The MBA alumni network: a glimpse of an inspirational and effective community

One of the reasons I chose the IMD MBA was its strong, active, and supportive alumni network. I am convinced that such a network will be invaluable both for my career and for my private life, providing an open platform to exchange challenges, experiences and ideas in an informal way. Therefore, I was looking forward to the on-campus reunion last Friday, when our class met MBA alumni from the last few years here in Lausanne.

Let me first share a few words about the IMD alumni community, which is structured around three axis: clubs (50 clubs with 230+ events per year), program communities (e.g. the MBA community), and expert communities (8 chapters with 37+ events per year). Expert communities include the Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), which organizes events to connect IMD MBAs with entrepreneurs. A number of my MBA colleagues have already participated in these events this year.

Last Friday was one of the yearly reunions of the MBA community. Not only a chance for the recent graduates, who have spent an intense and possibly life-changing year together, to reconnect, but also an opportunity for the 2019 class to interact with a large crowd of MBA alumni in an informal and friendly atmosphere. I was impressed by the number of people who came to Lausanne and attended the event, which proved that the spirit of sharing and networking from the MBA is alive far beyond this one year.

I personally enjoyed many insightful and fun conversations with alumni from all kinds of industries. Whether they are currently in senior roles at Nestlé, Roche, or Honeywell, all of them were curious about our year as well as enthusiastic to offer their support and share their experiences with me. For instance, I got to know Georg from 2017, who directly introduced me to one of the alumnae of 2016, who works in an area that is highly interesting to me.

Similarly, my classmate Tamil spoke to Roy from 2016 who, after he understood her background and interests, introduced her to various relevant people from the MBA alumni network. She was extremely glad the event took place at this point in time, as it helps us prepare for the job search by understanding companies’ challenges better and what they may be looking for.

I only regret that I did not manage to talk with all the people I really wanted to. One of my classmates suggested VR-enabled networking, so I’d be able to better navigate the crowd – in the sea of alumni it was not always easy to quickly find out who is who.

Overall, the first encounter with the IMD MBA community exceeded my expectations; the people’s curiosity, openness, and support, was outstanding. I am proud that our Magic 90 will be part of this powerful community by the end of this year, and I already look forward to meeting the IMD MBA class of 2020 in one year’s time 🙂

Daniel Leutenegger

Lausanne Alumni Club Merit Scholarship Winner

Shweta Mukesh was recently selected as the best all-round applicant from the first application deadline and was subsequently awarded the Lausanne Alumni Club Merit Scholarship. Here’s a bit more about her:

“I wear two professional hats. The first is as a founder of a for-purpose organization called KidsWhoKode. The second is as a VP of Solutioning and International Business at an HR Technology company called Belong. I consider my greatest professional achievement so far to be buiding Belong’s two largest growth engines from ground zero. Both were strategic pivots for the organization and transformed the DNA from customer acquisition to customer lifetime value and from pure products to bundled solutions.

At the same time, I am very proud and humbled by the work we do at KidsWhoKode. Over the last one and a half years, we have built computer literacy and coding skills in over 5,000 students. More importantly, we have increased our student’s exposure to technology and have created pathways for them to realize their dreams/unique talents.  

I believe that ability is evenly distributed. Opportunity is not. I want to use my career and the different roles I play, in either the corporate or the non-profit world, as a platform to create a more equitable society. 

I am honoured to have been selected as the first winner of the Lausanne Alumni Club Merit Scholarship and am grateful to them for creating this opportunity. Knowing that a part of the financial burden of the program will be taken care off, ensures that I can keep an open mind to all possibilities. I hope to use my education and experiences to contribute back in a meaningful way.   

Shweta Mukesh

When the clouds meet the ground

The parkour came to the end, the pitch day arrived. We headed to the UEFA Headquarters in the morning to present 18 unique and fantastic ideas to a jury conformed by @ECAL, @Thinksport, @UEFA and IMD experts. Six incredible ideas made it to the finals and just one got the final prize: autographed jerseys and exclusive tickets for UEFA tournaments.

The winning team

Being outside the business environment and working with ECAL students gave us a different perspective on approaching problem solving. This week we proved that there is never one way to do things and making some room for innovation ignites fantastic results.

The UEFA auditorium, where the final presentations took place

After working together for a week, Jawaher, our ECAL team member, observed: “you guys start thinking on the earth, we usually start from the clouds”. Design thinking and innovative ideas start there, happen up there. Experimenting and navigating them towards the ground makes those ideas tangible, transforming ideas into action. The end of the innovation week is here, today, where the clouds and the ground met.

Ezequiel Abachian

Day 3 of the IMD Innovation Week

I’m told it’s day 3 of Innovation week, however there are moments where I am not so sure! Today has been a whirlwind of discussion and activity as we ventured out of the traditional business school environment and into the tangible reality of innovation and design. 

The challenge of taking the UEFA EURO Fan experience to the next level has been accepted enthusiastically by the class. Each of the 18 teams are now coming to terms with the obstacles that stand in the way of their ambitious design goals and there is a real buzz about the place… 

Peter grappling with the endless possibilities of MDF

Our new location for the next 2 days is the 3rd floor of the UniverCité Coworking design space, a short bus ride away from the centre of Lausanne. Large warehouse-like working areas make up the top floor of this industrial looking building and there is a somewhat controlled chaos of desks, flipcharts, start-ups and people strewn across any and all of the available space here. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on, but something reassures you that, whatever it is, it’s pretty exciting and you should definitely be getting involved!

