

My feeling about Singapore so far

I've already visited a lot of places in Singapore. Especially the famous and inescapable Clarke Quay, where there's a lot of exchange and local students to mingle with and to meet. We've already met some kind people, with whom we are now used to spending our evenings and partying together.

I arrived in Singapore now 3 weeks ago, and I feel how much this city is enjoyable and rich of good people yet. The town is perfectly clean, the architecture is just awesome, and its economic growth made of this state-city one of the most dynamic countries of Asia.

But I think there is a price for this...

For the moment, I've noticed that it seems to be very restricted in terms of laws and rules.
Most of people we meet in the MRT, for instance, are constantly staring at their smartphone's screen or downcast eyes... As if they didn't want to look at foreign people, as if they distrusted them. I did feel - and stop me if you think I'm wrong - that they don't want to make the slightest mistake, for fear of being reprimanded.

But I also think it's a question of culture and customs : we are not used to meeting such people in France. And I'm sure that I'm going to learn to merge in this environment and that I'm going to meet full of great people.

I look forward to meeting you in the ES2007S module, and to improve my communication skills in English (you probably know what is said about the relationship between French people and the English language !).