A callout to thank all of the partners of MBA participants for their support throughout the year.

Disclaimer: pictures are made pre-covid or within the Swiss regulations.

While many words have been written about the ‘IMDMighty90’ MBA participants, I would love to share some personal reflections on the life of an MBA partner.

I’ve been fortunate to have my partner, Céline, nearby during this special year, and about 30 of my classmates are in a similar situation. While we are submerged in a well-structured and guided program, every single partner has to find his/her own way to make this year meaningful. Although IMD is one of the best programs for partner integration, the sacrifice partners make is probably one of the most underestimated parts of an MBA program. Therefore, this blog is a recognition and tribute to their braveness.

Often MBA partners are as talented as the participants themselves (or even more, in my case) and they have made huge sacrifices to pause their professional careers in order to give their support. They have left their family, friends and job behind, to enable the future aspirations of another individual. An altruistic act since there is no direct link to their personal growth. Although coming to beautiful Switzerland feels like saying yes to a sweet desert, the sweetness can fade in several situations.

Three main reflections come to mind when looking back on the past nine months:

1.It’s not a holiday
Going to a beautiful place in Switzerland, next to Lake Geneva, without having to work – it sounds like a holiday. For sure, the first few months are: discovering the beautiful nature and meeting new friends. On the other hand, after a couple of months, a human being tends to search for triggers to remain satisfied. People get used to almost everything and after-all, as an individual you want to move on in life. Especially during a lock-down period with limited opportunities, it’s not trivial to find that purpose in life. It’s a daily challenge to find meaningful activities and satisfy your inner desire to grow.

2. Trade-off between relation and class-bonding
As IMD is known for its intense program, it’s often a disappointment for the partner how much time they actually get to spend together with their beloved one. In many cases, the feeling of cold feet entering the bed after midnight, which have already gone by the morning, is the interaction of the day. Especially in the first months of the program. Connecting with the other partners is a very important phase to overcome this period. For the participants, it’s finding the balance between building relations within the class while spending enough time for their personal relationship. Time is for sure the scarcest resource.

3. Uncertainty in September
In August, during our electives, our partners also had the opportunity to join some of their preferred topics. A great experience and a highlight of the partners’ integration. In September it is getting serious, since it is typically the month when participants start to realize they are running out of cash and need to find a new job for next year. This increases the level of tension for everyone and the impact on partners is probably underestimated. They just moved nine months ago and have no idea where they will end up next year. They also want to work on their next goal and finding a new challenge, but it’s unclear where and when. Furthermore, they have to deal with a bunch of MBA participants who only talk about their applications and interview outfits.

The life of an MBA partner is probably one of the most underestimated challenges in this kind of program. A lot is written about how to get accepted into the program and how to be successful during and after it, but for the partners it’s an undefined journey with many questions and emotional challenges.

I would like to end up with thanking Céline for being with me and going through this very uncertain experience for the sake of my personal learning. Furthermore, herewith a callout to my fellow MBA classmates to join me in thanking our partners for having the guts and strength to make this personal sacrifice and take the heaviest part of the MBA on them 😉!

Nick Geldhof

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