Other perspectives on the IMD MBA

Anthony: I reached out to my fellow classmates for their experiences of getting in touch with their inner MBA, the choices they made and their feelings toward it.

The MBA is all about collaboration. At IMD, I have heard that 40% of our mark is based on the ability to take other people’s opinions and feedback.

Fellow classmates attending the admissions day at IMD

Stefano Agosta, a future classmate, gave me the following analysis:

“I decided to pursue an MBA last year. Italian engineer, 7 years’ experience with an international organisation in Geneva, I felt like switching to a managerial position in the Swiss industry.

First things first, I started preparing for the GMAT. Once sentence correction and percentiles had become just a (bad) memory, I focused on the school choice. Scanning rankings and reading blogs, aiming at a top-tier school with a 1-year program starting in January, I selected four schools and applied to two.

Because of its strong network in Switzerland – where I’d like to settle in the long term, the limited class size of 90, the 1:2 faculty-to-MBA ratio, and the well-known leadership stream, my first choice was obviously IMD.

The second was another extraordinary b-school. I had a chance to meet and talk to many alumni of both schools, and although they all were brilliant, I felt a stronger affinity with the IMD crowd, because they sounded enthusiastic yet reasonable. Another reason for choosing IMD was the care with which the school selects applicants in person, to understand their personality and best tailor the class. After all, they don’t claim to be a boutique business school for nothing.

However, surprisingly, when time came to pick a school, I chose the other one. Seduced by its fame and biased by the opinion of popular rankings, I felt less sure of my own analysis and dreamed of being part of the fancy experience they advertise well.

I e-mailed IMD to decline their offer and soon after I got a call from my admission officer. She didn’t try to talk me out of it, but was rather interested in understanding my choice. It was a pleasant chat; I could feel her warmth through the phone, along with the care that the school invests in each student when addressing their specific needs and preferences with all available means. It sounded like they were looking for people, not numbers. I just smiled, hung up the phone and accepted the IMD offer. The program start is four weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited to begin!”

Another of my future classmates sent me the following exerpt which I really appreciated:

“When I was evaluating different business schools, I chose IMD because I knew they cared. Everyone from the dean to an intern knew my name and my story. They demonstrated, even before I accepted the offer, that the team and peer group would help me transform. The rest, making my dreams a reality, will follow. I am excited to begin the journey.”

The above two experiences from my fellow IMD candidates in many ways matches my experiences and shows the turmoil of emotions that run around one’s head when making a decision such as this. All I would like to reiterate and add is the amazing attention to detail IMD showed with each and everyone of us! They treated us like candidates and part of their flock even before we had accepted offers or made it onto their hallowed acceptance lists.

Thank you IMD for making even the acceptance and admissions process invigorating and special.

Anthony Wilson

And so it begins, the next chapter of my career and life

Today is the first of the 2020 MBA Class blog posts – start following their journey now as they prepare for their January arrival on campus!

The beginning of the journey of why I wanted to do an MBA and why I chose IMD.

As we come into the last few weeks of 2019 and I start to look back on my last 30 years, I see what has brought me to the place I now am and will guide me through the next year and the decades to come. The foundations of this is family, friends, experiences and my next year as an IMD MBA candidate.

This is me, as African as they come, getting ready for the rugby world cup final

My name is Anthony Wilson and I will be part of the IMD MightyNinety for 2020. Although very few of us have actually met, we have started to form a cohesive group – communicating mainly through whatsapp and starting to share our excitement, interests and fears. Our group have formed under the banner of the hashtag MightNinety; so Millennial I know ;-D

I was born in South Africa and you will struggle to find a more passionate person about my beautiful country. It has allowed me to grow into the person I am today and to have the honor to represent my country as an IMD scholarship winner for African and Middle Eastern Diversity. It has been a bit of a running joke in my family and friendship group that I am the diversity student for Africa as I am a white male. However it does show us that sometimes we get stuck in our little bubble: South Africa is becoming ever more polarised along lines of race, but if you look at it all on a more global scale it is what you can add to a group that makes it more diverse and not simply the colour of your skin. I am as African as they come and am determined to give the world the best of what we are and teach the world to avoid making the mistakes that we are still learning from to this day.

