Two months have passed since my last entry here. That was not supposed to happen. Yet, it did, affecting once again the German regularity on which I usually like to rely when it comes to structuring my schedule. As the speed of the program increased again during May and the first week of June, priorities shifted toward the execution of various tasks, leaving reflection and introspection on the side for a while. Boxes had to be ticked off. While some of it felt like jumping through the hoops, fuelling my more rebellious side whose disdain for grades seems to increase exponentially as I get older, going through the various simulations provided me with team experiences that I will cherish for some time and look back to as some of the defining moments of my stay here. Continue reading “Continua a muoverti”
Run, rabbit, run
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don’t sit down, it’s time to dig another one
I have been a huge Pink Floyd fan and some of the lyrics of this song beautifully capture our last few weeks or months at IMD. While there is genuine intent on our part to keep you all updated with our lives here, we have been running around in the last days not only preparing for our exams but also searching for our ceps. This point in time at IMD seems special almost like the pivoting point in a thriller.. the moment when things suddenly change… Pivoting point for us as we will not be together as a bunch of 90 in the Lorange auditorium for many of the next weeks. NTF preparation and presentation will be followed by our trips to London, Munich and Zurich before we break for summer. Pivoting point also because we switch gears to spend more time planning our careers post IMD. Many of us have been getting queries from the upcoming batch about our apartments which is stark realization of the fact that time is flying. While so many things are similar, many more will change.
Before the exams, we ended the finance stream which was an emotional moment for us as a class. It was an absolute pleasure to learn from Prof Nuno and we can’t thank him enough for making this experience indeed a very memorable one. Another exciting stream was the strategy class by Prof Mishiek. External and internal consistency in strategy, role of game theory in determining competitor moves are some of the many tools that we learnt in these classes and the experience has been extremely rewarding and so much fun. As much as one always hears of the networking component in the MBA program, I strongly believe that the academics and the tools that we learn in classes go a long way in helping us analyze new businesses, industries and make better decisions as managers.
Many such courses present a tangible “value proposition” and it is easy to understand why we need them. Yet there are many other classes which have shaped my opinions and ideas in different ways. It is these courses that have helped me appreciate perspectives diametrically opposite to mine. I have learnt to better understand and respect such ideas even if not accept them.
Talking about breath, the end of exams gave us an opportunity to catch a breath albeit a very short one. This time around, it was a day trip for the class to Morzine. After spending so much time in L’Orange and Dungeons in the last few months, the boat ride to Thonon felt unreal. I had to pinch myself multiple times to believe it was true! The weather was perfect and this trip was no work and all fun. On that note, I leave you with a picture from the trip that is more than symbolic of our journey in the MBA program.
Till the next time..
As the intense first module of the program came to a close with exams and an all too short Easter break, the second module is already making us yearn for more time off. Accounting, Operations, and Entrepreneurship classes have come to an official close as Strategy, Negotiation, Innovation, and International Political Economy have kicked off. In a way, I feel that we’re starting to move past the fundamentals and going towards the more macro-level courses that prepare us for the real world and the new skills we need in today’s job market, which is great.
Highlights from the past month include our Innovation week where we were split up into groups and tasked with designing a prototype to improve patient quality of life using design-thinking principles, which Suzy touched on in a blog post below. Immediately following the Innovation week, we had our IPE (International Political Economy) week during which we had dozens of speakers covering various issues ranging from migration to sustainability.
On top of this, we had a number of very high-profile C-level guest speakers from leading companies such as Novartis, Nestle, Tag Heuer, and IBM. I would definitely say the guest speakers were the highlight of the past month. I felt that it was a testament to IMD’s clout in the business world that such senior corporate leaders were taking the time to speak with us and it is definitely a much-appreciated part of the program.
As job hunting season is starting, we are also starting to go through several Career Services sessions covering topics including salary negotiations and interviews. Many of us are now working hard to secure our Company Engagement Projects (summer internships) and some are even starting to interview for full-time roles after graduation.
All of this has been happening on top of our regular class schedule and all the projects and assignments that come with it. Looking ahead, there’s no sign of it letting up before exams as several 12-14 hour days are coming up this week in the form of more class simulations and integrative exercises. Needless to say, I have definitely been feeling extremely time-poor as I struggle to have a semblance of a social life outside of IMD’s walls and keep up with basic errands without feeling guilty about falling behind on schoolwork. Fitting in the time to write this already delinquent blog post was not easy and trying to find the energy to tackle the job hunt in a systematic way early on is tough. As I look around, I can definitely sense that the overall class energy levels have drained significantly compared to the first couple of months.
That being said, we are all surviving and I am definitely learning a lot about how to manage energy levels with this much going on. At the end of the day, we are all going through the same thing together and the solidarity that comes from the tight knit 90-person class is keeping us all sane. My next post will be after exams so hope to have a bit more of my positive energy and vibes by then!
