MBA Lorange Auditorium

I have always wanted to write a blog, but I haven’t so far. Stating petty reasons like, ‘I don’t have the time’ or ‘It’s not the right time for that thought’ or ‘I am not sure if I want my weird thoughts published’!

Today was different.

Like every other night, I was lying on my bed reminiscing about the interesting conversations I had and the interesting events that unfolded today. One train of thought led to another and I started wondering why every IMD alumni that I have spoken to has always exclaimed how life-changing their year at IMD has been and how much they treasure their IMD memories. What makes this experience so special? The place. The faculty. The sessions. The MBA program team. The food. The coffee.

Yes, all these factors and a special element that ties all these together – You – the people whom I share this year with. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am incredibly lucky to have had the pleasure of knowing you. And, it all started here in the Lorange auditorium!

As I mentioned earlier, today was different.

Today, I wanted to write my thoughts down because I simply couldn’t brush off the significance of this day. The last day we will be seated in the Lorange auditorium ‘together’ for a session. The place where we discovered each other, learnt from each other, critiqued each other and pushed each other to be better. A place where we shared tons of laughter, glances, pictures (of each other; often ending up as memes) and inside jokes!

A place we can proudly call ‘Our Safe Space’!

Our first day in the MBA Lorange Auditorium

I started wondering how Lorange got its name. It is a pity that this thought crossed my mind only now because my curiosity led me to discover Mr. Peter Lorange, former President of IMD. As I browsed through his work and his articles, I came across this thought that could have potentially gone into the design of Lorange:

Typically, all classrooms and study rooms should have high ceilings, with windows to allow natural light in. Even though it has not been scientifically proven, it seems plausible that good learning is associated with high ceilings, i.e.  no heavy structure from above “hanging in one’s face,” potentially cluttering one’s mind. Daylight, as well, is probably associated with good learning – we feel that light stimulates a positive mindset and prevents feelings of sluggishness after a day in the classroom.

History is fascinating, isn’t it.

Well, it is 2:30 am now. Too many thoughts are running in the back of my mind – career plan, presentation for the digital lab and the fact that I might regret it if I don’t go to sleep soon!

What is front and center is the amount of time (3 months!) that is remaining between today and graduation.

I am going to make every single day count! And today, I choose to simply enjoy our last day ‘together’ at Lorange.

Tamil Vardani

Digital Analytics Lab Photo Overview

The focus of this week has been Digital Analytics, with the MBAs learning and applying various analytical and programming skills, including Python. Since Monday, each team has been competing to crack the different elements of a case, using and fine tuning their newly acquired coding skills. By Friday, they have to present their final findings. Which group will succeed first? Who will get the most accurate results? With final presentations due tomorrow morning, the atmosphere in the study rooms is very intense!

3 Leadership Learnings from ‘Paddle for Cancer Support’ Dragon Boat Racing

Twelve IMD MBA’s had the opportunity to participate in “ESCA Paddle for Cancer Support” Dragon boat Festival held at Lac de Joux on Sunday 1st September. Together with professors and staff, we teamed up to form a 40 people contingent of paddlers and supporters from IMD. 

Since 2009, IMD has proudly taken part in the Dragon Boat races to raise funds to support English-speaking cancer patients and their families in the Lac Léman region. IMD President Jean-Francois Manzoni, IMD’s management team and the MBA Program Dean, Sean Meehan, are equally dedicated to supporting this cause and encourage inclusiveness between the staff and MBA participants to help to solidify the IMD community.

Two Teams – IMD Real Impact (Captain Kei Takizawa), and IMD Real Learning (Captain Arturo Bris) battled in the corporate category. We competed in three dragon boat races of 350m each with the top teams qualifying for the finals. My team, IMD Real Impact qualified for the finals and finished with the fastest timing – topping the IMD score board from the past 10 years.

We came in Top 5 out of 21 corporate teams, registering a 25% improvement in the final race, and concluding at 1.66 sec from a podium finish.

Over the past six years, I have been part of various dragon boat races with the Ministry of Health corporate team in Singapore. Here are some of the leadership learnings that I would like to share as the team pacer from the Lac de Joux race experience.

COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY

It doesn’t matter how much we know. What matters is how clearly others can understand what we know,

says Simon Sinek.

It was hugely visible as many of us were paddling for the first time. As a leader, simple and effective communication to the team on what to do and how to do it is crucial. 

STRATEGIZE A GOOD EXECUTION

A good beginning is half the battle won.

