Hold tight – the process of change

The MBA International Consulting Projects are well under way, with participants travelling around the globe, working as teams to find solutions to an issue faced by the top mangement of the company they are working for. They have another four weeks to complete their projects and make an impact. But at the same time, the clock is ticking as graduation approaches and the pressure to secure the next phase of their career is also at the forefront of their minds.

Here are some words of encouragement from one of the MBA partners:

“An overwhelming time of the year has come for our MBA’s who might feel a bit submerged. They’re spending all their time  looking for jobs, reaching out and making connections networking, interviewing for jobs, supporting one another and juggling big ICP projects.

It’s honestly a trialing time for the best of us. Not achieving what they wanted may have some of the participants discouraged at this point, but we, as partners send this message:

We are proud of you all, we stand behind you, and we believe in you.

Dear participants, I hope you find some inspiration in the words below. 

Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry, weepy and hysterical or we may feel utterly hopeless. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled upon a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger that we were before.

Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on the way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be eventually become the periods we wait for. For it is in these periods that we realize we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability a new level of your being is about to be revealed. 

Hold tight… all will happen at the exact moment you are waiting for.  

Maddie (MBA partner 2019)

“Your ICP mission, should you choose to accept it…”

What is the International Consulting Project? It is the business-school equivalent of the agoghé (ἀγωγή) for the ancient Spartans. Just as the young Spartans were tested to prove they were worth the title of warriors and citizens, the MBAs are challenged to demonstrate they deserve the IMD hallmark. Teams are formed by selecting five of the most complementary players in the class market, and supervised by more experienced Faculty “Generals”. With this line-up, for seven weeks they help the most innovative and brave clients face some of their hottest challenges. Seven weeks of passion, seven weeks of poetry, seven weeks of chemistry, blood, and magic.

Our first-string team is fielded with a clear attacking spirit: as goalkeeper, a Taiwanese illusionist, a little lady with a powerful gaze and words of wisdom. In front of the goal, an Italian defender, proud disciple of the “catenaccio” school of thought, and a Greek-Croatian hoplite, trained in the elitist schools in Libya, now in charge of the defensive phalanx. Midfielder, the Russian scientist creating the alchemy, a brain stolen from the Intelligentsia and two arms stolen from a bright future in the Ping-Pong School of Moscow. In the forward position, a Spanish striker with a humble appearance and a tiger heart, a unique specimen, as Catalan supporter of Real Madrid. As Coach, a man who fearlessly defies the laws of finance, prominent Director of the “Derivatives and Coffee Academy”.

Javier Linares (Spanish), Damianos Kiramarios (Greek, Croatian), Luca Facchini (Italian), Kerry Hsiao (Taiwanese), and Alexander Burasov (Russian)

Our ICP journey has the traits of a classical adventure story. You may wonder why (“why map” attached).  The story takes place in an unknown territory, an industry unfamiliar to the team, a new setting for each of its members. This poses the first challenge: to decipher the complexity, the drivers, the dynamics, the key levers in a new industry environment. The hero of this story is our client, an international player with a glorious legacy and ambitious dreams. The hero is seeking a treasure: understanding how to grow in a new market. During his research, our hero encounters a Dragon, a deep interior dilemma: growing organically or acquiring other heroes? But our hero is a warrior, a fighting man – he is not a heroes recruiter. And he knows that. But he has us.

We will travel around the world for him. We will test the abilities of the best fighters in NAFTA and APAC. We will evaluate the potential synergies with these heroes, especially in terms of incremental energy (cash) flows.

Our hero’s endeavour is just at the starting point; the best is yet to come.

[This message will self destruct in five seconds – four – three – two – one – … ]

ICP team 3

A “Swiss-made” Impact

Getting to know more about how Swiss companies operate their day to day business was one of my key criteria not only when choosing to join IMD but also when it came to my selection of the ICP (International Consulting Project). Our client is a classic example of a company rooted in Swiss culture but with an international footprint. Their products are sold across Europe, Asia, and the US. Their customers range from multinational corporations to SMEs. Working with such a client allows me to effectively practice what I have learned from IMD over the past 9 months on a worldwide stage.

Ever since our preparation stage in early May, my team and I have met our clients and visited their company and factory so that we can familiarize ourselves with their business and products. The visits have opened my eyes and taught me what “Swiss-made” really means. From design to manufacture, each product is perfectly made by Swiss manufacturers who represent reliability and resilience. I never appreciated how a spare part of machinery can be a piece of art.

Our client’s customers share a similar impression. For the first project week we travelled to Germany and China to interview a range of customers. Coming from a marketing background, I see this is a valuable experience to understand the reality of the local market and get closer to the end-users, which is imperative as a start to solve the problems of our client. I was also excited to learn a lot of manufacturing industry knowledge hands-on that was completely alien to me in the past. With our team effort as a whole, I am confident we can contribute to the growth of our client’s business.

Real learning, real impact.

Jillian Xu

International Consulting Projects: Bringing IMD MBA magic to the world

How is it the last weekend of September already? It feels like yesterday when we were navigating the snow drenched sidewalks of Villars, a memorable nine months ago!

And yet here we are, classes and startups and summer projects behind us, survivors of the intense and enriching Discovery Expedition. And, we made it through Digital Week!

When the International Consulting Projects (ICPs) were announced earlier this year, there was a lot going on with exams and travel, and we didn’t really grasp the impact that these projects could have on the host companies. I spent the last week with my team in the UK, where we began work on a digital marketing project for a large multinational. We realized very quickly that our work would not only be given high visibility, but it would also play an integral role in the company’s marketing strategy for key product portfolios. One beneficial aspect of the project is that it pulls us out of student mode and places us into work mode, except that now we have heightened awareness and business knowledge to make better decisions.

