Just when you thought Hari couldn’t surpass what he did in his first post on IMD Switzerland, he’s come back with this second helping.
For those who just joined us, Hari Raghavachari is an alumnus of IMD who’s writing a 3-part series on his experiences before ,during and after his MBA.
If you haven’t read the earlier post, start off with that. Enzoi ||
This blog post for MCB focuses on my journey to and through an MBA at IMD International (www.imd.ch). Located in Lausanne, Switzerland, IMD is a Top Tier European school, with an MBA ranked in the Top 20 in nearly every global ranking of business schools. I graduated the MBA program in 2005 and am since working with a Fortune 50 Healthcare Company based in their European Operations HQ just south of Zurich.
Over the next 3 posts – I will take you through:
Part 1 – Why IMD : The process by which I chose to apply to and attend IMD (if I was admitted)
Part 2 – IMD MBA experience : My experiences in the program itself
Part 3 – IMD Jobs & Careers : My search for a career and where it has led me today
Please note the views expressed here on IMD and some other schools are my own.
IMD – The experience!
“So how was your day?”, the classmate asked me as we walked home at 1am that January night, after a day filled with classes, assignments, meetings, presentations, case discussions and projects. I couldn’t help chuckling to myself – my wife was asleep when I left for school at 6am in frozen darkness, and would be asleep when I returned… still frozen darkness! What day? One week into the program, there didn’t seem to be a sense of time, there simply wasn’t any!
“So Mr.CXO’s on the Executive Committee, does your company take full responsibility for the lives and livelihoods destroyed by the discharge of toxic effluents into the river by your company’s factory?”, the question was direct, and felt almost offensive. While the team of former reporters verbally butchered us, my fellow MBAs and I sat in the auditorium sweating in our shirts and suits despite the 20C temperature setting, shifting uncomfortably in our seats, lost for words in full glare of the camera. This didn’t feel good at all! This was a case we hadn’t prepared for.
When the simulation ended later that afternoon, we got to see our performance on video. I won’t get into how we felt those moments, let’s just say it was deflating to watch.
“Our job is to aggressively target companies in order to bring real issues to light. Whatever your fancy studies and research indicates or proves, you, the corporation are not the common man! The common man doesn’t think financially, scientifically or technically. He thinks emotionally. The connection, whether or not true between your product and the destruction of the environment or human health, will be made direct, and visible to your customers, real people! If you’ve got something perceived as potentially toxic in your product, or whatever you sell contains elements causing deforestation (example) – YOU are responsible…period!”, gloated the frighteningly articulate NGO activist outlining his strategy to make the life of the corporate executive miserable.
Balance-sheets of Reality!
All of this was part of an intense 3 week module that bridged the two halves of the IMD MBA. Instead of nice power-point slides, and cases – IMD had taken us into the wringer of corporate realities and made us live stakeholder management, forced us to feel the pressure of a strategic negotiation, and demonstrated the power of human emotion over the smartest of models. We had lived a corporate docu-drama.
The orthopedic surgeon and prospective entrepreneur we were assigned to as part of our start-up projects, was a brilliant man, but had very little clue to the commercial vagaries of his little world. Over 5 months, we analyzed his potential market and his business partners, investigated the defendability of his intellectual property, and put together a business plan for him to seek investors for his idea.
The Norwegian company, our team’s client for the ICP (International Consulting Project) wanted us to validate their hypothesis that a new model for the delivery of energy would be accepted in the market they were targeting. Over 10 intense weeks from August to October (interspersed with the job-search), we travelled to Norway and Sweden, met with prospective customers, providers of capital, analyzed the industry, company and the strategic challenges to the model, and delivered a verdict that the client acted upon shortly after, successfully in Norway, later successfully in other markets.
These are just a few of my recollections from one of the best years of my life! Real lessons more valuable than just a 4P, a DCF valuation, or a value chain analysis. In 2011 and beyond, IMD’s MBA continues to evolve around the long established credo of “Real World, Real Learning”.
I welcome you to go there and feel it!
End of Part 2
Lights, camera, action…indeed! Any more folks interested in IMD’s MBA program after reading that? Start taking some camera etiquette lessons. Part 3 of Hari’s story coming up soon.
If you have queries for Hari PLEASE POST YOUR QUERIES ON THE DISCUSSION THREAD –> IMD Switzerland MBA forum.