Kristina Mityaeva, IMD MBA Diversity Scholarship winner

I have traveled extensively since my childhood and have visited nearly 40 countries. From an early age, I recognised that globalisation would become a dominant characteristic of modernity, and consequently, I learned the Latin, English, French and Chinese languages to enhance both my communication skills and understanding of the world.

A Lithuania-born Russian, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to live in the US and Kenya as an adult, developing the experience of becoming a “local” abroad and learning how others live, work, and think. Additionally, I have visited China and Hong Kong approximately 10 times over the last year and have established a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of Asian culture and its business environment.

After I graduated from the Russian State University for Humanities as a Lawyer, I spent 8 years in international FMCG companies like P&G and Herbalife building their in-house legal functions across CIS, Baltics, Mongolia and Israel.

For the last two years, I supported the international e-commerce business of the Alibaba Group, and became the first Legal counsel of the Group based outside of China and Hong Kong.

However, my career demands that I refine my global experience and mindset to ensure that I will be well-positioned to serve in roles anywhere in the world, so I decided to do an MBA to broaden my understanding of business and build some new skills for the future.

The best thing so far at IMD is definitely the academic staff. The professors are all super charismatic and engaging during the sessions. I never laughed so much during my years in Law School! Although some of the subjects are not so easy for me to crack– indeed Accounting and Finance gave me some really hard times even after tens of hours spent on extra tutorials and out of class preparation.  

Another great experience was the startup project. My group consulted Little Green House childcare centers on their growing strategies. As I have a 4-year-old daughter, and I also had some teaching experience with kids during my one year stay in Kenya, I was very glad to join this project, get more insights on the educational system of Switzerland and create impact for the generation of my daughter.

My daughter running across the water in Oregon, US where I travel for work and friends.

The IMD MBA journey is very dynamic, diverse, multi-layered and comprehensive. It fully reflects my life aspirations and attitude, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why I received IMD’s Diversity Scholarship – I strongly believe that globalisation and diverse collaboration are among the best tools to achieve sustainable results.

Kristina Mityaeva

Banner image: Sakhalin island where I lived as a kid

Entrepreneurship and Easter Break!

We are done with our startup presentations and deliverables!

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What a whirlwind it has been for all of us! From sustainable footwear to reframing early-stage education, from innovative crop development to customized orthopedic liners, we’ve seen it all over the last four months. With a single mission on our minds; bringing these novel ideas to consumers.

By challenging market segmentation, conducting customer deep dives, and engaging in debates over value propositions, we have moved the needle for these fledgling companies. I know my team has been so vested in the product and concept, it will be a challenge to move on to the upcoming adventures on our agendas. Or perhaps we’re a bit nostalgic since we bonded, and will now need to recalibrate within a new team and create new friendships and memories. Nevertheless, massive congratulations to my peers on achieving this milestone.

And we are not to fear any lack of intellectual challenge … before we know it, we will be in the thick of Innovation Week! But let’s save that for another post.

Onward to a well-earned break. Wishing everyone at IMD Business School and all blog readers a restful and fun Easter! Soak in some sunshine 🙂

Surbhi

Mischa Riedo – Winner of IMD MBA Class of 1976 Merit Scholarship

I was born and raised in Berne, Switzerland but have been living and working in Zurich for the past 10 years. I’ve worked in the financial industry for most of my career. I started off in derivatives trading and then moved on to investment specialist roles for large institutional and wealthy private clients.

Prior to IMD, I co-founded and grew my own company for 3 years. We built a software application for businesses to modernize their performance review processes through real-time feedback and dynamic objectives. A lot of the learnings during these 3 years led me to apply at IMD with its focus on leadership in a very intimate and personalized setting.

I’m extremely grateful that the class of 1976 chose me as its candidate and I hope our class will set up a scholarship one day as well to support talents in the future.

Aside from work, I love exploring the world with my fiancé. Whether it’s through travelling or simply discovering new cooking or cocktail recipes, it’s always an adventure that I enjoy like none other.

In terms of IMD, my personal highlight thus far has been the strategy course with Professor Misiek Piskorski. It provided me with a myriad of insights into strategic analysis and decision-making while doing so in an entertaining and engaging manner. On the challenging side I’d note the intensity of the programme which makes it really hard to spend as much time with my fiancé as I’d like.”

Mischa Riedo
MBA 2019

Module 1: Three Months, Three Life Lessons

ecef6521-0386-4d8f-b5c8-e86f5adbb87b.JPGPost-exam Lausanne exploration 🙂

Exams are done! And we have recovered (somewhat).

Tomorrow my group presents our startup project, and so we wrap up the first module.

It has been three months, full of highs, some lows, lots of laughs, and more late-night, caffeine-fueled, impassioned discussions in the dungeons that I would like to admit. And we are just getting started.

Here are 3 learnings from Module 1 that will stay with me in the days to come…

  1. You can never know everything: I can safely say that the majority of our class has had at least one “deer in the headlights” moment. It is particularly uncomfortable when you are used to overcoming hurdles and enjoying success and find yourself thinking “huh” in class as brand new content whizzes past you on a daily basis. This is when you need your peers. And the acceptance that you won’t learn it all, but you will learn how to prioritize and fill knowledge gaps effectively, a skill that allows you to focus on your contribution to the team.
cb002555-5c0a-4335-b8ba-c1167a0bed72In life, as in ping pong, a good team has your back

2. Conflict, not such a bad thing: Culturally, we grow up with the idea that conflict may be considered rude. It leads to tension and friction. But, you put 90 high achievers into groups of six for three months and then how can conflict can be avoided? My team, fortunately, is almost always on board with each other. But we have had our not so congenial days as well. I think we are better for it, mostly because conflict presents us with a fork in the road; how will you move beyond disagreement? Our reptilian brains tell us to defend our turf, that it is personal when it often is not. But we have a choice in our reactions. Are they helpful? Necessary? True? Not always possible to follow, especially after consecutive hours of clicking away on laptops, the next test only a Canvas update away, but a good aspiration nonetheless.

