Navigating The Future – It’s a kind of magic

It’s a kind of magic A kind of magic One dream one soul one prize one goal One golden glance of what should be

It is on these notes of The Queen that, in my mind, the 2017 edition of Navigating The Future turns to the end. How was it possible that only one week ago we were in a remote monastery lost in the north of Italy, without even an internet connection, and then in four days we were delivering presentations at an unprecedented level of professionalism on global challenges and macro-regional issues that impact the development of the world and the life of hundreds of millions of people? How could it be possible? Continue reading “Navigating The Future – It’s a kind of magic”

Lifelong Learning from MBA alumnus

Aaron Wong, MBA 2006 and Malaysian Alumni Club President (2012-2017) wrote today’s guest entry including tips for the current participants.

It’s been 10 years since my MBA graduation, and walking down to the dungeons brought back memories of “fish on the table” chats (part of the leadership stream) and numerous nights finishing projects. Continue reading “Lifelong Learning from MBA alumnus”

Getting to know the Faculty

Today’s guest entry is written by one of our newer Faculty members, Jennifer Jordan. Jennifer is a social psychologist and is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD. This year she is teaching part of the MBA Leadership stream along with Professor Anand Narasimhan.

After almost 11 months at IMD, I can look back with some fondness – as well as struggles.

The greatest parts of being part of this institution is the cool experiences you get to have and the great people you get to develop relationships with. In a relatively short period of time, I have visited several countries for the first time – including Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Denmark. But I have also been fortunate to start this wonderful journey with four other awesome colleagues and professors – Jay, Knut, Ina, and Stéphane.

As probably all the MBAs can relate to, it is SO MUCH EASIER AND MORE FUN to go through challenging experiences with others. And each of my new colleagues brings something different to the group and my appreciation for them. Jay and I have a similar background in social psychology, so we “speak the same language” when it comes to leadership. And as a true whipper-snapper in negotiations, I also have so much to learn from Jay in this area (not to mention that he is just a super duper fellow!).

With a background as partner at BCG, Knut has been such a valuable colleague in terms of learning about client engagement and adding value for the client. We have also started putting together some material to stretch his strategy concept on Exploration-Exploitation into the personal leadership domain.

As for Ina, I am so grateful to have her as a colleague. Not only is she extremely smart and competent at what she does (I learn so much from her!) – but she is just an overall great person. We have become true friends, which is priceless to me.

And last but not least Stephan. Coming from such a cool background – both professionally and personally (French and Italian origins!), I have really learned a lot about the luxury industry from him and was reminded of his strategic expertise and insight during a recent client visit with him to Italy.

While the pace of this place is completely insane and often times tests my patience and resolve, the great experiences and people I have met in my last 11 months make all the struggles truly worth it.

My philosophy around teaching MBAs is really to just engage in a guided dialog. I have learned that as long as you constantly keep in mind the overall objectives that you want to convey during the session, letting the audience guide the discussion can often lead to the richest take-aways for the group – as the outcomes are most meaningful for them. And I truly love to teach, which I hope comes through in my work!

I have included a photo of one of my favorite memories with my fellow IMD newbies. The five of us got to spend an evening and day at beautiful Chateauform in Champery.

IMD Champery



Change is just one decision away

Today’s guest entry offers some advice to our participants from one of our 2016 graduates, Patrick DeCaro, Swiss/German/American.

The first part of the MBA is already coming to an end. You might not know it or realize it yet, but you have changed. Being around 90 people from different backgrounds with so varied life paths and being exposed to top notch professor tends to have that effect. And that is actually what you came to IMD for: to change.

But now your minds are focused on the first set of exams. You are trying to find all the notes from all the classes. You are stomping around ranting that you aren’t a finance person, or an accountant or that you don’t want to do operations in your life. You are putting in all the hours that you should have already but didn’t because you were working on other things that were asked of you. But don’t worry, it’s not about all that.

What you don’t know is that IMD digs deep into your soul and messes with all the things you think you know about yourself. It rearranges things in ways that you don’t fully comprehend. The exams are just another tool IMD uses for this. You work with your colleagues, spend sleepless nights, drink numerous coffees, ask for last minute advice and help here and there… Guess what? That is the point! Obviously, you must pass the exams. But you will remember the preparation, the way you all managed a certain question and failed another. The bond between you all is growing. That’s the first point.

For more concrete advice, this is what I believe: like any pile of problems, take one at a time instead of looking at the whole pile. The same applies here: take each exam one at a time. There are several rounds in a fight. Each one is as important as the next. Give each round your all, and you will be victorious and get your hand raised in the end. Obviously, getting enough sleep and eating well is also fundamental to be able to think correctly. A breath of fresh air is also appreciated from time to time. All in all, don’t worry too much, it will be all good. It’s going to be OK!

Besides creating a new network of exceptional people, IMD has a second point. It asks a question to each one of its participants. Listen. Do you hear the question? Listen again. The question is the following: Who are you? Obviously, Ralf will tell you all about the metaphysical and philosophical aspects of such a fundamental question and but only you, yourself, can try to answer it.

Being around different people with different values, different goals, different points of view is a way for you to confront yourself on your own stances. What do I actually value? What is important to me? What are my priorities and why? Less than a week ago, my fiancée’s 36-year-old brother passed away in a car accident. No one was prepared for this devastating news. The flow of emotions is still endless. It jumps from anger, to sadness, to numbness and even fear.

But here is another spin on things. Her brother was a free spirit. He didn’t abide to imposed rules, to the etiquette of “this is what is done”. He moved along in life as he knew was right for him. Sometimes, though, this brought strife and conflict with his loved ones, but it was his path, no matter how unconventional it was. It was right for him. He did not have a differed life plan. His plan was to live life. And that is what he did until the very last spark of life. Through his passing, he shares his way of life and inspires the hundreds of people that remember him, that he touched with his kindness, his smile, his laughter, his bad jokes and much much more.

Life can end from one second to the next; it really can. Ask yourself the IMD question: who are you?

What job would make me happy? What do I love to do? Who do I love being around? What or who do I want to be? And what or who not? Am I happy? Why or why not? And how do I get there?

These are in my opinion the fundamental questions that you have time to explore during your year at IMD. Intellectual and emotional sparring partners surround you daily. Use them to dig deep into yourself, to find the answers, your answers. No matter what the answers are, it’s OK. They will be the guide, the moral compass, that you need to make sure that you are going in the right direction, your right direction.

IMD Leadership is just that. It’s about giving you the tools you need to become a more whole version of yourself. Hard knowledge is just a small piece of the puzzle. The soft skills that you are exposed to is what really makes the difference in life. It’s not about the information you receive. It’s about how you deliver that information in any given situation to any given person. It’s more about the how, rather than the what. That is what you start learning at IMD.

I believe this is all true while writing your CV’s, during your quest for a CEP, during your hunt for that perfect job. Stay true to yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. You are all different in a unique way!

And if you realize that you aren’t facing in the direction that is aligned with who you are or you strive to be, always remember the following: change is just one decision away…