Learning to be more global, authentic and feminine

Today’s guest entry is written by one of our MBA partners, Vatsala Ghildiyal

I came to Lausanne a little unsure of what I would be doing with the year ahead. After a two month long vacation, I sauntered into Switzerland only in mid-February, and with absolutely no plans. Well thank heavens IMD was more proactive than I was and quickly got me in touch with WIN, Women’s International Networking. WIN is a Lausanne-based organization that conducts Women’s leadership and networking conferences and training events. The biggest WIN event is the Global Conference, this year held in Rome, along with smaller regional Conferences in India, Japan and Nigeria.

The WIN office is just a twelve minute walk uphill from the Ouchy metro station, or a three minute ride in the train. I, of course, greatly enjoyed  the walk back home, downhill, along the flower strewn pathways and where I would regularly stop to stare, awestruck, at the blossoming beauties. Oh the Magnolias, the Hydrangeas, the Ginko Biloba and the Maple trees. I also discovered how beautiful weeds can be and I loved it that they were not razed down and were allowed to exist, in all their glorious wildness, right next to the other flowers. Once, I even saw a hedgehog slowly  crossing my path. It  stopped for a bit, turned it’s little head  towards me, posed, while I furiously clicked pictures, and then slowly disappeared into the bushes. Oh, and did I mention the Alps and Lake Geneva that stood majestically in the background?

I was not actively searching for beauty, yet I continued discovering it. The next place was the WIN office and it’s magnified version at the global conference. I had never before seen such a group of powerful, feminine, beautiful, courageous and intelligent women, who were not afraid to empower one another and lead the way. Along with so many others, these women inspired and empowered me as well, and made me a forum speaker at the conference where I shared my experiences working with women in rural India. Then off they went, doing their business as usual.

Of course, the build up to the conference required putting in some extra hard work, and being a part of the office itself required one to embrace a very strong feminine approach and being sensitive to a wide range of sensibilities. The WIN team alone constituted of a Norwegian, South-African, Mexican, Chinese-German, Indian, Argentinian, Italian and Bulgarian. Whew! Yes, that is how diverse it was. For me, however, that was where the magic was. There were always passionate discussions about spirituality, culture, politics, make-up and fashion. It was a space that felt secure, and where one felt heard, seen and understood.

Winnie the Pooh once said, ‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard‘. Echoes my thoughts exactly 🙂



The IMD Family & Pre MBA Experience

Today’s guest entry is by future 2017 MBA candidate, Manu Gupta.

“Assessment Day” is a crucial day for IMD Admission process.

I did not meet any fellow interviewees before assessment day, but we exchanged a few emails. On the day, I was truly amazed when I met all the other candidates who were doing extremely well in their career and still relentlessly aiming for improvement with the IMD MBA Program. We were 8 people, from different countries and diverse professional experiences, and that crucial day with participants and professors gave me an insight of what IMD has to offer. After our assessment day we all parted to our residences around the world with a hope to see each other again. Frankly, I badly wanted to get admitted to IMD to not miss this lifetime experience. Today, I am very happy to write this blog as an upcoming IMD 2017 participant.

After my acceptance, within few days we had a WhatsApp group for our class and my phone hasn’t stopped buzzing to date, with more and more people joining the group from all over the world.

“Welcome to the Family” were words of my ex-manager, an IMD EMBA alumnus, when I told her that I would join IMD. At that point, I realized how close-knitted the alumni community is, and that the day we step into the IMD Foyer we will not only be business school candidates but also join a family of esteemed individuals.

The MBA 2017 batch of 90 individuals with 40 nationalities will embark a big journey on 11th January at IMD Business School, in Lausanne, my favorite city, located on the shores of lake Geneva.

Time has flown since my admission, and now with only a month to go things have started gaining pace, enormous discussions from arranging logistics, assignments, insurances, to clubs for next year go all day long, and small batch gatherings pop up wherever people can meet around the world, from Tokyo to Dubai to London.

IMD also stands apart from other schools with its incredibly strong partner program, a unique proposition. The school invests in every sense and ensures that not only the participants but also their partners and kids feel at home while their spouses are busy studying.

The feeling of joining IMD is exhilarating, both for my partner and myself. I am glad that I will be spending the whole of next year with few people from my assessment day, and many other talented fellows. I am proud and happy that I will share a class with 89 bright individuals who will shape the future of business in coming years.


