Narrating the journey

As one of the four official bloggers who will share their MBA experiences at IMD, using this space to highlight both highs and lows (after all, experiencing setbacks and learning how to navigate through murky waters is also an integral part of a transformative journey) over the next 12 months, I think it only makes sense to use this first post of mine to explain why I decided to come here, describe what I hope to achieve through this blog and briefly introduce my background in the process, before Priyanka, Sathappan and Mohammed do the same over the next few days. Continue reading “Narrating the journey”

Emotionally numbered, analytically sentimental

I need to apologize for my long silence in the blog. I must acknowledge, that my IMD experience goes far beyond schooling, projects or class experience. When I packed my suitcases to come here six months ago, I thought I knew everything I put there. However, just like in books of Milorad Pavic, all of a sudden I found the whole bunch of stuff. Continue reading “Emotionally numbered, analytically sentimental”

We survived the exams!

Hello there from a much lighter and warmer atmosphere!

I really can’t believe the first exams are behind us… Yay!
I think everybody was tired and stretched last month. For me, personally, it was really challenging. It was the build up of many sleepless nights and intense reflections on the future. I must admit I was even a bit cranky sometimes…haha… poor classmates 🙂
But back to the exams: I have to share with you what I saw happening here on campus! I was so touched by the super collaborative atmosphere. People studying together everywhere (day and night), sharing insights, tips and shortcuts. A lot of people gave up their study time to help the ones struggling…
I thought it really reflected the IMD spirit. No competition at all, rather a genuine interest in achieving together… amazing!
For me it was a bit scary to tackle Finance and especially Accounting. I couldn’t believe when I finished the exams and actually felt good about them!!!
May I take the time to thank everyone that helped me with materials, encouraging words, and their precious time. I would like to thank especially Neha Kabra, Renato Gonzaga, Lucas Seoane and Gustavo Zanini. I wouldn’t have made it without you! 🙂
Now we look into module 2 with great expectations. The best part about being in a frontloaded program is that the future always seem more fun and interesting. I am super excited about the new classes like Strategy, Innovation and International Management.
Stay tuned!
Wishing you the best from a warmer Lausanne,

The Power of Authenticity

As we approach the finish line of the first part of the program (and the dreaded exams) the overall energy of the class is much more on the lower side than before… The exhaustion starts to pile up and what I see is not a change in the attitude, is really that people are too tired, overworked and worried to be able to “shine” through.

I believe it’s all part of the process…. But the reason I bring that up is because I’ve witnessed the power of authenticity and leadership with a speaker last week:

Imagine that tired, overworked class mentioned above. Add to that a full day of Accounting. Can you feel the energy?

Yes… we were pretty much dead when a 1994 IMD MBA Alumni bursted into the case discussion. No introductions, he just shows up and takes the lead of the discussion. He was actually the manager of the case we were studying and we started to discuss and question his decisions openly. Everyone was hypnotized and fully tuned in. He completely owned the room with his consistent confidence on not necessarily unanimous statements and decisions.

The Balanced ScoreCard case turned into a session on Leadership, Life and Values. It was so authentic and powerful that his lessons still echo in our coffee breaks and dungeons.

Here are some of the lessons that caught my attention:

SUCCESS – Be very good at something specific and only then start to broaden out. Have 1 or 2 mentors that you can rely on for candid unbiased guidance. Be happy with your family/loved ones.

TIME MANAGEMENT – Be present wherever you are and really connect with whoever is with you. Best way to be productive is to use your time fully and well.

LUCK – Is about attitude and how you deal with things in your life. Being open and positive will “attract” luck or transform situations.

DECISION MAKING – Assess what you can assess, but then make a decision and move forward. Don’t look back.

GIVING BACK – Always do something outside of yourself. Do things for other people in their best interests. “You learn, You earn and You return!”

And the advice for us during the MBA year?

  • Use this year to make a change
  • Take personal risk, don’t overprotect
  • Experiment with yourself/your facets
  • Refigure out who you want to be and what you want to do
  • Hone yourself to be the best person you can be

Thanks Leif for bringing him and giving us that energizing session!

Now back to the studies… and good luck to all of us on the exams!


