Today’s guest entry is written by Ukrainian Irina Tkachenko, one of our MBA Partners.

“Challenges” was probably the word I heard the most often during the year. New network, new language, new order-oriented Swiss mentality, pause in career… These changes can be quite frustrating, but they can also be turned into an exciting adventure. And, in my opinion, it always depends on us whether to treat these challenges as obstacles or as opportunities.

For our family, the IMD MBA experience was not just a story of my husband’s degree. From the very beginning we understood that this year would be unique for all of us – for me and our daughter as well. Like anthropologists we observed and like a sponge we absorbed the local philosophy and approaches. It is worth to mentioning that we had a lot of ideas to learn from. How people respect the marvellous nature around them, how they organize cooperatives and share, the idea of wastes decreasing, freedom and respect of neighbouring, the way Swiss people bring up their kids.

The invaluable experience our daughter obtained in local school deserves to be separately described. Here I won’t be telling you about the program preparing kids to live in harmony with themselves and society, neither about museums, theatres and ice-skating rinks that they visit during the year. But I want to share with you only one thought: now my daughter easily speaks both English and French. Yes, two languages in one year!  Amazing, isn’t it?

This year was life-changing for me as well. A pause in my career gave me an opportunity to revaluate my own goals and to think about the next steps. Together with my new friend, an MBA Partner, I prepared and took GMAT and TOEFL tests. Thanks to this “vacation” I discovered more fascinating places than I did for the last five years. Brazilian cuisine classes, a Photoshop course, French lessons and coaching sessions – this is just a small portion of the knowledge my new friends shared with me. 30 people from different cultures, but such interesting personalities from the whole world became my friends this year. It is still beyond belief.

To conclude, I would like to share some thoughts and advice for prospective IMD MBA Partners:

1. Travel. You are going to be in the heart of the Europe. France, Italy, Germany – all these countries are in few hours’ accessibility. Switzerland itself is the state of tremendous nature. Enjoy and discover.

2. Use opportunities. These words sound abstract, but there is a wide range of them. Just be open to see. From music concerts to food festivals, from interesting volunteering projects to a long list of conferences and master classes for those who dream about entrepreneurship. From sessions with a psychoanalyst to elective classes offered by IMD to partners.

3. Value. Try to see in this situation a chance to obtain invaluable experience, learn and build a new network. I am sure that this year will be one of the most memorable and valuable in your life.


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