From city of Nespresso to city of Starbucks

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Today’s guest entry is by Wayne Su, who is sharing his thoughts on his company engagement project from Seattle, US

Never did I think that I would have the opportunity to work in Seattle Washington for 5 full weeks while still pursuing my MBA at IMD, not to mention to have the chance to devise go-to-market strategies for a project that encompasses all the fields I have always been eager to explore, including IoT, e-commerce and digital marketing. When I saw the shimmering Space Needle soaring from the stunning skyline in Seattle, I knew this was not a dream and couldn’t help putting on my face an Amazon logo smile that is ubiquitous in this city.

Every July, IMD MBA students have 5-week full-time Company Engagement Project (CEP) to showcase what we have learned during the past 6 months and put those skills into practice. The projects, either individual or group projects are based in every corner of the world, displaying the international exposure of IMD. You might be able to work for a startup company in Madagascar, an established software company in Dubai, an up-and-coming electric vehicles firm in Netherlands, a search engine giant in India, an incubator of a conglomerate in Germany, or use your entrepreneurial skills to devise and implement your business plan.

The partner companies for CEP could be either facilitated by the MBA Career Services or initiated by students themselves through their networks and the help of alumni. Mine is the latter case. Initially, a supportive IMD MBA alumnus working in a leading chemical company offered me a CEP opportunity to work for his company in Europe. However, after a few conversations, he found that there’s actually another opportunity, from a company they invested in Seattle, that aligns better with my interests and the skills I wish to build. So, he worked tirelessly to connect me with the partnership company, and eventually helped me to land my CEP here at Seattle.

The first week of the project was challenging for me as I was still jet-lagged and had to adjust my well-trained ears for international accents (European, India, Asia…) at IMD to purely American accents as well as the swift speaking rates. Fortunately, all my American colleagues are very nice and family-like. They took me out for lunches and made sure my accommodation was perfect here. The second week I started navigating through tons of materials and data, from sales data to consumer research reports, to get myself acquainted quickly. With the solid business training at IMD, I found many of the cases discussed in the class became useful reference points when I try to synthesize and digest the information in the reports, serving as a good framework for the problem in hand. In addition, I was thrilled to be involved in a real-life project where I could contribute in the meaningful way and to get my hands dirty by applying some fancy-sounding business models or strategy concepts into real business situation and make recommendations. Now I am halfway through my project and have rotated from marketing department to customer service department, experiencing firsthand the day-to-day operations in different functions.

Of course, I know I have to make the best of my time while staying in this amazing city in the most pleasant weather. Besides some must-go tourist attractions like Space Needle and Pike Place Market, I also visited Mount Rainier National Park, the iconic landscape in Washington. Pretty much every other day, I got to meet friends or alumni working here (mostly from Amazon or Microsoft as you can imagine). It might sound cliché, but I want to highlight here again how responsive and supportive IMD alumni are. In fact, next week I am going to meet a senior alumnus who graduated in the same year of my birth year!

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Seattle is generally a very laid-back city. People bike, sip coffee, eat healthy foods from organic supermarkets like Whole Foods, habitually exercise at fitness or Yoga centers you find everywhere. But at the same time, it’s also a thriving city where you meet hard-working people at Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft or other big-name companies recently moved here. In many ways, it’s like Lausanne. People bike, jog and wander along the lac Léman; but at the same time, you know there are MBA students working hard at IMD.

Wayne Su

2 thoughts on “From city of Nespresso to city of Starbucks

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