Breathe !

Run, rabbit, run

Dig that hole, forget the sun,

And when at last the work is done

Don’t sit down, it’s time to dig another one

I have been a huge Pink Floyd fan and some of the lyrics of this song beautifully capture our last few weeks or months at IMD. While there is genuine intent on our part to keep you all updated with our lives here, we have been running around in the last days not only preparing for our exams but also searching for our ceps. This point in time at IMD seems special almost like the pivoting point in a thriller.. the moment when things suddenly change… Pivoting point for us as we will not be together as a bunch of 90 in the Lorange auditorium for many of the next weeks.  NTF preparation and presentation will be followed by our trips to London, Munich and Zurich before we break for summer. Pivoting point also because we switch gears to spend more time planning our careers post IMD. Many of us have been getting queries from the upcoming batch about our apartments which is stark realization of the fact that time is flying. While so many things are similar, many more will change.

Before the exams, we ended the finance stream which was an emotional moment for us as a class. It was an absolute pleasure to learn from Prof Nuno and we can’t thank him enough for making this experience indeed a very memorable one. Another exciting stream was the strategy class by Prof Mishiek. External and internal consistency in strategy, role of game theory in determining competitor moves are some of the many tools that we learnt in these classes and the experience has been extremely rewarding and so much fun. As much as one always hears of the networking component in the MBA program, I strongly believe that the academics and the tools that we learn in classes go a long way in helping us analyze new businesses, industries and make better decisions as managers.

Many such courses present a tangible “value proposition” and it is easy to understand why we need them. Yet there are many other classes which have shaped my opinions and ideas in different ways. It is these courses that have helped me appreciate perspectives diametrically opposite to mine. I have learnt to better understand and respect such ideas even if not accept them.

Talking about breath, the end of exams gave us an opportunity to catch a breath albeit a very short one. This time around, it was a day trip for the class to Morzine.  After spending so much time in L’Orange and Dungeons in the last few months, the boat ride to Thonon felt unreal. I had to pinch myself multiple times to believe it was true! The weather was perfect and this trip was no work and all fun. On that note, I leave you with a picture from the trip that is more than symbolic of our journey in the MBA program.

Till the next time..

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Transition and Reflections

“Spring is the time of plans and projects” said Tolstoy in Anna Kareina and this reflects so aptly in our time at IMD. The first block of the program is done, exams seem long gone and we are trying to get back to the rhythm of life in school post Easter.  The chatter about finding Company Engagement Projects (CEP) is getting louder while classes are picking up pace. This phase marks a transition in many ways: From our startup groups to the new ones, from Accounting and Finance to just Finance and from the academic rigour to thinking about our careers. From an academic perspective, we just wrapped up a course on Negotiations and started Strategy too. All in all many new things are coming up.  And while there are new beginnings, this phase also marks the end of courses such as Entrepreneurship which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t think of any place else where I could have learnt to dissect a VC term sheet so well! All credit to Prof Benoit Leleux. The individual learning definitely matters but after having attended over 500 hours of classes, the beauty for me lies in tying it all together and fitting it like the blocks of a jigsaw puzzle.

Talking about transition, writing this post felt very difficult. A lot has been happening post the break and yet I am finding it hard to put my finger onto something specific. A part of the difficulty in writing this post is also attributed to all the assignments (write-ups) that were due or announced just after we got back from Easter.  As I wrestle to get out of catch-up mode, I have been using the very limited time left to think about my career options post IMD. Having always worked in a bank, trying to do something completely different for my CEP has been playing on my mind. After all there seems to be no better way to experiment and learn! A lot of my classmates are in a similar frame of mind and with so many of us coming from different industries and backgrounds, talking and exchanging ideas is definitely helping!

Our life here is in transition but so is the weather. Spring has brought some sunny and beautiful days to Lausanne and there seems to be no better way to make use of this time than getting out of the dungeons.  All work and no play for sure makes Jack a dull boy 🙂  So on a very bright and a lovely Saturday afternoon we gathered together to celebrate Abeer and Sophie’s daughters’ Viola and Chloe’s birthday! Sunday was amazing too as many of the IMDers participated in the Lausanne 10km and 20 km run while others cheered! It’s hard to imagine how close we have all gotten in the last 4 months.

Writing this post has also made me realize that time has been flying. Almost a year ago at this very time I was here for my assessment day. This is a very different May and at this pace December would be knocking on our doors faster than I could imagine! But that is still some time away and till then we are all here as a batch to welcome the transition into summer and autumn..

Two Down..

Exactly two months ago we started this amazing journey into the MBA program and yet it feels like we have been here much longer. From learning to critically analyze a term sheet in the entrepreneurship class to preparing free cash flows in the finance class, we have learnt a lot. But more importantly, we have had a chance to put our learning into practice through the integrative exercise. Having heard all kinds of rumors about the rigor and the sleep deprivation we would be subjected to, I was not sure how it would all work out. And yet all of us survived!

