Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2018

IMD of Switzerland also has a campus in Singapore


Such efforts are designed to capitalize on IMD alumni’s brisk post-graduation momentum. In the 2017 Forbes ranking on international one year MBA programs, which measures pay growth for alumni, IMD grads topped all comers. The Class of 2012 was grossing $215,000 in median pay within five years of graduation, $26,000 more than INSEAD grads and $52,000 better than Cambridge Judge. The class’ five year gain over pre-MBA pay – $194,700 – also outperformed runner-up INSEAD by $44,300. In addition, IMD grads’ payback period on an MBA was just 2.3 years, far better than top American two-year programs like Wharton (3.8 years, for example). Despite its small size, IMD is still able to attract the top employers to campus, as the top employers for the 2016 class included Amazon, McKinsey, BCG, Samsung, and Roche.

The program has also made several investments to build on the program’s global footprint and traditional strengths. For one, IMD is launching its Discovery Expedition, which Meehan says will take students to “those hubs where our future is being created: Silicon Valley, Singapore and Bangalore.” In addition, he points to the school’s new Digital Lab, which combines the school’s increasing emphasis on entrepreneurship and digital expertise.

“The Digital Lab will provide hands-on experience of coding, app design, and agile development,” he  Meehan explains. “In our Innovation Lab participants, working within a med-tech, start-up and design ecosystem, will similarly gain first-hand experience of human centered design and rapid prototyping. In both cases, they will go from problem to market tested solution in one week. By increasing the global and digital perspective of our participants and providing them with strong personal development and leadership tools, we aim to give them the understanding of the areas that are shaping the future of business and increase their potential to make an impact on a rapidly changing society.”

IMD Dean Sean Meehan


While IMD may be a small full-time MBA program, it is hardly a small program. Each year, the school educates over 9,000 senior executives through its formal and custom executive MBA programs.  In fact, the Financial Times has ranked IMD’s executive education program as the world’s best for six years running. In fact, the executive and full-time programs pool resources. One benefit: full-time MBAs enjoy a 2:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which results in a level of personal attention found in few graduate business schools. The synergy between the full-time and custom arms offer another unexpected boon too says Sergey Vishnevskiy, a 2017 grad and member of P&Q’s MBAs to Watch.

“As an MBA student, you get exposure to the same professors and material who teach CEO of Nestle or CFO of Shell, for example,” he points out. “Some say at MBA age this knowledge has a less profound impact. But if you want to know what best of breed know, IMD is the place to go.”

The small school culture, which produces a tight-knit, friends-for-life network, is just one of the unique aspects of the IMD experience. Another wrinkle is location. The school is based in Switzerland, a financial and luxury hub that is home to 15 Fortune 500 firms, where some of its largest employers include Novartis and Credit Suisse. Even more, Switzerland ranks as the 2nd most entrepreneurial country in the world (behind the United States) according to Global Entrepreneurship Index, which measures entrepreneurial skills against economic indicators.


Another defining feature of IMD is its intensity. Like most one year programs, IMD squeezes 21 months into 12. In other words, students endure the same expectations while facing tighter deadlines. What’s more, the program acts as a laboratory like no other. According to Meehan, the school deliberately engineers its study groups for “maximum stretch and learning” by putting students with peers who are least like them. This creates an “uncomfortable place,” rooting out any ethnocentric bias in the process. That way, he argues, students learn how to adapt and “get things done” in environments with people whose nationalities, backgrounds, values, personalities, viewpoints, and workstyles may be quite different from their own. The faculty, which represents 34 nationalities, further personifies this philosophy. Hence, the school has adopted the tagline, “Real world, real learning.”

In addition, IMD leans heavily on experiential learning. The program opens with a startup project, where students spend nearly three months partnering with a new firm. The kicker: their performance is evaluated by a board of VCs and business angels. The program also concludes with a consulting project with an international client, where students pull from an entire year of academic lessons and hands-on experiences. Call it the proverbial ‘drinking from the fire hose,’ where the volume of information, pace, and pressure simulates what students can expect in high level jobs in international business “The biggest myth is that IMD is one of the most intense MBA programs,” jokes Kunal Chandra, another 2017 grad who made P&Q’s MBAs To Watch list. “The reality as I found out was that in fact it is the most intense MBA program.”

