Inferring the Niagara from a drop of water

What is common between well-known Mr. Sherlock Holmes and an IMD MBA candidate? Strategy classes have started and we need to apply deductive reasoning in problem solving. A simple dating riddle may become a hard strategic dilemma: temptation for inductive conclusion from a qualitative analysis should be challenged through a deductive quantitative check. The numbers might be approximated, but once they show that your sophisticated multilayer reasoning doesn’t make sense, because a beautifully differentiated product provides no financial benefit on the market, forget the business idea. The logic is pure and beautiful.

Then comes a leadership class and we discuss organizational frameworks. What is it like to persuade the whole group of people, when you have an opposite opinion? Again inductive vs deductive. Are you capable as a leader to make this change? Someone just made a logical mistake, but the other might have a psychological defense – how do you deal with those at once? And what kind of miracle happened to the British Museum in early 2000s? For the last several days while on my way I listen to the archived BBC radio-programs of Mr. Neil MacGregor “A History of the World in 100 objects”: stories, that connect functionality and beauty of artefacts with changing us. By the way, this thesis is just a part of a vision of a leader, who succeeded to attract millions of visitors and changed our perception of museums.

During the break my classmates discuss the central role of energy in economy. Later on I listen to another radio program of Neil MacGregor: supposedly 50 million years ago humans started creating arts – a connection to imaginary and abstract thinking – this might be related to the fact that normally around 20% of energy consumption of a human serves brain needs. Energy is for us and not the other way round. It’s us, who create, who progress, who doubt, who make mistakes…

At the beginning of this week we presented our start-up solutions to the jury and, thus, finished entrepreneurship classes and… changed our groups. Turning to another page of our incredible journey at the IMD,

Till soon,

Aysylu

 

Motivation, Inspiration and some advise – Just another day at IMD

Entrepreneurship stream formally came to a close today but not without leaving us with some valuable learnings. Over the past many weeks we had the privilege to vicariously live and experience the lives of many entrepreneurs through the case studies. While “Eat me” introduced us to the trials and tribulations of Serena as she successfully persevered to realise her dream of starting a concept restaurant in Lausanne, Govworks.com narrated a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion as we witnessed Kaleil Isaza’s metoric rise to fame and eventual fall from grace.
From Tumi’s take over by Samsonite, to Venkatesh’s LBO of a division of his employer everything was on the menu.
We had the privilege to meet many of these entrepreneurs in flesh and blood as they recounted their journeys to us and patiently answered flurry of our hurried questions.
This morning Professor Benoit orchestrated perhaps the most appropriate conclusion to this stream by sharing with us the remarkable story of WIPHOLD (http://www.wiphold.com/), an example of how Private Equity can be a force for good and not just a source of profits. These stories motivated us to dig deep into our own passions and unearth those great ideas that we have been holding back perhaps a tad bit too long.
After such a motivational start to our day, in the afternoon, we got a chance to talk to a panel of senior HR managers from several companies. In those 4 hours we received some valuable career advice. Engaging with these people helped us to see the world from their perspective. It helped us to understand how best to position ourselves so as to maximize our chances of landing our dream jobs.
The best however was left for the last. We were paid a visit by a friendly neighbour. One of Nestle’s best employees took time out of his busy schedule to come and speak to us. He was none other than Paul Bulcke, the CEO, himself.
There cannot be anything more inspiring for business students, like us, than to be able to meet and learn from the stalwarts of the industry. Paul has spent 8 years at the helm of one of the World’s largest corporations and tonight we had the opportunity to ask him all about the remarkable journey that he has been through. No wonder we were falling over each other in order to ask our questions. Paul took all questions – easy ones, difficult ones, personal ones and professional ones. He answered them with utmost conviction and authenticity.
Much of his advice around careers was simple but profound. He urged us to find happiness in our work and not to see it simply as a means of getting to some future position. Perhaps the most important piece of advise from my point of view was that we should not look to work for our boss rather we should work for our peers and subordinates.
Such advice is often not found in business books or literature but can only be garnered through talking to someone like Paul who has seen it all, made it to the top and has kept the perspective on what is important.
How do you summarize such a rich day at school?
All I can say is this: More motivation, more advise and more inspiration – just another day at IMD.
Kunal

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.

 

Kunal

​What you give is what you get

So… the famous leadership experiential took place last week! Our class was split in two Cohorts and switched between regular classes and the 3,5 days full on experiential.

