Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2020

IMD MBAs returning to campus

P&Q: IMD is best known for leadership training. What does your leadership programming entail? What makes it so effective and so different from other MBA programs’ leadership programming?

AF: “It is clear that our passion and focus are on the development of those who will become important leaders in business and society. We exist to cultivate the leadership ambitions, and not just to get them the next job. We believe that in about eight years after finishing the MBA, our participants will have arrived to a position of meaningful responsibility with their employer, and they will be tested for bigger jobs (C-suite and CEO positions). So we asked ourselves, what kind of skills will leaders need around the time they are being tested by their companies? While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, we think the world will be more digital, more entrepreneurial, and more global. So digitalization, entrepreneurship, and globalization are critical pillars of our MBA program, and they are intrinsically embedded in the design of the program. Our MBAs participate in multiple leadership sessions, many of them experiential, and work with coaches throughout the year who provide constant feedback. We also offer the Personal Development Elective (PDE), where our MBAs can have around 20 sessions with a Jungian psychoanalyst. We believe successful leaders have to understand what triggers them, why they behave in the way they do, so that they can adapt and change certain behaviors when needed. In one word, self-awareness is key, and it is nurtured throughout the year. Leadership is baked into every element of the program which of course delivers a rock solid education leading to mastery of all business fundamentals.”

P&Q: Entrepreneurship is instilled both in the curriculum and the overall culture. Tell us about how you incorporate entrepreneurial thinking and doing in your 1-year program.

AF: “We have long believed all leaders need an entrepreneurial mindset. We were among the first programs to recognize the importance of Entrepreneurship to larger, more established corporations and integrate it into our core curriculum. Leaders need to have the entrepreneurial drive and passion to adapt and respond to ambiguity and uncertainty. If ever we needed to be reminded of the need for such ability, we certainly have had it with COVID. The mandatory startup project allows our participants to work with real startups from different sectors and build on the knowledge they develop in the auditorium by exposing them to the real environment and mindset. They do this for the first few months of the program, and in tandem, they have Entrepreneurship classes and guest speakers who share their own individual experiences. These experiences then become a reference point in assessing strategies across functions in some of the world’s largest corporations.”

MBA Class Lab


Ask alumni and they will tell you: the IMD leadership programming is second-to-none. That was certainly the case for Joyce Tsuchiya, a 2019 IMD MBA who now works out of McKinsey’s São Paulo office. For her, the Leadership Stream and Personal Development Elective – known as PDE – was the best part of the program.

“IMD has all the staples of a traditional MBA with amazing teachers, but the whole program is built around leadership and personal development. We’re in a very small class (it’s just 90 of us every year) working in teams almost full time so we get all kinds of experiences that come with that. And we have the support from our leadership coaches and psychoanalysts from PDE to process these experiences and do the introspection required. If you let it, a year at IMD can be a truly transformative experience.”

That’s just the start. Here are the biggest benefits of an IMD MBA from students and alumni alike:

IMD MBA students

1) Leadership Training: “What led me to IMD was the leadership program. I wanted to have time to take a step back to think about my career, better understand myself, and what drives me, and it has held to its reputation. The mix between individual reflection and group feedback has been a truly transformative experience.”
Agathe Keim (’20)

“Focus on Leadership Development and holistic growth through the Personal Development Elective (PDE). Both are extremely important skills to be effective leaders and something that no other MBA program offers as explicitly as IMD does. The PDE sessions helped me become aware of my strengths, my weaknesses and my triggers, helping me understand areas I need to focus on and develop to become a better person and leader, both in a personal and professional capacity. The softer aspects of being a good leader are covered in extreme detail throughout our leadership stream and they are so important in today’s age, when we work in cross functional, multi-cultural and diverse teams.”
Dr. Ruchi Senthil (’20)

“We have so many different contexts for examining leadership behavior and team participation behavior. We do it clinically with qualified and experienced people. We give feedback. We expect people to find that feedback useful.  They work on leadership papers. On top of all of this, there are explicit leadership development sessions and feedback on activities we have in parallel to the course, something we call the personal development elective. We have personal development analysts who work with students one on one. Every student can work with an analyst for 2025 sessions a year, 45-minutes at a time. I think it’s important in leadership development for the leader to know thyself. You really need to understand what your triggers are and why you behave the way you do.
Dean Seán Meehan

