Here, there and everywhere…

Sitting on the TGV train from Lausanne to Paris watching the Swiss hills blend into French ones, I am struck by how much I have been on the road these past few months. In this instance, I am about to start the fourth week of my international consulting project for a multinational medical devices company. At the same time the job search is on full tilt, which has had me between Paris, Lausanne, Copenhagen, Dubai, London, and Milan over the past few weeks. By the end of this week, Stockholm will also make its way onto the list. Continue reading “Here, there and everywhere…”

Midsummer reflections..

It has been quite some time since I’ve written as our classmates have been churning out some world-class blog entries over the past few weeks. As you can tell from previous entries, we are now in the midst of our Company Engagement Projects (CEP) scattered across the world. From Azerbaijan to Zanzibar, the 90 of us have impressively managed to pretty much cover the globe. In my case, I’m working on a project with Amazon UK alongside my fellow blogger Sathappan to expand Amazon’s startup accelerator arm across Europe. At the same time, I’m working with a real estate crowdfunding startup in London on a project to expand its client-base internationally.

Over the past month, the program has shifted gears quite a bit. The academics have completely wound down and our focus has shifted towards completing our CEPs and lining up our dream jobs. Accordingly, the iron-clad structure from the first half of the year has given way to a more flexible schedule where we have to create our own sense of urgency. For most of us, this means balancing our CEPs while practicing for consulting case interviews, writing cover letters, updating CVs, and reaching out to the incredibly tight IMD alumni network. And since about half of us are doing our CEPs primarily from beautiful Lausanne, the tight class feel has become even more intimate at a more IMD “lite” level.

In prior blog entries, I mentioned that the program is very much front-loaded leaving very little time for personal reflection or early career search efforts. I still stand by this assertion, but I also now see the merit in this kind of structure. Now that we actually have the time and flexibility to reflect, I realize that this is best done in the absence of an academic workload and in the presence of our CEPs and career search. This allows us to reflect fully in the context of what we want to do after the MBA. After all, many of us (myself included) are looking for the trifecta of changing function, industry, and geography, which requires a fair bit of introspection and soul searching. Personally, I’m glad we have already completed the core academics as we figure all of this out. The various networking events, Navigating the Future conferences, and inspirational guest speakers only helped set the scene that much more. I am reminded of a quote by Confucius, “Study without reflection is a waste of time, reflection without study is dangerous.”

Next up, I am looking forward to having the class reunited back from our CEPs before we embark on our Discovery Expeditions in Dubai/Singapore, San Francisco/Monterey, and Tokyo/Shanghai. After taking these much needed 5 weeks to recharge and triangulate on our paths by way of our CEPs and some personal reflection, I’m sure we will all have a lot to talk about!

Til next time!

Mo

Let’s see what we’re made of!

As the intense first module of the program came to a close with exams and an all too short Easter break, the second module is already making us yearn for more time off. Accounting, Operations, and Entrepreneurship classes have come to an official close as Strategy, Negotiation, Innovation, and International Political Economy have kicked off. In a way, I feel that we’re starting to move past the fundamentals and going towards the more macro-level courses that prepare us for the real world and the new skills we need in today’s job market, which is great.

Highlights from the past month include our Innovation week where we were split up into groups and tasked with designing a prototype to improve patient quality of life using design-thinking principles, which Suzy touched on in a blog post below. Immediately following the Innovation week, we had our IPE (International Political Economy) week during which we had dozens of speakers covering various issues ranging from migration to sustainability.

On top of this, we had a number of very high-profile C-level guest speakers from leading companies such as Novartis, Nestle, Tag Heuer, and IBM. I would definitely say the guest speakers were the highlight of the past month. I felt that it was a testament to IMD’s clout in the business world that such senior corporate leaders were taking the time to speak with us and it is definitely a much-appreciated part of the program.

As job hunting season is starting, we are also starting to go through several Career Services sessions covering topics including salary negotiations and interviews. Many of us are now working hard to secure our Company Engagement Projects (summer internships) and some are even starting to interview for full-time roles after graduation.

