2019 MBAs To Watch: Ana Du, IMD

Ana Du

IMD Business School

“A determined problem solver committed to promoting diversity and inclusion.”

Hometown: Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

Fun fact about yourself: Being a big animal lover, I got bitten by a wild monkey in Bali during my honeymoon…

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of St. Gallen, BA in Business Administration

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was an Associate at Oliver Wyman, a leading strategy consulting firm, based in Zurich. In this role, I advised leading institutions across financial services, commodity trading, public sector, and retail. My project experience ranged from strategy review and development to organizational design and spread across Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? N/A

Where will you be working after graduation? In January 2019, I joined Workday – a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance, HR, and planning – as a Value Manager. In this role, I closely work with C-level stakeholders and support them in understanding their challenges and in building a case for change with Workday. I also work with current customers to measure the economic value realized from their Workday projects. Moreover, I am responsible for all value management activities in Switzerland and Austria.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Recipient of IIAA Scholarship
  • Head of the Yearbook Committee and member of Finance and Consulting clusters
  • Graduated with Honors
  • Recipient of Welshe Women Award (given to outstanding female participants of the program)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

I am most proud of the impact my group made during the International Consulting Project (ICP). Our client was a power supply manufacturer and was facing a number of challenges: low-cost Chinese competition, slow growth of mobile devices, geopolitical insecurity – all resulting in margin pressure and slow growth outlook. Our team was able to identify three strategic initiatives for growth and develop a business plan for the client to ensure viability and competitiveness in the mid-term.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? There are two achievements that come to my mind as equally critical for my professional career: one of them is project-related and the other one was a part of my contribution to the company. The first example was an Oliver Wyman project for a leading European financial services organization, which was struggling with rising costs in a margin pressure environment. I was leading the HR workstream of the cost-cutting program and able to develop a plan to save 12% of costs against budget without impact on existing employees. My second example is my role as EMEA Lead of Women of Oliver Wyman, responsible for the organization, coordination, and alignment among local chapters across entire regions. This included dealing with issues such as how to increase female recruitment, what to do when staffed on a project in Saudi Arabia as a female consultant as well as how to juggle a career in consulting and family life.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor at IMD is our Professor of Finance: Salvatore Cantale. He brings a lot of relevant real-life experience and up-to-date examples, along with possessing a unique ability to explain complex things in very simple terms. This broad knowledge combined with an Italian sense of humor will stay in my memory for a long time.

What was your favorite MBA Course? On top of regular “core courses”, such as Finance, Accounting, Marketing, we had one core course during Module 3 focusing on Change Management with Professor Bettina Büchel. In this course, we covered a broad variety of organizational topics, ranging from employee behavior and winning stakeholders to managing change programs. I have always been interested in these topics, but it became especially relevant in my new role, where I strive to help companies embrace digital transformation successfully.

Why did you choose this business school? For the diversity of the class – not only in terms of gender or nationality but especially in terms of industry experience. Coming from an undergrad school that was very consulting and banking heavy and having spent my career advising financial services companies, I felt that my horizons were too narrow. I learned at least as much from my peers about various industries (e.g. pharma, manufacturing, consumer goods) as I did from the faculty.

Additionally, I could identify myself with the overall scope of the program that was redesigned by our dean, Seán Meehan: entrepreneurship, leadership, and digitalization. I believe these three elements are essential to everyone who wants to have an impactful career and stay relevant in this ever-changing world.

Last, but definitely not least, I loved the idea of a small class. Now, after graduation, I truly feel like I gained family members all around the world. As soon as one of us is traveling, we always post it in our chat, asking if someone is around – “Mi casa es tu casa”!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Make sure you are ready for an intense year – if you’re looking for a break or a fun year, this is probably the wrong school for you. You have to work hard, stay open-minded, learn every day, and be willing to embrace change to your perspective, future plans and potentially even to your character.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many alumni mention that everyone gains weight after enjoying daily lunches in IMD restaurant – big thanks to our Chef Arnaud for the delicious meals! However, there is a school gym at your disposal to offset this effect.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program?

I wish I had known how fast time flies and how to best make use of it when still in the program. I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day to spend it qualitatively with every classmate and not have to balance between classes, preparation, sleep, and socializing.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? The MBA is a transformative experience in many ways: new careers, colleagues, and working environments. For me, it was transformative on a personal development level: I have become much more self-aware and reflective and have been able to identify some behaviors I was not aware of previously as well as ways to handle them. Additionally, it was a transformative experience in terms of building relationships in a truly international and fast-paced environment – a very valuable skill given my career path.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Anyone who brought their families to Lausanne or who had a long-distance relationship; anyone who dropped everything at home, took on financial burden to pursue his or her dreams and who dared to change careers; anyone who experienced a loss during this year; anyone who cried in Finance classes but did not give up; anyone who stood up for what he or she is despite social constructs – I truly believe that everyone in our class has a beautiful story and deserves my highest admiration.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I come from a family of strong and brave women – my mother and grandmother never took anything for granted and taught me in my young years the need to work hard to achieve goals and the importance of education in this context.

What is your favorite movie about business? Without being a fan of racing, Formula 1 or cars in general, I was fascinated by Rush and the stories of James Hunt and Niki Lauda. There are many parallels that can be drawn with today’s organizational behavior in the context of risk-taking, competitiveness, success traps, and learnings from failures.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? Blockchain as a solution to any number of social, economic, organizational or cybersecurity problems – a magnet for attention and funding today!

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still advising clients across Europe on their strategic and organizational matters.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I doubt you can put a price tag on the experience of an IMD MBA – it is a thought-provoking and life-changing experience, that is absolutely worth more than what we paid for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? A trip to Japan and being a proud owner of a dog.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope they remember me as a kind, social and courageous friend and as an agent of change.

Hobbies? Avid runner, world traveler, and foodie.

What made Ana Du such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“With three years of experience in management consulting in financial services, public sector, commodity trading and retail across Europe, Ana has consistently demonstrated qualities such as kindness, unselfishness, and fellowship, as well as outstanding academic rigour. Motivated by her wish to leave a valuable memory, she has shown exemplary commitment and dedication to producing the Yearbook despite the pressure, workload and tight deadlines. Positive, highly self-aware and driven she was chosen as a recipient of the Welshe Award, granted annually to the best all-around female student in the IMD MBA Program.”

The MBA Team

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