Given his age – he turned 25 just one week before the start of the program – and brief work experience, Mitchell Hambling thought an MBA might be out of reach. But comfortable with setting himself ambitious goals and with the drive to achieve them, in January he joined the class of 2023 as the youngest ever MBA candidate.

Mitchell always knew that at some point in his life an MBA was on the cards. Little did he think it would come so soon after his degree in Physics from the University of Washington in 2020. His education had come to an anticlimactic end in the middle of the pandemic, and he came to the surprising realization that he wanted to keep on learning. So, after working as a systems engineer for just two years, he began to explore possibilities. 

Having considered an economics degree or a masters in management, he then found out about IMD through a family friend, and during a stay in the UK he took the time to visit the campus in Lausanne. 

“I got here and I think all it took was a few hours and it immediately clicked with me, I think I just knew. Switzerland spoke to me, and it was obvious that the program was in a league of its own with faculty who set themselves apart, both professionally and personally. It aligned with what I wanted and who I was.” 

He chose to continue his education in Europe rather than the US as he strongly believes that a large part of the learning process is having exposure to diversity of culture, profession, and background, and he was looking for a unique core experience where he felt IMD excelled. 

At this point in the program and as part of the small cohort he wished for, Mitchell describes his experience as fulfilling and exceeding his initial – high – expectations. He is enjoying the close relationship with professors and classmates alike and considers this to be a huge part of the learning journey. Being pushed beyond his comfort zone, thrown into situations that test and challenge the candidates is giving him the opportunity to grow. 

“Every day we’re constantly learning, reflecting and faced with new things that really make us question and explore ourselves.” 

IMD 2023 MBA student, Mitchell Hambling. Photo ©Mark Henley/IMD

One of the highlights in Mitchell’s journey so far is the ongoing group work and the team dynamics with people from very diverse backgrounds, the sense of community, support, and “having each other’s backs”. For the first time he has experienced being pushed to his limits and finding out exactly where those limits are. He has quickly learnt to face challenges, address them, and move forward, how to manage relationships and improve himself in preparation for the next stage of his professional life. 

Mitchell thrives on achieving ambitious goals at a young age: at just 19, he followed a passion of his and earned his pilot’s license – a significant milestone that gave him a new perspective. He had previously failed his first checkride (final flight exam), which led to a lot of self-doubt. But he drew on the experience to persevere, determined to do better next time. Passing his next exam after a hard first year at university taught him a lot about how he views challenges and setbacks in life, and he learnt to see them instead as opportunities for improvement. 

When he views his future career, his goal is to combine his knowledge and ability in the technical field with the business experience from the MBA.  

“I’ve always had a huge passion for sciences, technology, and innovation. I like to get into the details and understand how everything works. But at the same time, I also have a more creative mind and I enjoy working with people. So, it’s always been my dream and goal to combine the two, the more technical areas with the business side of things.” 

Right now, Mitchell is making the most of his new learning and life experiences. With his family living on the West Coast of the US, moving to the other side of the world has been a big step. But he has settled in well and is forming strong bonds with his MBA companions from all over the world. “I like to think of it almost as a family”, he says. 

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