Sailing Santa Margherita

A few days ago, 11 of my MBA classmates, 4 alumni and I had the chance to participate in the MBA Bocconi Regatta in Santa Margherita Italy, one of the top MBA sports meetings of the year, and an opportunity to meet people from other prestigious business schools.

Most importantly, it was a true stretching teamwork and leadership experience that could not have been “taught in a classroom nor induced through group assignments in an MBA class setting”, as Hassan, one of my crew members, highlights it. “There’s something about being on a sail boat with 6 of your classmates and an alumni in the middle of the Ligurian Sea, competing for Regatta glory by carefully pulling ropes and forcing tight maneuvers to get ahead of the competition, that brings home what teamwork is all about. It’s observing your crew, anticipating issues, being available to them, reinforcing communication, and giving your best that matters when the horn sounds and the boats set sail.”

What was particular about our setup was the lack of sailing experience of most of us MBAs. This was a real challenge given that safety, on top of performance, was at stake.  Martina, recalls that, “Every wrong maneuverer was immediately visible, no mistake was forgiven.”

So how did it play out for us? The truth is that Daniel and Claude, our skippers and IMD’s alumni from 2014 and 2017, played a pivotal role in our success. In less than 3 days, we managed to pull two crews together, get up to speed and perform.

“Daniel and Claude were not “only” skippers, they were leaders who gained our respect by leveraging the talent which each single individual brought in, by staying calm in tense situations and by focusing on our learning experience and development. Martina.

From our skippers perspective, the Regatta was also a stretch, as Daniel Emeka (MBA 2014) highlights:

” I had to bear in mind that since we didn’t have time to practice much I would be relying on people taking initiative within prescribed limits and a framework. Both Claude and myself made sure we held an initial briefing, and sought to reassign where we thought roles weren’t aligned with requirements and break the entire sailing experience into phases such as getting in and out of the harbor versus racing (third phase) which had a different set of roles. The team then only had to think one phase at a time and focus on those tasks.

The team had heightened IQ and EQ, so they quickly picked up on concepts like wind direction and tacking/gybing (it helped that there were quite a few engineers) as well as self-motivation, team dynamics management, …and waiting for the right moments to bring up issues. This really added to the morale and kept us focused on important things for prolonged periods. As for the usual rookie mistakes, we got the course wrong once, misjudged weather patterns, sometimes didn’t notice some problems early enough. But these were all corrected for and no mistake was made twice”

From Claude’s (MBA 2017) perspective:

“For the second time in two years, I had the chance to be on the IMD racing boat for the MBA Bocconi regatta as skipper. Unlike last year, I was not familiar with most of the crew members who were current MBA students. Getting a crew of seven to perform coordinated specialized activities in the limited space of a boat with the pressure of competitors like Harvard, MIT, INSEAD, HEC, and Chicago is a thrilling and sensational challenge. For the boat to move, turn, and accelerate, everyone needs to know his/her role and objectives, communicate effectively, and understand how to react to unexpected events. The learning curve is steep, and the crew needs to take risks and dare to make decisions with a limited amount of information and time. After a few initial adjustments, we were able to improve our maneuvers, increase speed, and reduce reaction time. And after the first race, I had already forgotten that I wasn’t part of this class: it felt like we were one team and that I knew the crew as well as I knew my classmates last year. Unfortunately, we did not win the regatta, but we don’t need to be on top of rankings to be successful. And for me success, was creating meaningful human bonds with 2018 class, enjoying the time together and leaving in some of them a bit of my passion for sailing.”

This Regatta remains one of the most symbolic, memorable and sensational events of our MBA experience, and a great sports tradition I would like to help future classes maintain and improve. On behalf of the sailing team and the MBA sports committee, I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to our dean Sean Meehan, and the MBA staff for their support in making this happen!

Sara, for the MBA Sports Committee

 

Day 3 – Ideate: be wild, weird, absurd!

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Peter Vogel, Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship
Debiopharm Chair of Family Philanthropy

On the first two days of the challenge, my colleagues and I had met new team mates, explored the healthcare scenario in Lausanne and finally found a problem we wanted to solve. So, day three took us to ideation stage. In a single day we had to come up with a solution for a problem we were passionate about, for Team Misfits (us!) that was helping elderly people to have more autonomy and move more freely. And if the two first days were all blue skies, making friends and exploring, day three is where things go crazy.

Even though we had known each other for a few months, the time constraint of this project put a lot of pressure on the team. And we also needed to onboard our new team mates Georg Foster, a designer from écal and Mohamed Jerad, our very own physicist from EPFL. As IMD’ers we were already used to the idea of pushing the team, giving loads of feedback and working like hell. But how were they gonna see it? How can we achieve the goal of the week and still be sensitive to their needs and motivations?

During our day we were all trying to come up with as many possible solutions as possible, no matter how absurd they were, the idea is to stimulate creativity, and avoid idea killing. Judging is forbidden! Expressions like “yes, but” and “that doesn’t make sense” are banned… So we had the funniest, weirdest mobility solutions: like the suction grip,  the spring cane and the booty hammock, my personal favorite, just because I like the name.

