Preparations begin for IMD

Uplifting your life and changing from your daily routine to something as daunting as an MBA takes a lot of organisation, relationship building and general trust in the fact that you have taken the right steps and can trust that you will use your past to figure out what is to come.

With the admissions and acceptance out the way, months of preparations were ahead of me to ensure that I was ready for a fast paced year. I had to start prioritising things in my life to ensure that everything was ready for my departure:

Prepare family and friends for my departure

An MBA is a huge undertaking and just as it is stressful on the person doing it, this extends to the families and friends around you. Coming together with one another as much as possible and being open to questions and concerns is extremely important. I was lucky in that my fiancé, family and friends have offered nothing but encouragement and support. Gather those around you be open and upfront and go through the varying emotions together. My parents have been a huge support, financially they have always gone above and beyond and I don’t think you will meet a prouder set of parents who are egging me on in every way!

Show the people in your life, your rocks and foundations, what they really mean to you

I have an incredible woman that stands behind me through everything I have had to go through. The MBA will put a huge strain on our relationship. My girlfriend and now, proud to say, my fiancé, unfortunately will be unable to join me for the year as she is a doctor and specialising in South Africa. We will live our lives apart but always together as we grow separately for our intertwined future.  We are both strong and know it will be hard, especially when stress sets in on both of us – but there isn’t a single thought in either of our minds that this is insurmountable.

I was given permission and advice to make this blog personal, so here is a picture of us on our engagement day 1 month and a few days before I am set to start at IMD on the 9th of January 😀

We have had incredibly good times with family and friends due to this life changing event which has brought us all closer. We have shared our dreams and fears for the year and have both agreed that 110% open communication will get us through this year! A parting note on this point. Alicia and I travelled to IMD for one night during the year to try and get some perspective on why I was doing it in Switzerland. I had obviously been focusing on this for 12 months, reading the articles, doing the analysis and conducting the recommended soul searching. Alicia, was incredibly supportive but also needed to understand. The tour and welcome we received at IMD was world class. It showed her the pure class and absolute attention to detail, we were blown away by the campus and staff, it cemented in her mind, as well as mine, that there was no other place for me next year.

Lastly, admin, admin and more administration

I took the personal decision to give my company 6 months notice from when I got into IMD. I felt being open about my dreams and next steps was the best thing. It worked and I had an incredibly productive 6 months with everyone understanding and open about my impending departure. The second major task was actually figuring out how to live in a new country such as Switzerland – This fear was easily wiped away with the IMD’s team of outstanding support staff. Everything from housing to insurance to where to buy a cellphone contract was given to us. Live check-ins were held whenever needed on any topic. All I can say is thank you IMD for putting the “fun” in administration.

The next steps left for me are to enjoy my last few days of African sun, have a joyful Christmas with friends and family and lastly to fly over to Europe where the journey really begins.

Merry Christmas all, and a happy New Year – See you early Jan for a running commentary of the real life IMD MBA!

Anthony Wilson

Other perspectives on the IMD MBA

Anthony: I reached out to my fellow classmates for their experiences of getting in touch with their inner MBA, the choices they made and their feelings toward it.

The MBA is all about collaboration. At IMD, I have heard that 40% of our mark is based on the ability to take other people’s opinions and feedback.

Fellow classmates attending the admissions day at IMD

Stefano Agosta, a future classmate, gave me the following analysis:

“I decided to pursue an MBA last year. Italian engineer, 7 years’ experience with an international organisation in Geneva, I felt like switching to a managerial position in the Swiss industry.

First things first, I started preparing for the GMAT. Once sentence correction and percentiles had become just a (bad) memory, I focused on the school choice. Scanning rankings and reading blogs, aiming at a top-tier school with a 1-year program starting in January, I selected four schools and applied to two.

Because of its strong network in Switzerland – where I’d like to settle in the long term, the limited class size of 90, the 1:2 faculty-to-MBA ratio, and the well-known leadership stream, my first choice was obviously IMD.