As I reflect back on the 48 hours that went by, I realize that the exercise is a mirage or a rabbit hole in some way. By the virtue of the fact that there is no right or wrong solution to the problem, the job lies in coming up with a solution that could potentially work and every route that you take has its own challenges. Thus I believe that the point of the exercise lies not in solving the problem, but building consensus as a team and working in ways to harmonize each member’s strength. And in the process we learn to filter and analyze lot of data, make realistic assumptions under uncertainty and solve problems on the way.

What has amazed me the most in these last days is how time crisis actually brought about the best in us as a team. And despite the stress, we managed to laugh a lot and sleep for a bit too! No excel and power points were lost and we managed to make it on time to present. We had huge gaps in the presentation to start with and the board’s feedback made us think critically, address the gaps in our analysis and question some of our assumptions. It can never be perfect, but all in all it ended well. If I were to sum up my leanings from this exercise, it would be the following:

Big picture to small: Brainstorming and putting every idea on the board as a team always helps bring all those problems to the fore which we never thought of individually. Needless to say this goes a long way in coming up with a better hypothesis.

Agility: Half way through solving the problem, one could realize that half the assumptions made were wrong and we need to be flexible enough to accept the same and adapt fast.

Presentation: Last but not the least is all that has been hypothesized and thought about has to reflect in the power point for the jury to see.

While most of this sounds like common sense, we can lose perspective under time constraints and stress and this exercise is a stark reminder of the same. All said and done, this experience unlike a few others is very unique to IMD. Some of us love it a lot and others not so much, yet it bonds us to other IMDers in a very special way. We can shout, fight or cry in the moment but in posterity we all smile 🙂

 

Team Hydromea after 36 hours ! From left to right :Mo Allam, Kemeng Jiao,Will Chiou, Thibault Acolas, Xi Zhang

 

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A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Hope all of you are doing well and are enjoying reading about our journey as much as we are enjoying sharing it with you. As I reflect on the 3 weeks that I have gone by, I feel very time warped as I can’t remember what happened when… So much happens everyday.. Yet I also realize that we are already in February and time has just flown by. We have been assigned our respective groups and have had a chance to meet the founders of our startup projects.  It is all picking up pace now!

We had the first entrepreneurship class last week by Prof Benoit Leleux and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The beauty of these classes lies not in the fact that all the cases discussed in class have been written by him but that he has been involved in every case. Learning doesn’t get any more real world than this!  This class has added a whole new dimension to my approach towards analyzing businesses. It has made me cognizant of the fact that as environment changes, businesses can evolve drastically and hence  it is imperative for a business plan to be an evolving story than a static one. I have also begun to realize why VC’s focus so much on teams.

Another exciting event of last week has been our leadership experiential. It seems me to that this is the most well-guarded secret of the IMD program. All my questions to several alumni in the past about what this involves have always gone unanswered. So, I have to keep up with the tradition and I won’t share much about what the experiential entailed but more about our learning. Involving a series of team based activities, the exercise is about looking at self in a group setting. We get to reflect about own behaviors both positive and negative from our own analysis first and then based on feedback from others.  These exercises are like a mirror which show us who we really are. We get back to the point of reflection again as we think about what we can do to improve and evolve as better leaders. Unfortunately, this unique experience and many others morph into some form of assignments eventually which need to be finished so that they can be graded.

Speaking of assignments makes me realize that there is a whole lot of reading to be done for next week and fretting too much or thinking too much about it doesn’t change the outcome! I was told by students from last year how it could get like a pressure cooker in here in  the first half and now I am starting to realize what they truly meant.

Priyanka

 

Ready Steady Go..

My name is Priyanka Chandran and I come from India. I have been a finance professional and worked across business development, strategy and deal structuring over the past 9 years. I have been an avid reader of this blog for quite some time and experienced the vicarious pleasure of living this journey. So I am very excited that it’s my turn now !!  Along with the other members of the blog team, I hope to be able to provide a sneak peek into our lives over the next year.

So how was the start? Well on a clear crisp Thursday morning as IMD opened up its gates to us, we were all suited up for the kick off. While most of us had exchanged through whatsapp groups and had the chance to meet others in our first few days in Lausanne, this was the first formal gathering of the entire batch. A laughter here and a banter there, we were all trying to make acquaintances. Yet as I sat in the conference room, what struck me more than the diversity of the participants  was the harmony we exhibited as a group when we supported each other during our move and setting up phase in Lausanne.

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The agenda of the first day involved basic administrative aspects and a formal introduction to the program and the IMD team. But as we gear up for classes starting next week, I have to share that we had already been given pre-course work on topics ranging from accounting to statics and leadership. Yes! We were transitioning away from our corporate lives and into the MBA program simultaneously. As we keep pace with the deadlines coming up over the next days, I also have to announce that we have already inaugurated the dungeons  over the last 2 days. We are beginning to pick up steam now and await interesting times ahead. I sign off now with the promise to keep you updated with the latest information from the classes and dungeons.

À bientôt

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