An honest letter to the Class of 2020

An MBA alumnus from the class of 2019 shares his tips and advice as the current class starts their journey.

Dear Class of 2020,

Congratulations on getting the admit and beginning what I believe to be a “Transformative year”.

Now that you have dived into the rather interesting world of solving cases, storyboarding, T-accounts (No! I’m kidding here), and meeting humanity from different hemispheres. I thought of putting together a rather non-MECE (you will hear this A LOT!), and unstructured rambling of learnings and observations from my own experience. However I do hope that some of this will be useful to anyone who’s beginning their MBA program.

A General Rule:

A big learning that I have come to appreciate even more is the simple yet not obvious distinction between “Facts” and “Opinions”. What I’m saying below, in unequivocal terms, represent my “Opinions” based on my assessment. I speak on behalf of myself. Period! Over this year you might find yourself in situations where Facts and Opinions will be used with great elasticity and interchangeability. It’s an important skill to develop.

Nonetheless, Let’s truck on.

On Program

1. First & foremost, remember that you have come here for your own professional and personal development. A person once told me that every single day you get 86,400 seconds credited to your account. Use them wisely.

2. The total cost of program is ~120K CHF and duration is 11 months. Every day you enter the building, you amortize ~360CHF. Financial motivation for those “Bad days”.

3. There will be times when Copying & Pasting will appear to be a promising and time saving strategy for assignments and exams. Don’t DO IT! Remember Point 1

4. Normally, Accounting will feel difficult to significant many. Take full use of the resources at your disposal – E-learning (Khan Academy, YouTube), Batch mates, and extra classes.

5. I found “Strategy” class to be the most challenging and rewarding. If there is one class where you need at least 2 hours of pre-class prep to get the maximum out of the discussion, this is the one!

6. The program has a high academic workload frontloaded on Module-1 which begins to taper off progressively. Sometimes with so much work, it’s natural to feel like you’re going through the motions in module-1 but don’t forget Point-1: Find quiet time to think about your future!

7. Over this year, you’re going to get a lot of feedback from a lot of people both harsh and soft. You will also learn about your inherent biases. The program focuses not only on learning new things but unlearning old ones. 

8. You will be writing a lot of new material this year. From analysis of business situations to self-analysis. If you do it properly, you will develop some writing skills which will come in handy during the latter half when drafting your cover letters.

9. An important learning to target this year is being a better “Storyteller”. Make sure you get enough time to practice on the center-stage in front of an audience. The program gives more than enough opportunities and it’s up to you to make the most of it.

On Relationships

1. Initially your colleagues may get “Wow-ed” by your academic, professional, and personal achievements (Maybe you’re an Olympic finalist). However, you will be remembered for your personality, energy, class contributions, eccentricity (applicable to few) and most importantly how you treat others. 

2. You might not be able to make great friends with everyone because of various reasons but you can always maintain good relations. As Stephen Covey said friends are similar to “Emotional bank accounts” – The more you invest the more you can gain. This year you have limited time so choose your accounts well.

3. Having said that, if you maintain good relations with everyone you will have a known at basically every continent in the world (not sure if there are MBAs in Antarctica) when you graduate.

4. You might have few or many awkward conversations, because you don’t understand or can’t relate to the culture, the words and the accent of the other person. However, make the effort to engage and break the ice. These people will be your family for 2020.

On Jobs

1. Job Search is going to be easy, and uneventful for some while difficult, exhausting, and draining for others. You won’t know what category you belong to, so better start the efforts now and not wait until June or beyond.

2. One of the things that I wished I had done better was to talk to more people outside of my industry. Conducting informational interviews with people from different industries gives a chance to explore new things that might translate to future interests.

3. I used LinkedIn Premium A LOT! I got my job through LinkedIn. I recommend LinkedIn for InMails, job recommendations, and LinkedIn Learning Job Interview video series

4. The school network opens doors which were previously not accessible. Start early and talk to as many interesting people as possible. I understood what excites me or dulls me not from job descriptions or HR talks but simple conversations with different people.

5. Don’t forget that you have a previous professional and personal network. Make extensive use of everything at your disposal.

6. I favor taking the summers off unless you have an opportunity which can translate to a role in future. Sometimes interesting opportunities may only be open to work permit holders!

7. I found that the alumni to be quite responsive and helpful. I also learnt that it important to briefly introduce yourself and talk about your interests when connecting with them. What is a strict no-no is assuming that alum is obligated to help you!

On Extracurriculars

1. A lot of social bonding will happen over Friday night parties, house parties, MBAT, discovery expedition, and the spur-of-the-moment visits to Lacustre. Go for it!

2. Three books were always discussed in details on many occasions so might be useful to have a look:

  • “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
  • “How will you measure your life” by Clayton Christensen
  • “Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies” by McKinsey

3. Some of you are likely to get addicted to staying in the dungeons after a few months., Make sure you get out of that comfort zone. You can take a walk by the lake, explore the markets or go for one of the hikes (Highly recommend the app Komoot)

As I said, this is by no means an exhaustive list and neither did I intend it to be. Over this year, you will have your own unique experiences and I hope you make the most out of your stay here!

