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.


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.


*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



Breathe & Let Go!

Despite being in love with sea, on every beach vacation, I would happily stay on shore- side and longingly watch people enjoy water activities. For those who know me, getting inside water was like my kryptonite! Last summer, I decided enough is enough and decided to go for a tandem scuba diving on my vacation in the beautiful island of Koh-Tao. Immediately as we dived in, panic almost hit me and I was like, “what the hell am I doing”? I was claustrophobic, almost gasping for air and felt extremely strange. And suddenly like that, I just decided to breathe, let go of my anxiety and trust my instructor. It was almost surreal as I became aware of the exquisiteness enveloping me. The slight shimmer of the sunlight penetrating through the depths, the silence clogging my ears, the bubbles screaming up and down and the colorful aquatic world was finer than most experiences so far. Continue reading “Breathe & Let Go!”

Inspired and Humbled

While the first week was an awakening of sorts, the second week focused on the high level themes of the program- Digital, Global and Entrepreneurial.

The Entrepreneurship module started with a lecture on defining value in a business but the highlight was the introduction to the protagonist of our first case study- Robert Keane, CEO and founder of Cimpress N.V.. Extraordinary resilience and an incredible ability to change and adapt defined his story and it was enthralling to listen to it live in the class!! We were also introduced to the various factors affecting project success in a simulated game environment. It was a lot of fun collaborating with differing views and scarce resources to drive business value in a project.

Then we explored how digital has started defining winners and losers in today’s dynamic world. We learnt that using digital tools to define and execute business strategy has helped not only businesses but political players around the world. And we learnt that its not about the disruptor but always about the disruption and the need to stay agile and flexible to capitalize on opportunities.

From a global perspective we learnt about how some countries are defying expectations and contributing more to the growth of the world’s economy. From a leadership angle, we learnt about what was needed to become a successful leader in these emerging markets. We also took advantage to learn from the diversity of the class when we were introduced to the politics, economy and culture of 43 different nations in the Life before Microsoft presentation, something that has become a tradition at IMD.

Of all these amazing experiences, one thing stood out the most for me. We started the week with an inspiring story on how to lead in turbulent times by Dr. Tawfik Jelassi. And this summed up my decision to come to a business school and that is to meet incredible leaders and be inspired.

Having been through the turbulence of the Arab spring myself, it was no surprise that I connected instantly with Dr. Tawfik Jelassi’s incredible story. What at first seemed like a normal class on leadership quickly turned out to be a real face-to-face encounter with someone who has the resilience, tenacity and determination to not bend to the odds and still achieve results that were beyond any expectations. Listening to his life experiences was humbling and our own professional hardships were tiny specks compared to the gargantuan effort on his part to lead through those turbulent times.

How does then someone lead in an explosive, polarized, irrational and adversarial world? The takeaway offered by Dr. Jelassi was that emotional resilience is the key. And having the leadership team as your secure base is crucial. The hard choices that you will have to make then are backed up by the leadership team and this allows you to go beyond the unexpected and sometimes the seemingly impossible, even in the face of opposition. When everything is going against you, it’s crucial to stick to your beliefs, trust your instincts and stand by your values. Thank you Dr. Jelassi for this important lesson. We hope we have the chance to apply these lessons successfully.

Parth Reddy


Featured image: Life Before Microsoft at IMD


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!

Truth and Lies at IMD

Half way through the electives, Isfandyar Z. Khan – Partner IMD 2017, shares his experience as well as insights into the benefits of opening this part of the program to the partners.

You may think that typical courses in this one year intensive MBA program would only focus on hard skills, taking over the world one excel sheet at a time, however the truth is far from it. This fall, the program provided the opportunity for the partners of MBA students to participate in electives. This opened up a secret chamber by which partners could not only see, but live through, part of the MBA experience.

partner elective

Given that I myself am a bit weary of the ethical practices of the business world, I decided to take the popular elective on Truth, Lies and Trust taught by Professor Jennifer Jordan, who is a part of the leadership faculty. I wish an elective like this had been offered earlier in the year as finally I could empathize with my wife’s motivation for getting up at 6:30 am, downing a coffee and braving the cold to be on time for morning classes.

partner elective 3

The elective was great – one learned, one challenged, one laughed and one pondered. It also gave us some lie detection skills which could have come in handy earlier in the year (were you actually studying or were you at the White Horse bar?!) Yet, more than just the course, I really appreciated IMD opening up the electives to others. For a program which emphasizes personal leadership and prioritizes relationships, it is necessary to acknowledge that there are certain factors that ensure some relations endure and strengthen over time. Post MBA, the graduates will not operate in a bilateral world but one with many nodes, and thus having partners more exposed to classmates will help carry relationships forward.

As the year draws to a close, I do feel we have come together as a family. There is warmth, there is affection and just like any family there will be conflict and a need to nurture relationships. I think taking an elective makes us all know each other better and just for that, I hope IMD keeps up with the tradition.