2) Small Size: “IMD is not a large, traditional business school. Instead, it delivers a highly personalized transformative experience.”
Shweta Mukesh (’20)

3) Startup Project: “The start-up project was one of my favorite activities, working with a team of six classmates, side by side with an amazing digital start-up called “Privately”. They developed a really efficient AI technology in order to educate kids on the use of social media and the internet. Digital, AI, and innovation are some of the aspects that I am passionate about, and itʼs awesome how IMD gave me the chance to work on them hands-on in a real-world situation. My team was incredibly diverse: a doctor, an engineer, an investment banker, a former CFO, a private equity manager, and me (a former Lieutenant). Everyone brought a different point of view to the table and itʼs amazing how, when we put everything together, we came up with remarkable ideas.”
Andrea Teja (’19)

MBA Classroom (Before pandemic)

4) International Consulting Project: 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.”
Swati Dalai (’19)

5) Diversity: “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.”
Swati Dalai (’19)

6) Innovation Week: Our Innovation Week was a clear highlight. We collaborated with students from écal (the design school in Lausanne, Switzerland) on a project for the European Football Championships 2024. Inspired by external speakers and advisors, we spent an intense week learning the basics of design thinking in order to create a new experience in fan zones. Fostering creativity and collaborating with people from very different backgrounds was as rewarding as it was demanding. This outside-the-box thinking and thriving from diversity is at the core of IMD.”
Cosima Suter (’19)

IMD Classroom (Before pandemic)

7) Discovery Expedition: My favorite MBA event, traditional to IMD, was the Discovery Expedition. I believe that it is a great emblem of the program. It is about an international experience: we went to San Francisco, Shenzhen, and Dublin. It is about how tight the schedule always was: we did everything in only two weeks. It is about world class experiences: we talked to CEOs, VCs, and startup founders, of incredible companies. And it is about bonding: the moment in which we all came together as a unified class.”
Camila Scaranelo (’19)

What can give prospective candidates an edge in getting accepted into IMD’s Class of 2021? For Dean Meehan, it comes down to the right kind of experience.

“We’re looking for people who have demonstrated that they have the appetite to take responsibility,” Meehan tells P&Q in a 2019 interview. “Leadership is about taking a lot of responsibility. And it’s not about having the big job and the big car, it’s really about taking responsibility for moving organizations, for moving people, for caring for them and bringing that organization or that team to a new position and readying them for in most cases uncertain futures. And we need to find people who can deal with those situations, deal with ambiguity, deal with pressure, and have demonstrated some of that. So we look for that experience before we admit them. It’s not a question of age or maturity, it’s a question of miles on the road. Have you seen enough to realize why what we’re doing is important?”

What led the Class of 2020 to pursue an MBA? Where else did they apply? What did they do during the application process to increase their chances of being accepted at IMD? Find answers to these questions and more by clicking on the in-depth profiles of current IMD MBA students below.

MBA Student Hometown Alma Mater Last Employer
Olabisi Ayodeji Lagos, Nigeria American University of Nigeria Tellimer
André Garcia Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro Teadit Group
Stephanie Hurry Johannesburg, South Africa University of the Witwatersrand Nedbank CIB
Siddharth Katti Miraj, India Walchand College of Engineering Tata Group
Agathe Keim Nantes, France Ecole Centrale de Lyon Boston Consulting Group
Haichen Liu Beijing, China Beijing Normal University Beike Finance
Shweta Mukesh Rancho Palos Verdes, CA U.C.-San Diego Belong
Dr. Ruchi Senthil Chandigarh, India Armed Forces Medical College National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, India
Elaine Shi Suzhou, China Curtin University Guosheng Securities Co, Ltd
Daniel Skirton London, UK University of Leeds NA
Philip Svendsen Oslo, Norway Copenhagen Business Academy Storebrand



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