The IMD MBA class met as a whole for the first time in the Swiss Alps to discuss some of the issues the world will face in the coming decade.

Last weekend, everyone in our class met for the first time during our MBA Mountain Trip. Weeks of testing and quarantines finally allowed the entire class to meet in person. It was a weekend full of new experiences and important reflections about the issues facing us today and in the future. We learnt not to look down but to look ahead.

We met on Saturday afternoon to leave for Villars-sur-Ollon in the French Swiss Alps. A few buses took us around the winding roads in the mountains to get us there. Living in Lausanne we’d gotten to know the Alps well from a distance, but it was striking to see them up this close. During the evening, we had the opportunity to explore the town and do some winter activities. We then had dinner with IMD staff and Mr. Rodney Irwin, COO for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who joined us for the weekend trip.

Looking ahead

On Sunday morning, we went up the mountain to take part in a snowshoeing exercise. We rode a train 650 meters up into the mountains and started walking back into town. Previously, Mr. Irwin had asked us to use this time to reflect on our journey and its purpose. I found the perfect metaphor for this when we ran into trouble walking the downhill slopes.

The first section of the snowshoeing hike

While it might be easier for those accustomed to snow, snowshoeing wasn’t quite as easy as expected. The people accompanying us had to teach us how to do it. They kept telling us “Don’t look down!” and that we needed to look into the distance to see where we were headed. You can’t get to where you want to be unless you stop to look beyond and know where it is you want your trip to take you.

Our impact on the future

While the title for this article wasn’t intended as a reference to the new movie “Don’t Look Up!”, it might as well be. During our sessions on sustainability, Professor Knut Haanaes’ words resonated a lot with me. He told us that since he’s been coming to the Alps, there has been one fewer snow day every year. We learned how this is changing the face of the Alps. It was a gruesome reminder of the impact of climate change.

One less day of snow per year

Through Sunday and Monday, we worked with IMD Staff and Mr. Irwin, on a case regarding the impact we can have on society in the coming decade. The case itself asked us to set ourselves in 2030 and “reminisce” about the past decade. To explain how the future was made and the page had been turned as regards climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The road to 2030 will be a bumpy one. We know this. The scale of change that needs to happen. The difficulties we will encounter. And we know that sadly a lot of things will happen to shake our perception of the world we live in. However, we must remember the advice ‘don’t look down!’. I remain hopeful that just as we made our way back through the snow, just as we will continue to make our MBA journey through the year, we will also find our way to a more sustainable world for all.


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