Don’t apologize – Women and Leadership (Staphanie Lin)

The IMD Women’s Alumni Club organized a special workshop for women leaders. All female alumni were invited as well the femal students in class 2015. The main purpose was to address some issues and challenges women faced at work. Topics included leadership, diversity, gender bias and discrimination. Conincidentally the timing was perfectly fitting to the period when we had on-campus recruiting and were undergoing different job interviews and discussions.

First we had two faculty members: Martha and Denise presenting the current situation women had, including lack of presentation at the board level, miniroty in senior management, unequal wages, etc. The theme of the workshop “Don’t Apologize” reflected the fact that women tended to have apologetic attitudes toward the others. Secondly we had different World cafe sessions to talk about specific topics. It was very interesting to hear different points of view from alumni of different years and industries. I learned a lot from reflecting on the topic as well as the discussion. It was especially an exciting event to talk to people and hear amazing stories from not only the point of views as women leaders, but also mothers and wives.

Stephanie

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Participants from class 2015: (from left to right) Jasmine, Vas, Silvia, and Sophie
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Event Brochure

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Lively discussion among the alumni

Get ready! (Nicholas Toubkin)

The class has been spending the last two weeks focussing on their career search.  For me, it’s been a fantastic experience – meeting with companies at our career fairs on campus has been a great way to understand exactly what it is that I’m looking for in a job, and the search that I’m making outside of IMD’s contacts has really inspired me – there are so many interesting jobs out there!  The IMD success rate during the on-campus recruiting has been fantastic – there have been a huge number of offers made, and the outlook is looking really good for the class.  For my side, I’ve decided to focus on a couple of niche areas that mean that I’m engaging with some key contacts in London rather than applying for the on-campus jobs- watch this space for updates!

Meantime, tomorrow heralds a really exciting new phase of the IMD experience.  The International Consulting Project (or ICP) is beginning – and it’s a chance for the whole class to put their skills to test on a real life business case over the next 7 weeks.  We have all be placed into groups of 5 people, and I’ll be hitting the ground running, spending this week developing a project strategy, and then heading off to Latvia and Estonia on Saturday to start putting the theory into practice.  It’s amazing the responsibility that the companies engaging us for this activity are entrusting us with, and we are all really motivated to demonstrate that this trust isn’t misplaced.  The class will be whizzing all over the world – I’ve got classmates who are currently off to the States, Brazil, London to name just a few locations – and that’s just the list for this week!

It really is such an exciting time – but also quite a shock to think how imminent the end of the course is – this thought really made me appreciate my run alongside Lake Geneva today.

Until next time,

Nick.

Discovery trip – Mexico and California (Vivek Tiwari)

Hello Everyone. This is your guest blogger Vivek who will take you through the discovery trip to Mexico and California that I and my thirty amazing friends went to.

Discovery Trips are essential part of the curriculum at IMD and extensive preparations go on from early on in the year. These range from selection of places, companies to visit, alumni network to contact etc. Thankfully, our super-efficient MBA office takes care of all the administrative stuff and we students focus on the academic work and company presentations for our visit.

The theme this year was that we would visit one developing and one developed country. Mexico and California was an easy choice for me since I was interested in technology sector, start up clustered around Silicon Valley, plus I had never been to US before and the idea of visiting it with a large group friends really excited me.

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Our first stop was Monterrey in Mexico. Monterrey is the third largest metropolitan area in Mexico and an industrial hub having couple of large corporations headquartered there. We visited a Walmart distribution center and understood the complexity of running such large scale operations. It was fascinating to see how a fruit grown half the way across the globe reaches the shelves of our local supermarket. After Walmart, the next company visit made us all go in memory lane and we became kids again. The reason: Lego factory visit. At IMD, we have studied turnaround of Lego in mid 2000s in a couple of case studies, and it was a fascinating account of putting strategy, operations and marketing into practice and putting the company back on the growth track. Looking at the highly automated factory and advance robotics in action was a different experience and made me appreciate Lego even more. Plus, each of us received a Lego set as a gift at the end of the visit. That reminds me I have to build my set soon.

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Besides these two events, we visited CPA, Cemex, BCG and Alfa group where we got to interact with senior business executives from these companies. Before flying out of Mexico, there was an Alumni networking event in which group of students made a presentation on the economic situation of Mexico. Our MBA director Ralf Boscheck also facilitated a session with participants giving an overview from an ecnomics standpoint.

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San Francisco was our next stop. If Monterrey was all about manufacturing and industrial goods, San Francisco was the polar opposite with its venture capitalists and start-ups. Our schedule here was jam packed with visits from Salesforce, Twitter and Google. Visiting google headquarter in mountain-view was the highlight of the trip. Fun fact 1: Do you know that you can have free lunches at Google?