I was impressed by the quality of the entire experience and especially our coaches. Really great, top-notch global professionals that were there with us full time. IMD MBA is the most junior group they coach, all of them are used to working with global leaders in the C-level, not to mention military, government, etc… Outstanding staff!

The focus of this stage was to understand ourselves in a group setting (self in group) rather than going into group dynamics, which is the next step.

I believe any leadership or self knowledge experience is a “what you give is what you get” experience.

If you want to stay locked into your safety armor or don’t want to be exposed to your own “darkness”, it won’t have as much impact… No one can do it for you except yourself!

For me personally, the key lesson was that suppressing who we are is never a good idea. I was trying to do things differently than I would naturally (sort of trying to write with the wrong hand) but in the process I left also my own personality and my strengths behind…  My group was great in pointing that out and giving me an important wake up call for the entire year.

I realize it’s not by changing who I am that I’ll evolve. It is by being myself in a more conscious, polished and balanced way! So let’s aim for that 🙂

After the experiential it was time to dive back into our Start up Project and Industry Analysis… It was great to see how our group already started working together in a different and more open way.

One thing I was super curious before I came to IMD was about life in the “dungeons” and the study rooms. So here is a little peek into our group life when we were all super concentrated in finding data to support our assumptions about the future of Transport Infrastructure 🙂

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Group 8 clockwise: Me, Luca Gianaschi, Nicolas Martinez, Philipp DeAngelis, Roraj Pradhananga, Vladimir Petrenko

An amazing week to y’all,

SS

Discovery trip – Mexico and California (Vivek Tiwari)

Hello Everyone. This is your guest blogger Vivek who will take you through the discovery trip to Mexico and California that I and my thirty amazing friends went to.

Discovery Trips are essential part of the curriculum at IMD and extensive preparations go on from early on in the year. These range from selection of places, companies to visit, alumni network to contact etc. Thankfully, our super-efficient MBA office takes care of all the administrative stuff and we students focus on the academic work and company presentations for our visit.

The theme this year was that we would visit one developing and one developed country. Mexico and California was an easy choice for me since I was interested in technology sector, start up clustered around Silicon Valley, plus I had never been to US before and the idea of visiting it with a large group friends really excited me.

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Our first stop was Monterrey in Mexico. Monterrey is the third largest metropolitan area in Mexico and an industrial hub having couple of large corporations headquartered there. We visited a Walmart distribution center and understood the complexity of running such large scale operations. It was fascinating to see how a fruit grown half the way across the globe reaches the shelves of our local supermarket. After Walmart, the next company visit made us all go in memory lane and we became kids again. The reason: Lego factory visit. At IMD, we have studied turnaround of Lego in mid 2000s in a couple of case studies, and it was a fascinating account of putting strategy, operations and marketing into practice and putting the company back on the growth track. Looking at the highly automated factory and advance robotics in action was a different experience and made me appreciate Lego even more. Plus, each of us received a Lego set as a gift at the end of the visit. That reminds me I have to build my set soon.

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Besides these two events, we visited CPA, Cemex, BCG and Alfa group where we got to interact with senior business executives from these companies. Before flying out of Mexico, there was an Alumni networking event in which group of students made a presentation on the economic situation of Mexico. Our MBA director Ralf Boscheck also facilitated a session with participants giving an overview from an ecnomics standpoint.

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San Francisco was our next stop. If Monterrey was all about manufacturing and industrial goods, San Francisco was the polar opposite with its venture capitalists and start-ups. Our schedule here was jam packed with visits from Salesforce, Twitter and Google. Visiting google headquarter in mountain-view was the highlight of the trip. Fun fact 1: Do you know that you can have free lunches at Google?

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SF chamber of commerce held a session on the innovation economy and economic development of San Francisco followed by a session from VCs explaining us about the entrepreneurial culture in the valley. Fun fact 2: If you are 20 years old and studying at Stanford University and you haven’t started your company, you are in a very tiny minority.

And before we knew it, the discovery trip had come to an end. However, we got two full days to recover from our intense sessions and explore San Francisco. Our group had great fun with activities such as taking a biking tour of golden gate bridge to eating in china town to partying in San Francisco. Special thanks to my American colleagues and friends Courtney Galligan and Tom Cohen who organized the trips and made sure that each of us had great time. Cheers.

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