Til next time!
It has been over 4 months since we started here at IMD. We are done with first term exams and the results have started to trickle down. Before you know it, next term is on us. Four more weeks and we will have our second term exams. A lot of exciting things to come after the second term exams – Navigating the future conferences, Company engagement projects, International consulting projects and above all the intense phase of career talks. Stay tuned!
There are two oft-repeated slides by almost all professors. One with the iceberg and another with some form of “what got you here will not get you there”. They are kinda interlinked.
For me personally, the last four months have been intense and also emotional to some extent. In a matter of few weeks, IMD has this way of breaking you down completely. Within weeks, I started doubting all my hard and soft skills. The leadership experiential simulated a tough environment and showed me how I react under extreme pressure. The startup project put me in a diverse group of very opinionated people and tested my people skills. All our projects and tight deadlines put me under a lot of pressure in a short span of time. IMD promised a pressure cooker and boy, did it deliver!
I look back at my career so far and I often try to put these 4 months into perspective. Like the other 89 students in my class, I had a decent international experience. I also had modest success in my career. Looking back, I think there were few skills that I had that had helped me in my career. What is amazing is, those skills have not been particularly useful! Now, this is both good and bad. Good because I am adding more skills and difficult experiences to my toolkit. Bad because it makes the journey a lot harder. Why is this the case?
It is almost as if, IMD predicted that students will go through this brooding period this year and added the leadership coach and the Personal development elective in the program. I spend a lot of my time talking to these experienced professionals and psycho-analysts about why I do what I do. I also talk about why others do what they do and how I am knowingly and unknowingly influencing them. To me, these discussions have been pretty eye-opening. I certainly hope I take these learning back to whichever company I end up working for.
This is why I think the iceberg makes an excellent example. Our actions and reactions to things in life usually have the visible component and the invisible component. IMD is constantly showing us we need to be aware of the invisible component. This is why I think what got me here will not get me there. The world is full of challenges ahead. Dealing with ambiguity in life and in career is common place. The companies we all hope to work for after MBA and roles we hope to get will be more challenging than we did before MBA. If anything the pressure will be higher than it is now.
No one can be prepared for every challenge and every opportunity, but it is possible to pick up the fundamentals that can be applied to analyse problems. I believe that is what I am learning here and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to look at daily occurrences in life in a different way. From conversations with classmates, almost all of them are going through something similar this year.
Career services update:
Our IMD CV version is now officially done. We were told the CV books have been published to the recruiters. Our calendar for June is full of career talks by companies. As early as June we will begin mock interviews and case preparation etc. The next 7 months of the program looks as action-packed as the last 4.
Keep calm and carry on.
“Spring is the time of plans and projects” said Tolstoy in Anna Kareina and this reflects so aptly in our time at IMD. The first block of the program is done, exams seem long gone and we are trying to get back to the rhythm of life in school post Easter. The chatter about finding Company Engagement Projects (CEP) is getting louder while classes are picking up pace. This phase marks a transition in many ways: From our startup groups to the new ones, from Accounting and Finance to just Finance and from the academic rigour to thinking about our careers. From an academic perspective, we just wrapped up a course on Negotiations and started Strategy too. All in all many new things are coming up. And while there are new beginnings, this phase also marks the end of courses such as Entrepreneurship which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t think of any place else where I could have learnt to dissect a VC term sheet so well! All credit to Prof Benoit Leleux. The individual learning definitely matters but after having attended over 500 hours of classes, the beauty for me lies in tying it all together and fitting it like the blocks of a jigsaw puzzle.
Talking about transition, writing this post felt very difficult. A lot has been happening post the break and yet I am finding it hard to put my finger onto something specific. A part of the difficulty in writing this post is also attributed to all the assignments (write-ups) that were due or announced just after we got back from Easter. As I wrestle to get out of catch-up mode, I have been using the very limited time left to think about my career options post IMD. Having always worked in a bank, trying to do something completely different for my CEP has been playing on my mind. After all there seems to be no better way to experiment and learn! A lot of my classmates are in a similar frame of mind and with so many of us coming from different industries and backgrounds, talking and exchanging ideas is definitely helping!
Our life here is in transition but so is the weather. Spring has brought some sunny and beautiful days to Lausanne and there seems to be no better way to make use of this time than getting out of the dungeons. All work and no play for sure makes Jack a dull boy 🙂 So on a very bright and a lovely Saturday afternoon we gathered together to celebrate Abeer and Sophie’s daughters’ Viola and Chloe’s birthday! Sunday was amazing too as many of the IMDers participated in the Lausanne 10km and 20 km run while others cheered! It’s hard to imagine how close we have all gotten in the last 4 months.
