Today’s guest entry is written by our Australian/French alumnus from 2013, Marc Chauvet, recently back in Switzerland…

Have you heard the story of the IMD MBA alumnus, the MBA participant’s husband, and the father who walk into a bar? No? Unfortunately, I am not good at telling jokes, so allow me to skip to the punchline: all three turn out to be the same guy, me.Chauvet_4

I recently set my suitcases back in Lausanne after an unbelievable three years in Seoul, and was asked to share my thoughts on the program as an alumni (class of 2013), as the husband of a participant of the current class, and as the father of a 2-year-old daughter. So let me cover each of these three very different perspectives in turn.

As an alumnus, I have to start by saying it’s great to be back in Lausanne. My year at IMD may have been an intense one, but it fostered great friendships, and being back in Europe offers me an opportunity to reconnect with many of my Europe-based classmates. With hindsight, I have come to realize that the small class size helped me understand and adapt to my Korean workplace: even shy introverts such as myself could not hide in a class of 90 people. IMD forced me to mindfully carve my own space within the community and understand its dynamics, which proved crucial during my three years in Korea. The best proof of the positive benefits of IMD’s MBA? My wife decided to apply a few years after I finished the program.

As a partner, my key message for future partners is: you will not be alone. Given the higher average age of IMD’s MBA participants [31], quite a few of them have significant others, who organize themselves during the year to support one another, share tips, and organize activities. IMD also provides a dedicated member of its staff to address our questions and facilitate our soft-landing in Switzerland. Allow me to dispel a common misconception: most partners have started a career of their own, in a variety of industries. For some, this year in Switzerland is a sabbatical year to learn French and discover Europe, while for others, it’s a leap to seize new opportunities. I recently discovered that a few years ago several partners founded a start-up during the year. Other partners choose to stay in their jobs, come to Lausanne occasionally, and stay connected with the class via the partner network. One way or another, you can count on other partners and IMD to support you over the year.

Here’s a bonus message for applicants: many options are available for significant others while you are at IMD. It’s really just a matter of involving them in the thinking process and in the decision making. A cornerstone of your year at IMD will be about leadership, and having these conversations with your partner is the first learning opportunity.

As for the parent’s perspective? Well, let’s not beat around the bush: the intensity of program is such that participants will see their children less than they want, and the other parent needs to be ready to be solely responsible for the children for the year. Once this is settled, Lausanne is a great place for raising children. It is a safe cosmopolitan city, its environment is preserved, and there are many playgrounds for kids. Given its slow pace and its gorgeous scenery, Lausanne feels like a city-sized village, in which you can let your child run around. Case in point: cars will stop at pedestrian crossings to let you cross a street. There are quite a few childcare options, though be aware that most of them are at market price (i.e. don’t expect them to be cheap).

To summarize it all, (alumnus view) IMD helped me be successful in my post-MBA role in Korea, (partner view) MBA partners are well cared for, and (father view) Lausanne is a great city to raise children.

And what about the joke I started in the introduction? Well it’s an IMD MBA alumnus, an MBA partner and a father walk into a bar. BAM! The guy wakes up 2 hours later with a concussion…

Still don’t get it? Well, I did warn you I’m not good with jokes!

Feel free to reach out to me ([email protected]) if you have any questions about any of these dimensions of the IMD MBA experience… or if you can teach me joke-telling 🙂


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