Let’s get back to the topic at hand. Where to start? At the very beginning seems prudent:

Why an MBA:

I studied Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Cape Town, but very quickly realised that I wanted to develop and grow businesses instead of simply products or concepts. I wanted to lead people and share my passion with the world. I also wanted to de-risk my career by developing a multi-faceted educational scope and an MBA was the next crucial step. I have worked as an engineer throughout Africa for a global company installing robotic systems on oil rigs. I have also worked for international management consultants assisting major telecoms companies, and even ran a startup in the beverage space for a private equity. All these experiences have created my career, and life, story. This story will help me educate those around me and be a foundation to learn from others’ experiences. That, I believe, is what an MBA is all about, learning from one another’s stories and strengthening your own.

Why IMD:

Even though the decision to choose IMD in the beginning was based on what I had read, actions show greater than words. IMD blew me away during their assessment day, the tour around campus and general communication with each employee guiding me along the way.

  1. How long can I afford to be away?
    2 years is simply too long for me at 31 with a new fiancé and the opportunity costs and funding implications that come with a 2 year MBA = Scratch out U.S. schools
  2. What do I want to achieve once I am done with my MBA?
    I want to use my business acumen and engineering mind to develop tangible outcomes in the world = Focus on the MBA schools that are not just banker and consultant producing machines…
  3. Which school can provide me with the personal touch that I enjoy?
    IMD, IMD, IMD! The day I met Antonio (one of the IMD recruiters) on a skype call, then through the assesment day and on campus, I could see this was a school that focuses on the personal touch. The guidance of a school who limits their intake to 90 to preserve that touch instead of going after massive profits is exceptional. That ~45% of their participants receive additional funding in Scholarships was a huge draw card as someone who was funding this endeavor myself.
  4. Which MBA is consistently rated among institutions (Bloomberg, FT, Forbes) as a standout top in the world?
    IMD!

With all of the above taken into account IMD was the one and only choice.

Next week we will focus on others’ experiences of making the decision to become an IMD 2020 candidate.

Kind Regards,

Anthony Wilson

The IMD MBA Blog 2019

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the blog this year – our writers for sharing their experiences with us, and our readers for following their story.

The campus is now quiet, the dungeons/study rooms are empty, and our MBA graduates are travelling to reunite with family and friends; to enjoy some well-earned relaxation time; or to settle into a new country before starting the next chapter of their career.

But a new buzz is stiring, as participants of the 2020 class enter the final preparation stage for their own IMD MBA journey.

I hope our 2019 graduates will keep in touch and let us know how they are getting on, and I look forward to learning more about our 2020 class, who will start sharing their journey next week.

To Surbhi, Helena, and Lukasz, to all of our guest writers and to the whole class of 2019 – it’s been a pleasure working with you.

To all of our readers – thank you for your support, for sharing, liking and commenting on posts – I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s MBA blog and will continue to follow us next year.

And to our incoming class – enjoy the next few weeks and end of year celebrations. I look forward to seeing you on campus in January and to reading about the 2020 MBA program through your eyes.

Suzy

Congratulations, MBA class of 2019

The MBA graduation ceremony on Friday was heartwarming.

It is an honour each year to take part in the celebrations of 90 great people, people we have accompanied on their journey, starting from before their arrival on campus :

  • the investigation phase – “Is this the right program for me?”, “Do I have the right profile?”
  • the application phase – the written application, the GMAT, the TOEFL
  • the assessment day – individual assessments, group assessments, “Is this where I want to spend a year of my life?”, “Can IMD help me to achieve my dreams?”
  • the phone call – one of our favourite moments – “Hi XX, this is IMD … and we’re calling to make you an offer to join the next MBA class!”
  • preparation, preparation, preparation
  • the program start – a new dream coming true, a year full of possibilities ahead, new doors waiting to be opened and explored

It’s an intense program, so much to fit into one year. There are highs, there are lows. Bonds are formed, challenges overcome.

