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

Mischa Riedo – Winner of IMD MBA Class of 1976 Merit Scholarship

I was born and raised in Berne, Switzerland but have been living and working in Zurich for the past 10 years. I’ve worked in the financial industry for most of my career. I started off in derivatives trading and then moved on to investment specialist roles for large institutional and wealthy private clients.

Prior to IMD, I co-founded and grew my own company for 3 years. We built a software application for businesses to modernize their performance review processes through real-time feedback and dynamic objectives. A lot of the learnings during these 3 years led me to apply at IMD with its focus on leadership in a very intimate and personalized setting.

I’m extremely grateful that the class of 1976 chose me as its candidate and I hope our class will set up a scholarship one day as well to support talents in the future.

Aside from work, I love exploring the world with my fiancé. Whether it’s through travelling or simply discovering new cooking or cocktail recipes, it’s always an adventure that I enjoy like none other.

In terms of IMD, my personal highlight thus far has been the strategy course with Professor Misiek Piskorski. It provided me with a myriad of insights into strategic analysis and decision-making while doing so in an entertaining and engaging manner. On the challenging side I’d note the intensity of the programme which makes it really hard to spend as much time with my fiancé as I’d like.”

Mischa Riedo
MBA 2019

International Women’s Assessment Day

International Women’s Day last Friday is hopefully indicative of a world that is ready to accept and adapt to ensure there are more women leaders in business and society. Not only will this deliver positive performance outcomes, it just doesn’t makes sense to do anything less than be fully inclusive.

But while this day sends out a clear signal, to really encourage a genuine future impact on society, education needs to play a key role. Here, we want to play our part in creating a future where equality and diversity is the norm.  The IMD MBA, with our successful history of delivering Leadership Development in an extremely collaborative and diverse program, has set ambitious goals with regard to gender balance. We seek parity. We think we can get there because our class, being one section with such a high faculty to student ratio, creates a powerful and supportive community. A great context: participants know one another well, respect and trust is high, and support is endless.

This year we have partnered with the Forté Foundation for women and added new scholarships specifically targeting female applicants. In honour of the International Women’s Day, we also hosted our first exclusive women’s MBA assessment day on Friday. Experienced women, from different countries, with diverse professional backgrounds, spent the day on the IMD campus meeting the admissions team, faculty and some members of the class of 2019, sampling class and, importantly, participating in our assessment routines. As I said to them, they would not have been invited to campus if we had any doubts about their ability to get through the course. The point of our assessments is not to test basic ability but rather to test for fit and help us identify who will thrive in our special environment. It isn’t for everyone. They should be testing us as much as we are testing them. 

It was a pleasure to spend a little time with such highly motivated and talented people. We wish them, and all women with the ambition to lead, the courage and determination to persevere. We are committed to working with them all to pave the way to a more balanced future.  

Professor Seán Meehan, Dean of MBA Program