Wish you all the best,

Class of 2019

PS- Feel free to connect with me if you think I’m not all bonkers.

Snowshoeing in the mountains

A weekend spent getting to know each other in the fresh air of the Swiss alps with fondue and snowshoeing on the menu of activities.

This weekend, was a chance for everyone to get to know each other better whilst exploring and experiencing some typical Swiss culture.

On Saturday, the whole class set of for Villars, along with the MBA Office team. Situated in the north of the Swiss Alps, this is one of the closest ski stations to Geneva and Lausanne, and is a truly beautiful location.

A free afternoon gave everyone the opportunity to explore the area a bit before taking a privatised train up to a secluded mountain fondue restaurant.

For those of you who have never tasted fondue, it is basically a dish of melted cheese, into which you dip pieces of bread, best accompanied by white wine or hot tea. Tastes a lot better than it sounds!

Cheese Fondue

The next morning, breakfast at the hotel was followed by some snowshoeing. For some, this was their first experience of snow, but no matter the level of experience, it was a lovely day to be in the mountains and a fun way to round off the first week.

MBA Recruitment and Admissions

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2020! A new year, with new beginnings and another chance to make dreams come true.

This week, IMD will welcome our next group of MBA participants. Most of them have already begun to settle into their new appartments, and over the next few days will be setting up bank accounts and insurance, getting to know each other and the IMD community, and generally preparing for the year ahead.

Watch the Introduction Weeks video from last year, to get a feel for what’s in store for them:

We wish our participants, and all our readers, the very best for the year ahead and look forward to sharing the MBA 2020 journey with you.

MBA Recruitment and Admissions

The IMD MBA Blog 2019

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the blog this year – our writers for sharing their experiences with us, and our readers for following their story.

The campus is now quiet, the dungeons/study rooms are empty, and our MBA graduates are travelling to reunite with family and friends; to enjoy some well-earned relaxation time; or to settle into a new country before starting the next chapter of their career.

But a new buzz is stiring, as participants of the 2020 class enter the final preparation stage for their own IMD MBA journey.

I hope our 2019 graduates will keep in touch and let us know how they are getting on, and I look forward to learning more about our 2020 class, who will start sharing their journey next week.

To Surbhi, Helena, and Lukasz, to all of our guest writers and to the whole class of 2019 – it’s been a pleasure working with you.

To all of our readers – thank you for your support, for sharing, liking and commenting on posts – I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s MBA blog and will continue to follow us next year.

And to our incoming class – enjoy the next few weeks and end of year celebrations. I look forward to seeing you on campus in January and to reading about the 2020 MBA program through your eyes.


Congratulations, MBA class of 2019

The MBA graduation ceremony on Friday was heartwarming.

It is an honour each year to take part in the celebrations of 90 great people, people we have accompanied on their journey, starting from before their arrival on campus :

  • the investigation phase – “Is this the right program for me?”, “Do I have the right profile?”
  • the application phase – the written application, the GMAT, the TOEFL
  • the assessment day – individual assessments, group assessments, “Is this where I want to spend a year of my life?”, “Can IMD help me to achieve my dreams?”
  • the phone call – one of our favourite moments – “Hi XX, this is IMD … and we’re calling to make you an offer to join the next MBA class!”
  • preparation, preparation, preparation
  • the program start – a new dream coming true, a year full of possibilities ahead, new doors waiting to be opened and explored

It’s an intense program, so much to fit into one year. There are highs, there are lows. Bonds are formed, challenges overcome.

But all 90 made it. All 90 graduated. All 90 are ready for the next phase.

Watch some of the highlights from the 2019 MBA Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations once again to all of the graduates from the 2019 class – and keep in touch!


Final countdown to graduation

Yesterday, the MBAs had their last class together.

A moment of mixed emotions, as the elation at having completed the year combines with the wrench of realising that each classmate is about to embark on a new adventure, in all corners of the globe, and the close bonds formed over the past 11 months are about to be stretched to new limits.

But this is a time to celebrate. To acknowledge different achievements and contributions. So the day ended with champagne, with awards and recognitions, and with the MBA yearbook distribution.

Here’s a video of the celebration

and some photos…

Tomorrow is graduation day.

Congratulations to all of you, and looking forward to further celebrating with you.


Digital Analytics Lab Photo Overview

The focus of this week has been Digital Analytics, with the MBAs learning and applying various analytical and programming skills, including Python. Since Monday, each team has been competing to crack the different elements of a case, using and fine tuning their newly acquired coding skills. By Friday, they have to present their final findings. Which group will succeed first? Who will get the most accurate results? With final presentations due tomorrow morning, the atmosphere in the study rooms is very intense!