Undoubtedly in dragon boat races, a sound strategy and good start are essential. In order to win a race in competitions and businesses alike, a well-defined strategy is not enough; the right execution of the plans is the key. Strategy needs to be complemented by strong execution.

BACK THE TEAM AND MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM

When you focus your attention on your intention, you gain momentum.

Dragon boating is the ultimate team sport. Field the group with high energy, execute a good start, and continue the pace – keeping an eye on the momentum of your boat. Back the team and trust the process. Keep learning and continue to apply those learnings.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the IMD “Paddle for Cancer Support” organizing committee:  Aurelia Held, Lucy Jay-Kennedy and Kathy Schwarz for the overall planning, logistics, catering,  travel, and everything else. And to Professors Arturo Bris, Arnaud Chevallier, Albrecht Enders and Omar Toulan amongst others for their great camaraderie, strategic insights and enthusiastic support.

Here’s a short souvenir video to relish the best moments: https://youtu.be/xLPdbISDJyE

Shriekanth Iyer

So why IMD?

You might think that I should have asked myself this question long before I signed the papers. And you are right! That’s what I did, but reading about the journey and jumping on the plane are two different things.

With over 6 years of management consulting experience in my backpack, it was time to rethink: who I was as a professional; what led me to where I was (scary thought); and what I needed to rethink to move forward (even scarier). IMD’s focus on leadership and the mysterious PDE (Personal Development Elective – 20 individual sessions with a pyschoanalyst) were at the core of what brought me here.

Now, several months into the program, with countless classes, multiple PDE hours, extensive coaching sessions, challenging leadership experientials and a file of reflection papers, comes the moment to reflect … was it worth it? Oh yes, it was.

Firstly, I tend to call the stream ‘the total leadership stream’. I say it as it covers a very broad spectrum of what leadership is in today’s complex environment – starting from typical suspects such as self-discovery (e.g. through psychological tests), team dynamics and building and managing high performance teams through less obvious topics of ethics, culture, lie detection and trust building to unique 1-2-1 psychoanalysis sessions.

Secondly, it is immersive. Quite often we discuss leadership as an abstract concept in a vacuum. It is easier to discuss it when you analyze a scientific paper or when you work on team dynamics in a laboratory-like exercise. And do not get me wrong – these are great experiences… to start with. At IMD the leadership stream goes further and is an integral part of the entire program. Innovation week? Sure, why not add coaches to the team to facilitate team dynamics learning on a real project. Start-up projects and ICPs (International Consulting Projects)? Why not include coaches again to teach us how to open ourselves up and build trust through team bonding exercises. These are practical tools we can bring to the professional life post-MBA.

Lastly, it goes deep. Going through leadership experientials where we were put under pressure as a team to observe and learn about the team dynamics or facing uncomfortable questions during the coaching and PDE sessions were not easy. IMD created an environment where we could put away our personas to work with the true “us”, with all its beauty but also with all its imperfections. Hours of honest conversations helped me to confront my demons and that was a very helpful experience.

The Leadership stream is truly the foundation of IMD MBA program. It transforms you in so many ways, repairing some of the damage you carry and opening eyes to the areas you have never looked at. It’s a fascinating, yet oftentimes painful journey. As with everything in life, there is no free lunch. To get the most out of it, you need to open up, face the uncomfortable truths about yourself and help others through sometimes very tough conversations.

If you are looking to transform who you are, IMD MBA is the place for you. If not, then hmm … there are many other MBA programs that are perhaps a better fit 🙂

Thank you Jennifer Jordan, Ina Toegel, George Kohlrieser, Bettina Court and all other faculty, coaches and PDE analysts who are with us along this journey of the discovery of self and the world around us!

Lukasz

Keep Calm, and Embrace the Chaos

What happens when you hurtle ahead from January through June at breakneck speed, and then suddenly pull those screeching brakes?

You catch up on your “do-absolutely-nothing” debt.

During glorious July, the much-needed month off in the IMD MBA program, I, and most of the class, purposefully did nothing of obvious value, unless you consider puttering around the house and meandering through glistening malls, frigid with air conditioning, in the middle of a desert nation, productive. I do. My best ideas arise in sloth.

