The MBA alumni network: a glimpse of an inspirational and effective community

One of the reasons I chose the IMD MBA was its strong, active, and supportive alumni network. I am convinced that such a network will be invaluable both for my career and for my private life, providing an open platform to exchange challenges, experiences and ideas in an informal way. Therefore, I was looking forward to the on-campus reunion last Friday, when our class met MBA alumni from the last few years here in Lausanne.

Let me first share a few words about the IMD alumni community, which is structured around three axis: clubs (50 clubs with 230+ events per year), program communities (e.g. the MBA community), and expert communities (8 chapters with 37+ events per year). Expert communities include the Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), which organizes events to connect IMD MBAs with entrepreneurs. A number of my MBA colleagues have already participated in these events this year.

Last Friday was one of the yearly reunions of the MBA community. Not only a chance for the recent graduates, who have spent an intense and possibly life-changing year together, to reconnect, but also an opportunity for the 2019 class to interact with a large crowd of MBA alumni in an informal and friendly atmosphere. I was impressed by the number of people who came to Lausanne and attended the event, which proved that the spirit of sharing and networking from the MBA is alive far beyond this one year.

I personally enjoyed many insightful and fun conversations with alumni from all kinds of industries. Whether they are currently in senior roles at Nestlé, Roche, or Honeywell, all of them were curious about our year as well as enthusiastic to offer their support and share their experiences with me. For instance, I got to know Georg from 2017, who directly introduced me to one of the alumnae of 2016, who works in an area that is highly interesting to me.

Similarly, my classmate Tamil spoke to Roy from 2016 who, after he understood her background and interests, introduced her to various relevant people from the MBA alumni network. She was extremely glad the event took place at this point in time, as it helps us prepare for the job search by understanding companies’ challenges better and what they may be looking for.

I only regret that I did not manage to talk with all the people I really wanted to. One of my classmates suggested VR-enabled networking, so I’d be able to better navigate the crowd – in the sea of alumni it was not always easy to quickly find out who is who.

Overall, the first encounter with the IMD MBA community exceeded my expectations; the people’s curiosity, openness, and support, was outstanding. I am proud that our Magic 90 will be part of this powerful community by the end of this year, and I already look forward to meeting the IMD MBA class of 2020 in one year’s time 🙂

Daniel Leutenegger

Leonard

28th November 2008 

Martin Schmidt, German, is the author of today’s diary entry. He shares with us his experience and pleasure of having become a father whilst completing his MBA at IMD.

What were you guys doing last January?“ This was the question that Benoit Leleux, our Program Director, asked after congratulating me on the birth of my son Leonard. With three “MBA babies” born in October, this was indeed a fair question to ask. So if next year’s MBA program gets even more demanding and stressful during its first month, I fear I might be partly to blame.

That said, the support we had from the IMD community was fantastic. Mareike, my partner, moved to Lausanne when she was already six months pregnant, and without the help of IMD staff, other participants and partners, things would have been a lot more difficult.

I know that some Diary readers are prospective MBAs who may be considering starting a family during their time at IMD. Having gone through the experience myself, I can wholeheartedly recommend it, so let me try to resolve some of your doubts*:

  • You think that becoming a father while doing an MBA adds more stress to an already stressful period of your life? Maybe so, but the joy that a baby can bring by far outweighs everything else. It also puts things into perspective: The company you’ve just applied to announces mass redundancies and experiences a 50% drop in its share price? Things like that do not seem to matter so much if you have a wonderful little baby son waiting for you at home.
  • You are worried about your wife giving birth in a foreign country? I had my doubts too, but as it turned out, hospital staff in Lausanne are very much used to catering to an international clientele. Also, language was much less of an issue than I expected: Most doctors and many midwives speak perfect English, and in any case, during birth language becomes secondary; in fact, if you understand the French verbs “pousser” [push] and “souffler” [breathe], you have already covered 90% of the required vocabulary.
  • You fear that you will be the odd one out as an IMD father? The following picture, showing only the parents with babies that were born during the year, should prove you wrong:

Looking at this picture now, I can’t believe how much Leonard [the one in the front, dressed in light blue] has grown already! But before I start boring my audience with stories about all the little miracles Leonard performs already [he just started smiling], I will stop writing and spend some more time with our son…

Good night to you all,

Martin

*I don’t want to be sexist, but I’m afraid my advice applies only to male participants – for obvious reasons, things would be a little different for female participants.

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.

Parth

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

Anna’s intake on women in leadership

 

Anna is an executive leadership coach for women. Originally from New Zealand, she holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and started her career in HR at Shell in both European and Global roles. She graduated from IMD in 2007 and was recipient of the Award for the best all-round female. Following her MBA she joined Mars Chocolate in the UK and worked in a range of senior sales & marketing roles, most recently as their Commercial Strategy Director. She now combines her psychological insight with her commerciality as an executive coach, inspiring women at all career stages to achieve their potential at work. She lives in London with her husband and is a Mum to three very energetic boys.Anna_2007 Continue reading “Anna’s intake on women in leadership”

Reflections

Catherine Kulley, MBA 2008 graduate and blog writer, is today’s guest writer, celebrating a 10 year blog anniversary!

It’s been 10 years since I wrote this and thinking about what’s happened since is tremendous…  the world is a very different place with the best and worst of humanity on display regularly; my family happily grew and sadly shrank; my “home” country changed 3 times and my career took several unexpected twists and turns.  The one common thing, however, is what I learned in my year at IMD.  Continue reading “Reflections”