Meet our ombudspeople!

Last week we elected our Ombudsman and Ombudswoman! Alex Khairallah and Neha Kabra will represent the class in various topics when dealing with the MBA Office. I thought it would be nicer for you to hear directly from them on the new responsibilities and expectations for the year 🙂

Congratulations and good luck, guys!


Thank you Silvia for inviting us to pen this blog.

I am Neha Kabra, a banker by profession. Just last month I had the opportunity to share my early experiences from the program with all of you. Days at IMD pass by incredibly quickly and we are already at the end of month two!

I am back once again – this time in the capacity of the Ombudsperson for the Class of 2016, a position I share with my buddy Alex Khairallah.

Alex comes from GE where he worked in financial management for GE’s Healthcare and Capital divisions. Alex is a the calmest guy I know. Bring in the most “nerve wrecking” problem, and he presides over it with a zen-like calmness. With Alex around, no issue is big enough to not be resolved. On that note over to you Alex…..

Hello everyone this is Alex. Thanks Neha for a “smashing” introduction 🙂

Neha and I were chosen by our classmates to be the voice of the class. The idea is to balance my “zen-like calmness” with Neha’s “enthusiastic energy” :P. We have already spent a couple of weeks working together as Ombudspersons and we make a fantastic team (we have celebrated small victories already :)). We share similar thoughts on how and what we would like to achieve for the class over the course of the next year. Here’s our joint view.

The Ombudsperson role is multi-faceted and will require us to be the voice of reason amongst diverse opinions. At IMD 90 strong minded, independently thinking individuals are being constantly challenged in a high performance environment. The program is designed to test us to limits. IMD recognizes this and wants to give all of us a fair opportunity of being heard. So as Ombudspersons, our main idea is to reconcile diverse opinions and position the class as one entity to bring top quality change.

In short, we are the interface between the MBA Office and the class. We also mediate in the intra class dynamics with the aim of bringing the class together to make this a memorable year for all of us.

As we pen this blog, we have already held a class-wide session where we shared our 2-way communication approach to listen and share ideas with our classmates : “we come to you” and “you come to us” (cheesy, we know!). But it works :). Our challenge this year is to consolidate and prioritize the views of our exceptional classmates when linking with the MBA Office, and to leave a legacy behind for the next class.

We are in the process of agreeing on the strategic and tactical ideas that we would like to work on over the course of this year. We will keep you posted on the progress made 🙂

Signing off,

Neha and Alex


MBA 2016


All the world’s a stage

I am sure you recognize the title of this post as one of the most famous lines of Shakespeare. “But what does  this have to do with IMD MBA”, you might wonder. If anything, you might expect a business school to have very little to do with acting or theatre, let alone the Great Shakespeare. Up until today I thought the same, but everything changed when I entered the class this morning and was greeted by the presence of this unassuming gentleman. At first sight there wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about him. If anything he was calm, quiet and in no way tried to assert his presence. The class was titled “Communications” and so I settled in my chair waiting for him to introduce himself as a speaking skills coach or so.

“Hi, I am Richard and I am a theatre actor”. “A what?” I couldn’t help but exclaim. I wasnt sure if my ears were ringing and so I looked at Carlos my neighbour, and he confirmed what I had heard. Incredulous as I was, I kept waiting for Richard to give his real introduction but it didn’t take Richard long to demonstrate that not only was he a theatre actor but a fine one at that.

Yes this was happening – I was going to learn about communicating from a theatre actor here at IMD Business School. If ever I had run out of reasons to congratulate myself on joining IMD then here were 100 of those packaged nicely in one session.

As the day zipped by, it dawned on me that indeed who better to learn the art of communication from, than an actor. Actors are pursuasive, convincing, credible and moving- what else does great communication look like? Actors transfer us into a parallel reality and show us what they see and make us feel how they feel- how else should great leaders share their vision?

Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious and what should feel like a natural connection seems a bit misplaced in the beginning – like a theatre actor running an MBA class.

Richard conducted the class of 90 like a master conductor. His orchestra hit all the notes – in one moment he had us reflecting deeply on a thought and in the other he made us burst into peels of laughter. Here we were watching our classmates go from inhibited, shy speakers to confident, pursuasive communicators in a matter of minutes and there we were bustling with energy to go onto the stage ourselves. What he taught us were not merely tricks but deep rooted principles. For instance I learnt that in most communications a lot is being said but not a lot is being heard. I learnt how to make the stage my own but be there to serve the audience. I learnt how to capture people’s imagination before I pursue them with logic.

Like a master, he appealed to the best in us, helped us discover our confidence and elevated us to the next level. He made us feel like leaders and gave us a profound message – one that resonated with Shakespeare some 500 years ago – “All the world’s a stage”.

