Slava Khalatov, one of this year's IMD MBA students, shares why he decided to do an MBA after 6 years of working in the oil and gas industry.

Growing up in Siberia, Svyatoslav Khalatov loved spending time in nature and studying physics, so a decision to study geophysics was a natural step. After graduating, he started his career at oil and gas services company Schlumberger and spent six years moving from one rig to another, working in extreme weather conditions from -50ºC in the Russian artic to +50ºC in the desert in the United Arab Emirates.

Khalatov, now 29, moved steadily up the career ladder as a field engineer and was at the stage in his career where the next move would be a management position. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leading to a historic drop in oil prices which hammered the oil and gas industry. Looking to crisis-proof his career, he thought it would be a good time to pursue an MBA.

“I decided to take one-year break to learn business skills that will be essential for future leaders during unpredictable times,” he said.

IMD’s small class size and leadership focus were big selling points. “It’s like a big family,” he said. “You get to know everyone, and it’s very diverse with people from 40 different countries with a range of experiences behind them.”

An added appeal for Khalatov is IMD’s proximity to some of the world’s best ski resorts. An avid snowboarder, he loves to take a train to explore the beauty of the mountains – that is, when he can find time amid the heavy workload.

“As I expected, the quality of education is outstandingly high,” he says. “Before, I studied only engineering subjects – but after just a few months at IMD I have already learned about finance, accounting, economy, strategy, and operations. What’s more, the conversations and discussions with my peers have made my MBA experience so far absolutely unique.”

The most challenging part of the program has been keeping on top of the many personal and group assignments and handing them in on time – but, he says, he draws motivation from his parents, who have spent the last 20 years building up a successful business manufacturing plastic bottles and equipment. “I didn’t expect to be this busy,” he explained. “But they motivate me a lot because they work hard and never give up.”

After completing the program, Khalatov wants to work in industry or consulting, preferably in Switzerland. He said, “Lots of people stay here after completing their MBA. It’s home to lots of international companies and very open to expats, so is the ideal place to start the next stage in my career.”

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