Rugby and Snakes: Digital Lab day2

After the 2 week interview marathon, we have finally come in to the much awaited digital lab. For most of us the introduction has been somewhat opposite to what we have been expecting. After learning about high level digital strategies that companies have been pioneering worldwide, we expected a similar introduction to the newest tools and techniques in play.

What we ended up learning was how teamwork can be reimagined to boost creativity and innovation. Scrum (yes, it comes from rugby), the framework that software teams around the world use nowadays to focus on increasing customer value and momentum within teams. Once you get to know the concept it seems basic yet it’s unbelievable how companies like Spotify and Amazon have developed products based on this methodology.

And … we have been coding … in python. We’ve shut case studies and are now glued to code academy in the evenings as we are required to complete several lessons on python that would serve as building blocks for our experimentation with Scrum and app building later this week.

So the days have been fun with lots of post-it-notes and the evenings have been weary with code academy for company. Meanwhile, we managed to have some fun during the lectures.



Kicking off- Around the world in 14 days!!

So, we are in San Fransisco as part of our whirlwind Discovery Expedition around the world. And we’ve been bombarded with all the superlatives about Silicon Valley. For the first two days in the Valley, I personally could not associate these superlatives to what I saw. It wasn’t so obvious when we visited big campuses, looked at big sales figures or gawked at the various philosophies for success of these tech giants. The real spirit of the valley came alive when a small group of us visited a nondescript startup operating in the  hardware memory industry. The CEO , a man possibly in his fifties, dressed in a dull striped shirt and plain black trousers, explained the 10 principles of his company. At the very bottom of the list he had etched his own motivating principle in the hope that it resonated with the employees of the startup and it read “I want to win”. You couldn’t tell by the way he behaved with his staff often giving them credit and really being their supporter throughout the presentation. But there he was, turning around his company and making it the top startup in the hardware memory industry. Observing this behaviour, I felt an extreme commonality with the caring and daring principles taught at IMD.

The last week saw us dressed up, running around, completing tasks, listening to companies and meeting alumni before embracing the madness of the discovery expedition. We had insightful presentations from the top firms in consulting and industry. I was wowed by the gravitas  and responsibilities of some roles and the promise of rapid learning from some other. We saw both the traditional companies with defined space for MBAs and the high growth companies with more fluid opportunities. I look forward to interacting with these companies on a more personal level after these impressive presentations.

The Alumni of the school also left an indelible impression on me last week. The All MBA Alumni event on the 15th had all the ingredients of a giant family reunion. Familiar faces were there acknowledging the established connections. But more impressive were the unfamiliar faces. Everywhere I turned and introduced myself, I was greeted with a smile and an offer of help or a connection to my area of interest.

Waking up the next day and facing some other alumni, this time as part of simulated interviews was a completely different experience altogether. The test of my preparedness was persistent and as a result, my learning was exponential. It was an immensely fulfilling experience that thoroughly tested my preparedness. This was extremely helpful given the fact that some alumni had to sacrifice time at the ongoing alumni event and faced problems with transportation and scheduling in order to attend these interviews.

We are well on our way to finish the San Fransisco leg of the trip and fly to Singapore tomorrow. The trip has been amazing in several ways but I can’t help but think about the incredible experience that we had with the various alumni on campus. They’ve been caring enough to introduce us to broad network of opportunities but have also dared us to be prepared to meet those opportunities when they show up. It’s this tribe spirit that keeps IMD alive.

Off to bed to get ready for tomorrow’s madness.


Featured image, the jump group picture with Golden Gate Bridge in the background. 

The Final day- Idea | Prototype | Pitch

Featured image: Team Misfits (Georg, Oriane, Muhammad Atif, Joyce, Rafa, Mohamed Jerad and I)

Innovation week was one of the unique elements that had attracted me to IMD last year. Building a prototype and bringing small innovations to healthcare is a very exciting idea on paper. What actually transpired was something so much more impactful. I will count this as one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in the program so far. Of course, the way the week was structured, the gravity of the challenge and the competitiveness in the MBA group were all essential elements for meaningful impact. But what actually made this week so special was the team that I was working with. Theoretically, diverse teams lie on either extremes of the bell curve in terms of outcome. Luckily for us, we were on the right side of the curve and by the end of week had converted a viable solution into one of the best prototypes in the challenge.

We started the week on a high note by winning the Innovation video challenge. Our prize was to be filmed by dedicated camera crew for the entire week. This easy win brought the team together well and we also welcomed two new team mates- Georg from ecal and Mohamed Jerad from EPFL. We spent the early part of the week gathering information from the field and tapping into as many sources of ideas as possible. And then we began a rather efficient process of elimination and aggregation ending up with one narrow problem in the healthcare universe to concentrate upon.


