And it hasn't even started yet …

The pace picks up for the second opening week of the MBA program, with the official start just a few days away.

“You have all been admitted to one of the most selective programs in the world. You have been hand picked among the best in your fields, because you are the best in your fields. Maybe nobody said that to you before, but we will. And we’ll make sure you remember. You’ll go through an intense and innovative program that will change you for life. It is pretty much like table tennis, no matter what they throw at you, you will return.”

Professor Seán Meehan, Dean of the MBA Program, welcoming our class

This is how it started. This is how we were received. And it is for real. You have the best facilities, you have support, you receive all the required tools, backpacks, material and … infinite coffee, tea, chocolate … you pick your preference – and amazing lunch. Did I mention the fruit?

It is almost like you are spoiled, yet, if IMD is composed by spoiling smiley parents, they manage to keep you aware of your reality with pre-program assignments, information, assignments, requirements … And they keep coming. In a speed that is unstoppable and overwhelming. Timing by the second, you miss something, and it is gone. Keep in mind: it has been three days of introduction classes. “Wonder if we can manage to keep our relations of outside the school” one of my colleagues said to me, seconds after I realized I had not yet responded to my mother’s message from Friday (this was on a Sunday).

You can see the smiles on the faces of the professors coming in for the first time, “It is always so nice to teach the first classes” they say, “It is always nice to see this stamina and energy” they say.

This is just the beginning; this is just the easy part. Shaking hands, hellos and where you come from. Hopes and fears. Scratching the surface of our personalities. The layers are yet to be pealed. The leaders are yet to manifest. Relationships will get deeper, probably stress out. And recover …

We have no idea how this is going to roll out. We have no idea how the year is really going to be. We don’t know, IMD doesn’t know. Each class of 90 has their own personality. We have ours, #IMDMighty90. We are different from the start, the class of 90 with 89. What we know for sure is: the balls will keep coming, with 178 arms to throw them back.

The Opening Dinner

André Garcia

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

Where a mouse click can take you

The start of the MBA program, from headhunting to headhunted.

The gospel famously proclaimed that “in the beginning was the Word”. In the very similar fashion, my MBA journey began with a click. Eight months ago, I clicked the “Submit” button. Today, I shook hands with some of the most impressive individuals I have ever met, as we were warmly welcomed to the IMD MBA program, Class of 2020. What started as an aspiration, became a reality. It is remarkable how easy it is to start moving towards your dream. Sometimes, you merely need to click the button…

My dream was to change the course and pace of my career. I was working in executive search, helping organizations identify and attract senior executive leadership. Right executive leadership is one of the most important (if not THE most important) assets any company can have. This lasted a few years, until one day I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool if I were the one to receive a call? I, too, want to be called out of the blue and be presented with a “great career opportunity”! Instead of headhunting, I wanted to be headhunted. And the way to propel my career forward was to go to business school. The question was which one.

I have read about and interacted with enough senior executives to understand that technical and functional skills are not enough to be a great leader today. Attributes that distinguish great leaders are curiosity, agility, and team leadership. It was clear to me that I needed a business school that will not only teach me how to become a Case-cracker through the symphony of balance sheet music and Framework Orchestra. I needed a place where I will be challenged to reveal and develop my personal leadership qualities. Thus, IMD was a natural choice. The school was founded by executives to produce the next generation of leaders and has kept this ethos through the decades.

Eight months ago, I clicked “Submit” and asked IMD to help me get closer to my dream. Today, Dean Sean Meehan, the faculty, the staff, and 88 fellow MBA candidates replied in unison: “Welcome! You are now closer to your dream. Now let’s make it a reality”.

Yaroslav Ivanov

The day has arrived, the class is complete

Arriving in Lausanne, the first days, admin bonding and getting ready…

British writer Alan Watts once said,

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance!”

Bienvenue a Lausanne!

In true South African style, my fiance and I decided that it was not enough merely to move to Switzerland – we needed to make a holiday out of it as well. After spending a magical four days in Amsterdam, it was finally time to board the train for my ultimate destination and home for the next year to come – Lausanne. We arrived at Lausanne Gare on Monday, 6th January 2020, one of the later arrivals of the Mighty Ninety group. With the generous assistance of my new roommate, Dennis, we made our way through the pristine streets of Lausanne, my life packed into two enormous and heavy suitcases. As I pushed open the door to our new top-floor apartment, I breathed a sigh of relief (not least of all because I was finally rid of the 40 kg of luggage I had been hauling intercontinentally) – the time was finally here!

First things first – recycling. I am ashamed to say that in South Africa we fall entirely short in this regard. Although some people do recycle, it is far from being a national priority. The intricate Swiss system of strict separation and prompt disposal has truly impressed me. Since my arrival there have been a few occassions when I have stood haplessly in the middle of a room, trying to decide how to correctly dispose of my purple coloured semi-plastic sweet wrapper with its paper thin inner layer.

Another eye-opener was my trip to the grocery store. I guess it will be a high-vegetarian, low-carnivore diet for the next year, I thought as I glanced furtively at the unaffordable loin chops in the centre of the display cabinet. A visit to La Poste was next as I posted an urgent package to Zurich. Imagine my surprise when I was told that it would arrive early the following day (a feat unimaginable by South African post office standards).  All-in-all, a good first day in Switzerland.

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation I stepped onto campus on the morning of 7th January for our first day of orientation. What would it be like? Would I rise up to the challenges ahead of me? How would I remember everyone’s names? The day passed amidst a flurry of housing and insurance presentations, posing for professional photographs (tilt this way, smile, no teeth please, look serious, no not so much, move your face … no not like that). The university was abuzz with excited chatter – which “snowpants” to purchase for the weekend’s getaway, which cellphone company to choose, where the nearest Decathlon was situated …

A few hours later, as the sun streamed through the glass windows during our lunchbreak in the picturesque IMD canteen I marvelled at the sheer talent and expertise around me. How privileged am I to be sitting here, in this beautiful environment, surrounded by the most diverse group of professionals imaginable, all enjoying a delicious lunch with our loved ones by our side and ready to embark on the journey of our lives. I can’t wait! The bonding and fun has started and the WORK is about to start!

Can I just say another shoutout to the IMD team! The classroom is ready for us and here we go!


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!