Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2019

IMD students cutting loose after class


By the numbers, IMD’s 2019 Class represented a historic leap forward. For one, the program enjoyed a 63% surge in applications over the previous year. Overall, IMD accepted 129 of the 430 applicants, with 90 ultimately enrolling. In other words, the program accepted 30% of applicants, making it one of the most selective business schools in Europe. What’s more, it boasts a 70% yield rate, ranking it with American juggernauts like Wharton and MIT Sloan in terms of appeal to prospective applicants.

Similarly, the incoming class brings a 680 average GMAT to the school, a four point bump over the previous year. This average also compares favorably to collective GMATs at Oxford Said and IE Business School. That said, the program still trails European peers like IESE, LBS, and HEC Paris in terms of women. Just 28% of the class is comprised of women, though this number is nine points higher than two years earlier.

Academically, Engineering majors account for the largest segment of the class at 35% — an eight point drop over the 2018 Class. They are followed by majors in Business & Commerce (26%), Finance and Economics (16%), Natural Sciences (10%), Social Sciences (8%), and IT and Computer Science (5%). At 42%, Manufacturing professionals take up the most seats in the class, a percentage up five points over last year. Service Industry (22%), Financial Services (13%), and Consulting (10%) professionals also enjoy double digit representation.


While the numbers may have shifted slightly, they are still in line with IMD’s overall strategy, which targets more experienced students who bring an international mindset. “We want to put together a very diverse class,” Dean Meehan told P&Q in 2019. “People who come from all sorts of different industries, who really bring something special to the group. So, for us, the selection is a pretty involved process. We’re not looking for the 90 highest GMAT people. We start with a blank piece of paper, 90 empty seats, and with every seat, we fill we remove some degrees of freedom. So we’re looking for something extra from every individual candidate.

The school holds itself accountable for the little extra too. Last year, the MBA program revamped its curriculum to deepen its commitment to a global mindset, entrepreneurship, and digital competence. According to Paola Eicher, 2019 will be a year to consolidate these gains.

“This year has been about tweaking and redefining the elements we introduced,” she explains. We’ve added more support for certain courses and experiential weeks, including digital and innovation labs with 5 days of immersion each. We developed some new approaches with the Career Development Centre, enabling participants to prepare for a highly competitive job with a longer career goal in mind. It incorporates visioning, planning and building your network from day one with one to one guidance from the team. We have also introduced two different destinations for the Discovery Expedition: Shenzhen and Dublin, in addition to Silicon Valley, the theme remaining visiting hubs where our future is being created.”


Ask the Class of 2019 to tell you what brought them to IMD and “leadership” is bound to top the list. That should come as no surprise: Dean Meehan himself likes to think of the IMD MBA as a leadership development program. That starts with the Leadership Stream, a year-long program designed to help students better understand themselves. Focused on the psychology of management, the Leadership Stream uses coaching and group simulations to guide them on how to act deliberately and foster communication and trust. It is an uncomfortable exercise, to an extent – with students often opening themselves up to feedback.

In other words, the Leadership Stream exposes them to how others think and react. Even more, the stream provides a forum for students to practice different approaches in various situations or conflicts, enabling them to take their lumps when the stakes are low.

How different is the program? IMD MBAs spend 20 hours with psychoanalysts to better understand their drivers and tendencies. That doesn’t count all the one-on-one coaching, either. Bottom line: the Leadership Stream is a long-standing tradition at IMD, a rite of passage – a bond, even – that unites alumni with students. During the application process, alumni would tell Maisie Borrows how “fundamental” the Leadership Stream was to their IMD experience and career success. That same message was relayed to Anya Barskaya, an engineer looking to enter finance.

IMD Classroom


“IMD’s approach to developing leadership potential is very unique as it does not only imply teaching theory and giving us techniques – in its core, it’s helping us to better understand who we are, where our aspirations lie, and how we interact with others. And this is the cornerstone of not only developing our leadership style, but becoming better people overall.”

Thus far, the Leadership Stream has “exceeded” expectations for Alexander Broe, with its emphasis on self-awareness, reflection, and personal development. This approach has especially hit home for Andrea Teja, who has practiced leadership as a military officer.

“In the past 10 years, I learned how to lead not relaying on the gold rank on my shoulders but especially using other means,” he notes. “Did I manage to do it? Did I really learn everything or can I become even more effective as a leader? How can I transfer my experience as a military leader in the business world? Well, the core of the IMD MBA program is exactly this: increasing your leadership skills alongside a deep personal development path that at the end will make you a better business leader.”


