American IMD MBA participant, John Sutton, shares why he chose to do an MBA at this stage in his career and his experience so far.

Before coming to IMD I would spend some time away every year backpacking in the mountain ranges of the western US. Of course, this was a great way to connect with nature, but it also left me with some enduring lessons about preparation, tenacity, and teamwork. These experiences would generally include a grueling ascent, sometimes involving scrambling and technical climbing, with a breathtaking landscape waiting at the end.

Walking to IMD every day and seeing the Alps across Lac Leman not only makes for a beautiful commute but is also a small reminder of those lessons and the challenge and reward of this year at IMD. I think of this year as being very similar to an uphill climb, combining in equal parts learning and practice, both requiring and building resilience, but most importantly having amazing people around you to share the journey with.

As I sit writing this at the mid-point of the IMD MBA it’s hard not to reflect upon the last six months with pride and gratitude.

It was in my late twenties that I started seriously considering an MBA as my next step. I had accumulated a considerable amount of experience but was at a point where a meaningful career pivot was still possible. Pursuing a full-time MBA still wasn’t a sure thing for me. I enjoyed my job tremendously and had felt like I was hitting my stride professionally. However, when I envisioned what my career would look like in ten years it seemed like something huge was missing. Part of this was a sense that I had expanded the reach of my career to a global stage. However, even more was a sense that I had developed the skills and fortitude to make a real impact.

What has struck me so far about the IMD MBA is how truly immersive and hands-on the program is. One of the most challenging and rewarding elements of the program was the Module One startup project. This is genuinely a trial-by-fire experience. Right at the outset of the program each study group is assigned a Swiss-based startup to solve a real challenge for. We’re now looking forward to our International Consulting Projects (ICP) which will begin quickly after our summer break. During the ICP, each group will be working with a large global company in a format very similar to a consulting engagement. It’s the focus on real-world learning experiences like these that was one of the biggest draws to IMD for me.

I’m looking forward to how much we still have left to climb during the second half of the program, and the memories to be made along the way.


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