For Australian Campbell Brown, the IMD MBA 2021 equals a conscious decision to embrace growth and develop leadership in crisis and adversity.

In any year, putting aside your settled working life to learn to lead in an MBA program is an adventure. Doing this as well as moving yourself and your family to a foreign country is an even greater challenge. Deciding to perform this all while an ongoing pandemic restructures the very fundaments of our lives takes a rare type. It needs a person who is able and willing to make difficult decisions during periods of intense uncertainty.

During the 2020 pandemic, IMD as an organisation and its MBA class rose to the challenge. Classes were restructured, rescheduled, and redeveloped with one key guiding focus – providing the best executive education for the MBA participants. IMD has done an amazing job. As an organisation they lived up to the mantra of challenging what is and inspiring what can be.

Despite the challenges, the MBA participants remained engaged and were able to retain face-to-face classes during the global pandemic through rigorous covid safety and support; well beyond the majority of organisations. A leadership organisation rising to the challenge of a difficult situation should be the norm. Unfortunately, what this year uncovered is that some institutes that could embrace change, while others remain hide-bound by tradition. Despite the challenges of 2020, IMD walked the walk during this difficult time.

What is remarkable to me is that my fellow IMD 2021 candidates have already whole-heartedly embraced this ethos. Whether it is the intense IMD recruitment process, or the nature of people who make difficult decisions in uncertainty – there is a palpable kinship among the incoming class. The class of 2021 have been deciding under uncertainty since the first interview with IMD. Flights were rebooked, hotels cancelled, and last-minute meetings were rescheduled to zoom. All of us accepted our offers despite the prevailing atmosphere of uncertainty. When I spoke to one of my clients about the decision, he gave me insight into what we as a class were all doing. 

“Its good to see someone leveraging this period for growth, rather than simply bunkering down”

As a class thus far, we are just as passionate about meeting the newly evolved challenges in the world as we are about the challenges of the program itself. A real spirit of community has been developed despite our physical distance. Advice on immigration, visas and quarantine flows freely. People with knowledge of the local terrain are helped by experts in transportation and logistics to uncover the best way for people to get here. When some of the class’s student loans were cancelled due to heightened economic uncertainty, IMD and the class worked together to forge a path forward with new fin-tech companies. As a class, we have rejected the current doctrine of bunkering down and have begun, in our own small way, to rejuvenate globalism.

To paraphrase Churchill, the class of 2021 is determined to not let a good crisis go to waste. We did not just decide to obtain an MBA, we consciously decided to do so during this challenging time. Not only because we believed so strongly in the program offered by IMD, but also because we have seen firsthand the intense need for more and better leadership throughout turbulent times.

And now, with the spectre of hope from vaccines and the spirit of Christmas in the air, we as a class begin to make our journeys to Lausanne to embrace change and the future, and finally to meet face to face.

Campbell Brown

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