Le meilleur est à venir

I am on the way to Paris and as I look outside the train at the snow clad trees, I feel very conscious of the fact that our journey in this MBA program is over. It is hard to be objective at this time with emotions running high. Emotions of relief associated with the end of an intense program, of joy associated with seeing our families after a long time and grief associated with not being in the Lorange auditorium again.

What never seems to amaze me is how our experiences and what we take away from this program can be so different. However as I reflect about the year gone by, I realize that this journey has not only made me stronger but also cognizant of courage I never knew I had. Through this journey and my own peaks and troughs, I learnt not only about leadership, strategy and finance but also about how businesses function in Europe and the power of networking. I learnt about people and about life. So in this post, I want to talk about three things that I cherish the most about the MBA experience.

Friendships: As we get older, we stop making new friends or at least make fewer new friends.  We have a professional circle and a personal one which is mostly friends from college and sometime neighbors. This program gave me a chance to befriend 89 exceptional individuals from all across the world. I always found people willing to lend a patient ear, to share a different perspective and provide bucket loads of encouragement when I was low. I made great friends and thus I believe friendship is the most intangible yet the most precious take away from this year.

Strong Alumni Network: Daniel from our class spoke about sending the elevator down during our graduation speech and I couldn’t agree with him more. I have found both friendships and professional support in our alumni. I have received guidance and good advice, help on preparation for interviews and even gotten access to their professional network. A small batch has its advantages and disadvantages but I have always found a lot of support from alums and  I hope to contribute to this network as much as I can.

Embracing failure: At IMD, we celebrated our failures as we did our successes. We even had a wall dedicated to our recruiting failures to not only share but also remind ourselves that we are in this together. As Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fail”

When I started writing this post, I was tempted to title it “Au Revoir” and finally decided against doing so. Over the years, I have come to realize that at the most basic level there are only three levers that guide all our actions- Greed, Hope and Fear.  The lever that guided me the most to participate in this program has been hope. When I started the program, I was hopeful about the future and my first blog before joining the program was titled the one above. We have all changed in many ways (for the good of course !) during the course of the program, but I truly believe “Le meilleur est à venir” as our best is yet to come. On that note, I wish all my classmates loads of success in their professional and personal endeavors and the MBA batch of 2018 lots of luck for the year ahead.

Till we meet again..

Priyanka

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The last lap

Exactly one month and one hour to graduation!

This was the message posted by one of my batch mates on our whatsapp group last week! I cannot believe this year has to come an end. The only stark reminder of the end has probably been the onset of winter cause the pace of activity in the last few months has not changed all that much. The last weeks had been all about travelling and working on our ICP Project, job search and contemplating about real life outside the IMD bubble. Continue reading “The last lap”

Recruitment time.. 

As I look out of the huge glass windows from the dungeons, I notice that leaves have started to change colors. The last few days have been cold and rainy. This time marks a transition both in the weather and our time here at IMD. As you might have noticed, there has been a bit of silence from the class bloggers of late. We have all been extremely caught up post the discovery trips. Continue reading “Recruitment time.. “

The Lion City !

Time has flown by and we are 8 months into the program. This is also the time of the year when the batch splits into three and we head off to different corners of the world trying to get a flavour of the cultural and socio-economic elements of different economies.  Yes !! It is time for the Discovery Trip- touted to be the most fun element of the program!  So over the next few days you will be hearing from the blog team about the experiences of the batch from different corners of the world. Continue reading “The Lion City !”

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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