Alas, IMD has plenty of experience making leaders.  The program ranks among the top programs for executive education according to the Financial Times – including ranking 1st for teaching according to corporate surveys. You’ll find these same faculty teaching MBAs. One of the school’s secrets is its experiential learning bent. Dean Meehan notes that over a third of the program is hands-on learning. This includes, he says, a startup project, two-week global expedition, international consulting projects, a week-long coding course, and a design workshop.

For Meehan, business is a social science, one with “few correct answers.” That means drawing out opposing viewpoints is paramount. “A well-run classroom is an experiential learning endeavor,” he tells P&Q. “We don’t lecture. You’ve never, at IMD, seen someone come in, go to a podium, and say, “Take notes. Here are my 47 slides. I’m going to explain them all to you and tell you a bunch of stories.” That’s not how we do things. The student has to come prepared. The groups come prepared. We debate. We discuss. We look at different perspectives.”

This experiential model takes center stage in the International Consulting Project, an IMD staple. Over eight weeks, IMD MBAs partner with clients to solve real issues. How real? In speaking to IMD alums at McKinsey, Mischa Riedo was told these projects were “exactly like a real consulting engagement they do now.” Even for students who don’t plan to pursue consulting, the projects offer a wealth of valuable experience.


Andrea Teja, for example, sees plenty of overlap with the lessons he absorbed in the military: “flexibility, continuous change in projects working in stressful situations, and working with limited data or tons of it and usually under time pressure.”

IMD Students.

The same principle applies to entrepreneurship. In IMD’s hands-on spirit, students must also complete a start-up project. Here, they work with local entrepreneurs to bring products to market, scale operations, and increase profitability. Such efforts offer experience to MBAs who plan to start a company after graduation…or later in their careers.

This project has acted as an awakening for Teja, who is working with six team members on an AI start-up that educates children about social media. “My team is incredibly diverse: I am a former military Lieutenant and I work with a doctor, an engineer, an investment banker, a former CFO and a private equity manager. Everyone brings a different point of view on the table and it’s amazing how, when we put everything together, we come up with remarkable ideas.”


Teja’s experience illustrates the project’s underlying philosophy. At IMD, entrepreneurship is a mindset, one that carries over to wherever they land, says Dean Meehan. “We had a [30-year] reunion this year…and someone asked, “How many are entrepreneurs?” At least 80% of them raised their hands. The reason we put it in the program is not actually for that. It’s the intrapreneurialism… because it is evident that the old command-and-control organizational forms are history, and they’re not coming back.”

While leadership and entrepreneurship may be the heart of the IMD MBA, globalization is unquestionably its soul. Dean Meehan likes to describe the program as “open” – a place that doesn’t subscribe to a particular model or viewpoint. Instead, it is a gathering point for different cultural backgrounds and professional experiences, always rallying towards tying together and transforming.

“We do bring people around the world, and that’s a great experience to bring the entire class together,” Meehan tells P&Q. “This year we will go to Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, and Dublin. And again, the themes are always technology, but they are in totally different contexts. Don’t forget, it’s not the subject of international business we’re concerned about, we’re concerned with globalization: one world.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates. 

Students Hometown Alma Mater Previous Employer
Anya Barskaya Moscow, Russia Bauman Moscow State Technical University Medivas GmbH & Co. KG
Maisie Borrows London, UK University College London Reform Research Trust
Alexander Broe Copenhagen, Denmark Copenhagen University Novo Nordisk
Anita Chia-Ling Lee Taipei, Taiwan National Taiwan University Roche Taiwan
Olivier De Liedekerke Brussels, Belgium Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) Total
Vivekanand Pandey Motihari, India Birla Institute of Technology Tata Motors Limited
Surbhi Puri Dubai, UAE University of Pennsylvania Novo Nordisk
Mischa Riedo Berne, Switzerland None QuercusApp Technologies
Adrian Safciuc Constanta, Romania University College London DNVGL
Camila Scaranelo Vinhedo, Brasil Unicamp PMI
Andrea Teja La Spezia, Italy Italian Naval Academy Italian Navy
Helena Vargas Serrato Bogota, Colombia Universidad de Los Andes Schlumberger Algeria

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