Writing this post has also made me realize that time has been flying. Almost a year ago at this very time I was here for my assessment day. This is a very different May and at this pace December would be knocking on our doors faster than I could imagine! But that is still some time away and till then we are all here as a batch to welcome the transition into summer and autumn..
As the TGV from Paris to Lausanne blasts through the French countryside, green patches of forests and yellow fields of rapeseed zipping behind the window, sounds of French, Swiss German and English colliding in this wagon number 6, I catch myself gazing into the distance, mentally going through the last twelve weeks at IMD before diving back into it after a short 4-day break over Easter.
Having put both mind and body through the MBA grinder over the past few months, I know more or less what’s coming now; the rhythm of the program has been internalised. Regarding how I approached the challenges of the past three months, my personal assessment remains – however – slightly tainted with mixed feelings.
Spending a tremendous amount of time and energy on group works, to the detriment of individual exam preparations, might have been a costly choice (I will find out about that once the marks fly in). On the other hand, as pointed out in a reassuring manner by a wise soul, coming here to focus on acquiring knowledge through readings and individual studies wasn’t the objective from the get-go. There are multiple other ways of doing just that at lesser costs than those of an MBA.
I also gravitated – naturally – towards tasks that suited my interests more than others, thereby missing some valuable opportunities to extend beyond the reaches of my comfort zone. I have to remind myself that strengths are not lost because they stop being used for a few weeks or months, but that not taking chances when opportunities to enlarge myself manifest ultimately prevents me from building up new ones.
As someone who usually requires a lot of space to roam and changes of scenery to thrive, spending so much time inside the IMD bubble sometimes felt like going against my very own nature. I must concede that – although I continue to believe that being here and experiencing all this is a real privilege – I did have moments when the routine of certain parts of the program felt constraining. After some initial resistance and just like during my previous studies, I arrived at the conclusion that the captivity and immobility of the body is sometimes necessary for the mind to unleash.
“…the overflow of my brain would probably, in a state of freedom, have evaporated in a thousand follies; it needs trouble and difficulty to hollow out various mysterious and hidden mines of human intelligence.
Pressure is required, you know, to ignite powder: captivity has collected into one single focus all the floating faculties of my mind; they have come into close contact in the narrow space in which they have been wedged. You know that from the collision of clouds electricity is produced and from electricity comes the lightning from whose flash we have light amid our greatest darkness.” (Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo)
The coming transition from a purely class-driven setting to a broader environment, encompassing Company Engagement and – later on – International Consulting Projects around the globe, hints at the importance of making the most out of this remaining period with the entire class before we all scatter like sand in the wind. Some of us are thinking of going into Venture Capital in Japan for the one-month break in July, others are keen to explore the healthcare sector in Switzerland, others again mention Hyperloop One in Dubai; the range is mind-boggling.
I personally find myself moving back and forth between the possibility of going for something completely out of the ordinary that will remain with me as a unique experience (think NGOs in Emerging Economies) or opt for a more strategic approach and select an industry I have a knack for in order to gain some precious on-the-job experience before graduating at the end of the year. The debate is still raging inside of me at this stage, fuelled by the desire for social conformity and a more risk-averse approach on one hand, while at the same time, I can’t deny the opposing desire to completely discard all those external factors and hope for the fire inside me to eventually burn brighter than the one around me. Rage on.
As Sathappan mentionned in his blog earlier this week, the first round of exams are approaching and we can all feel the tension building in the class. For the MBA Team, this is normal and expected, a pattern that is repeated each year. But we are not the ones having to do the actual juggling of deadlines and exam prep!
On our side, Career Services have been focusing on releasing the 2017 Class Profiles. These are now available, and if you haven’t already taken a look, they’re a great way to get an overview of each of our participants and their career achievements prior to IMD. This in turn should help you to decide if you would fit in a similar group – could you learn from them and could they learn something from you?
Some interesting statistics about this class:
62% have lived in over three different countries for six months or more
61% already have a Masters or PhD
45% have prior startup experience
It’s seems strange to think this year’s class has only been on campus for a few months, and yet the first round of admissions for 2018 is already finished, offers have been made and the first seats for next year’s class have been filled.
Last weekend saw the second application deadline, and we’ve received some great applications. The admissions team is now reading all the files and then we’ll once again face the tough job of deciding who should be invited for an interview – either here on campus as usual, or alternatively in Singapore or São Paulo next month.
We’ve also organised a variety of options on and off campus for people to get to know us better before June’s third application deadline. If you would like to meet us, all details and registration can be found on our website
After Easter, the MBAs will be adding some new topics to their business skills, including negotiation, strategy, innovation and a week of International Political Economy with about 30 guest speakers coming from renowned organisations around the world – I’m sure they’ll be sharing the details with you.
We wish the MBAs the best of luck with their exams!