The most emotional day of the year

This last week is the new beginning of my life-long MBA journey.

6th Dec 2017                   Cloudy                         Very cold                            Lausanne

Yik Long Lee writes today’s guest entry, with graduation just around the corner.

My feelings are mixed: I want to go back to Hong Kong and I also want to stay here a bit longer.

In Hong Kong, Christmas and New Year parties are waiting for me, and my family, friends and colleagues are there too – I haven’t seen them much this year and I miss them a lot.

In Lausanne, my classmates and I are witnessing the end of the program together. The strong bonds we have developed throughout the year make me want to stay here with them for a bit longer.

2016 Summer
The whole journey started with the intensive assessment day in Lausanne. I was well prepared for most of the questions, except one. Suzy asked me: “How are you going to contribute to the class of 2017 if we admit you?”

My mind was blank for a second. Then I said I would share my 8-year experience working in Swiss banks and support classmates who needed it in Economics, Accounting and Finance.

Looking back, I think I did what I said. I was glad when some of my classmates told me how they appreciated the time we spent studying together. We passed the Finance exams together. I did not expect any reward, other than my happy feelings for them, so it was a complete surprise to receive the MBA prize of the Fondation Vaudoise pour la Formation Bancaire yesterday evening. I feel thankful and honored.


Our MBA Program Director, Professor Boscheck, taught us not only Economics but also values and principles. In the business and professional world, it’s not all about profit and money. We should have a higher purpose and “do something good for our society”! So I have decided to donate the whole prize to charity. Some of our classmates have been really helpful and have already suggested a few charities to donate to.

An end? No, it’s a new beginning!
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour Professor George Kohlrieser was with us today for the final session to our MBA.

We explored how we have changed, gained confidence and self-awareness. My self-confidence now comes from inside: my energy, positive mindset and values, but not external recognition and past achievements. I have also learnt more empathy when working in multi-cultural teams. For all of this, I want to thank my start-up group members and my psychoanalyst who gave me challenging moments, learning opportunities and emotional support. The first 3-month start-up project was the most intense part for me, and also the most fruitful part.




We watched the video of Derek Redmond, who snapped his hamstring during the 400m race in the Barcenola Olympics Games in 1992, but insisted on finishing the race. His father broke through the security line to finish the race with him. I was deeply touched and my tears could not stop. It was a powerful example of what we have learnt this year: a secure base “provides a sense of protection and offers a source of energy and inspiration to explore, take risks and seek changes”.


We looked back with gratitude at the support we have received from each other, for example public speaking training or emotional support during family or partner situations. This has really made us feel not just like a class, but indeed like a family!

The quote I like the most from today was:

I only remember good memories. And no matter if we meet each other in the future or not, you are going to carry me and I am going to carry you for the rest of our lives.

For me, life is a journey but not a destination. It’s a train heading to an uncertain future. With my happy tears while writing, I am thankful that you all are on my train in 2017. Now we are approaching a stop, this Friday, our graduation. And it’s fine, because I believe that it’s not an end but a new beginning of our journey!

Yik Long

p.s. My wife and I welcome you all to come to Hong Kong to visit us!

Continua a muoverti

Two months have passed since my last entry here. That was not supposed to happen. Yet, it did, affecting once again the German regularity on which I usually like to rely when it comes to structuring my schedule. As the speed of the program increased again during May and the first week of June, priorities shifted towards the execution of various tasks, leaving reflection and introspection on the side for a while. Boxes had to be ticked off. While some of it felt like jumping through the hoops, fuelling my more rebellious side whose disdain for grades seems to increase exponentially as I get older, going through the various simulations provided me with team experiences that I will cherish for some time and look back to as some of the defining moments of my stay here. Continue reading “Continua a muoverti”

Shadows, apologies and learnings

“Go meet your shadow” is what the former biologist turned Jungian psychoanalyst tells me on the way out.

I reply with a short “Again, thank you for your time. Au revoir Margareta.” before shaking the lady’s hand and exiting the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center on IMD’s campus.

Every IMD MBA student can – for a good part of the program – benefit from a personal coach and analyst to gain insights into what it is that makes him or her tick. This offering is part of the Personal Development Elective and plays a central role in the leadership stream.

I like the idea of the shadow – an image of everything a subject refuses to acknowledge about him- or herself, containing self-denied qualities and impulses – and the belief that the less it is embodied in an individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.

However, the very process of opening to an analyst and going through the layers of my inner workings is something that I am still not very fond of. Maybe that does say something about me, or maybe it simply says something about the culture and environment I grew up in and was shaped by. Either way, I am willing to take that red pill and go down the rabbit hole for a little longer (the cinematic reference in that sentence will most likely have been spotted by millennial readers).  

Those introspective journeys remain a rarity though. The amount of time that went into reading, writing, analysing, preparing and presenting during the entire month of February and the fact that we will continue to be swamped with work all the way to Easter makes any attempt at procrastination futile. Time for self-reflection is a luxury these days, which I think is a pity. As a matter of fact, this post is actually overdue and the only reason I have opted to carve out some time for it now is because I have decided to choose this battle instead of the other ones revolving around Finance, the start-up project and their likes. I won’t even mention the countless books I brought with me from Zurich and was looking forward to delving into, but will most likely not even look at over the coming weeks. The false feeling of having entered a “rat-race” can sometimes resurge and although I believe that it is often much easier to lie about the state of one’s heart than we imagine, I find it relatively easy to dispel those feelings.

It is true that due to their previous studies and professional experiences, some of us are familiar with certain contents of the program. In fact, that is one of the benefits of studying here since a lot of knowledge can be gained through those participants. But so far, what I found out for myself is that I probably wouldn’t have been able to understand certain things without coming here and that this knowledge alone will hopefully serve me well beyond the program.

I have realised that growing up between two cultures and having worked in various places around the globe is not a vaccine against cultural blunders and I have apologised twice during the past two weeks for causing pain to people I consider myself very fortunate to study with.

I have come to understand how important it is to let go of wanting to control it all, since there is only so much one can accomplish over an entire day packed with personal and team deliverables. I must concede: the German in me finds this one very hard to implement.

I believe I have grown slightly better at putting more distance between myself and all the stuff that’s flying around us during the program, somehow insulating myself a bit better than I was able to during the previous years.

Despite the shortage of time, I have found ways and means to maintain regular contact with parents, siblings and close friends; something I wasn’t able to accomplish that well while working.

And although all this feels pretty new to me, I am also aware that some of the previous MBA batches most likely went through similar experiences. If that is indeed the case, I will hereby put the blame on my relative youth and finish by quoting one of my favourite authors:

“Young people get the foolish idea that what is new for them must be new for everybody else too. No matter how unconventional they get, they’re just repeating what others before them have done.” – Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses