Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2019

Anya Barskaya

IMD Business School

Passionate about driving change and exploring the world (I have lived in a few countries and believe it has had a significant impact on my life).”

Hometown: Moscow, Russia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I play the violin and love singing – I once participated in a corporate event giving a performance in front of 2000 people.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bauman Moscow State Technical University, MSc in Computer Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Medivas GmbH & Co. KG, a technology start-up, audiovisual systems integrator, Germany

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2017, I made the decision to quit a global Big-4 consulting firm where I had been managing automation programs, to join a technology start-up to broaden my experience from IT to business development. It was not an easy decision given the lack of experience in the given function and the need to change countries, but I was eager to prove myself. Although I managed to put together a solid business strategy, it quickly became clear that I would not be able to execute the changes alone. With limited resources, I used my existing network to hire freelancers, and engage with the largest international industry hub to access local best practices and learning tools. I then used these to design a training program for the team. In the end, these efforts paid off, resulting in the company extending its client portfolio, capturing new client segment, and re-igniting its own team’s motivation, crucial for sustaining the achievements.

Stepping out of my comfort zone and a well-defined role in a corporate organization to build something from scratch with limited resources was an immense learning experience. I got great exposure to external clients across a wide variety of industries and geographies. I learned that a can-do attitude is key to achieving professional success and I understood the importance of a solid professional network. Most important, I learned to be positive, stay focused, and not to complain about the circumstances when the situation develops not as we expect it.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? There is a combination of factors that make the IMD MBA cohort so unique: everybody has several years of professional experience, a unique way of approaching things in life, and an individual set of skills. But all of this would have never transformed into synergies if people had not been genuinely open-minded. Being respectful and receptive of different points of view and being open to do things differently helps us to successfully operate in a very heterogeneous environments and maximize our learnings.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? One of the important factors for me in choosing IMD was its leadership stream, which was highly praised by the alumni and the previous year students. 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.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? One of the things I look forward most is the discovery trip when we will get an opportunity to explore three world’s innovation and technology hubs and learn first-hand about their business cultures and economies. This will broaden our perspective and bring us new insights, which we will be able to apply at work.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? To date, I have accumulated diverse international experiences in IT, project management, and business development, both in the financial sector and professional services. I am keen to capitalize on these to continue to drive digital transformation programs at a more international and larger scale levels. I believe that in today’s volatile environment, it is extremely important to bridge the technology gap and turn digital disruptors into powerful business enablers. And I would like not only to be part of this inevitable transformation process, but drive creation of sustainable, scalable and value-adding business solutions that people can benefit from.

To achieve my professional goals, I would need not only in-depth knowledge of business and economy, but also specific insights into digital innovation and strong leadership skills. IMD’s experiential learning, strong focus on digital, and diverse student body will be crucial to helping me become a stronger leader apt at creating high-performing teams. Finally, I will be skilled at promoting and reinforcing an inclusive culture where people of different backgrounds work in synergy and feel equally valued and rewarded.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? IMD was my first choice because of its uniqueness. Since a great part of the learning is through interactions with our peers, diversity and maturity of the class were crucial decision factors for me. After I arrived on campus for the assessment day, it also ‘clicked’ on the emotional level so I was convinced that this is where I wanted to be. I considered HEC MBA and Stanford Msx programs, but did not progress further with applying as I got a positive admission decision from IMD.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Like many candidates, I started with looking at different rankings as my ambition was to join one of the leading business schools. I searched the schools’ websites to gather information about the class profile, structure of the program, faculty members, and the management team. Among the key decision factors for me were diversity and size of the class, duration of the program, strong faculty, and school’s overall focus on innovation since I am keen to drive digital transformation programs after graduation.

While getting information available online was a good starting point, it did not allow me to understand the school’s culture and how the school’s positioning was reflected in the study process. So I contacted a few alumni and current students, talked to the admission team and attended a virtual school presentation. That allowed me to get much deeper insights into the program overall as well as some of the more particular aspects.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? One of the defining moments in my life was the choice of a university. I graduated from a (humanitarian) gymnasium and most of my classmates were going to continue this path to study history, journalism, philology and other humanitarian sciences at university. Although I was good at these subjects, I realized I had a passion for technical science and was curious about the world of IT. I knew it would be harder for me to get into a technical university, especially in one of the top ones, but I believed that everything was possible with the right attitude, persistence and hard work. I worked hard at cracking difficult math and physics problems while maintaining high performance at school, and in the end I got admitted to the university of my choice.

The six years at the university turned out to be the most mentally challenging experience I had had so far. I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to adapt to a new environment and tackle complex problems within uncertainty. These were the key learnings that have helped me throughout my career and life journey.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Being passionate about technology and change, in a few years I see myself in a role which would allow me to define and execute innovation strategies and deliver leading edge capabilities to customers. I am particularly interested in banking and believe that the bank tomorrow might not be what it is today. To stay competitive in a volatile environment, financial institutions will have to transform themselves. Improving efficiency, security and usability of banking services will help to increase people’s financial literacy and support economic growth through simplified payment settlement and reduced use of cash.

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