Stage 2 was all about prototypes. We again did some efficient brainstorming on various mechanisms to build a device that can help the elderly stand up. Some of the ideas were out of the ordinary and some were straight up DIY level. Considering the time constraints involved in building such a product, we chose the simplest mechanism of all, a combination of a spring mechanism and inflation by air to build a cushion that could support the elderly to sit and standup.

Stage 3 was the pitch. We went for an emotional pitch to state the problem that we had intended to solve. Not surprisingly, almost all of the teams went for the same structure in their pitches. There were some brilliant ideas and brilliant prototypes all around and it was impressive to see what the class of 90 could bring to the table in one week of madness. In the end my team was satisfied with our clarity of storytelling and the strength of our product.


There have been some major learnings from the week. Especially as to how teams need to function to deliver innovation. The obvious ingredient for success is the diversity in a team. We were able to throw up different ideas and solutions only because of the diversity of thinking that we had in the room. The other ingredient that we were fortunate to have in the team was a sense of shared leadership. Everyone led in various dimensions either pushing ad campaigns or finishing the prototype or pitching the product or building the deck or creating defining videos. We had an extremely enjoyable experience and thanks to IMD, Cyril Bouquet and Peter Vogel for creating this fantastic one week experience. This taught us more than we could ever have gained from classroom lectures.

Until next time….

lego_parthMy very own personalized lego: souvenirs from the innovation week


Leadership petri-dish

Featured image: The MBA 2018 class with George Kohlrieser

Last year when I was accepted into the IMD MBA program, I received a welcome book, from the MBA office , called “Hostage at the Table” written by George Kohlrieser. Besides having a tremendous influence over me at that time,  book had a certain symbolic meaning to me. I was choosing not to be hostage to a traditional career path by embarking on the MBA program. Little did I know that I’d be learning from the man himself for an intense and enjoyable couple of days.

Module 2 kicked off with a bang. We had Richard Hahlo, a stage actor teaching us how to deliver a message and own the stage. We had Ina Toegel teaching us the importance of shared leadership and bonding in high performance teams. Learning from her research on the Beatles and their complementary leadership styles was fascinating. We had  another business case protagonist come over to deliver Change Management 101 disguised as an accounting case.

And to cap it all, we had 2 fantastic days with George Kohlrieser. George took us on a roller coaster ride to discover our true motivations, griefs, fears and joys. All throughout those 2 days, we learnt how to let go, understand the other person and lead with an appropriate mix of caring and daring. We learnt that conflicts are something that as leaders we should learn to like. We teamed up several times with our classmates, practicing effective negotiation and bonding with them in the process. At the end of it all, the whole class came out as a tighter unit and a much more emotionally aware bunch.

We were also assigned a new Module 2 team and we chose our own innovation team for the “Innovation Challenge” next week. In the middle of this all, we also managed to squeeze in sometime with a brand new country analysis team for Economics. In essence, the last two weeks were spent working with 4 different teams. Although constraining in time, this opportunity has provided us with a training ground to apply newly learnt leadership concepts and experiment with different leadership styles.

Its been enjoyable transitioning from a content rich Module 1 to a petri-dish for leadership these past few weeks. Can’t wait for a deep dive into innovation next week.

Parth Reddy


Module 2 Group (Shingo, Mathieu, Candice, Maksim, Marco and I)


Innovation Group (Joyce, Rafael, Oriane and I)

Innovation group

A tale about geese and salt

André Cepêda  from MBA 2018 class talks about his transformation throughout the IMD journey so far. Featured image of the scenic expanse of Itacoatiara beach from his beloved home city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro.

The path down the hill of Itacoatiara’s beach led me back to the salty waters where my ordinary worries had been drifting harmlessly since my first dive in the morning. The corruption and violence that pervades my beloved Rio de Janeiro would – only for a minute – be diluted in a glass of cold mate tea, instead of in an everyday that can no longer be swallowed. An ancient indigenous legend says that sharing the mate herb spreads the good among neighbors. “Let there be mate” – I thought, focusing my eyes on the case. The interview would happen in a couple of days. Professional development, for outsiders. In my heart, though, a primal drive to fence more nurturing soils to the family I wanted to grow. Everything I love would soon be left behind, but for the moment, Itacoa’s sunset was still above… still illuminating my way back home.

“It’s the lack of salt” – I wondered, floating on Lake Geneva. I had just left my psychoanalysis session, and the bubbling insights on my mind refused to be washed away, preventing me to dive deeper. Or maybe I went deep enough already. The last days were all about group work. Supercharged, round the clock, with a team as talented as diverse: a Swiss-made experience to tear one apart. Suddenly I sink, inasmuch as an unknown piece of my personality arises to my consciousness.

How could I have ignored it for so long? Am I missing something else? How much further could I have gone, had I known before? Do I still have time? The gloomy waters around answered silently… and nearly drowned, I followed that light to the other side.