What an apt message from someone who loves the stage to those who aspire to make a difference on the world stage!


Thank you Richard!




Goli  commented on  Friday, February 26, 2016  7:35 AM 

This experience underlines and reflects IMD’s tag line – Real World, Real Learning.

​Beautiful Sunday in Lausanne

Today was such a beautiful day here in Lausanne! Bright sunshiny day with blue skyes and warm(er) temperature.

That and the outlook of a slightly more manageable week brought such an amazing atmosphere for the class. Many of our classmates had the chance to spend some quality time with their families, some went skiing, some went for a run by the lake and even the ones in the dungeons (me included) had a light atmosphere and a nice view to work with!

At times we need a break to be able to contemplate and let the learnings and transformations “sink in”. Today was one of those days for me. I was able to walk to IMD with no rush, sit in the sun for 15 minutes with nothing on my mind, have a “study-talk-free” lunch with an incredible classmate I hadn’t had the chance to spend time with.

Most of our generation is suffering from Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) which is basically wanting to be elsewhere or everywhere all the time, or, like Wikipedia nicely summarizes: FoMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as “you can imagine how things could be different”.

Let’s enjoy the moments when we have the chance to be exactly where we wanted to be!

Beautiful picture from Lika Gueye earlier today 🙂

Bonne semaine a tout!


Depending on a viewpoint

The last days were tough: studies, projects, essays, emotions, challenges, and just a couple of hours for sleep… Can I endure more? A great training for perfectionistsJ! Some say that life is stripy, if you move across, or, if lengthwise, just an endless, black stripe. I disagree – from now on my days are either good or perfect. I can’t structure yet what IMD gives me, but definitely I am enjoying changing.


We had guests speakers. One is an IMD MBA alumnus, a successful entrepreneur, who gives an impression of a happy person. He seems to get drive from all his incredible ups-and-downs in business. He is looking for change and change is looking for him. His enthusiasm and desire to make the world better are contagious. And I feel proud of belonging to the IMD community. Another guest speaker is a business angel. According to him, there is nothing to be afraid of in uncertainty – it’s everywhere. People and organizations approach it differently: some structure it slowly unless they get a comfortable result, which by that time becomes obsolete. The others just jump in, but those who have a secure base, reduce risk and stress. And another valuable observation is that change itself is useless – it can bring added value when it relies on values of people and organizations. If you want to make change, devote yourself completely, partial trial worths nothing.

Like a Jerome K. Jerome’s medical student, who found in himself symptoms of all known diseases (MDs know that well), except for a housemaid’s knee, I started dreaming “what would I be if I worked in operations, in finance, in accounting or as a CEO?”. We get a very hands-on education, in which school-reality boundaries are squeezed and erased.

Till soon,



Goli  commented on  Friday, February 19, 2016  2:03 PM 

Nice article, Aysylu !

Let’s start-up

IMD MBA program is known for graduating many leaders and managers but it can also boast of a long list of the “third kind” that have developed their best ideas and skills in it’s corridors  – the entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur is a french word and literally means someone who organizes a business. Entrepreneur is also the etymological root of the word “enterprise” and if we come to think about it, indeed entrepreneurs form the foundation of any large enterprise. Most big corporations started as an entrepreneurial venture, even those formed with government support required entrepeneurial mindset, grit and perseverance.

So essentially, it is impossible to become a complete business leader without having experienced the entrepreneurial journey in some ways. The last few days at IMD were dedicated to just that – giving us a flavour of entrepreneurship. Through myriad cases we vicariously experienced the ups and downs of starting a new company. And not just any cases, these cases were of the companies that Professor Benoit has had close association with. True to the “real world” element of IMD, Benoit brought these cases to life by sharing some of his first hand experiences with these companies.

We also heard from one of IMD’s home grown entrepreneurs who shared in great detail his 8 year long journey. A journey of sweat, blood and tears, of uncertainities that can put weather predictions to shame and of human perseverance in the face of all challenges. Such inspiration can last a lifetime and I am sure some of us will use this inspiration to take the plunge into starting our own enterprises.

Our journey doesnt end here, if anything it begins here. As mentioned in an earlier post, all 90 of us have been assigned to work on real start-ups and in the beginning most of us were a bit tentative about how to go about these projects. But after what we have learnt in the class we cannot wait to go out and apply these learnings in our start-ups. In fact earlier this week we already had an opportunity to get some expert feedback on our plans for the start-up project and it was reassuring to know that many of our ideas can actually be a valuable proposition for these start-ups.

Many of us may never choose entrepreneurship as a career, some of us might do so but I am convinced that regardless of the path we choose the skills and mindset built in the entrepreneurship stream will serve us well in dealing with complex business challenges.

In conclusion let me leave you with this one thought that every entrepreneur knows and every person should know.