While the first week was an awakening of sorts, the second week focused on the high level themes of the program- Digital, Global and Entrepreneurial.
The Entrepreneurship module started with a lecture on defining value in a business but the highlight was the introduction to the protagonist of our first case study- Robert Keane, CEO and founder of Cimpress N.V.. Extraordinary resilience and an incredible ability to change and adapt defined his story and it was enthralling to listen to it live in the class!! We were also introduced to the various factors affecting project success in a simulated game environment. It was a lot of fun collaborating with differing views and scarce resources to drive business value in a project.
Then we explored how digital has started defining winners and losers in today’s dynamic world. We learnt that using digital tools to define and execute business strategy has helped not only businesses but political players around the world. And we learnt that its not about the disruptor but always about the disruption and the need to stay agile and flexible to capitalize on opportunities.
From a global perspective we learnt about how some countries are defying expectations and contributing more to the growth of the world’s economy. From a leadership angle, we learnt about what was needed to become a successful leader in these emerging markets. We also took advantage to learn from the diversity of the class when we were introduced to the politics, economy and culture of 43 different nations in the Life before Microsoft presentation, something that has become a tradition at IMD.
Of all these amazing experiences, one thing stood out the most for me. We started the week with an inspiring story on how to lead in turbulent times by Dr. Tawfik Jelassi. And this summed up my decision to come to a business school and that is to meet incredible leaders and be inspired.
Having been through the turbulence of the Arab spring myself, it was no surprise that I connected instantly with Dr. Tawfik Jelassi’s incredible story. What at first seemed like a normal class on leadership quickly turned out to be a real face-to-face encounter with someone who has the resilience, tenacity and determination to not bend to the odds and still achieve results that were beyond any expectations. Listening to his life experiences was humbling and our own professional hardships were tiny specks compared to the gargantuan effort on his part to lead through those turbulent times.
How does then someone lead in an explosive, polarized, irrational and adversarial world? The takeaway offered by Dr. Jelassi was that emotional resilience is the key. And having the leadership team as your secure base is crucial. The hard choices that you will have to make then are backed up by the leadership team and this allows you to go beyond the unexpected and sometimes the seemingly impossible, even in the face of opposition. When everything is going against you, it’s crucial to stick to your beliefs, trust your instincts and stand by your values. Thank you Dr. Jelassi for this important lesson. We hope we have the chance to apply these lessons successfully.
Featured image: Life Before Microsoft at IMD