The second was another extraordinary b-school. I had a chance to meet and talk to many alumni of both schools, and although they all were brilliant, I felt a stronger affinity with the IMD crowd, because they sounded enthusiastic yet reasonable. Another reason for choosing IMD was the care with which the school selects applicants in person, to understand their personality and best tailor the class. After all, they don’t claim to be a boutique business school for nothing.

However, surprisingly, when time came to pick a school, I chose the other one. Seduced by its fame and biased by the opinion of popular rankings, I felt less sure of my own analysis and dreamed of being part of the fancy experience they advertise well.

I e-mailed IMD to decline their offer and soon after I got a call from my admission officer. She didn’t try to talk me out of it, but was rather interested in understanding my choice. It was a pleasant chat; I could feel her warmth through the phone, along with the care that the school invests in each student when addressing their specific needs and preferences with all available means. It sounded like they were looking for people, not numbers. I just smiled, hung up the phone and accepted the IMD offer. The program start is four weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited to begin!”

Another of my future classmates sent me the following exerpt which I really appreciated:

“When I was evaluating different business schools, I chose IMD because I knew they cared. Everyone from the dean to an intern knew my name and my story. They demonstrated, even before I accepted the offer, that the team and peer group would help me transform. The rest, making my dreams a reality, will follow. I am excited to begin the journey.”

The above two experiences from my fellow IMD candidates in many ways matches my experiences and shows the turmoil of emotions that run around one’s head when making a decision such as this. All I would like to reiterate and add is the amazing attention to detail IMD showed with each and everyone of us! They treated us like candidates and part of their flock even before we had accepted offers or made it onto their hallowed acceptance lists.

Thank you IMD for making even the acceptance and admissions process invigorating and special.

Anthony Wilson

And so it begins, the next chapter of my career and life

Today is the first of the 2020 MBA Class blog posts – start following their journey now as they prepare for their January arrival on campus!

The beginning of the journey of why I wanted to do an MBA and why I chose IMD.

As we come into the last few weeks of 2019 and I start to look back on my last 30 years, I see what has brought me to the place I now am and will guide me through the next year and the decades to come. The foundations of this is family, friends, experiences and my next year as an IMD MBA candidate.

This is me, as African as they come, getting ready for the rugby world cup final

My name is Anthony Wilson and I will be part of the IMD MightyNinety for 2020. Although very few of us have actually met, we have started to form a cohesive group – communicating mainly through whatsapp and starting to share our excitement, interests and fears. Our group have formed under the banner of the hashtag MightNinety; so Millennial I know ;-D

I was born in South Africa and you will struggle to find a more passionate person about my beautiful country. It has allowed me to grow into the person I am today and to have the honor to represent my country as an IMD scholarship winner for African and Middle Eastern Diversity. It has been a bit of a running joke in my family and friendship group that I am the diversity student for Africa as I am a white male. However it does show us that sometimes we get stuck in our little bubble: South Africa is becoming ever more polarised along lines of race, but if you look at it all on a more global scale it is what you can add to a group that makes it more diverse and not simply the colour of your skin. I am as African as they come and am determined to give the world the best of what we are and teach the world to avoid making the mistakes that we are still learning from to this day.

Let’s get back to the topic at hand. Where to start? At the very beginning seems prudent:

Why an MBA:

I studied Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Cape Town, but very quickly realised that I wanted to develop and grow businesses instead of simply products or concepts. I wanted to lead people and share my passion with the world. I also wanted to de-risk my career by developing a multi-faceted educational scope and an MBA was the next crucial step. I have worked as an engineer throughout Africa for a global company installing robotic systems on oil rigs. I have also worked for international management consultants assisting major telecoms companies, and even ran a startup in the beverage space for a private equity. All these experiences have created my career, and life, story. This story will help me educate those around me and be a foundation to learn from others’ experiences. That, I believe, is what an MBA is all about, learning from one another’s stories and strengthening your own.

Why IMD:

Even though the decision to choose IMD in the beginning was based on what I had read, actions show greater than words. IMD blew me away during their assessment day, the tour around campus and general communication with each employee guiding me along the way.

