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

Rugby and Snakes: Digital Lab day2

After the 2 week interview marathon, we have finally come in to the much awaited digital lab. For most of us the introduction has been somewhat opposite to what we have been expecting. After learning about high level digital strategies that companies have been pioneering worldwide, we expected a similar introduction to the newest tools and techniques in play.

What we ended up learning was how teamwork can be reimagined to boost creativity and innovation. Scrum (yes, it comes from rugby), the framework that software teams around the world use nowadays to focus on increasing customer value and momentum within teams. Once you get to know the concept it seems basic yet it’s unbelievable how companies like Spotify and Amazon have developed products based on this methodology.

And … we have been coding … in python. We’ve shut case studies and are now glued to code academy in the evenings as we are required to complete several lessons on python that would serve as building blocks for our experimentation with Scrum and app building later this week.

So the days have been fun with lots of post-it-notes and the evenings have been weary with code academy for company. Meanwhile, we managed to have some fun during the lectures.

Parth

Digital_Lab1.png

The Rollercoaster Ride

It starts with anticipation and excitement, plus a bit of dread…

The adrenalin begins to flow – a new country, bonding with classmates, minds stretching with new information and skills, Faculty and guest speakers, off-campus exercises and cases, start-up projects and integrative exercises…

And then comes the peak as realisation hits – this is it! The fast pace, the intensity, the ride is in full swing and suddenly, the swoop towards the first round of exams has arrived.

A mountain of work to revise, three months of finance and accounting, economics and strategy – evening workshops , shared notes, nerves building in anticipation.

And this is where the MBAs are now. Preparing for next week – a week of exams.

Exams

But spring is in the air, the exams will be followed by a long weekend break, new classes will start, new Faculty be met, and spring will turn to summer…

And the roller coaster ride continues – a second round of revision and exams, company visits, the program quickly half way over as the pressure builds.

A trip around the world together, summer vacation.

Another module, career search in full swing, a digital lab, ICPs, electives.

The ride is nearing its end, adrenaline levels calm with a certain surprise that it’s over already, goodbyes approach.

But there’s one final swoop – awards and celebrations, the graduation ceremony and family reunions, the rush of success – yes, you did it ! You are an IMD MBA graduate ready for the next stage of your career with 89 lifelong friends to support you along the way.

group graduationPRG_1165r

Good luck to the class of 2018 on the first round of exams!

Suzy

Real Learning

The very intense learning style in the past two months has brought us to this week where we’ve seen an amalgamation of different topics. Streams such as Marketing, Operations, Finance, Strategy, Organizational behavior etc are blending in seamlessly into the group work and case studies and we as students are looking at each problem from a combination of these very different perspectives.

The Entrepreneurship stream saw a session from Patrick Hoffman who is the CEO of OtradaGen, a pig farming startup from Russia. We saw a passionate and hands-on entrepreneur talking about how technology and changing regulations helped OtradaGen in becoming one of the top pig farming companies in Russia. Pig farming is traditionally a male-dominated industry, and Russia is often perceived as a male dominated place. Patrick, as a newcomer to the industry, tried many things, one of which was to change the male-dominant workplace by giving most key positions to women.

The Finance stream especially has been an efficient and uncluttered learning experience. From the basics of valuing investments to evaluating large scale projects in corporations, the evolution has been seamless. We had our last Finance class with Prof. Salvatore Cantale last week from this module. It was an absolute privilege to learn basic corporate finance through his engaging style infused with funny skiing stories.

Picture_Salvo

The Operations classes have been packed with a multitude of information from various aspects of supply chain management taught through case studies, group exercises, in-class simulations and presentations from the participants with operations experience. We learned about efficient supply chain systems and turnarounds through guest speakers from the industry and concluded the Operations class last week with an interesting session on sustainable sourcing.  Again, it was a pleasure to learn from Prof. Ralf Seifert who is continually pushing the experience with his teaching methods.

Picture_Ralf

To celebrate International Women’s day on the 8th of March, we had a wonderful speech from Hanne de Mora who talked about her most consistent themes of leadership- Entrepreneurship, problem solving and independence. She took all our eager questions on diversity and impact in organizations with ease and inspired us with her energy and enthusiasm.

We are now almost at the end of Module 1. The integrative exercises begin in a couple of days where we get a chance to test our group dynamics and understanding of the business concepts and apply them to real world situations. Until then, the weather in Lausanne has improved quite a bit and has given us a chance to go out and explore more of the city.

Parth

LinkedIn

Featured image of a Lausanne Sunset from Veronika Raszler, MBA candidate class of 2018

Breakfast Buffet

Week 5 of the program just finished. We are all past the stage of polite introductions, acknowledgements and acquaintance. Everyone now has relatable experiences to bind them together. Sleepless nights, business cases, leadership lab and the upcoming personal development elective. Conveniently we are starting to see a beautiful cohesion in the content taught at the program and also in the group work we are assigned to complete.

Throughout the week, we learnt how to position a company in the market using its competitive advantage. We also learnt what it meant to enter a mature and competitive market and conversely how to respond to such an entry. We looked at some of the most operationally efficient companies in the world and analyzed their value chains to understand and quantify the competitive advantage. We got an interesting introduction to Finance and got first hand experience on how to build internal cash flows for evaluating several strategies of a business. All of this tied into our increasing understanding of microeconomics, regulation and partnerships. Its quite impressive how this much information got condensed into a week and even more impressive how we’ve been able to keep up with the content. It felt like we’ve been served all of this introductory content as a humongous buffet. Can’t wait to see what’s up for lunch.

Even with so much happening in the class, some of us found time to self-reflect, hit the gym, square off at table tennis and go out to some famous spots in Lausanne. All in all a very eventful week at IMD.

TT

Feature image: Aptly, I decided to get some breakfast buffet and watch the snowflakes settle on a quiet Sunday

Parth

LinkedIn

For this week, I asked some of my classmates for their opinions on the program and the content:

“I don’t think you can truly appreciate the poetic beauty hidden in a fully integrated and meticulously coordinated MBA course load until your Economics professor quotes your Marketing professor in good-humor at 8am on a sunny Friday morning… Coffee in hand, lake in backdrop, 90 people chuckling in unison – IMD, you rock! :D” – Veronika Raszler

“IMD is full of surprises. In trying to find a method in this madness, I have turned some acquaintances into friends and also started an exciting journey of learning and self awareness. Just waiting to see how the coming 10 months will unfold.” – Sonia Sachdeva

“My first weeks at IMD flew by in the blink of an eye. I hardly believe that a month has passed since I met 89 extraordinary colleagues who will surely become life-time friends. IMD has managed to constantly surprise me with inspiring and fascinating classes. This month has shown me that the journey will be intense but extremely rewarding!”  – Guilherme Mendes

“IMD’s MBA has been a great start to my leadership development journey. The learning has challenged my assumptions and changed the lens through which I see the world around me. It has been a truly transformational experience. I’m really excited about the rest of the year and beyond.” – Praveen Sam

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.

work_in_progress

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.

team_logos

*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

 

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!”