One Year at IMD: it’s all about us and about all of us

Admission to IMD was an unexpected ticket for our family. We used the last deadline to submit our application last year, so had no time for fears.

We married in February 2015, our son Anton was born in January 2018, and my husband, Alexander, moved to Lausanne for his MBA in January 2019, just before Anton’s first birthday party.

Us in Moscow, last year

I was on the way to visit my parents near Moscow. I still needed more time to think and realize what had happened to us. I was sure Alex had got a lucky ticket for his career, but had no idea what was in that year for me.

I am a careerist and a successful journalist in Moscow, Russia. We had been enjoying a very smart life here, but now my comfortable and predictable life was under threat.

I am not a woman who follows, but it was impossible to work full time in Moscow with a baby. Finally, I decided to live in both countries – that was my safe step. And I came to Lausanne in February.

Here are some conclusions from my experience

  • IMD year is a great challenge for relationships. If you manage you become stronger. The main thing for me was to get freedom to stay in Moscow, the main thing for Alex – freedom to go to Lausanne. This trust to be free has made us closer.
  • This has been a good opportunity to reconsider our values. The price of the year is comparable with the price for a nice apartment in Moscow – considered the biggest asset in life by most people in Russia.
  • Now I value my husband and all our relatives much more. We used to live rather independently. This year I’m getting a lot of help from our relatives and have realised how great it is to have support.
  • I am learning a lot about my personality. I have gone a great way from unconscious fear to self confidence and inner freedom. I have become stronger and wiser. I am coping and learning to be open-minded like the MBA-participants.
  • This summer I have started new projects for which I did not have enough energy before, and am returning to Moscow motivated for new experiences.
  • I am still not a woman who follows, but I am really proud of Alex and of being his partner and am sure that we can both develop ourselves.
Anton and I at one of the IMD MBA Partner lunches

So if your partner enters IMD, it’s not only their MBA. It’s an MBA year for all of you – partners and relatives. IMD is all about us as it changes and motivates all of us.

Anna Chukseeva

Summertime is reflection time

Yes, summer break has finally arrived! In fact we have been enjoying the break for a week already, but it takes (or it took me) a few days to slow down and shift gears. Now, far away from Lausanne, I spend my days reconnecting with family, reading books, sleeping and … reflecting. Yes, summertime is a well-known IMD MBA reflection time too.

It is seven days since we came back from the discovery expedition and I sit down to think through what this experience means to me, what I have seen. But do not worry – my colleagues described the highlights so well already that I will not repeat it all over again! Instead, let me share few observations with you.

Key success factors. Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, Dublin – all three seem to be very different, yet I think there is a common foundation of their success – each location created its own, very favourable environment for innovation and the growth of the tech industry.

  • Silicon Valley profits from the availability of talent from top technical universities (Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA) along with a legal framework that does not allow anti-competitive clauses.
  • In Shenzhen, the friendly and supportive (also financially) local government created liberal conditions for tech investment.
  • Finally, Dublin benefits from the stable and long-term investment policy of the central government that keeps low and stable corporate taxation along with free technical education to encourage the flow of FDI into Ireland.

None of the tech hubs was born overnight. It took years to reach the current state of development, but their examples show how powerful and difficult to copy a solid, long-term strategy and development could be.

Key ‘failure’ factors. Interestingly, all three hubs are plagued with the same challenge – rapidly raising real estate prices and living costs. With costs of living comparable to the most expensive financial centres of the world, not only locals, but also incoming tech talents find it challenging to finance a decent living standard – a situation that can become a key threat to further growth if it is not resolved in time.

Culture and mindset. Thinking about differences among the tech hubs, culture and mindset came to my mind as the biggest, single difference among them, especially between Silicon Valley and Shenzhen. I am European – born and raised in the Western culture, I have seen and heard the Silicon Valley mantras of taking risks, trying things and failing fast, being ready for the next challenge. And these concepts equally apply to Shenzhen. What I found different, however, is the approach towards sharing ideas and taking real life application to the next level.

