Discovery Trip – China & Japan (Nicholas Toubkin)

Stephanie, Nick A and I are back from our fantastic trip to China and Japan.  It was incredible to learn more about these fantastic, vibrant, unforgettable countries.

The trips were mainly work-oriented, but this didn’t dampen the fun for a second, as it was genuinely fascinating to learn more about the business environments in these two countries, and to connect with our fantastic alumni.  Before the trip, I questioned the academic value of such an expedition; now, I don’t doubt it for a second.

The alumni network was inspiring – from one of Asia’s foremost Private Equity individuals, to a go-getting and passionate entrepreneur, it was so refreshing to see what our alumni had done with the skills they learnt at IMD.  I was particularly inspired by the ‘can-do’ approach of our alumni in China, who are taking every opportunity possible to harness the exceptional growth in the country.  In Japan, the alumni team were equally interesting – but given the Japanese culture, very modest about their fantastic achievements!

This Saturday, we spent a full day in Tokyo doing a joint workshop with some senior executives from Japan’s largest corporates.  This was combined with some keynote speeches from a prominent Japanese economist, two partners from McKinsey, and a Taiwanese executive sharing her experiences as a foreign CEO of a listed Japanese conglomerate.  The speeches were inspiring and thought provoking, but the interaction with the executives was really fascinating – and a fantastic opportunity to dig a little into the mindset of Japanese workers.  What I found (as a generalisation) was an unyielding passion for precision and excellence.  It really was so interesting to find that many Japanese workers really do take accuracy as such a high priority, and reflecting how this might affect the flexibility of the economy.

Despite the strong focus on work and business discovery on the trip, there was nevertheless some time for sightseeing, which we grabbed to the greatest of our abilities.  It was amazing to explore Shanghai –  such a vibrant city, with a Gucci store seemingly on every corner.  The energy in Tokyo was palpable, whilst Kyoto brought a sense of calm and spiritual balance to our trip.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of the best bits of the trip – so I’l write an update soon.  Stephanie will be giving her impressions, and Nick A will be providing photos in due course.  And for those of you interested to know about our counterparts’ experience in Singapore & Dubai and Mexico & California, I’ve been promised some guest contributions soon.

Until next time,


The excitement is building! (Nicholas Toubkin)

The excitement is building – there is so much to look forward to over the next month!

But – let’s start with a few things from this week…

A large minority of the class went go-karting after school on Wednesday – this really got the competitive juices flowing, and I’m glad to say that I was the fastest Brit on the track (sounds impressive – but it’s all about providing selective statistics!!!).

We had numerous companies coming to campus to recruit this week – just the initial presentation phase at this moment, with formal interviews to come in a month or so.  It was great to see that the number of recruiting companies is strongly up on last year, and mindblowing to see the range of depth of different available careers.  I found myself drawn to some companies I wouldn’t even have thought about prior to their presentations- a cause for some reflection…

On Monday we had the head of finance for Bayer giving us a full day training on his role, and how to manage such a complex company with such frequent M&A activity.  Really fascinating, and a great insight into the possible roles within finance in such a complex corporate.

And now – the future is beckoning.  The most exciting prospect are the looming discovery trips.

All of the blog team are going to Shanghai and Japan – the schedule is so exciting, and I’m thrilled to be going to Japan – I’ve always wanted to go there (particularly since I’m a big fan of sushi…).  I’ve been to Shanghai in the past – but I’m realiably informed by my Shanghai native classmates that since it was 8 years ago, I won’t recognise the city.  I find big cities fascinating, and I can’t wait to see what’s new, and we are foreseeing a similarly fun trip as that to Turkey.  30 of us are going to Shanghai and Japan, with another third going to San Francisco and Mexico, and the final cohort exploring Dubai and Singapore.

After the discovery trip comes further on-campus recruitment, so those who have applied to consulting firms are currently polishing up their ‘case’ interviews.  As for me, I’m narrowing down even further the career that I’m looking for, so that my search will be as focused as possible.

And after that – comes the International Consulting Project – for my team, the Baltics beckon!

Until next time,