When hard times hit, #Disrupted

Spring arrived to Lausanne couple of weeks ago and with the warm rays, suddenly everyone’s shoulders seem to be less bended under the workload. Perhaps also because we are ticking the check marks on the MBA map, delivering presentations and closing projects, maturing throughout the program.

One of the major events this week here at IMD were the final presentations on our start-up projects to a panel of venture capitalists and business angels. Over the past four months, we tasted the life of the brave ones, who are coming with answers to industrial and societal problems, the visionaries, the inventors, the disruptors: the entrepreneurs. As our favourite Entrepreneurship Professor Benoit Leleux says: “These are totally different kinds of animals, but it makes a lot of fun to work with them.”

My team had the pleasure to confirm Benoit’s words. Our start-up evolved rapidly over the short period of time; here the business development happens in the units of weeks, building upon the information, contacts and networks established in the last couple of days. Beside supporting the start-up with business model conceptualization and financial projections, we rolled up our sleeves and deep-dived into the field work: we conducted market research, defined value proposition and validated it with experts from the industry, designed route to the market, engaged with suppliers, drafted pilot programme documentation, prepared go-to-market materials and investors decks and many more. Thank you, team 9, for your engagement and hard work, it was a great experience working with you!

While learning from one of the best IMD’s brilliant minds, Professor Goutam Challagalla, the past weeks also brought fresh wind and insights into the contemporary businesses based on technology. In his inspirational and thought-provoking classes, Goutam took us to the very edge of today, providing the look over the cliff towards tomorrow. After his crash course, disruption became the new norm of my strategic thinking and stimulated curiosity to explore the digital business models further.

Disruption also stroke on the personal side; keeping the high pace already for four and half months, there are plenty of daily situations when I am off my comfort zone, pushing myself, being endorsed by cohorts or “lured” into the off-comfort situation. This is a highly addicted game: I fail and I get up and I want to fail again to enjoy the getting up. I see things I didn’t see before. I observe myself from a totally new angle. I work with my mind, concentrated. The metamorphose began. Old Me is being disrupted by New Me.

The metamorphose and ongoing change can be a painful process though. And it gets even more painful when life-changing events happen in our lives. On Easter Thursday, Bernard, father of my partner passed away after nine months of combat. It was fast, unexpected, heart-breaking. Bernard was a distinctive intellectual, family lover, whose life colour was auburn. Coming back from the Easter break, leaving my partner back in Germany learning to live the new reality was frustrating. We felt every centimetre of the long-distance relationship. This was metamorphosis from a different perspective, urging the importance of values.

The partner life here at IMD is in general own chapter deserving at least one more special edition of the blog post. Some of the 2018 MBA class moved to Lausanne with their partners and children, who provide a safety base and tremendous mental support throughout the programme. Regardless if they are present in Lausanne or not, the role of our partners is not easy at all. This year is primarily about us. They are part of our decisions to pursue an MBA; nevertheless they are in the shadow while the spotlight shine on us. They changed their lives around our MBA and observe our metamorphose first-hand. Twelve years after their MBA experience, Alumni Rafael Altavini and his wife Carolina Altavini came to IMD to share their experience with partners’ life not only during and but also post the programme. They brought an honest testimony about the challenges they were facing.

Altavini

 

Listening to their speech in the Lorrange auditorium, I pondered about big journeys. We set-off on one in January and are in the midst of it. It brought us to places we have never been.  This is not the last big journey by far. It is a heart-warming feeling to know that we have life companions holding our hands while walking into the unknowns.

In memory of Bernard, to our loved ones.

Martina

 

Leadership petri-dish

Featured image: The MBA 2018 class with George Kohlrieser

Last year when I was accepted into the IMD MBA program, I received a welcome book, from the MBA office , called “Hostage at the Table” written by George Kohlrieser. Besides having a tremendous influence over me at that time,  book had a certain symbolic meaning to me. I was choosing not to be hostage to a traditional career path by embarking on the MBA program. Little did I know that I’d be learning from the man himself for an intense and enjoyable couple of days.

Module 2 kicked off with a bang. We had Richard Hahlo, a stage actor teaching us how to deliver a message and own the stage. We had Ina Toegel teaching us the importance of shared leadership and bonding in high performance teams. Learning from her research on the Beatles and their complementary leadership styles was fascinating. We had  another business case protagonist come over to deliver Change Management 101 disguised as an accounting case.

And to cap it all, we had 2 fantastic days with George Kohlrieser. George took us on a roller coaster ride to discover our true motivations, griefs, fears and joys. All throughout those 2 days, we learnt how to let go, understand the other person and lead with an appropriate mix of caring and daring. We learnt that conflicts are something that as leaders we should learn to like. We teamed up several times with our classmates, practicing effective negotiation and bonding with them in the process. At the end of it all, the whole class came out as a tighter unit and a much more emotionally aware bunch.