A goose squawked, waking me up. Am I still alive? I opened my eyes. The light was still there, and I recognized Itacoa’s sun shining timidly above me. Five hours late and tired from the trip, it looked just like Lausanne’s. Gosh, it was Lausanne’s sun. It doesn’t matter. it dredged me from the lake humbler and wiser, and I felt in love with it. I came to the IMD MBA program to become a better leader, and what I found would enlighten new ways across every dimension of my life

André Cepeda

The video below provides a glimpse of Rio’s natural beauty and peek into André’s experience

Real Impact


Featured image: All smiles from Group 8 (Hans, Kshitij, Paula, Ana, Gerardo and I) after conquering the dreaded integrative exercise. 

We finally got to the integrative exercises last week. A tradition at IMD, the integrative exercises or the end of module exercises are 48 hour long and are designed to test the participants’ understanding of various aspects of business knowledge in solving a real world business problem. More importantly they are designed to test the working cohesiveness of the study groups that we formed early in the year. The idea was simple. We were given an ambiguous business problem and a potential business proposal and were asked to present our recommendations to the board, twice in 2 days. Though the concept has been part of the IMD tradition for many years, its effects on the quality of learning and eventually on team bonding has been an integral part of the MBA.

My team had an incredible integrative exercise experience. We had been continuously working on our group dynamics for many class exercises and as a result  were able to confidently analyze and recommend a solid strategy to the board. This result was a culmination of our miniature experimentations of several working strategies and delivering the result felt like a small achievement of our efforts to come together as a group for the past two months. It felt like only yesterday when the leadership lab showed us our main weaknesses and forced us to rectify them to come out on top. Although we will still be together working on our startup project but we will no longer be together as a study group. It was a privilege to be part of this impressive mix of people and get to learn and experiment on how to approach and solve problems.


Group 8 in the dungeons

All the other groups went through some kind of trial in their quest to solve this gargantuan task. At one point we were so deep into getting our slide decks out on the last night that a simple rendition of Oasis’ Wonderwall evoked many emotions in the dungeons.

At the end of the exercise, although we were mentally and physically exhausted but the whole class had bonded over this unique rite of passage. Genuine smiles and expressions of relief were evident on our faces as we headed off to well deserved celebration to mark the end of the module. Real impact. Check. IMD, good one!!


Stories from other groups:


Group 10 (Sakshi, Alberto, Mathieu, Fabi, Ignacio and Anish)

“I would say that the ultimate reward of this experience was giving the group the opportunity to celebrate quick wins . We were much more connected after realizing that we could deliver a great job together”- Fabiana Souza


Group 7/ Team TWINE: Søren, Pierre, Veronika, Phil, Ramiro and Sonia

Veronika Raszler puts it aptly: “Team TWINE, it’s time to shine! Søren, Veronika, Pierre, Sonia, Phil and Ramiro basking in the sun after an exhausting but satisfying first round of presentations”

Real Learning

The very intense learning style in the past two months has brought us to this week where we’ve seen an amalgamation of different topics. Streams such as Marketing, Operations, Finance, Strategy, Organizational behavior etc are blending in seamlessly into the group work and case studies and we as students are looking at each problem from a combination of these very different perspectives.

The Entrepreneurship stream saw a session from Patrick Hoffman who is the CEO of OtradaGen, a pig farming startup from Russia. We saw a passionate and hands-on entrepreneur talking about how technology and changing regulations helped OtradaGen in becoming one of the top pig farming companies in Russia. Pig farming is traditionally a male-dominated industry, and Russia is often perceived as a male dominated place. Patrick, as a newcomer to the industry, tried many things, one of which was to change the male-dominant workplace by giving most key positions to women.

The Finance stream especially has been an efficient and uncluttered learning experience. From the basics of valuing investments to evaluating large scale projects in corporations, the evolution has been seamless. We had our last Finance class with Prof. Salvatore Cantale last week from this module. It was an absolute privilege to learn basic corporate finance through his engaging style infused with funny skiing stories.


The Operations classes have been packed with a multitude of information from various aspects of supply chain management taught through case studies, group exercises, in-class simulations and presentations from the participants with operations experience. We learned about efficient supply chain systems and turnarounds through guest speakers from the industry and concluded the Operations class last week with an interesting session on sustainable sourcing.  Again, it was a pleasure to learn from Prof. Ralf Seifert who is continually pushing the experience with his teaching methods.


To celebrate International Women’s day on the 8th of March, we had a wonderful speech from Hanne de Mora who talked about her most consistent themes of leadership- Entrepreneurship, problem solving and independence. She took all our eager questions on diversity and impact in organizations with ease and inspired us with her energy and enthusiasm.

We are now almost at the end of Module 1. The integrative exercises begin in a couple of days where we get a chance to test our group dynamics and understanding of the business concepts and apply them to real world situations. Until then, the weather in Lausanne has improved quite a bit and has given us a chance to go out and explore more of the city.



Featured image of a Lausanne Sunset from Veronika Raszler, MBA candidate class of 2018