  1. How long can I afford to be away?
    2 years is simply too long for me at 31 with a new fiancé and the opportunity costs and funding implications that come with a 2 year MBA = Scratch out U.S. schools
  2. What do I want to achieve once I am done with my MBA?
    I want to use my business acumen and engineering mind to develop tangible outcomes in the world = Focus on the MBA schools that are not just banker and consultant producing machines…
  3. Which school can provide me with the personal touch that I enjoy?
    IMD, IMD, IMD! The day I met Antonio (one of the IMD recruiters) on a skype call, then through the assesment day and on campus, I could see this was a school that focuses on the personal touch. The guidance of a school who limits their intake to 90 to preserve that touch instead of going after massive profits is exceptional. That ~45% of their participants receive additional funding in Scholarships was a huge draw card as someone who was funding this endeavor myself.
  4. Which MBA is consistently rated among institutions (Bloomberg, FT, Forbes) as a standout top in the world?

With all of the above taken into account IMD was the one and only choice.

Next week we will focus on others’ experiences of making the decision to become an IMD 2020 candidate.

Kind Regards,

Anthony Wilson

My journey through Africa to IMD

This is Satoshi, MBA candidate from Japan.

Our journey at IMD is almost at an end. Time really flies. I would like to use this opportunity to reflect on my experiences prior to, during, and after my MBA.

My interest in the “international world” first came about in Geneva.  I spent 4 years there in my youth where I became interested in working for United Nations Humanitarian agencies in the developing world.

After university I went to Cameroon to work for the local Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. I spent two years living in the rural village, working on income generating activities for local farmers. Then, I had a chance to work for an NGO in South Sudan, where ethnic conflict was severe. I was running around, delivering emergency food supplies to internally displaced people and constructed health care facilities across the region.

Working with rural farmers in Cameroon

However, when the battles between the ethnic groups in 2013 destroyed what we had constructed and we had to evacuate, leaving local people and our staff behind, I questioned myself. What could I do when international organizations can not intervene in ethnic conflicts? How could I provide effective support to this developing world?

Bringing emergency supplies to conflict front line in South Sudan

I decided to move into the private sector which created value by bringing employment to the local African people. I joined a Japanese pharmaceutical company, and was dispatched to Kenya, from where I travelled to over 10 countries in Africa, creating employment by expanding business. But here, I questioned myself again. Was I good enough to be a general manager who could create more positive impact in the continent?

With my local staff in Kenya

This is why I came to IMD – to grow as a business leader who can help an emerging market. IMD’s focus on leadership, its intense one-year program and strong exposure to Industry made it my number one choice.

Learning at IMD has been impressive, mainly because of the different aspects covered within the year. Not only were the core classes mostly exceptional but also the Innovation lab, Digital analtyics lab, Startup projects, Discovery expedition, ICP and business & society course (during which we visited the United Nations and the World Economic Forum), were all insightful. From guest speakers who were high executives from both private and public sectors, I learned about their serious commitments on sustainability, inclusion and diversity. It made me think a lot on how leaders should also be focusing on aspects outside of financial statements.

Inspirational day at World Economic Forum with my classmates

The IMD Leadership stream gave me a good chance to reflect on myself. Regular interaction with a psychoanalyst and leadership coaches, plus numerous feedback sessions with my classmates, clearly deepened my self awareness.  Eventually, my passion and career goal became clearer and more sharpened: I want to create a sustainable, growing business in the emerging market and bring positive impact to the world.

Finally, I need to mention my classmates. These guys are great. Humble hardworking, friendly and helpful. I couldn’t have gone through this tough year without them.

With these great future alumni of 2019, I wish to create positive impact in the real world.

Thank you!

IMD Conversations: Mother’s Day Special!

They are our first home.

Our first friends. Our fiercest protectors.

They give the best hugs. They help us stand after we fall,  their belief in our abilities unwavering. They teach us how to do our hair, buy furniture, and nourish relationships. They help us get those precious remote controls from our dads.

Mothers. Beautiful. Flawed. All striving to make a better world for their offspring.

This Mother’s Day I caught up with the three moms at the IMD MBA program. I am personally inspired by these women, and how they manage to thrive through this intense year, all while being present and generous in their children’s lives. Let’s learn about Camila (Brazil), Kristina (Russia) and Swati (India) …


What about IMD influenced your decision to pursue the MBA program here? Which aspects are appealing to you as mothers of young children?

