新年快乐: Celebrating Chinese New Year, IMD style!

Despite being in the throes of the relentless calendar that is Module 1, we find time to bond with and learn about those who seem different from us. I say “seem” because of the learnings from the last few days at our Leadership Experiential. I have learned that if you scratch below the surface of apparent divergence, you find many points to connect on and much common ground. This is a transformational strength of being part of a mind-bogglingly diverse MBA program.

One such experience has been with my peers from Greater China. As I approached them, pen and paper in tow, ready to jot down salient points for a blog post on Chinese New Year, I was greeted with the same joy, excitement, and nostalgia, irrespective of their hometowns. Here are some snippets about their memories and emotions for the Chinese New Year.

China.jpegThe Greater China contingent from the IMD MBA Class of 2019

“For me, the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival – as we call it, means family. It is about traveling thousands of miles or even across the globe to go back to where you belong, be with family, and enjoy together the food that brings back memories of childhood. As a child, during the festival, I was always trying to peek into the kitchen to see what was on the menu today, and even take a bite while the adults were not looking; and I still do that now, so many years later as a grown-up. Every year my mom would experiment new dishes, but some are not changed and are kept as our family “signature” dishes; every year I just can’t wait to go back home and be comforted and surprised by the food made of love. When I am abroad and cannot go back, my mom would send me pictures of the dishes, and I miss being with families that I treasure and share the food that cures me.” -Junyi Wang, China

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“My (and I would say most Hong Kong people’s) favorite New Year food is definitely Turnip cake (Chinese: Lo Bak Go). This is a traditional food for Lunar New Year. I like the taste but I also enjoy making the cake with my family. My family never cook together. My mother or my grandmother do most of the cooking. Only when it is Lunar New Year, everybody will gather together to cook – some of us peel the turnip, mix the sauce etc. We also enjoy shrimp for dinner on New Year’s Eve. In Cantonese, it is pronounced, “Ha” which means “hahaha” and lots of laughter in the coming year. Fish is “Yu” which means “having plenty” so we have that too. We play mah-jong and it is good for catching up with family and relatives. I will prepare tea for my mother, father, and brother early in the morning on the first day of the year. I would say thank you for your love, care and support for the year and wish them to have good health for the year.” – Angelina Cho, Hong Kong

Related image“Typically on Chinese New Year, parents and elders who are working give the children and younger family members who are not earning yet, red envelopes with money. It is a bonus to the regular pocket money and is considered good luck and blessings. We visit relatives and at home, there is a constant supply of food. Even if you are not hungry you have to keep eating! In Taiwan, we get to see the Electric-Techno Neon Gods do a traditional dance. One the New Year’s day we usually do a big get-together at home, and on the second day, married women are supposed to visit their families. The celebrations continue for a few days and it brings everyone together.” – Kerry Hsiao, Taiwan

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IMG_8366.jpgFinding precious time to reflect and celebrate among the consecutive academic and leadership activities of this week, out peers from Greater China kept their festive spirits high and involved all of us! They gifted us with red envelopes filled with kind messages and sweet treats. The IMD Restaurant is also treating us with special Chinese New Year themed lunches this week, enjoyed by all, with many laughs at the end as we read out our predictions to each other from fortune cookies. In reality, it is hard to predict where we are headed. But with our families just a phone call away, memories of our cultural celebrations, and the company of our MBA friends, we can be sure that good things await ahead.

Wishing the IMD MBA Class of 2019, our professors, MBA support team, all IMD staff and students, and our blog readers a blessed and spectacular Year of the Pig!

Surbhi

 

 

 

 

Blog Team 2019: The Write Stuff

The IMD blog helped me, and many of my peers, during the application process to the MBA program. Shout outs to the 2018 blog team; thank you for sharing your experiences with candor and humor!

Picking up the baton and upholding class tradition to share meaningful, hilarious, and sometimes trying experiences, we, the blog team of the Class of 2019, are thrilled to introduce ourselves in this post. Helena, Lukasz, Uzair and myself will helm the regular blog posts, while Adrian and Olivier are our skilled photobloggers.

We look forward to being the voice of our class and having many of our peers guest blog in the coming months.

