This is a life changing experience, one of those that turn people into who they were supposed to be.
This will be more than an MBA, but only if you let it. Only if you’re willing to put in the effort, if you’re willing to try new things and do what you normally wouldn’t. I’m not talking about the academic rigorousness and effort required to finish the insurmountable readings, or about the hours needed to deliver all projects on time and the sleepless nights to learn free cash flows, economic theory, strategic positioning, analytics and all that jazz. I’m talking about the resiliency to take no’s, stand back up and dust yourself off, I’m speaking of the courage to have an honest conversation with a teammate, I’m referring to the strength to look into yourself and at your choices, ask why and then change.
This is not an MBA Program and as such it cannot be measured by any regular metrics. It can only be understood through the stories of those who’ve been here, through the lives it changed, the friendships it built, the people it touched.
Thank you, IMD, for taking us in, I feel honored to carry your name.
ICP’s are up and running and all my classmates have been traveling around the world or into the dungeons to deliver their projects. My teammates and I have been tasked with helping a pharma company bring business model innovation to the market.
During the last 5 weeks we have been located at our clients headquarters, discovering pharmaceutical industry from the inside and learning about the peculiarities of our clients business and company culture.
Like most consulting projects ours started with tons of research and interviews, and developed through the delineation of the deliverables. Through this project we’ve had the opportunity of not only addressing a real business issue but also applying and seeing why all the concepts we learned this year such as scoping and stakeholder management matter so much. We’ve had a lot of fun together, supported each other through difficult times (try delivering a project while searching for a job) and kept developing our team working and leadership skills.
All in all this is a great learning opportunity and experience, that can only be rivaled by the happiness we have when we get to work from IMD every once in while and see again our classmates (and have wonderful IMD food).
When I moved to Switzerland for my MBA almost a year ago I had one thing in mind: this year was going to be some hike, tough, exhausting, but ultimately would lead me somewhere amazing. On the more practical side I had one objective: to change my career and have a fun job in the corporate world by 2019.
But, as with every hike, the path is not always what you thought it would be.
During the last months through the many traditional business streams and the not so traditional ones, my year delineated itself in a broader search for meaning. What is it that drives me? What is it that I want? Why am I even doing this to myself? And as my hike turned into a climb, the challenges turned out to be much bigger than I had predicted.
Every person that hikes regularly has faced that one time when you started your walk and you had the eyes on the peak, but as you came closer to your goal you realized that there was still a whole lot of mountain to climb, and what you thought was the peak turned out to be just a stop on the way.
At this time of the year that’s pretty much where a lot of us in the class are. We have started receiving our first job interview invitations – and rejections; we have started case prepping, had our first mock interviews, and got grilled on them. We’re sanity checking our expectations and reflecting on how realistic they are on the short and long term. So let me tell you one secret, reality is one tough lady. And she’s knocking at the door.
We have also started to face the fact that (surprise! surprise!) employers have needs, and that if we want to be successful at this game, we need to reconcile a lot of variables. What is it that this company needs? What can I offer? How does that fit in my broader search for meaning and happiness?
So emotions are running high, everybody is at the edge of their seats, waiting for something to happen. And how do you navigate that? How do you deal with the realization that you still might have to put in a lot of hard work, a lot of time, that there’s still so much to climb?
Personally, I rely on friends and the solace that they bring when they say: “this is happening to me as well”. And then I take a step back, one deep breath and I look back and see how far I’ve come and that gives me the energy to focus on the next 10 meters of the climb…
After an exciting few days in Silicon Valley off we went on a 19h transpacific flight to Singapore, the mandate for this leg: to find out how Singapore went from an underdeveloped island to a booming city-state in 50 years. Continue reading “Singapore: Past, Present and Future”→
On the first two days of the challenge, my colleagues and I had met new team mates, explored the healthcare scenario in Lausanne and finally found a problem we wanted to solve. So, day three took us to ideation stage. In a single day we had to come up with a solution for a problem we were passionate about, for Team Misfits (us!) that was helping elderly people to have more autonomy and move more freely. And if the two first days were all blue skies, making friends and exploring, day three is where things go crazy.
