Keep Calm, and Embrace the Chaos

What happens when you hurtle ahead from January through June at breakneck speed, and then suddenly pull those screeching brakes?

You catch up on your “do-absolutely-nothing” debt.

During glorious July, the much-needed month off in the IMD MBA program, I, and most of the class, purposefully did nothing of obvious value, unless you consider puttering around the house and meandering through glistening malls, frigid with air conditioning, in the middle of a desert nation, productive. I do. My best ideas arise in sloth.

IMG_0389.JPGSea view from the Arabian Gulf on a hot, lazy day in Dubai

And now we are back in lovely, sunkissed Lausanne. Whizzing through Finance, Negotiations, Structured Thinking, and most recently, Leadership sessions on distinguishing between truth and lies. With my peers, Takashi and Jia, I’ll be doing project work with IMD alumni looking to bring precision agriculture to East Africa. Plus, International Consulting Project (ICP) prep is underway. Also, recruiting is officially ramping up! In just two weeks!

I blocked this weekend for quiet time, hoping that if nothing else, I can assimilate in my mind the learnings of early August. And yes, we learned loads about valuation from Professor Arturo Bris, honed our negotiation skills with Professor Sam Abadir, pushed our logic and structuring capabilities with Professor Arnaud Chevallier, discussed culture and strategy with Professor Ina Toegel, and took on the beast that is “difficult conversations” with Professor Jennifer Jordan.

This immense trove of knowledge is valuable when we are in the right state to use it. An overarching lesson is the acceptance of uncontrollable factors. You can read and test as many frameworks as you like, test a million scenarios and have all manner of analytics and research at your disposal. The outcome of it all, our efforts, the risks we take, remains unknown. And maybe being at peace with darkness is an answer. Maybe as we cross the chasm, from being frantic about output versus serene and focused on the process, we evolve from our former selves to impactful leaders. So, there is power in just this, being okay with the unknown.

IMG_9654.jpegLac Léman tranquility

Whether we look at the time value of money, understanding our position versus who we are negotiating with, grasping the emotions behind the misgivings of a disgruntled colleague, or structuring options to approach an abstract problem, the present moment is all that matters. The past can cloud judgment, in finance and feelings, and the future sits on so many variables beyond our influence. Suddenly the concept of mindfulness doesn’t seem as restricted to yoga-studio, crunchy granola stereotypes as it previously did. It applies to our everyday dealings, especially in business.

I am grateful to our wonderful Sports Committee for organizing yoga classes. Simple things like deep breathing and self-awareness are gold when navigating the rest of this program, which has made a marked shift from the first academically focused half, to now, when we’re practicing cases and feverishly writing cover letters.

One thing is for sure, I will schedule “aimless time” on a weekly basis, even if for a few minutes. Because when the world is still and your calendar isn’t pinging in nagging anticipation for your next commitment, you can reconnect with the person who brought you here in the first place, “pre-IMD you”. You can remember her dreams, recharge, and redirect your efforts, so that, in spite of the unpredictable nature of all things external, you can be sure of one thing, your sense of self.

Signing off with this tribute to Toni Morrison, the first African-American writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, who passed on last week.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking about a generation

Making generalizations about an entire generation is a perilous exercise. Stereotypes are not helpful! That being said, for employers, cracking the Millenial code is essential to recruiting – and retaining – new talent.

This week, a panel of five MBAs had a lively dialogue with the participants of the IMD Transformation Summit, an event for Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs). What better way to dispel stereotypes than to bring generations together in the same room?

Here were some of the hot button topics in this week’s discussion of Millenials in the workplace: Bosses, job offers, patience, purpose, ambition and loyalty.

What is your idea of a good boss?

  • Someone who creates a mentoring and coaching relationship. Someone who explains the “why.”
  • Authentic, honest about the pros and cons of the company and the role I am being recruited for. During the job interview process, it’s important to create trust. It should be a dual exchange and not just being evaluated on a checklist.

What would make you reject an employment proposal?

  • A lack of transparency in terms of where and when decisions get made in the company.
    There has to be fairness and also recognition.
  • It’s about mindset. I love to challenge the status quo. I like smaller brands, not a big, successful company.
  • It’s essential to have responsibility and room to manoeuvre. I need space and safety to develop ideas.
  • I need to feel a passion for what I do, passion for the product.

How long are you willing to wait until you get to the leadership role you’re aiming for (whatever your ambition is in terms of the level of leadership role)?

  • I’m flexible, as long as I can keep growing. It’s about assembling building blocks for the future. I’m looking for a role where I’m completely utilized, where my talents are used.

What big thing would you change in the business world?

  • Short-termism. When you have profit targets, going quarter to quarter limits your options.

Millenials are perceived as being less loyal to the companies they work for and more likely to move around a lot. Is this true? How do you see loyalty?

  • I’m loyal to my co-workers and my boss, but with the company it’s a contract.

What are you looking for in terms of work-life balance and job evolution?