We were also assigned a new Module 2 team and we chose our own innovation team for the “Innovation Challenge” next week. In the middle of this all, we also managed to squeeze in sometime with a brand new country analysis team for Economics. In essence, the last two weeks were spent working with 4 different teams. Although constraining in time, this opportunity has provided us with a training ground to apply newly learnt leadership concepts and experiment with different leadership styles.

Its been enjoyable transitioning from a content rich Module 1 to a petri-dish for leadership these past few weeks. Can’t wait for a deep dive into innovation next week.

Parth Reddy

 

Module 2 Group (Shingo, Mathieu, Candice, Maksim, Marco and I)

High_five

Innovation Group (Joyce, Rafael, Oriane and I)

Innovation group

A tale about geese and salt

André Cepêda  from MBA 2018 class talks about his transformation throughout the IMD journey so far. Featured image of the scenic expanse of Itacoatiara beach from his beloved home city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro.

The path down the hill of Itacoatiara’s beach led me back to the salty waters where my ordinary worries had been drifting harmlessly since my first dive in the morning. The corruption and violence that pervades my beloved Rio de Janeiro would – only for a minute – be diluted in a glass of cold mate tea, instead of in an everyday that can no longer be swallowed. An ancient indigenous legend says that sharing the mate herb spreads the good among neighbors. “Let there be mate” – I thought, focusing my eyes on the case. The interview would happen in a couple of days. Professional development, for outsiders. In my heart, though, a primal drive to fence more nurturing soils to the family I wanted to grow. Everything I love would soon be left behind, but for the moment, Itacoa’s sunset was still above… still illuminating my way back home.

“It’s the lack of salt” – I wondered, floating on Lake Geneva. I had just left my psychoanalysis session, and the bubbling insights on my mind refused to be washed away, preventing me to dive deeper. Or maybe I went deep enough already. The last days were all about group work. Supercharged, round the clock, with a team as talented as diverse: a Swiss-made experience to tear one apart. Suddenly I sink, inasmuch as an unknown piece of my personality arises to my consciousness.

How could I have ignored it for so long? Am I missing something else? How much further could I have gone, had I known before? Do I still have time? The gloomy waters around answered silently… and nearly drowned, I followed that light to the other side.

A goose squawked, waking me up. Am I still alive? I opened my eyes. The light was still there, and I recognized Itacoa’s sun shining timidly above me. Five hours late and tired from the trip, it looked just like Lausanne’s. Gosh, it was Lausanne’s sun. It doesn’t matter. it dredged me from the lake humbler and wiser, and I felt in love with it. I came to the IMD MBA program to become a better leader, and what I found would enlighten new ways across every dimension of my life

André Cepeda

The video below provides a glimpse of Rio’s natural beauty and peek into André’s experience

Pause, Reflect & Go

I have a little confession to make, when I started at IMD almost three months ago, I did have a slight chip on my shoulder…. I used to wonder how could anything make such a difference in someone’s personality … how could I possibly assimilate so much in such little time as the alums make it out to be and the one thought which constantly nagged me was how will I work in a team of peers? Continue reading “Pause, Reflect & Go”

#Inspired and #inspire

Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day here at IMD. Beside several events running at campus, online discussion with faculty, dedicated articles by experts on new technology, gender and the future of work and our week long series of Instagram posts dedicated to achievements of women in our class, this day turns our full attention to gender parity and equality. Continue reading “#Inspired and #inspire”

Anna’s intake on women in leadership

 

Anna is an executive leadership coach for women. Originally from New Zealand, she holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and started her career in HR at Shell in both European and Global roles. She graduated from IMD in 2007 and was recipient of the Award for the best all-round female. Following her MBA she joined Mars Chocolate in the UK and worked in a range of senior sales & marketing roles, most recently as their Commercial Strategy Director. She now combines her psychological insight with her commerciality as an executive coach, inspiring women at all career stages to achieve their potential at work. She lives in London with her husband and is a Mum to three very energetic boys.Anna_2007 Continue reading “Anna’s intake on women in leadership”

And then Sakshi said: There is always going to be sunshine in the dungeons..

This week, I am taking over the rally-baton from Parth and inspired by his authentic style, I add some personal testimonies to the usual insight into the MBA Class of 2018.

Walking home on a cold winter evening, severe wind stings my cheeks. I am reflecting on the last weeks and contemplating about the stage we have reached on our MBA journey. Continue reading “And then Sakshi said: There is always going to be sunshine in the dungeons..”