Villars: Of Beautiful Vistas and Good Vibes

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First week down!

The IMD MBA Class of 2019 celebrated completing the first week of classes with a weekend trip to Villars-sur-Ollon in the Canton of Vaud. Known for its top-notch boarding schools and pistes primed for skiing and snowboarding, this beautiful village greeted us with seemingly unending blankets of fresh, white, snow.

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We arrived on Saturday afternoon and explored the local market fair while sampling local drinks and delicacies, including hot wine, crepes, and chocolates. It was a fun way to get to know each other beyond the campus setting, soon to become our second home.

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In the evening we boarded the Red Train reserved for the MBA class that took us up into the mountains where a fondue spread awaited us. Dinner was followed by foosball and then the entire class, including our amazing MBA support team, hit the dance floor and caused much revelry atop an otherwise silent mountain late into the night. All 39 nationalities shimmied it up to Shakira and The Black Eyed Peas. As the next few weeks bring us into the throes of finance and accounting and related academic exercises, I expect this memory of a rousing good time will get us through some late group study sessions in the dungeons.

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This morning, in particularly generous snowfall, we headed out for snowshoeing, a first time for many in the group. Among drifting snowflakes and husky-pulled sleds, we enjoyed a truly Swiss experience before heading back to Lausanne, a bit tired, with our fill of new inside jokes and good vibes.

Tomorrow we begin a new week, with new courses and assignments, and no doubt, new challenges for us to grow as humans and leaders.

But we can leave that for another post. Tonight, we dream of snow-covered fir trees 🙂

Surbhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End of a Journey or Is It?

An alum had told me earlier that his IMD year seems almost like a blip now and I had almost refused to believe him.  As we all graduated with our shiny MBA degrees on Friday, I can’t help wondering how quickly it all ended. As my dear friend Andrea said in his Graduation speech, we have reached our last stop and getting off the train is much harder than we could have initially envisaged.  As, I take another train today, I couldn’t help but reminisce about all that I learned here, built here and how desperately I just want to hold on to the nest and the fond memories that I cultivated so lovingly in the last 11 months: Continue reading “The End of a Journey or Is It?”

This is not an MBA

This is a life changing experience, one of those that turn people into who they were supposed to be.
This will be more than an MBA, but only if you let it. Only if you’re willing to put in the effort, if you’re willing to try new things and do what you normally wouldn’t. I’m not talking about the  academic rigorousness and effort required to finish the insurmountable readings, or about the hours needed to deliver all projects on time and the sleepless nights to learn free cash flows, economic theory, strategic positioning, analytics and all that jazz. I’m talking about the resiliency to take no’s, stand back up and dust yourself off, I’m speaking of the courage to have an honest conversation with a teammate, I’m referring to the strength to look into yourself and at your choices, ask why and then change.
This is not an MBA Program and as such it cannot be measured by any regular metrics. It can only be understood through the stories of those who’ve been here, through the lives it changed, the friendships it built, the people it touched.
Thank you, IMD, for taking us in, I feel honored to carry your name.

Joyce

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

Parth

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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