Today’s guest entry is from one of our French participants, Thibault Acolas.

The beauty of reading the IMD blog is it enables you to get a “peak behind the curtains”, read the narratives, stories and anecdotes of current MBA candidates and step, just for a few lines, in their shiny shoes… Welcome in mine!

My name is Thibault Acolas and I come from France. I’ve been a naval officer for 10 years, and worked on strategy and operations on destroyers and maritime patrol aircraft in various environments, from the Libya-crisis in 2011, to fighting off piracy in Somalia, to rescuing shipwrecked migrants in the Mediterranean.

I spent some time on this blog while preparing my IMD application, to get a “sense” for what an MBA is like, and especially a small one like IMD. How do 90 MBA candidates from 45 different nationalities, with unique professional profiles, interact and learn from each other? Could someone with no corporate background contribute effectively to the group discussions with “out-of-the-box” ideas?

Now, after 2 weeks at IMD and a few (already intense!) courses on industry analysis, leadership and entrepreneurship, we already get to dive in deep with our Startup project and contribute to making a difference on business ventures. I’ll be working with five classmates on an exciting Startup called “Hydromea” for the next 3 months. We met the two founders yesterday at IMD. They explained to us their 15-year research on a AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) – basically a submarine – that can operate in a “swarm” formation with other AUVs to measure water data for oil and gas exploration, environmental control. This project was one out of the 15 selected during the IMD 2016 Startup Competition in which 135 startups were evaluated.


The team: Mohammed Allam (Egyptian), Priyanka Chandran (Indian), Will Chiou (Taiwanese), Kemeng Jiao (Chinese/Canadian), Xi (Sissey) Zhang (Chinese) and me with Alex and Felix, “Hydromea” founders, on the top-left side

Our role now is to work with the founders for the next 3 months, get an understanding of their industry, product characteristics and competition to bring them forcefully into the market. It’s about working with the founders as a team, with regular meetings, and use our groups past-experiences in marketing, finance, defense industry.. coupled with our freshly acquired business skills, to bring “Hydromea” to the customers!

So basically, IMD chapter is about teamwork and pace (not haste!). The program is intense but we really have 89 friends to count on. The next months will be full of projects (ICP, NTF, CEP…) and opportunities to contribute in the real world with our learning and create value.

I’m excited!


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