In alphabetical order …


Adrian

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Having spent the last year in Western Australia working as an engineer I believe I’ve possibly come from furthest away for the programme. In my spare time, you would find me kitesurfing, sailing, flying my drone or taking photos. Trying to keep an open eye about new angles and perspectives, through the MBA and through my camera lens. Coming to Switzerland proved to be my 6th country of residence and am very much looking forward to seeing where post-MBA life will take me.

Helena

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Hi everyone! I am Helena from Bogota, Colombia. For the past 8 years, I have been living abroad because of my work in the oil and gas industry. It started back in 2010 when I moved to Kuwait, in 2013 I was moved to Aberdeen, Scotland where I was until 2015 when I went to Trinidad and Tobago. In 2017 I moved to Sahara Algeria up until last year before moving to Switzerland. I obviously enjoy traveling and also cooking: wherever I go I try to learn at least one recipe of local food so I can recreate at home. I’ve been living in Lausanne for almost a month and so far, I am loving my time at IMD, everything from my classmates to the incredible professors have been up to my expectations. I look forward to sharing here my experiences this year as it was through this blog and the past classes that I fell in love with IMD.

Lukasz

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 8.54.05 PM.pngPolish citizen by birth, long-term Swiss resident by choice and strategy consultant… also by choice ☺ Although educated in finance, spent last years helping global life sciences companies tackle their strategic challenges. ‘Staying active’ is his middle name. Hiker, biker, and jogger in summer, skier in winter. Passionate about the history of 20th century and classical guitar. Loves dogs. A lot ☺

Olivier

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I’m Olivier and feel rather representative of the average IMD MBA candidate, except that I come from Belgium. I just turned 30, got 7.5 years work experience (for the rest, refer to IMD brochure). In life, I enjoy curiosity, humor, open-mindedness, tackling challenges and killing monkey-businesses. I’m also a great fan of outdoor activities in general and more particularly trekking off-the-beaten-tracks. In the past years, I had the chance to explore Patagonia, Lapland, Nepal, and Greenland just to name a few. Last but not least, I have been a photo enthusiast for about a decade now, which is what brings me here. I particularly enjoy simple shots with pure lines, candid portraits and travel photography.

Surbhi

IMG_8276 copy.jpgHello everyone! I am Surbhi, proud Indian and third culture kid, born and raised in Dubai (I know where to find the world’s best shawarma). During my pre-MBA career over the last ten years, I was a life-sciences strategy consultant in the USA before working on patient-centricity programs focused on Africa and the Middle East. Professionally, I am passionate about bringing innovative medicines to patients and creating efficiencies in the lab-to-bedside process. I am an ardent traveler and most recently went hiking in Bhutan. I enjoy postcolonial fiction, movies, yoga, and love spending time in nature 🙂

Uzair

765e88e9-b7a9-4625-88e9-2528374124ae.JPGI’m Uzair (Uzi) & I come from the highly scenic lands of Jaipur & Hyderabad in India. Previously I was a consultant to an international NGO working in public healthcare and I have also worked for 7 years with a global pharma company. I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast who likes to experiment with new things. I have cycled the Atlantic Ocean road in Norway, Skydived in the Swiss Alps, backpacked through Cambodia, ridden a 5-trotted Icelandic horse through lava fields and traveled across 13 countries. I also train for long distance running & have participated in HM & 10K runs.

Thank you for reading our stories and for supporting us through this journey!

Surbhi

 

 

Brand Thyself

As MBAs in training and future visionaries looking to make a dent in the world (we hope), we have already had experience with brand management for products, or expect to learn the latter in the months to come. A subject less often discussed is the nebulous, subjective, and frankly tough job of branding ourselves. In a world where everyone and their pet chameleon are on social media, branding is as universal as it is essential to conducting business, be it medicine, manufacturing, or mergers and acquisitions.

Which brings me to our Career Development session yesterday with Arjen Iwema from W-Focus on Personal Branding. Most of us have some idea of who we are, and are perhaps less clear about where and who we want to be in the future. Arjen, IMD MBA Class of 2003, spoke to us about his journey towards a clear individual brand, professional and personal, and urged us to use a comprehensive framework to begin our exploration into our branding statements.

