Today’s guest entry offers some advice to our participants from one of our 2016 graduates, Patrick DeCaro, Swiss/German/American.

The first part of the MBA is already coming to an end. You might not know it or realize it yet, but you have changed. Being around 90 people from different backgrounds with so varied life paths and being exposed to top notch professor tends to have that effect. And that is actually what you came to IMD for: to change.

But now your minds are focused on the first set of exams. You are trying to find all the notes from all the classes. You are stomping around ranting that you aren’t a finance person, or an accountant or that you don’t want to do operations in your life. You are putting in all the hours that you should have already but didn’t because you were working on other things that were asked of you. But don’t worry, it’s not about all that.

What you don’t know is that IMD digs deep into your soul and messes with all the things you think you know about yourself. It rearranges things in ways that you don’t fully comprehend. The exams are just another tool IMD uses for this. You work with your colleagues, spend sleepless nights, drink numerous coffees, ask for last minute advice and help here and there… Guess what? That is the point! Obviously, you must pass the exams. But you will remember the preparation, the way you all managed a certain question and failed another. The bond between you all is growing. That’s the first point.

For more concrete advice, this is what I believe: like any pile of problems, take one at a time instead of looking at the whole pile. The same applies here: take each exam one at a time. There are several rounds in a fight. Each one is as important as the next. Give each round your all, and you will be victorious and get your hand raised in the end. Obviously, getting enough sleep and eating well is also fundamental to be able to think correctly. A breath of fresh air is also appreciated from time to time. All in all, don’t worry too much, it will be all good. It’s going to be OK!

Besides creating a new network of exceptional people, IMD has a second point. It asks a question to each one of its participants. Listen. Do you hear the question? Listen again. The question is the following: Who are you? Obviously, Ralf will tell you all about the metaphysical and philosophical aspects of such a fundamental question and but only you, yourself, can try to answer it.

Being around different people with different values, different goals, different points of view is a way for you to confront yourself on your own stances. What do I actually value? What is important to me? What are my priorities and why? Less than a week ago, my fiancée’s 36-year-old brother passed away in a car accident. No one was prepared for this devastating news. The flow of emotions is still endless. It jumps from anger, to sadness, to numbness and even fear.

But here is another spin on things. Her brother was a free spirit. He didn’t abide to imposed rules, to the etiquette of “this is what is done”. He moved along in life as he knew was right for him. Sometimes, though, this brought strife and conflict with his loved ones, but it was his path, no matter how unconventional it was. It was right for him. He did not have a differed life plan. His plan was to live life. And that is what he did until the very last spark of life. Through his passing, he shares his way of life and inspires the hundreds of people that remember him, that he touched with his kindness, his smile, his laughter, his bad jokes and much much more.

Life can end from one second to the next; it really can. Ask yourself the IMD question: who are you?

What job would make me happy? What do I love to do? Who do I love being around? What or who do I want to be? And what or who not? Am I happy? Why or why not? And how do I get there?

These are in my opinion the fundamental questions that you have time to explore during your year at IMD. Intellectual and emotional sparring partners surround you daily. Use them to dig deep into yourself, to find the answers, your answers. No matter what the answers are, it’s OK. They will be the guide, the moral compass, that you need to make sure that you are going in the right direction, your right direction.

IMD Leadership is just that. It’s about giving you the tools you need to become a more whole version of yourself. Hard knowledge is just a small piece of the puzzle. The soft skills that you are exposed to is what really makes the difference in life. It’s not about the information you receive. It’s about how you deliver that information in any given situation to any given person. It’s more about the how, rather than the what. That is what you start learning at IMD.

I believe this is all true while writing your CV’s, during your quest for a CEP, during your hunt for that perfect job. Stay true to yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. You are all different in a unique way!

And if you realize that you aren’t facing in the direction that is aligned with who you are or you strive to be, always remember the following: change is just one decision away…



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