Such pressure doesn’t intimidate the Class of 2018, who view the program as the consummate leadership immersion that builds them into strong and more seasoned versions of themselves. Fattah touts the program’s “unrelenting focus on leadership” – a differentiator that Jain believes makes the IMD experience both timeless and transformational. “I find that any world class quality academic program can significantly help build analytical and theoretical abilities which participants sometimes tend to forget a few years post-graduation especially when those skills are not called for in day-to-day responsibilities,” he observes. “What sets IMD apart is its focus on leadership development, a skill tightly coupled with self-awareness that can never become obsolete and will be called upon each day post-graduation, no matter what job function or industry I chose.”


A key ingredient to leadership development is coaching. During his experience, Vishnevskiy shares that he enjoyed 20 coaching sessions with everyone from psychoanalysts to mentors. Such attention makes the growth process more personalized, says Melo. “Every candidate has a leadership coach and an analyst, which made the program feel much more tailored to my needs,” she says. “To me, it was very important that I could keep being myself through all the process, and you can’t do that without profound personal development.”

Lausanne, Switzerland

This coaching goes far beyond the program’s formal boundaries, she adds. “IMD is an exclusive experience. It’s almost like a club. And alumni take this club thing very seriously; they will always try to make themselves available to a prospect, they share their stories, insights and tips for living in Switzerland. And after you are admitted, they will make sure you feel part of the family.”

In Hasek’s experience, IMD “feels like the United Nations of business schools.” While that may be demographically true, the program’s true value lies in the holistic spirit underlying its curriculum and culture. “The distinctive focus of IMD on the personal development of its MBA candidates and the creation of socially responsible leaders was of paramount importance towards my decision to enroll in the program,” admits Karampatakis. “Instead of crafting its MBA program as an accelerated, career-boosting boot camp – as many of its competitors do – IMD places unique emphasis on soft skill development. With this all-inclusive toolkit of skills, I will not only secure a leading position but also lay the foundations that will safeguard and promote my long-term prospects, as well as my ability to deliver outstanding results as a senior manager.”


A month into the program, the Class of 2018 has a long way to go before they reach the finish line. Still, many know exactly how they hope the journey ends. For Ortiz, success means overcoming her fears, developing the confidence to “think bigger” and “pursue my dreams.” At the same time, Yasini plans to enjoy the path instead of focusing on the destination, with the hope of becoming “a more self-aware and well-rounded individual.”

Indeed, the class is looking for growth, with an eye towards how it will position them for the future.“Success to me would be the knowledge that I have overcome my pre-MBA personality inhibitions, improved my global view, and acquired the strength to pursue the career switch I was incapable of achieving pre-MBA,” he explains. “I have achieved not only my short-term goals, but have also equipped myself with the skills and wisdom towards building a fulfilling and rewarding life both professionally and personally.”

To do that, the class is looking to one another to help them take that next big step. “Post-MBA success should not be defined solely by a hefty paycheck and an outstanding employment position,” argues Karampatakis. “I will be successful by interacting and engaging with all 89 of my classmates through meaningful dialogues and debates, tapping into new perspectives and impacting their viewpoints, successfully forging lifelong relationships, and a solid business network to bolster and support my future endeavors.”

To read profiles of incoming IMD MBA students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.


Name Hometown Alma Mater Employer
 Hassan Abdel Fattah  Alexandria, Egypt  McMaster University  Nestlé
 Lauren Hasek  Cleveland, OH  University of Pittsburgh  Clinton Health Access Initiative
 Suyun Huang  Beijing, China  University of Beijing  Yunding
 Maksim Iavorskii  Koriajma, Russia  University of Economics and Finance  Gadget Scout
 Shubham Jain  Noida, India  Jaypee Institute of Information Technology  BMG Rights Management GmbH
 Dimitrios Karampatakis  Thessaloniki, Greece  Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Law School  LIFE4LV
 Joyce Tsuchiya Melo  São Paulo, Brazil  Federal University of São Paulo  Benvista Oftalmologia
 Maria-Jose Ortiz  Santiago, Chile  Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Chile  LATAM Airlines Group
 Nancy Phelps  Santa Barbara, CA  Stanford University  Facebook
 Roy Rong  Shanghai, China  Tongji University  University Medical Center of Freiburg
 Marco Villalpando  Mexico City, Mexico  Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM)  Santander Global Corporate Banking
 Saba Yasini  San Jose, CA  University of California, Berkeley  MedImmune

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