IMG_0389.JPGSea view from the Arabian Gulf on a hot, lazy day in Dubai

And now we are back in lovely, sunkissed Lausanne. Whizzing through Finance, Negotiations, Structured Thinking, and most recently, Leadership sessions on distinguishing between truth and lies. With my peers, Takashi and Jia, I’ll be doing project work with IMD alumni looking to bring precision agriculture to East Africa. Plus, International Consulting Project (ICP) prep is underway. Also, recruiting is officially ramping up! In just two weeks!

I blocked this weekend for quiet time, hoping that if nothing else, I can assimilate in my mind the learnings of early August. And yes, we learned loads about valuation from Professor Arturo Bris, honed our negotiation skills with Professor Sam Abadir, pushed our logic and structuring capabilities with Professor Arnaud Chevallier, discussed culture and strategy with Professor Ina Toegel, and took on the beast that is “difficult conversations” with Professor Jennifer Jordan.

This immense trove of knowledge is valuable when we are in the right state to use it. An overarching lesson is the acceptance of uncontrollable factors. You can read and test as many frameworks as you like, test a million scenarios and have all manner of analytics and research at your disposal. The outcome of it all, our efforts, the risks we take, remains unknown. And maybe being at peace with darkness is an answer. Maybe as we cross the chasm, from being frantic about output versus serene and focused on the process, we evolve from our former selves to impactful leaders. So, there is power in just this, being okay with the unknown.

IMG_9654.jpegLac Léman tranquility

Whether we look at the time value of money, understanding our position versus who we are negotiating with, grasping the emotions behind the misgivings of a disgruntled colleague, or structuring options to approach an abstract problem, the present moment is all that matters. The past can cloud judgment, in finance and feelings, and the future sits on so many variables beyond our influence. Suddenly the concept of mindfulness doesn’t seem as restricted to yoga-studio, crunchy granola stereotypes as it previously did. It applies to our everyday dealings, especially in business.

I am grateful to our wonderful Sports Committee for organizing yoga classes. Simple things like deep breathing and self-awareness are gold when navigating the rest of this program, which has made a marked shift from the first academically focused half, to now, when we’re practicing cases and feverishly writing cover letters.

One thing is for sure, I will schedule “aimless time” on a weekly basis, even if for a few minutes. Because when the world is still and your calendar isn’t pinging in nagging anticipation for your next commitment, you can reconnect with the person who brought you here in the first place, “pre-IMD you”. You can remember her dreams, recharge, and redirect your efforts, so that, in spite of the unpredictable nature of all things external, you can be sure of one thing, your sense of self.

Signing off with this tribute to Toni Morrison, the first African-American writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, who passed on last week.

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Surbhi

One Year at IMD: it’s all about us and about all of us

Admission to IMD was an unexpected ticket for our family. We used the last deadline to submit our application last year, so had no time for fears.

We married in February 2015, our son Anton was born in January 2018, and my husband, Alexander, moved to Lausanne for his MBA in January 2019, just before Anton’s first birthday party.

Us in Moscow, last year

I was on the way to visit my parents near Moscow. I still needed more time to think and realize what had happened to us. I was sure Alex had got a lucky ticket for his career, but had no idea what was in that year for me.

I am a careerist and a successful journalist in Moscow, Russia. We had been enjoying a very smart life here, but now my comfortable and predictable life was under threat.

I am not a woman who follows, but it was impossible to work full time in Moscow with a baby. Finally, I decided to live in both countries – that was my safe step. And I came to Lausanne in February.

Here are some conclusions from my experience

  • IMD year is a great challenge for relationships. If you manage you become stronger. The main thing for me was to get freedom to stay in Moscow, the main thing for Alex – freedom to go to Lausanne. This trust to be free has made us closer.
  • This has been a good opportunity to reconsider our values. The price of the year is comparable with the price for a nice apartment in Moscow – considered the biggest asset in life by most people in Russia.
  • Now I value my husband and all our relatives much more. We used to live rather independently. This year I’m getting a lot of help from our relatives and have realised how great it is to have support.
  • I am learning a lot about my personality. I have gone a great way from unconscious fear to self confidence and inner freedom. I have become stronger and wiser. I am coping and learning to be open-minded like the MBA-participants.
  • This summer I have started new projects for which I did not have enough energy before, and am returning to Moscow motivated for new experiences.
  • I am still not a woman who follows, but I am really proud of Alex and of being his partner and am sure that we can both develop ourselves.
Anton and I at one of the IMD MBA Partner lunches

So if your partner enters IMD, it’s not only their MBA. It’s an MBA year for all of you – partners and relatives. IMD is all about us as it changes and motivates all of us.

Anna Chukseeva