Inspired and Humbled

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.

Parth Reddy

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Featured image: Life Before Microsoft at IMD

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Signal and Noise

The first week at the program has been hectic.  First we had to get all of the arrival requirements out of the way. And then we had the MBA introductions and welcome lunches, some coursework in the form of business analytics, opening dinner and visits to CERN and EPFL and finally the Chamonix trip. All in 6 days. And true to IMD’s reputation we didn’t get much sleep in these 6 days. We were either fighting it out till the early ams in the dungeons with the analytics assignments or sacrificing sleep to bond with our fellow classmates on the way to Chamonix. I finally had the answer to a burning question- Why so many coffee machines in the campus?

In the middle of the week, we had a frank discussion on the outcomes of the program and what is expected of an individual graduating from the program. In other words, for me to look at how much the program has improved me by December, I will have to measure myself based on certain criteria before and after the program. This took me back to one of the standard practices in my previous job. Our job was to process raw seismic data to a final version that could represent an accurate image of the hydrocarbon reservoir that’s been evaluated. In every step along this process, one of the parameters that measures the improvement in the data is called signal to noise ratio. The idea is pretty simple, if there is a perceivable increase in the ratio then the data quality has improved from step A to B. Signal defined as something correlating throughout the data set and noise as something random in the dataset.

Having had the discussion on the expectation from an individual graduating out of the program and brainstorming it further with my classmates, a few things become quite apparent about which aspects are important in an individual :

1)      Business knowledge and skills

2)      Interpersonal relationship

3)      Inherent integrity

Some of us are absolutely brilliant in all three dimensions and some of us are just starting to realize where we need improvement. But one thing is extremely clear. In all three aspects, identifying and separating signal to noise is the key. Take for example, interpersonal relationships. Having superficial relationships would be noise and having deep meaningful conversations would be the signal in this instance. Proactively strengthening deep meaningful relationships would constitute an improvement and would be great training for a long career in business and working with strong personalities.

I hope each one of us is able to separate and strengthen the signal from noise in their dimensions of improvement by the end of the year. Looking ahead, I’m very excited to start the leadership module and immerse myself in the case studies on strategy and economics. More importantly, I’m eager to improve every lecture, every assignment and every week in this journey.

Featured image from a artistic reinterpretation of the Olympic logo in the Olympic Museum, Lausanne

Parth Reddy

Linkedin

Setting Goals

I recently listened to Ray Dalio’s Principles and I liked it a lot. Mostly because Ray Dalio’s description of himself in his 20s and 30s is quite similar to most of us in the program. From there to founding and managing Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds is quite a feat. And he did that by employing a concrete set of principles and steps to success. I’m hoping to experiment with these principles at the year long and intensive MBA program. Continue reading “Setting Goals”