Finally Spring is here

Since we celebrated the arrival of Spring in the Eastern-European traditional manner last Friday, the weather has been wonderful here in Lausanne. It was helpful to get us through the past week, and through this coming one hopefully, the last  before the exams prep.

On the first day of spring according to Swiss standards, I though I would share my picture from this nice celebration.

Spring celebration.jpg


Reflections on my MBA admission journey

Blog posts are getting a bit irregular as some of you might have noticed- a sign of things to come. As mentioned in my previous post, the honeymoon period is over and now is the time to deliver. Deliver on projects, integrative, start-ups and shortly on exams too. We are fully embedded in IMD now and there has been no better reminder of this fact than all the queries I and my classmates are receiving from potential candidates on our MBA experience.

We are indeed, finally living those “plans” that once seemed eternally futuristic. All the apprehensions, hopes, concerns and expectations we had from an MBA program are unfolding in front of our eyes one after the other and therefore it is only natural that those who aspire to be on this campus next year look to us for counsel. So let me use this post to share some advise I received from my IMD seniors when I was doing my application.

1) Get clarity on why you want to do an MBA – it took me a while to polarize this question. I could always come up with alternative narratives for my career that included and excluded an MBA. There are many different models to think about one’s future career. We can think of our career as a “business venture” in which we make investments and hope to get back financial returns. We can think of it as a continuous learning journey where at each next step we seek new knowledge or as my senior suggested we can think of it as an athelete’s pursuit – where we will do all that it will take to make us perform at our full potential. None of these models are right or wrong but it is worth noting that you have to find the metaphor for your career which will be distinct from others and see how an MBA fits into it.

2) Know your MBA college – It is critical that once you have made your mind to do an MBA you must put in a lot of effort to fully understand which college works best for you. This is important not only because you have to spend 1 or 2 years of your life in that place but also because for the rest of your life that college remains a part of you – what do you want that part to stand for?  My senior advised me that an MBA admission is not a one way selection process. It is in fact a test for compatibility. Use every opportunity to know the school, just as the school is trying to use every opportunity to know you (oh yes!  those casual chats at the end of the assessment day were not so casual after all – be in your element always). Talk to current students, spend a lot of time on the website, talk to alumni and make your own decision. Find your inspiration to join that school.

3) Stop second guessing the admission officer’s mind – One question I seem to be getting quite often these days is “Kunal, I have a poor GPA but my GMAT is high, do you think the admission officer will overlook my grades?” or something similar. The honest answer to all such questions is – I dont know. And in fact I can bet you no one knows what is going through the admission officer’s mind and it shouldnt be your concern at all, simply because you cannot influence it. You can only spend your valuable energy worrying about it. What you can influence though is your application. You can put up for consideration your best self as reflected in the application and that is where you must focus your energy.

4) Take pride in yourself – This last piece of advise I received from my senior was quite critical. Often when we read sample essays etc. we tend to walk away with a feeling that we must put up a story that is completely ironed, spotless and smells of prodigious talent. We tend to find ways to hide our failures and amplify our successes. But in fact we must take pride in our failures and successes alike. We must spend time thinking what have we learnt from our experiences and showcase the learning journey. Taking pride in our journey does not mean being arrogant rather having a silent confidence that we are better off for “all” our experiences.

I hope some of this is useful and in passing on this advise, I have done justice to the message of my senior. It is worthwhile to highlight though that these were the things I personally found valuable in my journey and not all of this will be applicable to every future candidate. But the point is to know what really matters and focus your energies on that. Continue your quest that will hopefully guide you to your decisions. And lastly, dont forget to find your inspiration.



Photo blog: MBAs hit Istanbul (Nicholas Allan)

After our final exams, the MBA immediately (and literally, immediately!) decamped to Istanbul for a week of lectures and fun. I wrote about our experience of Turkey but now, here are some photos of the fantastic time we had, organised by the wonderful Gitte-Marie.

The gents had a mousetache growing competition

We spent most of our time trying not to lose the IMD sign in the throng of Istanbul

We had some very intense discussions…

…that also made us laugh

We saw the sights…


…and sampled the local beverages

We visited companies…

…ate on rooftops…

…and cruised the Bosphorus

Most of all, we learnt a lot and had a fantastic time!