Camila: Switzerland is a place that I find wonderful for kids to grow up in. This environment is super healthy for my son in terms of infrastructure. Also, my family is already based here so that helped me with my decision.

Swati: Agree with Camila. I also feel that IMD has a slightly more mature peer group that understands that you have a family and a life beyond the MBA. This makes all the difference to me, a benefit that I felt only IMD will provide. Also, the partner support services and the work that Marcella does, these aspects make a huge difference for me.

Kristina: I felt that IMD is one of the shortest MBA programs and since my family is in Russia, I felt that I can manage it in a good way and also see my daughter on some weekends. We also have a month off in July which is great. The partners’ program made my husband feel more inclusive and understand the importance of the program for me. It helped him adapt to being a single parent for this year and made our transition easier.

And what has been the role of family support for you?

Camila: This was crucial, and there is the difference between a mother or a father attending the program, with exceptions of course. Usually, a mother can be home taking care of a kid and it is more acceptable and the model that is more widely spread. When a father provides childcare you need some arrangements in place. My husband works so creating a strong support network is critical, and then doing the program is feasible.

Swati: This program is a big decision, especially if a mother is doing it. You do need to be cognizant of the demands of the program, and be realistic and create your infrastructure around it. The IMD community is special. I experienced this last year as a partner and this year as a participant. Last year I needed a nanny urgently and I just didn’t know what to do. So many partners offered help and Marcella called me and told me that she has a nanny available if we needed one. So, the community really makes a difference.

Kristina: For me, there was a commitment from my family to help out, even though they all work. They have helped me much more than I expected. We have planned every weekend throughout the year, who would stay with my daughter and how all the visits would be coordinated. There were unexpected changes. For example, I planned that my daughter would stay in Moscow initially and join me in the summer with the nanny. Now she can’t so I got consents for all my friends who can potentially travel here so that whenever there is an occasion someone can bring her here for a day or two.

PHOTO-2019-05-13-20-06-17.jpgKristina and her daughter, Mia

As future CEOs and change makers, and as moms of future leaders, how do you wish to influence society? What do you think is vital for us to achieve for the next generation?

Kristina: I want to show to my daughter that you don’t have to sacrifice your career or your personal aspirations towards family. You can be successful at both. There is a focus on flexibility in my life which I think is important and I’m teaching to my daughter to be adaptable, to explore, and not to fear change. As a leader, I would want to create in my organization an attitude to dare to change, dare to be flexible, for example going from more bureaucracy in companies to flexible time and allow employees to be with family.

Swati: This is a difficult question. There are individual goals, but as a part of society, we need to think about how we want to transform. As a collective, gender parity is important. We know it will take 200 years before men and women are equal in society. We have studied about bias in class, we know this exists. If we don’t push this issue, it could take us 400 years. If we make enough noise it could take 150 years. I think we have a significant social responsibility in this respect.

Camila: For me, the MBA was an enabler to have a positive impact on the world. I was at a moment in my career where I was thinking, in the future, in 5 or 10 years, how proud will I be with what I do. Motherhood has changed me in that I now think how proud will I be telling my son that I am where I am, making the choices that I did in life. So, this is about role modeling and about thinking deeply on how to make my work more meaningful and impactful.

What would you like female applicants, especially mothers, to know about the IMD MBA program experience?

Camila: Overcome the fear. Honestly, I think as successful women we struggle a lot. And it’s really hard to get where we were before the MBA. I think the biggest fear is what if I leave and I don’t go back to the same level. Or something happens. Or will my husband be able to manage? Just put the fear aside. Put your infrastructure in place. It’s doable and it’s worth it.

Swati: A lot of moms ask me about the MBA program and what I tell all of them is that this is the best thing you can do for your child. Switzerland is a unique experience and children just love it. Lausanne is fantastic for kids. If you plan it well, you can manage a great experience in a cost-effective manner. Do your research and be pro-active. The Partners’ program is so robust at IMD. It can find you jobs, schools, and kindergartens.

