Work Hard, and Play Harder – A retrospect of our “fun” ICP

If you had told me last year that during the MBA I would be working on an international consulting project with a toy brand, and understanding how little kids play with their toys, I would not have believed you; I would not even have been able to imagine it. Yet, after 7 weeks of this fun experience, I am now a proud owner of two sets of our client’s product (Age 16+)!

Our ICP is exactly as advertised: learning through playing. With only a very high-level scope, we were given the maximum freedom to brainstorm innovative ideas from scratch, by talking with experts from different industries and fields, and also by leveraging our learnings from the MBA classes. In order to test our concepts, we went to Germany – the target market – to interview little kids and their mothers. At least for me, I had never imagined that I could have such an insightful dialogue with an 8-year-old. Also, to understand the history and culture of our client, we were invited to visit their establishments and their headquarters for a fully immersive ICP experience.

Learnings have not just been from the project work itself, but also from unexpected places during this playful journey. We were impressed by how innovative our client’s brand has been since its inception, how durable and well received their products are in German families, and how committed the brand is towards a sustainable future – with a constant focus on quality education of the next generations. Personally, I am delighted by the unique sense of humor showcased everywhere in the territory of the brand.

Of course, our ICP team has been just as playful as the client. During these seven weeks, we grew to learn about each other and more importantly, to learn how to perform and at the same time have fun as a team. We worked hard together, and we played hard together as well. We acknowledged every progress, and we celebrated every small success; we made fun of ourselves, and we laughed with each other. Sometimes there were heated discussions, but we were able to resolve them and became a better team. Just like playing with the products of our client, we built our team through exploring all the possible combinations of five different pieces, and we came up with one that may not be perfect, but is definitely fun and unique.

Junyi, Maki, Jesuad, Yizhe and Pedro

Seven weeks is not a lot of time, but we harvested great learning and joy. It was the perfect ending project for a year that has been full of exploration and adventures.

By Junyi

A Moroccan ICP Adventure

“Shukraan”, I told my driver, as he warmly said goodbye from Casablanca Airport. ‘Shukran’ translates to thank you in English.  As the plane gained altitude, I settled into my seat reminiscing about my experiences – the intensity of the cobra as it swayed to the snake charmer’s flute in Jemaa el Fna, the sweet smell of mint tea drifting in the bazaars of Marrakesh and the broad smile of street vendors serving sweetmeats and tea in Chefchaohen. Morocco had amazed and sometimes overwhelmed me by its sights and smells and the kindness of its people. The country in one word is “eclectic” in terms of its people, languages and terrain but these eclecticisms make it a whole.

Very much like my consulting project team members – a Romanian, a Japanese, an American, a South African and an Indian. Each having his own quirkiness and experience of around ten years to base it on. Brought together in May, to consult for a large Moroccan company, our ICP project goal is simple – analyze the market opportunity and define an entry strategy for a byproduct of current operations. Six months later, even after spending numerous hours in the dungeons we are still struggling. We must balance client and stakeholder expectations, deal with changing priorities and learn to work with each other. Combine this with job search and personal commitments and the task seems overwhelming.

However, like most experiences this year, the ICP experience has taught me to persist and prioritize. My team is a support system, each member filling in for the other and helping to manage failures with banter. Over the course of this year, I have transitioned from having to take time off after a failure to planning weekend trips right after I have received a rejection phone call. This year at IMD has taught me to “get knocked off and stand right back up, ready for the next punch.” Having a peer group which, like you, is constantly setting stretch goals despite failures, motivates you.

Setting stretch goals is a theme that resonates with my client as well. A national company quickly diversifying its products and geographical focus. Our client team is young, with many folks educated outside the country but returning to serve in their country of origin. It’s fun learning that their lives are just like mine even though spent on another continent. The support from our faculty coaches has been outstanding. For all these experiences – working with a Rockstar team on a challenging problem in a new continent and getting a chance to experience the hospitality of its people, I say “Shukraan”.

Moroccan Mining Team – Adrian, Takashi, Peter, Jaco and Perwez

Perwez

Here, there and everywhere…

Sitting in the TGV train from Lausanne to Paris watching the Swiss hills blend into French ones, I am struck by how much I have been on the road these past few months. In this instance, I am about to start the fourth week of my international consulting project for a multinational medical devices company. At the same time the job search is on full tilt, which has had me between Paris, Lausanne, Copenhagen, Dubai, London, and Milan over the past few weeks. By the end of this week, Stockholm will also make its way onto the list. Continue reading “Here, there and everywhere…”

CEO’s, Leadership and ICP’s

After jet-setting around Europe for 7 weeks I have finally gotten time to talk about it. So our ICP with a telecom giant took me and my team from Hungary to Ireland and everywhere in between. ICP’s are a key part of the MBA program and now that it is over, I can see why it is such a brilliant idea to wrap-up our MBA with a real project for a real client solving real problems.

I am delighted to share that our client was very happy with our work and clearly could see the value-add we brought to the company. All the leadership, finance, accounting, problem-solving and critical thinking lessons learnt throughout the year came in handy to solve the issues at hand.

Immediately, after the ICP’s we headed back to IMD and were greeted with a fantastic gathering of CEO’s of some of the top companies. IMD hosts CEO Rountable for top leaders from across different industries once a year. And this was a great opportunity for us to meet some of these top leaders and learn from them.

I had the chance to hear from Boris Collardi, CEO of Julius Baer. He is clearly an extraordinary executive who climbed up the Banking ladder pretty swiftly and so had some great first hand experiences to share from his journey. His presentation laid out the challenges facing the Wealth Management sector and also his plans to steady Julius Baer to face those challenges well and become a stronger Bank. I must say it is quite extraordinary to hear directly from these people right at the top. Their clarity of vision, simple few point plans and tremendous faith in their abilities and those of their people is quite inspiring to see. It also makes this very real, so much so that we can for the first time begin to believe that some of us can be in those positions and can be fully capable of making similar decisions.

Boris left us with three great lessons for our own careers and I will share those with all of you.

  1. “You guys are too young to do a job you don’t like”
  2. “You guys are too young to not take really big risks”
  3. “Do not over-plan. It is good to have some ideas about your future but do not try to forecast everything. At the same time develop a knack for spotting opportunities as they come”.

 

I am going to reflect on these lessons for sure and I hope you will too.

 

All the best

 

What a thrill! The ICP finally started!

After having been changed so much by our experiences at IMD and after so much education, cramming and grooming… we are almost there! So lets show the world what we can do!

Following a long tradition dating back to the 1980, one of IMD MBA’ program famous highlight is the ICP or “International Consulting Projects”.

Continue reading “What a thrill! The ICP finally started!”