Veronica Durando takes us through her first weeks as an IMD MBA student as she discovers the power of personal connection, conversation, and the collective spirit. 

 Three suitcases and one backpack. That’s all I brought for my next chapter as an IMD MBA student. I clumsily hauled them from Zurich airport to the train, then another train, into my landlord’s car, and finally up the stairs to my new apartment in Lausanne. I closed the door with a deep sigh and a broad smile, brimming with eagerness for what the year had in store. 

Our class of 103 represents 44 different nationalities. I filled my first few days getting to know as many of them as possible. It’s enlivening to discover the easy ways we connect and discover unexpected commonalities. Each conversation sheds light on the unique value that each of us can add to the program. We shared drinks, lamented over pre-course prep, made food, went skiing, and more. Across these early experiences, one thing remains clear. Despite our diversity, we’re unified by a common goal: to grow – professionally and personally.  

Some of my blog partners this year

It’s now been about two weeks since the program started, and our days are already full with classes, clubs, and group work. The program’s strong pedagogical emphasis has definitely been a highlight. Every professor and guest speaker has expertly woven fresh insight from their field with engaging activities that enhance our understanding. We’ve also started applying our learnings more practically, conducting both our start-up project kickoffs as well our mountain experience just last week. 

Mountain experience presentation

Some of the best advice I received before starting the program was to really get to know every single person, as the year will inevitably pass by quickly. I’ve prioritized this feedback and made a distinct effort to get to know my classmates on a personal basis. I’m so glad I have. It’s helped me appreciate in a deeper sense what brings this class together, and how we can all help each other grow during this next year.  

Moreover, as we settle into our new lives, I can sense a distinct, convivial spirit in the air, fostered through rich conversations and supportive attitudes. While we each came with a growth mindset (and a couple of heavy suitcases), we’re discovering, even in the early days, the power of that collective spirit. And I want to keep it alive. Channel it to create more meaningful connections over time. Leverage it to overcome adversities. And relish in it to celebrate both individual as well as group successes. 

Veronica Durando

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