The MBA 2020 batch embarks on discovery of the mystical path of Leadership in a mythical setting amidst snow-clad mountains

When you have people around you from almost 40 countries, the diversity always shines through. During the first two days of orientation at IMD, I marveled at the richness of my classmates’ past experiences and the vibrant futures we envisioned. But it was in our first classroom session as a batch that I realized how similar we all were.

When Professor Sean Meehan, MBA Program Dean, asked the batch how many of us had come here because of the Leadership focus, 89 hands (including mine) immediately shot up in the air like arrows. At that moment I realized that despite our diverse backgrounds, we were all bonded by a common purpose – the ambition to develop into successful future leaders. Maybe it was this very aspiration that made many of us choose IMD over other destinations.

The first week of February not only brought snow to the campus, but also provided us with our first steps on the mystical Leadership path in the form of a 3-day Leadership Experiential. We were joined on this journey by our Performance Coaches, who will be shepherding us throughout the year and helping us better understand and hone our leadership skills and potential. Each group started off Day One with their respective coaches then, equipped with better understanding of ourselves and fellow teammates, we were sent off-campus on Day Two.

We spent the day exploring ways to enhance our team performance during multiple outdoor activities. As the sun set, we started our journey back to campus, physically spent from the tiring exercises but mentally and emotionally satisfied from a day well spent in the snow.

If Day Two was all about challenging ourselves as groups and finding ways to optimize our functioning, Day Three was all about reflection. The groups walked through the proceedings of the previous day with their coaches and tried to understand what prompted us to make certain decisions individually and as groups. We rounded off the day by having individual discussions with our coaches to discuss the takeaways from this experience.

Personally, the highlight for me was the significant impact of getting to know my team mates more closely. I cherish our frank interactions. These three days have also helped me identify various areas for development and have given me important points for contemplation. I leave the exercise with the comfort that as and when I come up with plans to address these points, my team members and coach will be standing by my side to help me leap forward.

Overall, the experiential reaffirmed for me the very purpose I chose to come to IMD – to script the next chapter of my life. We will have a lot of fun, learn to make complex things simpler and help each other – not by being the leader who walks ahead, but the one who falls back to walk with his team and provide the courage and space to step ahead and show the way.

Philip trying to eat snow

Already though, a part of our brain has moved on from the mystical land of Leadership to the effervescent atmosphere of the Lorange classroom where a plethora of assignments, umpteen dates (read calls and visits) with our startup organizations and the amazing world of Finance, Economics and Operations await us.

Atul Kumar

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