Meet the MBA Class of 2020: Haichen Liu, IMD Business School

Haichen Liu

IMD Business School

“A brave and ambitious woman, ready to overcome and learn from all of life’s challenges.”

Hometown: Beijing, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am studying for my MBA with my dog, a black labrador I adopted 8 years ago in New York. He has now lived in 3 continents, joined me on a 2-month road trip from New York to San Francisco, and is currently enjoying swimming with me in the Geneva Lake (Lac Léman) whenever the weather is nice!

Undergraduate School and Major:

2010 – Beijing Normal University (China), B.S of Chemistry;

2012 – NJIT (U.S.A), M.S of Chemistry

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Head of Operation, Beike Finance

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Diverse. We call ourselves Mighty90, partially because each year only 90 people get admitted, but also because we are 90 unique souls who are learning from each other and creating meaningful connections.

Aside from classmates, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The small class size means that the candidates can have much stronger bonds than large programs. It also means that IMD can be much more agile and resilient during turbulent times. IMD also has a very good reputation and a strong alumni network in my dream industry and company, so I feel that studying at IMD will leverage my past experience the most. Finally, IMD is located on the lakeside of Lausanne, which is an incredibly beautiful location. After visiting the campus during my assessment day last summer, I felt the year at IMD would be one of the best years of my life.

IMD has a reputation for being intense, with heavy reading and assignments. Did the school live up to its reputation? What did you do to get through the workload? The workload is tremendous. Especially the first couple of months, or Module One. Readings and assignments, meetings, school activities, student activities, and parties…you name it. It is not only about academic pressures, but also the pressures of influencing others, creating impact, and building connections while trying to figure out the true value of ourselves. The only way you can survive and have a meaningful MBA is to have your priorities clear as soon as possible. Sleep, study or party – you can never have all three of them. The key to trade-offs is prioritization.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I co-founded a Fin-tech startup in China and helped it to go public in the US four years after it was funded. After the IPO, I lead the digitalization project in a cross-country company and designed and implemented a backbone operation system for two thousand financial consultants across 33 cities in China.

Describe your biggest accomplishment at IMD so far: My startup project and the friendship with my startup groupmates. We started the leadership program together, helped a startup successfully pivot their business model and survive a dramatic industry downturn, and supported each other during the lockdown. We have our highs and lows together and know each other deeply. Even though we only worked together for three months, the friendship and learning are going to be life long.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After completing my education in the US, I built a career in China. However, I realized the need for international business exposure if I wanted to lead global businesses. A world-class MBA like IMD can help me switch geographies and sharpen my leadership skills.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? IMD is the only European school where I applied.

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into IMD? I spent quite a long time reflecting on myself and tried to connect the dots in my past to figure out who I am and what I want. I also spent a lot of time researching to understand the school. After talking to the admission office, alumni, and candidates, and attending the assessment day on campus, I felt a strong match between me and IMD. This kind of feeling is an energy that brought me forward during my application process.

What is the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started at IMD? Through the leadership project and my series of sessions with my PDE analyst (psychoanalysts, one of the many cool things about IMD), I learned to really pay attention to the voice from my heart and listen to it, which means accepting my true self and embracing the judgment and obstacles.