Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2019

Maisie Borrows

IMD Business School

Driven and determined but cares deeply about others and making a difference to their lives.”

Hometown: London, UK

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love to ski and used to work as a ski instructor (perhaps a small part of my decision making when choosing a business school in Switzerland…!).

Undergraduate School and Major: Psychology, University College London

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Reform Research Trust, political think tank

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In terms of challenging myself and seeing the benefits, my biggest career accomplishment so far has been making various media appearances and speeches in my last role at a think tank. I have appeared on Sky News and various radio stations. I have also presented in the Houses of Parliament and chaired a number of high profile policy events. This was something I was incredibly nervous about doing as I felt I was not experienced enough, but I actually really enjoyed these experiences and learnt a lot of useful future career skills about how to effectively communicate ideas to a wide variety of people.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Ambitious. Everyone here has taken a year out of their careers to develop as business leaders and people. This means they are putting a lot of effort, dedication and time into this program, and I know they are hoping to get a lot out of it.

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? A big pull factor to IMD was its leadership stream. The personal focus on developing you as a leader was unique to the school and something the school clearly excelled at. When I met alumni before deciding to take my place here, this stream was always a factor they spoke about very positively and how fundamental it was to them for getting the most out of the year – and career success post-MBA. I am someone who enjoys leading people but knows I still have a lot to learn when it comes to important leadership skills such as motivating different people, inspiring a team and being assertive and challenging when the situation calls for it.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really looking forward to getting stuck in to my start-up project. IMD has a very strong entrepreneurship stream and a lot of this is because of the start-up project, where MBAs work with start-ups in Switzerland to help tackle some of the key challenges they are currently facing. I am keen to start my own business one day and know I will get a lot of valuable learning from this project. It is also very interesting to discover how entrepreneurs come up with business ideas and what they need to make these a success. Furthermore, start-ups have to deal with challenges not only quickly but also creatively. Developing skills to problem-solve like this will be incredibly beneficial to my future career.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have wanted to be a business leader since I was young, so an MBA has been something on the cards for a while. Now was the right time for me because I felt like I had reached a crossroads in my career. I could either stay in political research and further develop my skills and experience, or try and move back into the private sector and build on my consulting skills and knowledge of healthcare. I decided the latter option was what I wanted to pursue and an MBA would propel me in this direction, opening up more opportunities to me than if I purely tried to make this move without some more core business skills.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? London Business School, IESE

How did you determine your fit at various schools? There were a couple of factors that were key in helping me make my decision. I wanted a business school with a strong international focus (either through where it was based or opportunities to work/study abroad during the MBA) as I felt this was something I had not had much exposure to in my career. I also considered timing of the MBA carefully. As a less-experienced student, I felt a two-year course could be quite beneficial to me, as it would give me time and space to really think about what I wanted in my career. However, as a very competitive and active person, I was conflicted as I felt if I could do an MBA in one year, and get back into work more quickly, than why not do that! I also looked closely at career statistics for each school. It was obviously very important to me that students were getting good jobs at the end of it and in areas/industries that I could see myself working in.

In terms of researching and evaluating schools, I did a number of things: I visited each school so I could really get a feel for the culture. I met with alumni to discuss their experiences and spoke to the admissions and recruitment teams at each school. I visited websites (like this!) to gain more of an understanding from students on why that school and I spent a lot of time looking at the websites and brochures of each of the schools.

Related to my criteria above, IMD ticked all the boxes: it is based in Switzerland, so gave me the opportunity to live abroad, and builds an incredible diverse and international class (we have 39 different nationalities out of class of 90 this year!). It is an intense, immersive 1-year program which certainly suits my personality. It has fantastic career statistics, and as someone interested in going into healthcare, it is very strong in helping graduates get into this field. I have to say, I also fell in love with the school when I came for the assessment day. I instantly felt comfortable and happy here and could really picture myself working with the people I met on the day.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? It was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro about five years ago, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it taught me that with grit, determination and resilience you can achieve what can initially seem like impossible. Secondly, it is all about the people you are with on these types of experiences. I could not have done this without the coaches and other people in my team motivating me, and I hope, in turn I motivated them.

Thirdly, I learnt that it is not about the summit but the whole journey. When I summited Kili, I was so cold and sick from altitude I only stayed up there for about 1 minute (just enough time to get a photo!). I could have been disappointed about this, but looking back I realized that the summit was only one tiny part of the whole experience. I learnt so much more about myself and my teammates on the journey up and down. I am trying to keep this in mind now as I work towards my MBA: the end goal is important but if you focus purely on that you will miss out on a lot of learning and development along the way.

Where do you see yourself in five years? A female business leader improving people’s lives with better healthcare. I say female because I still think there are not enough female business leaders and I would like to be a role model to encourage other young women to dream big and pursue top business roles.

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