  • A more fluid and flexible schedule: if my task, output and time frame are clear, it makes sense for me to organize myself in the way that suits me best to deliver.
  • I’d like the possibility to move in 3D (industry, geography, function) and to have transversal roles.

Imagine we are a company undergoing a transformation from a traditional and hierarchical organization to a new model. How do we retain you though this process? Inspire you?

  • Show me that there is light at the end of the tunnel: create a career plan for me, map the steps clearly.
  • Be honest and open about the realities of the transformation.
  • Seeing progress is important – even small progress. Show the plan for change. Demonstrate that you’re implementing feedback.
  • The company has to make sure the flame is still there!

Chairing the discussion was Jennifer Jordan, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour. To frame the discussion, Professor Jordan gave an overview of the unique characteristics of Millenials (see Cracking the Millenial Code). For example, Millenials are the first generation brought up with a child-focussed and emotional style that arose from 1960s counter-culture. They are also the first to grow up in a rich media environment offering complex and non-linear computer games. Values also differ: when asked to choose an object that represents freedom to them, Baby Boomers choose the car whereas Millenials choose the mobile phone, closely followed by sneakers!

Anouk Lavoie
IMD Research Associate

“It was very beneficial to be part of the panel as I had the opportunity to debate what the main challenges are that companies have attracting Millennial talent. I felt that companies have this matter on the top of their agenda, and are striving to create environments where Millennials can have a meaningful career.”

David Ruiz
IMD MBA 2018 Candidate

IMD hosts the Global Talent Forum for MBAs

It is said that “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”. And yesterday’s IMD MBA Global Talent Forum provided the same chance. We welcomed a variety of potential recruiters to campus and it was a platform for us to shine, network and demonstrate what we MBAs can bring to a company. Continue reading “IMD hosts the Global Talent Forum for MBAs”

2018 MBA recruiting season speeds up

A note of encouragement from the Career Services team as our MBAs dive into peak interview time!

Dear 2018 MBAs,

Finally, the time has come for you to go out and impress companies around the world.

Over the next two weeks you will be dedicating your time to meet, interview and network with your target companies, whether on-campus or across the globe, depending on your individual post-MBA goals.

Some of you are travelling to remote locations to continue your research and connect with key contacts, while others will remain with us in Lausanne, participating in the on-campus interviews and our Global Talent Forum.

There will be a variety of companies coming on campus, representing some of the most attractive industries for MBA recruitment, such as consulting, technology, pharma, industrial products, FMCG. They range from large corporations to start-ups.

Since the beginning of the year, and even before you arrived to IMD, you have been preparing for this moment. You have followed the career services stream, with seminars and workshops tailored to polish and sharpen your skills in order to impress recruiters and showcase your value. Guided by your coaches, alumni mentors, faculty, and our team, you have gone through in depth self-assessment, with the purpose of understanding your deepest motivations and deciding where you want this MBA to take you. Now you are ready for the next stage.

We know that your career journey is long and at times challenging, we feel proud to accompany you in this laborious yet exciting path.

Good luck!

Your Career Services Team

The Pursuit of Happiness…

… is an uphill battle.                                                                                                         

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Lac Lioson, one of my favorite hikes in the area.

When I moved to Switzerland for my MBA almost a year ago I had one thing in mind: this year was going to be some hike, tough, exhausting, but ultimately would lead me somewhere amazing. On the more practical side I had one objective: to change my career and have a fun job in the corporate world by 2019.

But, as with every hike, the path is not always what you thought it would be.

During the last months through the many traditional business streams and the not so traditional ones, my year delineated itself in a broader search for meaning. What is it that drives me? What is it that I want? Why am I even doing this to myself? And as my hike turned into a climb, the challenges turned out to be much bigger than I had predicted.

Every person that hikes regularly has faced that one time when you started your walk and you had the eyes on the peak, but as you came closer to your goal you realized that there was still a whole lot of mountain to climb, and what you thought was the peak turned out to be just a stop on the way.

At this time of the year that’s pretty much where a lot of us in the class are. We have started receiving our first job interview invitations – and rejections; we have started case prepping, had our first mock interviews, and got grilled on them. We’re sanity checking our expectations and reflecting on how realistic they are on the short and long term. So let me tell you one secret, reality is one tough lady. And she’s knocking at the door.

We have also started to face the fact that (surprise! surprise!) employers have needs, and that if we want to be successful at this game, we need to reconcile a lot of variables. What is it that this company needs? What can I offer? How does that fit in my broader search for meaning and happiness?

So emotions are running high, everybody is at the edge of their seats, waiting for something to happen. And how do you navigate that? How do you deal with the realization that you still might have to put in a lot of hard work, a lot of time, that there’s still so much to climb?

Personally, I rely on friends and the solace that they bring when they say: “this is happening to me as well”. And then I take a step back, one deep breath and I look back and see how far I’ve come and that gives me the energy to focus on the next 10 meters of the climb…

Joyce

P.S.: If you want to understand why I went into this journey take a look at this post from 2017.