All of this has been happening on top of our regular class schedule and all the projects and assignments that come with it. Looking ahead, there’s no sign of it letting up before exams as several 12-14 hour days are coming up this week in the form of more class simulations and integrative exercises. Needless to say, I have definitely been feeling extremely time-poor as I struggle to have a semblance of a social life outside of IMD’s walls and keep up with basic errands without feeling guilty about falling behind on schoolwork. Fitting in the time to write this already delinquent blog post was not easy and trying to find the energy to tackle the job hunt in a systematic way early on is tough. As I look around, I can definitely sense that the overall class energy levels have drained significantly compared to the first couple of months.

That being said, we are all surviving and I am definitely learning a lot about how to manage energy levels with this much going on. At the end of the day, we are all going through the same thing together and the solidarity that comes from the tight knit 90-person class is keeping us all sane. My next post will be after exams so hope to have a bit more of my positive energy and vibes by then!

Til next time!

 

Mo

Nearing the end of Chapter 1..

Sitting in my group down in the “dungeons” and looking around, I see 5 pairs of squinting eyes staring intently at laptop screens with eyebrows furrowed in concentration as we work on 3 projects/assignments concurrently. Up on the board in our group room, we have 6 looming project deadlines scribbled in big red font all of which seem to be within a few days of each other and the last of which reads “EXAMS!!!”. Between preparing for the final startup pitch, leadership essays, and group macroeconomics project, it’s hard to believe that the pace has continued to pick up even beyond what we thought was a crescendo with the integrative exercises. Even more incredible, is how our group dynamics have been forged by the fires of stress and pressure to make us orders of magnitudes more efficient than we were when we set out. If you would have asked me last month how much excess work capacity we have left, I would have answered “hardly any”. But somehow, we have evolved how we work to the point that we can do a full analysis of a case and prepare slides and a 15-minute presentation in an impossibly short amount of time.

I’ve worked on teams and in groups for most of my career but I don’t think I truly understood how powerful a group with seemingly nothing in common can become over the course of a couple of months. When you’re subjected to an impossibly large amount of work you learn how to optimally leverage each group member’s strengths to deliver as quickly as possible and become greater than the sum of your parts. I initially thought that 3 months was a long time to be in one group of 6 people but I now know that there are certain learnings that you don’t realize until you’ve felt the grind for some time. And so, as our time together as a group comes to an end in a couple of weeks, I do feel sad and know that I will miss working with my 5 compatriots very much. But I also think that what I’ve learned working with the group over the past few months will make me that much better in the next group.

On a more fun note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the class trip to Chamonix and the Nespresso factory visit last week. As a way to blow off some steam from the pressure cooker, we all went up to Chamonix in France for a morning of snow-shoeing and a fantastic fondue lunch. Leaving the IMD bubble was definitely a welcome escape and some of us chose to stay an extra night in Chamonix for a beautiful sunny day of skiing the next day. This combined with a class trip to the Nespresso factory (see pictures in the previous post) last week to see the coffee pod making process allowed us to mentally disconnect for a couple of half-days and spend some time with our classmates doing something most of us have never done before.

Another few twists to break from the routine of classes every day come in the form of guest speakers that add a real-world element to the theories we’re learning. These guest speakers are often the subject of the cases we’re assigned to read before class and we’re often surprised to find them in class adding some colour with their experiences. We then often break out in groups and provide recommendations to them to help them solve real issues. These guest speakers range from senior executives at large multinational companies to entrepreneurs at smaller businesses. In all cases, I’ve been very impressed with this aspect of the program.

Now I have to sign off and chip away at those big red deadlines on our board!

Til next time!

Cheers,

Mo

The first week in Lausanne…

Today is the first official blog from one of our 2017 MBA bloggers, Mohammed Allam!

As I write this, it is the eve of our first official day at IMD. Our exciting orientation day lies ahead filled with introductions to the MBA faculty/staff, school photos, and various presentations to help us set everything up and settle in for the journey ahead. As some of my friends say, things are about to get real!

Continue reading “The first week in Lausanne…”