2020 MBAs To Watch: Swati Dalal, IMD

Swati Dalal

IMD Business School

“I am an optimist with a curious, collaborative, and creative mindset.”

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Fun fact about yourself: I love traveling with my five-year-old daughter and we visit at least one new country every year.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BA (Hons) Economics; Delhi University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Trent Limited (Tata Group) as the Senior Manager, Franchise Operations. In this role, I was responsible for the growth of a $40m franchise business of Westside (fashion retail). The role involved developing and deploying new business models, forming new partnerships, and driving franchisee investments.

Where will you be working after graduation? At Genpact, Switzerland as the Vice President, Transformation Services for the CPG, Retail, Lifesciences, and Healthcare vertical.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Recipient of the Nestle Scholarship for Women
  • Head of the Sustainability Committee, member of CPG and Industry cluster
  • Graduated with Honors (top 10% of class)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of my group’s contribution to the International Consulting Project (ICP). Our project involved developing an international expansion strategy for a Swiss digital service provider. After a comprehensive evaluation of markets and different entry vehicles, we came up with a concrete brown field (acquisition) expansion strategy. We also identified the acquisition targets along with valuation and conducted preliminary rounds of discussion.

We received an overwhelming response from the client who decided to move ahead with our recommendations. We were also recognized as one of the top 3 ICP projects by IMD faculty for our overall performance.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my last role, as the Senior Manager, Franchise Operations, I was responsible for growing the franchise business of the company by driving external investments. For this, I worked closely with the top management to develop and deploy new business models and align processes to ensure faster ramp-up.

An innovative approach, along with persistent effort, helped me achieve over 100% growth in business within two years. For this, I was also awarded ‘MD’s Special Initiative’ award, something I will always be proud of.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor at IMD was our finance professor, Arturo Bris, who is not only immensely knowledgeable but also has a very warm, approachable personality and a great sense of humor. I enjoyed his elective on Fintech, Blockchain, and the Future of Banks. As a tech enthusiast, I found his insights on decentralized networks, blockchain-enabled solutions, and cryptocurrency very relevant in the context of evolving industry and technologies.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The IMD tradition that deserves a special mention is the Polar Bear Jump that is organized by MBAs during the first month of the program, January. As the tradition holds, willing MBAs take a plunge into the freezing water of Lac Leman to break the ice!

I vividly remember the day as the whole class got together at the lake to witness the courage of their classmates. There was a wild energy in the air as people went about cheering and supporting each other. For me, it was one of the best moments during the MBA program, one that brought us together as a unified whole.

Why did you choose this business school? First, I found the diversity at IMD very appealing as an opportunity to learn from varied experiences and cultures. Second, the MBA at IMD is designed to provide critical skills (such as Python) to participants to traverse the evolving digital landscape, which I found very relevant. Finally, I was very intrigued by the holistic and curated leadership stream, which includes coaching, mentoring, and counseling. I believe all these factors, along with IMD’s stellar reputation, led me to make my choice.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Every year, IMD seeks to put together the best class of 90 individuals through a very well-designed process that tests attitude as much as aptitude. Hence, I would advise the applicants to demonstrate soft skills as much as hard skills and to follow a collaborative approach.

Also, I would strongly advise the candidates to visit the campus, interact with the alumni, and meet the faculty to really understand the IMD culture and to evaluate their fit.

What is the biggest myth about your school? As per the folklores, the IMD MBA is one of the most intense MBA programs. Tales of sleepless nights, infinite readings, and innumerable assignments had haunted me for months before joining the program. I was also anxious if I would get any time with my daughter.

While it is true that the program is intense, I found that with a clear focus and good time management, it is possible to achieve a balance, particularly with the help of the fantastic family support program run by IMD. Hence, I encourage young parents to apply for the program and not be intimidated by the myths.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back, I think I could have been more efficient with my time and its allocation. Every moment I spent with my colleagues was full of learning and personal development, and I wish I had spent even more time with my classmates. On the contrary, I believe I could have optimized my job search time significantly by making some hard but inevitable choices earlier on.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I believe it was a true privilege to have known every single classmate of mine. However, I especially admire my peers who became parents during the MBA year. I had the opportunity of working with some of them closely during the year and I was amazed by their dedication towards their career as well as their family. I found their effort commendable and truly admire them for not giving up, ever!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Behind every successful man, there is a woman; and behind my MBA, there were two – my mother and my mother-in-law. I was always ambitious and had an aspiration to pursue international education. However, as a young mother, I was very skeptical of taking such a leap. It was these women who gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. Never having had the opportunity to pursue a career themselves, they both stood up for me and provided me with their unrelenting support during this arduous journey. I owe my MBA to them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My first professional aspiration is to develop myself as a digital transformation expert, to help organizations navigate the digital eco-systems of the future. My current role with Genpact is a step in that direction.

My second and long-term professional aspiration is to create businesses that enable effective reskilling of younger generations in developing countries so that they can be an active part of digital economies in the future.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? She thought she could, so she did.

Hobbies? I love traveling and spend most of my free time doing so. When I am not able to travel in the physical world, I use books to undertake journeys, which makes me an avid reader.

What made Swati such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“With 9 years of experience in business development, growth strategy, and team-leading across steel, hospitality, and retail sectors, Swati followed her ambitions throughout the year with calm determination. A proud mother, she was an active class member and contributor and graduated with honors. We are sure she will be successful as she enters the tech world and will inspire others. We wish her all the best for the next chapter in her life here in Switzerland.”

The MBA Team