End of a year, beginning of a lifetime

“Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened”, said Dr. Seuss. And it seems he said it to help me capture in one line this most amazing year. The inevitable happened yesterday – the program came to an end for us and we were unsure about how we felt. We were delighted of course to be called the IMD MBA Graduate, after all we had worked for at least two years to get that title (yes do not forget the long arduous application process). But like first time school goers who cling to their mothers on their first day of school, we were clinging to those last moments, except in our case we didn’t want to go away from this school. But we have to move on! That was inevitable and now is the reality. So where did we find the resolve to say goodbye with a heavy heart and to move on? Well, Dr. Seusse helped a bit. And it also helped that we promised to each other to stay in touch. But perhaps what has helped the most is that we are taking away a little something from each of the other 89 graduates. The new “me” is now made up of a little essence of each of my classmates. Each one of my friends has come to represent for me and others a particular trait. A virtue. A perspective. An emotion and it is this that perhaps will stay with us for a lifetime and it is this essence that gives me the resolve to move forward because now I know that I do not have to rely on just myself.

An obvious question to ask at this point is was it worth it? All the physical and emotional stretch? This abrupt break to our, in many cases, flourishing careers. What has this year given us? For me the answer is clear – a truly open mind. This year has taught me to engage, work, thrive and even rejoice with people who are very different from us. To not judge. To be grateful that there is a point of view that is so different – because that is the real opportunity to find common ground and make progress. This year has taught me to trust people and be led by them. This year has taught me that you do not optimize situations which demand a trade-off between people’s welfare and material wealth – you simply stand for the people – always! This year has taught me that individuals can often dream dreams bigger than themselves and achieve them, as long as they are willing to work with others, bring them along and inspire them to be their best. This year taught me to never make assumptions, certainly not about people. Often we do not know what people are battling, but we can certainly ask and in many cases we can help – we must. This year taught me that it is ok to ask for help, it is ok to take a break, to shed a tear and it is ok to start all over again! And I have realised we can do all of this only when we have a truly open mind. One that is curious, one that asks questions, one that genuinely cares and one that looks at possibilities.

Was all of this worth it? Hell yes!!!!! And the graduation day was the best testimonial that their could be. The whole year came into focus in that one moment. The harmony surrounded us.

It was great to meet our family and friends and also those of our classmates. They shared in our happiness and made it special! They made us realise, as my dear friend Luca said in his brilliant speech (complemented tremendously by Antoine), how blessed we are. How much love and support we have around us –  some that we do not even acknowledge, some that we do not even recognize. We couldn’t have asked for a better graduation day and culmination to this most amazing year of our lives. Those moments will perhaps never be re-created, except in our minds but I take solace in the fact that it happened. 

As I move on to the next milestones in my life, I safely hand you over to the fantastic blog team of 2017. Thanks for being by our side through our journey and I hope you will accompany the next batch in the same spirit.

To the batch of 2017 – Welcome! And if you are looking for one piece of advise – I would say keep an open mind. You will only become better and get enriched in these corridors. I wish you all the best!

From this beautiful French part of Switzerland – Au revoir!

Signing off for the last time!


The 2016 class graduates today!

It is Friday morning, very soon the MBAs will be arriving on campus with their families to celebrate this special moment.

They will be gathering for one last time all together in the MBA auditorium, their families will find seats and await them in the auditorium used for the graduation ceremony, and then the most emotional moment (I find) – the procession from one building to the next, the official start of the ceremony – the reality setting in once and for all… ‘I did it!’

Unfortunately, not all family members are able to make the journey to Switzerland to share this special day in person, but for those who would like to watch the ceremony live from a distance, the following link will enable you to follow from wherever you are:


Here is the schedule for the morning:

10h30 Music and walk in of MBAs lead by Faculty
Followed by speeches by the MBA Program Director and the Graduation Speaker

11h15 Distribution of diplomas and awards
Followed by speeches by IMD President and elected Class Speakers

13h00 Ceremony close


Before we go… give it up for THE band!

Last night was our class “informal” celebration after the last day of classes! We had a club just for ourselves and the vibe was incredible.

I remember hearing from my friend Daniel Kodama (Class of 2015) that people had opportunities to make a difference until the last day of the program. That’s exactly what we had the chance to witness last night. Our classmate Felipe Berg initiated a couple of days ago a band with all the musicians in class.

They squeezed time to rehearse over the last days and had their performance last night – IT WAS FANTASTIC! Continue reading “Before we go… give it up for THE band!”