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The most rewarding part of the day for me was drafting our personal statements and then sharing them within our groups (also our start-up teams). It was a wonderful way to get to know each other beyond qualifications and years of work experience. We shared our feedback with each other and marveled at the various hidden aspects of each other’s personalities. All I can say is, wine enthusiasts, serial marathoners, and auto nerds lurk among us 🙂

A significant takeaway from the session was the value in being authentically yourself because this cannot be replicated. It is difficult at times, especially since many of us come from cultures where humility is paramount, and speaking about yourself is just plain awkward. As we step into pre-executive roles, it may not be required or even advised, to harp on about our abilities. But it would do us a world of good if we have a clear sense of who we are and where we are headed. In a dynamic environment where many things will not go our way, we can at least have a strong sense of self to share with those we want to influence, and more importantly, ourselves.

Now onto prep for Operations class tomorrow! Have a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villars: Of Beautiful Vistas and Good Vibes

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First week down!

The IMD MBA Class of 2019 celebrated completing the first week of classes with a weekend trip to Villars-sur-Ollon in the Canton of Vaud. Known for its top-notch boarding schools and pistes primed for skiing and snowboarding, this beautiful village greeted us with seemingly unending blankets of fresh, white, snow.

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We arrived on Saturday afternoon and explored the local market fair while sampling local drinks and delicacies, including hot wine, crepes, and chocolates. It was a fun way to get to know each other beyond the campus setting, soon to become our second home.

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In the evening we boarded the Red Train reserved for the MBA class that took us up into the mountains where a fondue spread awaited us. Dinner was followed by foosball and then the entire class, including our amazing MBA support team, hit the dance floor and caused much revelry atop an otherwise silent mountain late into the night. All 39 nationalities shimmied it up to Shakira and The Black Eyed Peas. As the next few weeks bring us into the throes of finance and accounting and related academic exercises, I expect this memory of a rousing good time will get us through some late group study sessions in the dungeons.

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This morning, in particularly generous snowfall, we headed out for snowshoeing, a first time for many in the group. Among drifting snowflakes and husky-pulled sleds, we enjoyed a truly Swiss experience before heading back to Lausanne, a bit tired, with our fill of new inside jokes and good vibes.

Tomorrow we begin a new week, with new courses and assignments, and no doubt, new challenges for us to grow as humans and leaders.

But we can leave that for another post. Tonight, we dream of snow-covered fir trees 🙂

Surbhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Magic 90”

The IMD MBA Class of 2019 WhatsApp group was born on a warm June day in 2018. The initial participants were 20 odd folk scattered across time zones. Our initial conversations revolved around polite, formal introductions, mentions of when we had travelled to someone’s country, and program administrative questions. Somewhere along the way, as summer blended into autumn, our comfort levels with each other, and the size of the group, grew. A great indicator of how our equation has evolved over the past months is the name we recently bestowed onto the chat group; “Magic 90”.

There is something magical about a group of people who never knew of each other before, now priming to develop some of the more influential relationships of our lives. The common thread? A shared desire to survive and thrive during the IMD MBA program.

We are different. Sometimes the chat is overcome by conversations in Hindi or Portuguese with the rest of us scrambling to Google Translate. On an average day we motivate each other to finish the pre-reads, discuss who makes the best cocktails, inquire about nannies and babysitting services. Some of us volunteered for a babysitting circle to help out our peers with bambinos. We’ve even discussed wardrobe requirements and shopping sales, a conversation primarily driven by the ladies! And all this shared with people we have not even met yet.

Wait, I stand corrected. Some of us have met. While transiting through Taiwan, Basel, Mumbai and Rio, our peers have met over meals and coffee, and then shared pictures with the rest. It’s almost like a blind date, but set up by IMD, and the big smiles show that a fun time was had by all. It makes
me eager to get on campus and get this show started!

We have also seen a great willingness to help out on the group. Whether someone is sharing pertinent HBR articles or sending across finance reading files that another cannot access, there is a high level of proactive giving happening in “Magic 90”. Our friends currently in Lausanne are generous with their time and wisdom. Swati and Camila, for example, have equipped us with nuggets of knowledge on Swiss door locks, grocery shopping strategies, and insurance and phone plans.

Currently, we are sharing vacation (read: pre-IMD relaxation) pictures and collectively enjoyed the IMD MBA Class of 2018 graduation live stream. As this unity grows, we’re not quite sure where our IMD journeys will take us. But if months of daily chatting are anything to go by, our virtually budding friendships are a prelude to the great times and strong bonds that lie ahead.

Surbhi