Danish Design Awards Potential Finalist

Today’s guest entry is written by Patricia Nyberg, who is working with the startup moveART along with her team (from the left in the below photo): Carel Hoffman (South African),  Patricia Nyberg, (Finnish), Viktor Bisovetskyi (Ukrainian),  Louis Lozouet (Brazilian/French), Zehra Ali (American), and Baiyu Li (Chinese).

 Group 9

Continue reading “Danish Design Awards Potential Finalist”

The ups and downs of entrepreneurship

Today’s guest entry is a follow up from Thibault on his startup experience with Hydromea (see his post from January)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to have your own business? I’m not talking about the glossy life as CEO of a listed company. I’m talking about the venture, the ad-venture, the part just after you have come up with a brilliant idea, the sort of idea that you think no one has thought of and everyone is trying to steal from you. This part is usually an emotional roller-coast for entrepreneurs, in which they go through the exhilaration of seeing unlimited opportunities in countless markets and at the same time wonder how come they still don’t generate stable cash flows although they have a PhD and a patent! Continue reading “The ups and downs of entrepreneurship”

Nearing the end of Chapter 1..

Sitting in my group down in the “dungeons” and looking around, I see 5 pairs of squinting eyes staring intently at laptop screens with eyebrows furrowed in concentration as we work on 3 projects/assignments concurrently. Up on the board in our group room, we have 6 looming project deadlines scribbled in big red font all of which seem to be within a few days of each other and the last of which reads “EXAMS!!!”. Between preparing for the final startup pitch, leadership essays, and group macroeconomics project, it’s hard to believe that the pace has continued to pick up even beyond what we thought was a crescendo with the integrative exercises. Even more incredible, is how our group dynamics have been forged by the fires of stress and pressure to make us orders of magnitudes more efficient than we were when we set out. If you would have asked me last month how much excess work capacity we have left, I would have answered “hardly any”. But somehow, we have evolved how we work to the point that we can do a full analysis of a case and prepare slides and a 15-minute presentation in an impossibly short amount of time.

I’ve worked on teams and in groups for most of my career but I don’t think I truly understood how powerful a group with seemingly nothing in common can become over the course of a couple of months. When you’re subjected to an impossibly large amount of work you learn how to optimally leverage each group member’s strengths to deliver as quickly as possible and become greater than the sum of your parts. I initially thought that 3 months was a long time to be in one group of 6 people but I now know that there are certain learnings that you don’t realize until you’ve felt the grind for some time. And so, as our time together as a group comes to an end in a couple of weeks, I do feel sad and know that I will miss working with my 5 compatriots very much. But I also think that what I’ve learned working with the group over the past few months will make me that much better in the next group.

On a more fun note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the class trip to Chamonix and the Nespresso factory visit last week. As a way to blow off some steam from the pressure cooker, we all went up to Chamonix in France for a morning of snow-shoeing and a fantastic fondue lunch. Leaving the IMD bubble was definitely a welcome escape and some of us chose to stay an extra night in Chamonix for a beautiful sunny day of skiing the next day. This combined with a class trip to the Nespresso factory (see pictures in the previous post) last week to see the coffee pod making process allowed us to mentally disconnect for a couple of half-days and spend some time with our classmates doing something most of us have never done before.

Another few twists to break from the routine of classes every day come in the form of guest speakers that add a real-world element to the theories we’re learning. These guest speakers are often the subject of the cases we’re assigned to read before class and we’re often surprised to find them in class adding some colour with their experiences. We then often break out in groups and provide recommendations to them to help them solve real issues. These guest speakers range from senior executives at large multinational companies to entrepreneurs at smaller businesses. In all cases, I’ve been very impressed with this aspect of the program.

Now I have to sign off and chip away at those big red deadlines on our board!

Til next time!

Cheers,

Mo

An IMD MBA alumnus, an MBA partner, and a father walk into a bar…

Today’s guest entry is written by our Australian/French alumnus from 2013, Marc Chauvet, recently back in Switzerland…

Have you heard the story of the IMD MBA alumnus, the MBA participant’s husband, and the father who walk into a bar? No? Unfortunately, I am not good at telling jokes, so allow me to skip to the punchline: all three turn out to be the same guy, me. Continue reading “An IMD MBA alumnus, an MBA partner, and a father walk into a bar…”

Two Down..

Exactly two months ago we started this amazing journey into the MBA program and yet it feels like we have been here much longer. From learning to critically analyze a term sheet in the entrepreneurship class to preparing free cash flows in the finance class, we have learnt a lot. But more importantly, we have had a chance to put our learning into practice through the integrative exercise. Having heard all kinds of rumors about the rigor and the sleep deprivation we would be subjected to, I was not sure how it would all work out. And yet all of us survived!

As I reflect back on the 48 hours that went by, I realize that the exercise is a mirage or a rabbit hole in some way. By the virtue of the fact that there is no right or wrong solution to the problem, the job lies in coming up with a solution that could potentially work and every route that you take has its own challenges. Thus I believe that the point of the exercise lies not in solving the problem, but building consensus as a team and working in ways to harmonize each member’s strength. And in the process we learn to filter and analyze lot of data, make realistic assumptions under uncertainty and solve problems on the way.

What has amazed me the most in these last days is how time crisis actually brought about the best in us as a team. And despite the stress, we managed to laugh a lot and sleep for a bit too! No excel and power points were lost and we managed to make it on time to present. We had huge gaps in the presentation to start with and the board’s feedback made us think critically, address the gaps in our analysis and question some of our assumptions. It can never be perfect, but all in all it ended well. If I were to sum up my leanings from this exercise, it would be the following:

Big picture to small: Brainstorming and putting every idea on the board as a team always helps bring all those problems to the fore which we never thought of individually. Needless to say this goes a long way in coming up with a better hypothesis.

Agility: Half way through solving the problem, one could realize that half the assumptions made were wrong and we need to be flexible enough to accept the same and adapt fast.

Presentation: Last but not the least is all that has been hypothesized and thought about has to reflect in the power point for the jury to see.

While most of this sounds like common sense, we can lose perspective under time constraints and stress and this exercise is a stark reminder of the same. All said and done, this experience unlike a few others is very unique to IMD. Some of us love it a lot and others not so much, yet it bonds us to other IMDers in a very special way. We can shout, fight or cry in the moment but in posterity we all smile 🙂

 

Team Hydromea after 36 hours ! From left to right :Mo Allam, Kemeng Jiao,Will Chiou, Thibault Acolas, Xi Zhang

 

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