But all 90 made it. All 90 graduated. All 90 are ready for the next phase.

Watch some of the highlights from the 2019 MBA Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations once again to all of the graduates from the 2019 class – and keep in touch!

Suzy

Final countdown to graduation

Yesterday, the MBAs had their last class together.

A moment of mixed emotions, as the elation at having completed the year combines with the wrench of realising that each classmate is about to embark on a new adventure, in all corners of the globe, and the close bonds formed over the past 11 months are about to be stretched to new limits.

But this is a time to celebrate. To acknowledge different achievements and contributions. So the day ended with champagne, with awards and recognitions, and with the MBA yearbook distribution.

Here’s a video of the celebration

and some photos…

Tomorrow is graduation day.

Congratulations to all of you, and looking forward to further celebrating with you.

Suzy

It’s wrap-up time…

I can vividly recall the beginning of the IMD journey for both of us. It was a luck of the draw, in all senses of the phrase, that determined the IMD journey for us over our comfortable life back home.

Now over a year past that decision, we still can’t believe the roller coaster ride we have been through. From being fearful of moving out of our home country, to both of us moving to two different continents and following our hearts. While my partner spent most of his time at IMD (and as I heard, asking a lot questions in class 😊), I moved to Canada to explore my career option internationally. It was an amazing adventure which words could never do justice to.

It wasn’t our first long distance period, so at least we were prepared for that part. We managed to meet and plan vacations during the year. But what actually changed for us were the topics of conversation during our calls that mostly revolved around giving each other tips on networking and interviewing. I feel I got some good IMD learnings along the way too!

And now it’s time to celebrate our successes. Our separate journeys will merge into our next destination. I can’t wait to plan 2020 and to celebrate graduation week with the beautiful people we have met through IMD.

Sheena (MBA partner, 2019)

As The Leaves Turn

How do you measure a year in an IMD MBA life?

In daylights,
In sunsets,
In midnights,
In cups of coffee … lots of them.

Graduation week is officially here.

Unknown

I would be lying if I said that I am totally cool with saying, “seeya later” to my 89 compadres. When I arrived in January, on a day as cold as today, but what feels like so long ago, I had a clear purpose for coming to IMD. I knew which job I wanted in which geography, and how it would fit into my planned career path. I had my “secure base” in Dubai with no real need or desire to form close friendships. It was simple in my mind; study, recruit, graduate, explore Switzerland, and move on.

My dormitory landlady in college once told me, “Man plans and God laughs”. Apparently, this applies to women as well. I definitely did not get time to explore Switzerland.

Nothing anyone could have told me would prepare me for the sheer exhaustion and exhilaration this year has brought into my life. What does the journey feel like? Have you seen Harry Potter? It feels like this (start at 0:40 if you are impatient) …

If I have to summarize each month here, it would be as follows.

January: I am so excited to be an IMD MBA student! This is going to change my life!
The arrival of “Magic 90” (as coined by Sebastiano :), laundry system culture shock, snow in Villars, dancing in Villars, accounting and finance, bullwhip

February: This is a lot of work for an MBA program, no?
Start-up groups, weekends of finance and accounting study where I look just as clueless as the person next to me, and the one next to him … and yet I live in hope that I have enough time to learn everything

March: My life sucks. I question every decision ever made that led me to this chaos.
Tears … I don’t have enough time to learn everything, start-up project drama really kicks in, integrative Exercise 1 i.e., sleep-deprived smiles … exams … so many tears
*My PDE ensured my survival this month. I love you, Natalia.

