So, we are in San Fransisco as part of our whirlwind Discovery Expedition around the world. And we’ve been bombarded with all the superlatives about Silicon Valley. For the first two days in the Valley, I personally could not associate these superlatives to what I saw. It wasn’t so obvious when we visited big campuses, looked at big sales figures or gawked at the various philosophies for success of these tech giants. The real spirit of the valley came alive when a small group of us visited a nondescript startup operating in the hardware memory industry. The CEO , a man possibly in his fifties, dressed in a dull striped shirt and plain black trousers, explained the 10 principles of his company. At the very bottom of the list he had etched his own motivating principle in the hope that it resonated with the employees of the startup and it read “I want to win”. You couldn’t tell by the way he behaved with his staff often giving them credit and really being their supporter throughout the presentation. But there he was, turning around his company and making it the top startup in the hardware memory industry. Observing this behaviour, I felt an extreme commonality with the caring and daring principles taught at IMD.
The last week saw us dressed up, running around, completing tasks, listening to companies and meeting alumni before embracing the madness of the discovery expedition. We had insightful presentations from the top firms in consulting and industry. I was wowed by the gravitas and responsibilities of some roles and the promise of rapid learning from some other. We saw both the traditional companies with defined space for MBAs and the high growth companies with more fluid opportunities. I look forward to interacting with these companies on a more personal level after these impressive presentations.
The Alumni of the school also left an indelible impression on me last week. The All MBA Alumni event on the 15th had all the ingredients of a giant family reunion. Familiar faces were there acknowledging the established connections. But more impressive were the unfamiliar faces. Everywhere I turned and introduced myself, I was greeted with a smile and an offer of help or a connection to my area of interest.
Waking up the next day and facing some other alumni, this time as part of simulated interviews was a completely different experience altogether. The test of my preparedness was persistent and as a result, my learning was exponential. It was an immensely fulfilling experience that thoroughly tested my preparedness. This was extremely helpful given the fact that some alumni had to sacrifice time at the ongoing alumni event and faced problems with transportation and scheduling in order to attend these interviews.
We are well on our way to finish the San Fransisco leg of the trip and fly to Singapore tomorrow. The trip has been amazing in several ways but I can’t help but think about the incredible experience that we had with the various alumni on campus. They’ve been caring enough to introduce us to broad network of opportunities but have also dared us to be prepared to meet those opportunities when they show up. It’s this tribe spirit that keeps IMD alive.
Off to bed to get ready for tomorrow’s madness.
Featured image, the jump group picture with Golden Gate Bridge in the background.