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SF chamber of commerce held a session on the innovation economy and economic development of San Francisco followed by a session from VCs explaining us about the entrepreneurial culture in the valley. Fun fact 2: If you are 20 years old and studying at Stanford University and you haven’t started your company, you are in a very tiny minority.

And before we knew it, the discovery trip had come to an end. However, we got two full days to recover from our intense sessions and explore San Francisco. Our group had great fun with activities such as taking a biking tour of golden gate bridge to eating in china town to partying in San Francisco. Special thanks to my American colleagues and friends Courtney Galligan and Tom Cohen who organized the trips and made sure that each of us had great time. Cheers.

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Discovery trip – Dubai and Singapore (Stephanie Lin)

My classmate Stephanie Escher participated in the group which travelled to Dubai and Singapore, and would like to share her story. The reason why she chose the destination was because she had never been to Dubai nor any other region in the Middle East before. She also targeted company visits in Dubai and Singapore for networking purposes.
 
There were mainly three focus points during the trip. First, the group had meetings with the Economic Development Board of each country (UAE and Singapore). During these meetings, Stephanie could see how the UAE was trying to benchmark with Singapore. Secondly, the group visited various companies. These meetings brought the unique way of doing business in these countries closer to her. Thirdly, cultural events were organized so that IMD students could experience the local customs, like snowboarding down the sand dunes of the Dubai desert.
 
What impressed Stephanie about the UAE was the foresight in developing the economy’s diversification and anticipating future challenges. In Singapore, she was amazed about the changes of the city, coming back after 20 years. She could especially feel the vibe and energy which a typical Asian metropole offers.
 
During the interaction with expats, Stephanie could explore what living abroad in these regions can look like. She felt that Singapore could eventually be a country for her to work and live in. Besides interesting business opportunities, it offers a high quality of life and the population is very diverse. She appreciated that she was travelling with a smaller group of 28 people, where she could continue bonding with the other classmates.
 
For the future MBA students to choose their discovery destination, Stephanie suggested that you first understand what you want to get out of the trip, for example in terms of experiencing a new culture or exploring potential job opportunities. Then the trip will be highly rewarding.
Stephanie (Lin)

Time to get a job! (Nicholas Toubkin)

We’re now fully over our jetlag from the discovery trips, and it’s back to a hectic schedule at IMD!

This weekend, we had another of the mythical IMD leadership experiential sessions – which pushed us hard to hone our leadership skills even further.  As usual, I can’t reveal the details to avoid spoiling the experience for next year – but let’s say that it was tough but really insightful!  The final leadership session is in November, and I can’t wait to find out how this session wraps up the year. Continue reading “Time to get a job! (Nicholas Toubkin)”

Discovery Trip – China & Japan (Nicholas Toubkin)

Stephanie, Nick A and I are back from our fantastic trip to China and Japan.  It was incredible to learn more about these fantastic, vibrant, unforgettable countries.

The trips were mainly work-oriented, but this didn’t dampen the fun for a second, as it was genuinely fascinating to learn more about the business environments in these two countries, and to connect with our fantastic alumni.  Before the trip, I questioned the academic value of such an expedition; now, I don’t doubt it for a second.

The alumni network was inspiring – from one of Asia’s foremost Private Equity individuals, to a go-getting and passionate entrepreneur, it was so refreshing to see what our alumni had done with the skills they learnt at IMD.  I was particularly inspired by the ‘can-do’ approach of our alumni in China, who are taking every opportunity possible to harness the exceptional growth in the country.  In Japan, the alumni team were equally interesting – but given the Japanese culture, very modest about their fantastic achievements!

This Saturday, we spent a full day in Tokyo doing a joint workshop with some senior executives from Japan’s largest corporates.  This was combined with some keynote speeches from a prominent Japanese economist, two partners from McKinsey, and a Taiwanese executive sharing her experiences as a foreign CEO of a listed Japanese conglomerate.  The speeches were inspiring and thought provoking, but the interaction with the executives was really fascinating – and a fantastic opportunity to dig a little into the mindset of Japanese workers.  What I found (as a generalisation) was an unyielding passion for precision and excellence.  It really was so interesting to find that many Japanese workers really do take accuracy as such a high priority, and reflecting how this might affect the flexibility of the economy.

Despite the strong focus on work and business discovery on the trip, there was nevertheless some time for sightseeing, which we grabbed to the greatest of our abilities.  It was amazing to explore Shanghai –  such a vibrant city, with a Gucci store seemingly on every corner.  The energy in Tokyo was palpable, whilst Kyoto brought a sense of calm and spiritual balance to our trip.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of the best bits of the trip – so I’l write an update soon.  Stephanie will be giving her impressions, and Nick A will be providing photos in due course.  And for those of you interested to know about our counterparts’ experience in Singapore & Dubai and Mexico & California, I’ve been promised some guest contributions soon.

Until next time,

Nick.