The first group activity of the year shines a spotlight on cultural differences.

Snowfall and group activities kicked off the week. Being the new guy, I read the room as my group worked. What would be the highlight of the day soon manifested. Venice, our colleague from Hong Kong, handled the clerical duties on her laptop as we all hashed out ideas. With 15 minutes to go, and our notes yet to appear on the laptop screen, Venice was worryingly unfazed. The cultural differences outlined in The Culture Map, our pre-program reading assignment, were playing out right in front of me. The comedy in all this was how Venice was completely oblivious to “Mr. Konstant fuming right next to her – our Greek comrade was losing patience.

Konstant & Venice

I’m a very calm person, so I decided to place my faith in Venice, likening her to American actor Jeremy Renner’s bomb-disarming character from Hurt Locker. Konstant proposed a meeting during the break to review our performance as a team. We all agreed, but I foresaw a tirade. “I know what you are going to say,” I said to him as I patted him on the back reassuringly, strolling into the auditorium together. The tension in the air dissipated. Magically, our assignment was submitted on time so we all breathed a huge sigh of relief – indeed, Venice is quick on the keyboard. The rest of the week was littered with more group exercises, and frequently meeting together allowed us to fine-tune our approach to tasks.

Rohan Bhatia, Diego Barrientos, Swasti Tewari, Konstantinos Moustidis, Venice Lau, William Reindorf-Partey

Friday evening was an all-inclusive (yes, the infants were there too) hearty affair, with our colleagues from China putting together a Chinese New Year dinner at La Jonque. DIY dumplings, good conversation, cash prizes, and an abundance of food – what a way to ease out of the week.

In other news, my introduction group won the Lausanne treasure hunt on the opening day and was awarded tickets to the Olympic Museum as a prize, so we crowned the weekend with a visit on Saturday.

My first full week completed, and I am grateful to the Finance Committee that I was able to make it to IMD this year. In hindsight, I contemplated deferring enrolment several times last year. By the time I received my admission offer, our exchange rate had plummeted from 9:1 to 15:1 against the Swiss franc. However, the Financial Committee went out of its way to facilitate my participation, and IMD graciously allocated me an African merit scholarship which helped to ease my financial burden. I cannot stress the importance of such scholarships in these times of economic hardships, especially in Africa where student loans are hard to secure.

With startup projects around the corner and rising expectations, the training wheels are off; and now the real work begins.


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