Even though we had known each other for a few months, the time constraint of this project put a lot of pressure on the team. And we also needed to onboard our new team mates Georg Foster, a designer from écal and Mohamed Jerad, our very own physicist from EPFL. As IMD’ers we were already used to the idea of pushing the team, giving loads of feedback and working like hell. But how were they gonna see it? How can we achieve the goal of the week and still be sensitive to their needs and motivations?
During our day we were all trying to come up with as many possible solutions as possible, no matter how absurd they were, the idea is to stimulate creativity, and avoid idea killing. Judging is forbidden! Expressions like “yes, but” and “that doesn’t make sense” are banned… So we had the funniest, weirdest mobility solutions: like the suction grip, the spring cane and the booty hammock, my personal favorite, just because I like the name.
Building a solution for a problem is a messy process, you bring a bunch of smart people together and ask them to come up with absurd, weird and out of the box ideas. And maybe out of all or of a combination of some them you may end up with a good solution. The problem is, this process requires letting go of the fear of looking stupid, of the fear of failing, of the fear of being wrong. And when you finally find that sparkling, elegant life changing idea you discover either one of two things: someone did it before or it has some major flaws and it is not life changing after all.
I learned that innovation requires a good deal of resilience because at this point I was frustrated, tired and I started to question myself. Is this the right solution? Is this a good model? Does this problem even matter? So what you do is you gather some courage and a lot of humility and you ask for help and guidance (thank you Eric, for coming to our rescue!).
Truth is, coming up with innovation is messy, crazy and sometimes frustrating. And that’s how it is supposed to be, ideas need to collide before they can build upon each other. People need to fail in order to learn and succeed…
Well at least that’s what we are told by Cyril Bouquet and Peter Vogel, our professors for this madness challenge.
My name is Joyce Tsuchiya, from Brazil. I’m an ophthalmologist by training and I practiced for six years as a cataract surgeon and cornea specialist before deciding to pursue a career change. I come to IMD for a new challenge, big emotions and self development.
photo taken by my colleague Rodrigo Freire
Dreams are where we all started, high expectations and lots of hope. We arrived at IMD’s campus all keen on meeting each other, learning and eager for the new experiences to come. We had been listening for quite a while on how IMD’s program is comprehensive, and how it approaches business education from a holistic perspective. We heard about the experienced professors from whom we were going to learn and all the important people we would get to meet. But then, our dreams met reality, and we got hit head front by the first week of IMD’s insane schedule. By the 4th day I was already sleep deprived and started to question my sanity when I decided to pursue such program. It was a hectic, exhausting and an emotional week, and IMD was not about to let it end without a grand finale.
For the 5th day of our journey, we had two off-campus visits on our program, we were supposed to go to Genéve in order to visit EPFL’s (École Politechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) campus biotech and the CERN (read Martina’s post about that part of the visit here). Campus biotech is one of those places science folks dream about. – It is home to the Wyss Center and the Blue Brain Project.
The Blue Brain project is a brain mapping effort, its goal is to create a biologically detailed digital reconstruction of the rodent brain. But you could also call it ‘the perfect marriage between business and research’. BBP develops cutting edge research supported by a professional operation. The project management office controls and facilitates initiatives, in a methodology based on agile and waterfall. Every project must have a science lead, an engineering lead and a project manager.
In such environment, the most audacious ideas flourish. For instance, the e-dura, a flexible implant that can be used for many things, among them bridging a damaged spinal cord and the brain through a computerized interface, therefore restoring walking capability to paralyzed patients. Or the neurohabilitation treatment that helps stroke patients recover movements. And a project very close to my heart, a retina implant based on tiny photovoltaic cells (20.000 of them!) that restore eyesight to blind people.
EPFL campus biotech is where dreams meet reality, where science meets business. A place where research is professionally managed and organized so that scientists get to build on each other’s work and all of this allows researchers to deliver actionable knowledge and give back to society. Thank you IMD, for taking us there and for showing us how business can be a powerful transformative force.