April: As shocked as everyone else that I did well in Accounting …
Celebrating the completion and passing of exams, jumping into Module 2, running home for Easter break to remind myself I have a life beyond the MBA bubble, running back to the bubble because in some masochistic way I actually missed it, more accounting, more finance, strategy … lots of lonely nights with case studies

May: Spirits rise with the weather, all smiles as recruiting begins
Packed my winter jacket away, sunshine all around, gorgeous edited CVs at the ready, brooding over cover letters, naive, happy hellos as on-campus company presentations begin, questioning my original goals, prodding new ideas and roles, the realization that what I planned may not be the best for me … so now what?

June: Discovery Expedition, where I discovered that I would prefer not to do extensive long-haul travel in the future
14 days, 3 cities in different continents, essentially giving Phileas Fogg major existential angst, all 90 of us breathing the same air and living the same existence, wonderful, fun, and ultimately so tiring that your bones are ready for summer break.

July: I’m going home and never coming back!
Arriving home so overwhelmed by the breakneck speed of the first half of 2019. Sulking initially on leaving a nice, warm, comfort zone. Realizing later that the magic lies beyond said comfort zone, binge-watch Netflix with cat, finalize cover letters, study, wonder if it would have made sense to stay in Europe and network, as some high achievers have done, decide break is good idea anyway, continue binge-watching Netflix

August: I came back.
Feeling refreshed. Amazing what a month of regular sleep and mental rest can do for the soul. Short-lived. Module 3 + recruiting = Module 1 on steroids. Tired. Worried. Tired. Scouring company presentation lists and highlighting those of interest. Interview practice. Pitch. Pitch. Pitch. Ice-cream truck arrives! My favorite is blueberry cheesecake.

September: Interview practice like your life depends on it
Early selection lists. Joy. Disappointment. Learning. Learning. Learning. PDEs in overdrive. Self-reflection. Pivoting the career search. Baptism under fire as we learn to be agile, accept failure, accept ambiguity, understand that while things don’t go our way externally, we exert control over our reactions and responses. Ice-cream truck leaves. The ICPs begin.

October: Like salmon swimming upstream
ICPs in full swing, job search angst at its peak, tensions flare, empathy grows. Major personal stretch goals. Flying to interviews. Prayers. Some good news. Some not-so-good news. Magic 90 fires on. It’s not the end till we say it is. Meeting alumni who say this is the best year of our lives. Staring at them wondering if the definition of “best” varies across cultures.

November: Time flies when you’re having fun (or drinking from a fire hose)
ICP wrap up. Satisfaction at another project well done. Electives begin. Sitting through “The Future of Marketing” with Professor Frédéric Dalsace and “The Displacement of Pioneer Companies by Scrappy Copycats” with Professor Howard Yu — courses so good they should be core curriculum. Final round interviews. Offers. Satisfaction. Relief. Suspense. Trade-offs. Decisions. Sometimes straightforward. Or holding out for something better. Emails from Regula and Gyopi about wrapping things up. It’s getting real. The end is nigh.

December: Mixed emotions, yet eager to take on the next adventure!
Expecting a whirlwind of tears, Kleenex, happy memories, emotions, and closure. Maybe more. I will miss my peers and the MBA team.

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-28 at 8.51.18 AM.jpeg
Celebrating Taiwanese culture last week 🙂

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 5.17.08 PM.jpeg
The last elective of the year with Professor Salvatore Cantale

At the end of this “bumpy ride”, I am not only choosing a career path and location I didn’t consider initially, but I leave this mountain-cuddled sleepy town with friendships you generally only make in school or college, the kind that is rare and thereby more precious in adulthood. I feel sad and elated, a strange sense of gratitude because I unexpectedly found something that will be difficult to walk away from.

So how will I measure this year?

I don’t think I can.

Not everything can, or should, be quantified. I know that I have changed, suffered, grown, triumphed, and all this is taking me towards a brand new chapter.

And this in itself, is priceless.

Wishing my class a fantastic week, and a wonderful visit for all the family and friends attending our graduation.

Chins up, this is just the beginning.

Surbhi

PS: Totally going to explore Switzerland now!