Building a solution for a problem is a messy process, you bring a bunch of smart people together and ask them to come up with absurd, weird and out of the box ideas. And maybe out of all or of a combination of some them you may end up with a good solution. The problem is, this process requires letting go of the fear of looking stupid, of the fear of failing, of the fear of being wrong. And when you finally find that sparkling, elegant life changing idea you discover either one of two things: someone did it before or it has some major flaws and it is not life changing after all.

I learned that innovation requires a good deal of resilience because at this point I was frustrated, tired and I started to question myself. Is this the right solution? Is this a good model? Does this problem even matter? So what you do is you gather some courage and a lot of humility and you ask for help and guidance (thank you Eric, for coming to our rescue!).

Truth is, coming up with innovation is messy, crazy and sometimes frustrating. And that’s how it is supposed to be, ideas need to collide before they can build upon each other. People need to fail in order to learn and succeed…
Well at least that’s what we are told by Cyril Bouquet and Peter Vogel, our professors for this madness challenge.

Joyce

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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)

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Innovation Group (Joyce, Rafael, Oriane and I)

Innovation group

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”

Lifting Spirits

Week 7 just ended with a bang. We started by learning about regulatory control on businesses. The most interesting takeaway from the class was the unfortunate dilemma of compulsory pharma licensing in India and its effects on the availability of innovative pharmaceuticals in the country. We then took a deep dive into market segmentation and pricing through the marketing core course. Interesting strategy cases gave us a sneak peek into the basics behind M&A decision making. . We had two leadership lectures on how individuals harness power and how we can influence people. One of the class exercises on negotiation took me back to memorable days negotiating with Middle Eastern clients. And finally we welcomed alumni from different batches who gave us insightful tips on job search during the year. The MBA office then arranged a delightful fondue evening for us on Friday which gave us much needed relief from the dungeons.

We had a free Saturday after several weeks and everyone took some time off to visit nearby places and get some much needed rest. I took the time to connect with family and friends and roam around nearby Pully to meet my chosen psychoanalyst. We had a deep discussion on my motivations and goals from the MBA. After several weeks of being at war mode and stressed to the maximum, the free Saturday was helpful in reflecting back at what had transpired since I came to Lausanne. There have been many highs and lows in such a short period of time at IMD. I couldn’t help but wonder at make of the course, which is designed to mimic the intensity of a stressful work environment and forces participants to learn how to deal with it and to do so rather quickly. One important aspect of the learning is your secure base, the circle of family, friends and partners who help you through the journey and lift the spirits when needed.

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Lifting spirits by Jean and Marianne Bremers

Indeed “Lifting Spirits”, the sculpture by Jean and Marianne Bremers in the gardens of the campus that we pass by everyday in our rush to catch the 8 am class signifies this important aspect of personality development

I will leave you with some welcome comments from my classmates about last week.

Parth

Linkedin

Featured image of a Lausanne sunset by MBA 2018 participant Kshitij Verma

“After some extremely hectic weeks, this Friday’s fondue dinner at “Le Chalet Suisse” and the wonderful skiing day at Verbier, have charged my batteries to tackle next week’s deadlines full of energy” – David Ruiz Garcia

“Hearing from the alumni was very interesting and it was good to hear about their approach to the job search”- Lauren Versagli

“During this week, we enjoyed several insightful moments: from learning about harnessing power and influence others in a workplace, to experiencing from IMD alumni how to search efficiently for a job. We ended the week with skiing on the magnificent slopes of Verbier” – Pierre Ghobril  Image below from Pierre’s ski trip

ski

Peeling the layers

Go back to a time when you encountered roadblocks while working in and leading teams. What if these roadblocks were a manifestation of a personality pattern instead of an operational roadblock. And what if through practice and learning these roadblocks can be prevented from popping up again.

We had the privilege of going through an intensive process of iterative team games and self-reflection to figure out how best to lead and contribute to healthy team dynamics last week. Based on an approach of self-awareness, goal setting, understanding how to get there and a system of continuous feedback & support, the Leadership Lab helped my team to gel together and for us individuals in the team to be more self-aware and iron out our flaws in order to reach the maximum outcome as a team. At the end of this exhaustive process, it was heartening to see class members share their deep personal drawbacks and in the process bond more as a cohort.

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A history of working in tough locations and being constantly on the move even during times of personal crises has made me grow many layers around my core personality and it was enriching to experience the peeling of these layers through constant feedback and coaching sessions. I was able to learn why and how I behave in different settings and how best to understand and train my mind to deal with these emotions. Indeed I was able to understand what part of my life caused these patterns and why I relapse into certain behaviors. I’m looking forward to the next leg of the leadership exercise that is the Personal Development Elective. The intent is to take these learnings and dive further into the psyche in order to unravel these behaviors and learn how best to navigate difficult situations.

One of the main reasons for me to choose IMD was the leadership component of the program. It is the only the start of the component but the quality of the experience and the content of the training has exceeded my expectations. It’s a privilege to receive such training at the beginning of our management careers rather than in senior management and I believe all of us will benefit from the learnings and the outcome.

Needless to say, we had to quickly get back on our feet to deal with a busy week ahead. Strategy cases, accounting assignments and economics readings have a knack of pulling you out of your inner layers. Until next weekend.

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*Featured image1: Team- Work in Progress- Ana ,Hans, Gerardo, Kshitij, Paula and I

*Featured image2: Our team logos- IMD dungeons

P.S. Team Work in Progress for the win!!!

Parth Reddy

Linkedin