The Pursuit of Happiness…

… is an uphill battle.                                                                                                         

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Lac Lioson, one of my favorite hikes in the area.

When I moved to Switzerland for my MBA almost a year ago I had one thing in mind: this year was going to be some hike, tough, exhausting, but ultimately would lead me somewhere amazing. On the more practical side I had one objective: to change my career and have a fun job in the corporate world by 2019.

But, as with every hike, the path is not always what you thought it would be.

During the last months through the many traditional business streams and the not so traditional ones, my year delineated itself in a broader search for meaning. What is it that drives me? What is it that I want? Why am I even doing this to myself? And as my hike turned into a climb, the challenges turned out to be much bigger than I had predicted.

Every person that hikes regularly has faced that one time when you started your walk and you had the eyes on the peak, but as you came closer to your goal you realized that there was still a whole lot of mountain to climb, and what you thought was the peak turned out to be just a stop on the way.

At this time of the year that’s pretty much where a lot of us in the class are. We have started receiving our first job interview invitations – and rejections; we have started case prepping, had our first mock interviews, and got grilled on them. We’re sanity checking our expectations and reflecting on how realistic they are on the short and long term. So let me tell you one secret, reality is one tough lady. And she’s knocking at the door.

We have also started to face the fact that (surprise! surprise!) employers have needs, and that if we want to be successful at this game, we need to reconcile a lot of variables. What is it that this company needs? What can I offer? How does that fit in my broader search for meaning and happiness?

So emotions are running high, everybody is at the edge of their seats, waiting for something to happen. And how do you navigate that? How do you deal with the realization that you still might have to put in a lot of hard work, a lot of time, that there’s still so much to climb?

Personally, I rely on friends and the solace that they bring when they say: “this is happening to me as well”. And then I take a step back, one deep breath and I look back and see how far I’ve come and that gives me the energy to focus on the next 10 meters of the climb…

Joyce

P.S.: If you want to understand why I went into this journey take a look at this post from 2017.

Veronika lives life on the edge

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Typecasting millennials as fidgety adventure-seekers has become burrowed into our collective consciousness to such an extent that we barely pause to think about it anymore. But we should, to leave space for personal journeys, cultural influencers, family histories that make the generational generalities so individually unique still.

I am Veronika, the 32-year-old daughter of an artist mother and an engineer father, who themselves grew up in a different world, the Hungary of the Eastern Bloc – a country nicknamed ‘the happiest barrack’ where nonetheless travel was curtailed, and pursuing a life abroad was a thing of dreams (or a thing of carefully executed all-or-nothing, one-shot criminal offences).

I, on the other hand, grew up in a Hungary where the Berlin Wall was but a memory, sweets from the West were available even in my tiny local village corner store (so much so that ‘Fanta cheesecake’ become a well-loved family recipe), and the sorcery of Schengen not only entitled me to ­leave the country, but allowed me to study and work in London, build a career in Belgium, and start exploring the world in a way my parents never could.

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With the desire to explore, comes a hunger to understand, to dissect, to synthesize and to story-tell. These are strokes that followed me through my studies in Science & Technology, my work as Policy Officer of a space science research infrastructure, managerial functions held in Sales, IT and Business Processes at an Industrial Manufacturing company, and eventually my MBA at IMD.

Throughout my career, I’d seen a lot of what a company does on a day-to-day basis across all functional areas; I wanted to learn more about why a company does what it does, filling in the missing strategic pieces of the puzzle.

Halfway into the course I can already say I definitely found what I was looking for. I have been introduced to new perspectives, practices, and possibilities. I have travelled around the world on a Discovery Expedition, and have had the world brought to me daily by amazingly international classmates. Through lectures, team projects, and learnings from my IMD family, every day I feel more and more equipped to keep pushing boundaries – to keep as close to the edge as I can.

Veronika

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