In essence, our class of 90 is divided into teams of five and staffed on real-world projects for the next seven weeks. The preparation for this has been year-round, with Professor James Henderson leading the charge. In the summer we submitted our project preferences and were soon informed of the team structures. No surprise, the companies hail from a wide range of industries, with ICPs that span the world. While my team doesn’t have extensive travel, our peers are happily trotting around the world, to Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, the United States, and then some.

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Adventurers bound for Bangladesh

In this sense, the ICPs are vastly different from our start-up projects. They are also a change from our class schedule, all of us in Lorange every morning at 8AM, some sleepier than others, poring over finance exercises and marketing cases. But then again, it couldn’t have gone on forever, enjoying the safety of the classroom. It was inevitable that we would have to step out and showcase what we have learned. We are, however, still guided by our faculty directors, who ensure that we stay on track and are able to navigate challenges as they arise. So we’re flying the coop, but with supervision.

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ICP city explorations

Personally, my hopes for this project are that my team delivers valuable contributions to our client, that we learn new and critical skills and concepts, and that we use this opportunity to inform our perspectives on the continuous career and job discussions that are currently are the forefront of our minds.

Over the next two months, we will share our ICP stories, surprises, learnings, hurdles, and successes. And at the end, we will have our deliverables, of course, but also the satisfaction of overcoming our personal fears and biases, expanding our cultural and culinary palates, and applying lessons learned in the classroom to companies and their customers.

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Having some fun amid ICP seriousness 🙂

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All smiles in Morocco

Wishing all of us many spectacular ICP experiences, amazing (and safe) travels, and memories of a lifetime.

Surbhi

The Many Faces of Digital Week!

It’s our last week as a class, in class, working on the same projects. I’m not emotional, yet, mostly because of a ton of ICP and recruiting work that envelopes all of us. But Digital Week, led by Professor Amit Joshi, has promised us plenty of “Code-ak” moments that have kept us entertained and motivated as we delve into programming and data analyses. Enjoy!

Step 1 (Confidence, poise, smiles): We’re a team! We can do this. It’s just Python. And Anaconda. How tough can programming languages named after lethal serpents be? We are IMD MBA champions! 🙂

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Step 2 (Apprehensive yet confident): Okay, this is going to take some more effort than I realized. But still, I can figure it out. We’re going to be fine. We have coaches and we’ve done the Codeacademy course on Python. All good, I hope.

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Step 3 (The realization that there is much to learn sets in): Why is Python not listening to me?! We invented it to make life easier, no?

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Step 4 (Surrender to the inevitable): I’m going to go look for the coaches in the dungeons. And maybe grab a snack. And remember the calming tips my PDE gave me.

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Step 5 (Innovate, observe competitors, get back into the MBA “never-say-die” frame of mind): What are you guys doing? #sharedknowledge

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We are heading into the semi-finals in 15 minutes! Wish us luck 🙂

Yours in code,

Surbhi

MBA Lorange Auditorium

I have always wanted to write a blog, but I haven’t so far. Stating petty reasons like, ‘I don’t have the time’ or ‘It’s not the right time for that thought’ or ‘I am not sure if I want my weird thoughts published’!

Today was different.

Like every other night, I was lying on my bed reminiscing about the interesting conversations I had and the interesting events that unfolded today. One train of thought led to another and I started wondering why every IMD alumni that I have spoken to has always exclaimed how life-changing their year at IMD has been and how much they treasure their IMD memories. What makes this experience so special? The place. The faculty. The sessions. The MBA program team. The food. The coffee.

Yes, all these factors and a special element that ties all these together – You – the people whom I share this year with. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am incredibly lucky to have had the pleasure of knowing you. And, it all started here in the Lorange auditorium!

As I mentioned earlier, today was different.

Today, I wanted to write my thoughts down because I simply couldn’t brush off the significance of this day. The last day we will be seated in the Lorange auditorium ‘together’ for a session. The place where we discovered each other, learnt from each other, critiqued each other and pushed each other to be better. A place where we shared tons of laughter, glances, pictures (of each other; often ending up as memes) and inside jokes!

A place we can proudly call ‘Our Safe Space’!

Our first day in the MBA Lorange Auditorium

I started wondering how Lorange got its name. It is a pity that this thought crossed my mind only now because my curiosity led me to discover Mr. Peter Lorange, former President of IMD. As I browsed through his work and his articles, I came across this thought that could have potentially gone into the design of Lorange:

Typically, all classrooms and study rooms should have high ceilings, with windows to allow natural light in. Even though it has not been scientifically proven, it seems plausible that good learning is associated with high ceilings, i.e.  no heavy structure from above “hanging in one’s face,” potentially cluttering one’s mind. Daylight, as well, is probably associated with good learning – we feel that light stimulates a positive mindset and prevents feelings of sluggishness after a day in the classroom.

History is fascinating, isn’t it.

Well, it is 2:30 am now. Too many thoughts are running in the back of my mind – career plan, presentation for the digital lab and the fact that I might regret it if I don’t go to sleep soon!

What is front and center is the amount of time (3 months!) that is remaining between today and graduation.

I am going to make every single day count! And today, I choose to simply enjoy our last day ‘together’ at Lorange.

Tamil Vardani

Digital Analytics Lab Photo Overview

The focus of this week has been Digital Analytics, with the MBAs learning and applying various analytical and programming skills, including Python. Since Monday, each team has been competing to crack the different elements of a case, using and fine tuning their newly acquired coding skills. By Friday, they have to present their final findings. Which group will succeed first? Who will get the most accurate results? With final presentations due tomorrow morning, the atmosphere in the study rooms is very intense!