What I saw in the U.S. are people who speak about their ideas as loudly as possible, trying to validate their thinking before investing much time and effort into development. Having talked with entrepreneurs in China, I think the things work differently there – you keep your head low, work hard and fast to develop your idea, hoping to get ahead of the fierce competition that will put an enormous pressure on you the second you start getting attention. Limited IP protection and the general readiness to immediately copycat solutions can, at least partially, explain the different approach in China.

On the other hand, Chinese entrepreneurs are willing to, and can, put their ideas into action much faster and deeper than their colleagues in the West, especially in heavily regulated areas such as e.g. healthcare. Let’s take as an example the AI-supported decision tools that in the West are mainly in the testing stage. In China they are already applied across multiple large hospitals, allowing for collection of real world data and further development and adjustments of the solutions at a pace that more conservative legal frameworks of the West do not allow for.

The race to become the next technological leader of the world has already begun. Who will be the next leader? Or perhaps we will not have a clear leader anymore? I do not know the answer, yet I strongly believe that cultural and legal aspects will play a significant role in the game with East and West having its strengths and its weaknesses when it comes to technological advancement.

Luckily, I have a few more days of the summer break to reflect further on it before the next marathon starts…

Lukasz

Summer postcards begin!

Now that the Discovery Expedition has reached its end, our MBAs are ready to enjoy a well-deserved break!

Over the next few weeks they will be traveling the world to visit family and friends; explore career opportunities and network; relax, sightsee or try out new activities. As usual, they seem determined to make the most of every second, and will be sharing blog / instagram postcards with us to share their various summertime adventures.

Here is the first one:

Visited the flavor and fragrance company, Givaudan in Geneva, with 11 of my classmatese today – a chance to engage our senses!

Have a nice summer!

Jia Song

Discovery Expedition Part 3 – Dublin!

The last stop of our Discovery Expedition was by no means the least one. After another 13+ hours flight, Dublin greeted us with a wonderful weather only seen few days a year. After the experiences in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen, I was wondering how Dublin was going to surprise us and I am glad to say it did not disappoint.

I could write a lot about every company we visit and every speaker we had, from Mike Beary, AWS Country Manager, who told us about the importance of storytelling when doing your presentation, or Shay Power, from IDA the Irish Industrial Development Agency, who told us the history of Ireland’s growing economy, or our visit to Accenture, Facebook and Citi, but it would not do justice to the visits, plus it is impossible to cover everything from just my point of view.

What I want to share in this post are some of the things that made an impact on me:

Gary McGann on entrepreneurs: this year at IMD has been all about learning about entrepreneurs: the ideas, the drive, the effort it takes to make it to the other side. We got a chance to meet entrepreneurs here in Switzerland via our start-up project, and also during this trip in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and forms and there is no magic recipe for success. What Gary said that resonated with me was that a good entrepreneur will need a wing man that keeps them out of trouble. He also talked about the need to have equal amounts of fear and courage.

Accenture on what the post-digital era will look like: Accenture visit was filled with great presentations that included banking, the forces shaping the changes in the world, and their work with non-profits to drive users to make positive choices. My personal favourite was the presentation on the tech trends are creating the foundation for the post-digital era where we saw five trends they believe we need to keep an eye on. You can read more about it here

Tiernan Brady on how to make change happen: Tiernan talked to us about how he successfully led the campaign for marriage equality in Ireland and Australia. Even though his experience was on “getting the majority to vote for the rights of a minority” I personally found his message applicable to all our future careers as business leaders. He talked about the importance of showing respect even when you don’t agree on the ideology and how the world is too quick to decide who you are and the way you deliver your message is as important as the message itself. We were happy to learn that on the same the Dublin Pride Parade was happening and some of us managed to join to show the support for diversity and inclusiveness.

Overall an extraordinary experience, with fully packed days and a lot of ideas to open our minds to the realities of the world. Professor John Walsh and our program Dean Sean Meehan put together an incredible agenda for us. I cannot close this post without thanking the MBA team that supported us through the whole two weeks: Gitte-Marie, Gyopi and Sandeep: you guys are rock starts! It takes a lot of planning and patience to carry 90 people around the world and keep us on our toes, thank you for all your help and support!

Now we are all getting ready for a much needed break and hoping the next four weeks don’t go by as fast as the last six months have!

Helena