PHOTO-2019-04-11-20-28-45.jpgParis at twilight, by Shriekanth

3. On occasion, leave the bubble: After exams, many left Lausanne for the weekend, or at least the dungeons. Some further out in Europe, others within Switzerland. I jumped on a train to Florence and hung out with a visiting friend from home. Over delectable pizza and while strolling through the Uffizi, I was reminded of a life beyond the MBA, and that it would be a mistake to focus so much on the minutiae that I forget the context of the world that IMD is preparing me for. Work hard, and walk away sometimes. Find those roses or tulips. Perspective never smelt sweeter.

The Uffizi’s Leonardo da Vinci exhibit displayed the Adoration of the Magi, mostly still in sketch state. This unfinished piece, infused with talent, is considered a worthy piece from the master, the center of a famous museum exhibit.

During and after the MBA program we will remain in sketch state, works in progress. As our experiences compound, the lines become clearer and the colors better defined, but never entirely done.

And that is the beauty, is it not?

We are incomplete, a long road lies ahead, and we are yet masterpieces.

Leonardo da Vinci, Adorazione dei Magi 1482 c.

“The recently restored Adoration of the Magi, commissioned by the Augustinians for their Church of San Donato a Scopeto and left unfinished when Leonardo had to move to Milan in 1482. Yet it is this very state that allows to follow Leonardo’s mind’s creative processes, in all his sketches, ideas, second thoughts and reconsiderations.” – Uffizi Museum, Florence, Italy

The mind of a strategist

March. This was a very special month of my IMD MBA journey for multiple reasons: International Women’s Day program with a fascinating panel of three female business leaders; the last miles of Module 1, wrapping up all the knowledge taught so far; and the famous integrative exercise, a 48 hour case study marathon in our teams of six. Last but not least, this was the month when we had our strategy course with Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski (‘Misiek’ as he calls himself).

I was very curious about this course a long time before I started the MBA in January. After several years of professional experience at BCG I was wondering how I would find this part of the program. Would it still be eye opening? Would I learn much or rather refresh the long-known concepts I used to apply in my consulting career? I remembered well some of my older colleagues who claimed strategy is what we practice in strategy consulting, not what we learn at business school.

Finally, I was curious about the professor too. Misiek spent the majority of his professional career teaching strategy at Harvard, well known for its strength in this field. My expectations were high.

Misiek took us on an absolute intellectual roller coaster. Although the majority of the concepts were not new (who has not heard about Porter’s Five Forces?), the way we applied and discussed them was a masterpiece. The professor made sure we all went much below the surface and challenged the way we used to think of the companies we know. Personally, I will never look at Walmart the same way as I used to … 🙂

Some of you may wonder what exactly we have done, what exactly we have learnt but… I will not tell you. Not that I do not want to. I do agree with my colleagues that strategy is something you have to practice. But contrary to their view this is exactly what you do at IMD – you practice strategy, not read about it. Apply to IMD MBA, do it yourself and I can assure you it will be a fascinating endeavor and a time well spent.

Thank you, Professor, for this inspiring journey!

Another building block in our MBA journey

Our first integrative exercise is done! And even though exams are looming in the horizon we literally saw the light on Saturday after our second presentations were done and we were freed from the dungeons.

I knew the basics of the exercise before coming here: we will be given 48 hours for an assignment that will require using all the knowledge of our module 1 classes. I knew we will need to present and defend our proposal in front of a jury. I knew it would test our team dynamics and really take us to the next level. But I also knew that knowing all of the above was not going to help prepare for it, so I chose to follow Sean wise words at the beginning of the program and just “trust the process”.

The experience was different for everyone so I can only speak for myself when I say that the exercise as a whole was so enriching that it will be a memorable moment of this year. It is one of those things that you can only understand once you live through it and if I had to choose the best part, it was the way the feedback was given by the jury during both presentations.  It was then when it clicked in to place that this exercise was just preparation for the next part of the program, especially the start-up presentation and the ICPs during module 3.

I leave you with some really nice pictures shared by my classmates

The dungeons became home for two nights

After!

Notice the happy smiles because we know it is over! (for now!)

An Integrative State of Mind

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The sun is out and how.

As warmth pervades through this quirky city of Lausanne, the tranquility of birds chirping and the calm waters of Lac Lamon are a direct foil to the rollercoaster our class of 90 is riding as I write this.
Why?
Today we begin the famous IMD MBA Integrative Exercise. Once we survive (I remain optimistic) and emerge from the dungeons on Saturday, reading week begins, followed by examinations, culminating in startup project presentations. Just another wrap-up to Module 1 at the program that changes your life, but not without first relentlessly testing your acumen and spirit.
There is a lot going on in my mind, some nervousness, a little excitement, marginal homesickness (today is Holi, festival of colors), but mostly the awareness that I will rely on the knowledge given to us over the last two months to get through the next two days. I would relate this to the Hunger Games, except that the school keeps us exceptionally well fed. But you get my drift.
Good vibes and wishes of success to my team, my friends, and my class 🙂
See you on the other side!
Surbhi