Alfresco dining meets innovation warehouse

Coming from a start-up myself I was fairly confident that I would have something to bring to the table this week. I’ve dabbled in a bit of innovation here and there I thought and I’ve definitely been to enough football games in my time…

… turns out however, it’s a touch trickier than I had anticipated. Apparently there are a lot of really useful design principles and working methodologies (such as parkour) which have the added benefit of guiding you away from coming up with something that is designed entirely with yourself in mind. Who knew?

Marta from ECAL in action!

So, after a few soul searching moments where I tried to understand my own relevance in the world I awoke to the fact that my team were getting on with things and slowly but surely our idea was beginning to take shape. We are specifically putting the experience of families at the heart of our work for UEFA and after each carefully considered iteration you truly begin to appreciate the investment, dedication and team work required to bring about significant innovation…

As Philippe Starck once said “Getting to the heart of things, is never easy”, but hopefully 2 days is still enough time!

Alex Berry

The Mumbai Challenge

A scholar visiting Mumbai randomly meets a former student in the hotel lobby. The conversation goes something like this:

Professor: Hey Anshul, great to see you.

Anshul: Likewise, this is a nice surprise. When did you arrive?

Professor: Yesterday.

Anshul: And you are here until….?

Professor: Tomorrow

Anshul: Wow, that short. What are you doing here?

Professor: I’m writing a book which I’m calling “Mumbai. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.

Well, that is how I experienced Mumbai a few days ago. A whirlwind. 3 days cannot do it justice on any dimension. Mumbai is an amazing city full of wonder, so vibrant and diverse. Always energising. Although I was unable to immerse myself in all Mumbai has to offer, I experienced it through the participants in our Mumbai Challenge.

Now in its second year, the Challenge is one way we assess candidates’ suitability for our MBA program. It is essentially a hackathon focussed on rapid ideation in response to some of society’s most pressing challenges. I’ll not reveal too much about the process, or how we use it to evaluate candidates, because it is competitive and there is a substantial scholarship at stake. No point in spoiling it by giving an edge to those keen future participants already with an eye on the 2020 challenge.

What I am happy to say though is that the 50 young men and women we selected from a much larger pool were engaged throughout the day, stayed cool, calm and constructive throughout and seemed to learn lots about the innovation process. The hack was expertly facilitated by Eric Saint-Andre, Innovation Architect.

I love this format because it gives us the chance to see how analytical, creative, collaborative, focussed and driven the candidates are. How they approach problem solving is always revealing. Egos are, mostly, kept in check. And through the apparent chaos some truly compelling ideas emerged. Three of these were well explained and professionally presented in the final pitch-off.

Members of all nine teams deserve great credit for their insights and contributions, as do the alumni, Ishwinder Bawa (2017), Janak Kumar (2017) and Anish Singhvi (2018) who shared their IMD MBA experiences and then joined us on the jury to determine who should be offered a place in the 2020 program. Let’s just say that as a jury we had a lot to discuss and debate as there were many well qualified and truly impressive candidates. We’ll announce the outcome soon.

From the time we gathered on Friday evening to hear the opening remarks made by ÌMD MBA Alumnus Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises, all the way to our closing on Saturday afternoon, the mood was positive, the energy was impressive and the climate for surfacing amazing insights was ideal.    

Our thanks to Harsh, Eric, Ishwinder, Janak, Anish and all the wonderful participants who made the 2019 Mumbai Challenge great.      

Seán Meehan
Dean of MBA Program

Kristina Mityaeva, IMD MBA Diversity Scholarship winner

I have traveled extensively since my childhood and have visited nearly 40 countries. From an early age, I recognised that globalisation would become a dominant characteristic of modernity, and consequently, I learned the Latin, English, French and Chinese languages to enhance both my communication skills and understanding of the world.

A Lithuania-born Russian, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to live in the US and Kenya as an adult, developing the experience of becoming a “local” abroad and learning how others live, work, and think. Additionally, I have visited China and Hong Kong approximately 10 times over the last year and have established a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of Asian culture and its business environment.

After I graduated from the Russian State University for Humanities as a Lawyer, I spent 8 years in international FMCG companies like P&G and Herbalife building their in-house legal functions across CIS, Baltics, Mongolia and Israel.

For the last two years, I supported the international e-commerce business of the Alibaba Group, and became the first Legal counsel of the Group based outside of China and Hong Kong.

However, my career demands that I refine my global experience and mindset to ensure that I will be well-positioned to serve in roles anywhere in the world, so I decided to do an MBA to broaden my understanding of business and build some new skills for the future.

The best thing so far at IMD is definitely the academic staff. The professors are all super charismatic and engaging during the sessions. I never laughed so much during my years in Law School! Although some of the subjects are not so easy for me to crack– indeed Accounting and Finance gave me some really hard times even after tens of hours spent on extra tutorials and out of class preparation.  

Another great experience was the startup project. My group consulted Little Green House childcare centers on their growing strategies. As I have a 4-year-old daughter, and I also had some teaching experience with kids during my one year stay in Kenya, I was very glad to join this project, get more insights on the educational system of Switzerland and create impact for the generation of my daughter.

My daughter running across the water in Oregon, US where I travel for work and friends.

The IMD MBA journey is very dynamic, diverse, multi-layered and comprehensive. It fully reflects my life aspirations and attitude, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why I received IMD’s Diversity Scholarship – I strongly believe that globalisation and diverse collaboration are among the best tools to achieve sustainable results.

Kristina Mityaeva

Banner image: Sakhalin island where I lived as a kid