This week, I am taking over the rally-baton from Parth and inspired by his authentic style, I add some personal testimonies to the usual insight into the MBA Class of 2018.
Walking home on a cold winter evening, severe wind stings my cheeks. I am reflecting on the last weeks and contemplating about the stage we have reached on our MBA journey. February passed by in a wink, stretching our heads and minds with new information and leadership experience, but also leaving cheerful memories behind. We celebrated Chinese New Year and Holi, the Indian festival of colours, with traditional decorations and national food specialities at the IMD restaurant, bringing feelings of home to many of our class. We swiped over radiant pictures from carnival in Rio de Janeiro and paid tribute to our loved ones for their immense support on Valentine’s day. For me personally, February 2018 will always resonate with a memory of the countless hugs and smiles I received, the happy birthday song performed by the class in unison and me dancing chachacha well-led by Hans on the Lorange auditorium “dance floor”.
The beginning of March takes us directly into the hot phase of module one, bringing a certain unease to the game: with nine courses running in parallel, we are juggling with readings, case preparations, analysis and evaluations, presentations, process flows, and group assignments. On top of that, we are working closely with our start-up partners to deliver tangible outcomes to the development of their business model – last week we had an opportunity to showcase our first achievements and validate our approaches in pit-stop meetings with a recognized start-up expert from the EPFL Innovation Park.
The workload accumulates and we are carving out more and more from our pool of sleeping hours. Time management and efficient communication skills are scrutinized. As the complexity of materials discussed in the class increases, we employ holistic views on analysis of the problems, connecting dots and leveraging knowledge gained in the nine courses running in parallel. There is no doubt that we are speeding up, increasing our performance.
The cohesion and emotional bonding of new experiences holds us solidly on the fly, yet frictions and conflicts naturally emerge. Apart from the funny anecdotes about grave fights over the last mouse-au-chocolate in the lunch breaks, some conflicts go deeper into the layers of our personalities, challenging our deep-routed perceptions. We are doing our best to handle these constructive conflicts professionally, keeping in mind our own blind spots, yet not refraining from our contribution to the feedback.
With the amount of time spent in the famous “Dungeons” (study rooms in the basement of Chemin de Bellerive 32, some of them with a luxury view on the side wall of the staircase others with a view of the lake), days and nights can get tough. By now, every one of us has figured out ways to free our minds and find balance to recharge batteries. We play table tennis in the Maersk building, go jogging in lunch breaks, hit the IMD gym, kick the football balls we have in the dungeons, play guitars and sing, chit chat over a coffee or a dinner or simply sleep. Some of us create fascinating pieces of arts – as Sakshi, for example, who I quoted in the title of this blog and who, to my complete astonishment, decorated dungeons with a beautiful collage featuring sun. Commenting on her own masterpiece, she told me: “You know, with this picture, there is always going to be a sun in the dungeons”.
I feel grateful to be surrounded by such versatile personalities, giving me strength and energy to overcome tough moments and … keep running – recalling one of the seven personal learnings, shared with us by the CEO of Almarai, guest speaker from last week: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” Echoing another classmate of mine telling me: “I am not afraid of anything anymore”, I can audaciously sum up: exams come, we are ready!