Kristina: It is not easy to be on the program and be a mom. But it really is all about how you manage it. I am happy that I am going through it. Even though my daughter does not stay with me full time, even for the short visits that she makes, she’s already made friends with Amaya (Swati’s daughter) and each time I speak to her on the phone she asks for her! This program is not just for me now. It is for her. And this is very precious.

PHOTO-2019-05-13-20-06-08.jpgWhile mums study the little ones play! Mia (Kristina’s daughter) and Amaya (Swati’s daughter) enjoying some sunshine

Massive thanks to Camila, Kristina, and Swati for your time and thoughts!

To all moms, those with us and those watching over us, thank you for all that you have done, and for all that you do. Happy Mother’s Day!


Lausanne Alumni Club Merit Scholarship Winner

Shweta Mukesh was recently selected as the best all-round applicant from the first application deadline and was subsequently awarded the Lausanne Alumni Club Merit Scholarship. Here’s a bit more about her:

“I wear two professional hats. The first is as a founder of a for-purpose organization called KidsWhoKode. The second is as a VP of Solutioning and International Business at an HR Technology company called Belong. I consider my greatest professional achievement so far to be buiding Belong’s two largest growth engines from ground zero. Both were strategic pivots for the organization and transformed the DNA from customer acquisition to customer lifetime value and from pure products to bundled solutions.

At the same time, I am very proud and humbled by the work we do at KidsWhoKode. Over the last one and a half years, we have built computer literacy and coding skills in over 5,000 students. More importantly, we have increased our student’s exposure to technology and have created pathways for them to realize their dreams/unique talents.  

I believe that ability is evenly distributed. Opportunity is not. I want to use my career and the different roles I play, in either the corporate or the non-profit world, as a platform to create a more equitable society. 

I am honoured to have been selected as the first winner of the Lausanne Alumni Club Merit Scholarship and am grateful to them for creating this opportunity. Knowing that a part of the financial burden of the program will be taken care off, ensures that I can keep an open mind to all possibilities. I hope to use my education and experiences to contribute back in a meaningful way.   

Shweta Mukesh

Kristina Mityaeva, IMD MBA Diversity Scholarship winner

I have traveled extensively since my childhood and have visited nearly 40 countries. From an early age, I recognised that globalisation would become a dominant characteristic of modernity, and consequently, I learned the Latin, English, French and Chinese languages to enhance both my communication skills and understanding of the world.

A Lithuania-born Russian, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to live in the US and Kenya as an adult, developing the experience of becoming a “local” abroad and learning how others live, work, and think. Additionally, I have visited China and Hong Kong approximately 10 times over the last year and have established a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of Asian culture and its business environment.

After I graduated from the Russian State University for Humanities as a Lawyer, I spent 8 years in international FMCG companies like P&G and Herbalife building their in-house legal functions across CIS, Baltics, Mongolia and Israel.

For the last two years, I supported the international e-commerce business of the Alibaba Group, and became the first Legal counsel of the Group based outside of China and Hong Kong.

However, my career demands that I refine my global experience and mindset to ensure that I will be well-positioned to serve in roles anywhere in the world, so I decided to do an MBA to broaden my understanding of business and build some new skills for the future.

The best thing so far at IMD is definitely the academic staff. The professors are all super charismatic and engaging during the sessions. I never laughed so much during my years in Law School! Although some of the subjects are not so easy for me to crack– indeed Accounting and Finance gave me some really hard times even after tens of hours spent on extra tutorials and out of class preparation.  

Another great experience was the startup project. My group consulted Little Green House childcare centers on their growing strategies. As I have a 4-year-old daughter, and I also had some teaching experience with kids during my one year stay in Kenya, I was very glad to join this project, get more insights on the educational system of Switzerland and create impact for the generation of my daughter.

My daughter running across the water in Oregon, US where I travel for work and friends.

The IMD MBA journey is very dynamic, diverse, multi-layered and comprehensive. It fully reflects my life aspirations and attitude, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why I received IMD’s Diversity Scholarship – I strongly believe that globalisation and diverse collaboration are among the best tools to achieve sustainable results.

Kristina Mityaeva

Banner image: Sakhalin island where I lived as a kid