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…”