Founded in 1990, in just 40 years, IMD has earned a place amongst Europe’s most elite business schools. The MBA program at IMD is internationally ranked the #1 by both Forbes and BusinessWeek and offers a globally-focused 12-month leadership journey on a breathtaking campus in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. With a class of just 90 students, most with around seven years of work experience, you’ll find an older, closer cohort here than at many other top business schools.
“There are several distinct advantages to pursuing an international MBA, particularly in Europe,” writes my Fortuna colleague Caroline Diarte Edwards in her recent article on the benefits of an international MBA. “From the impressive ROI to peerless global leadership experience, more candidates are taking notice and targeting the international MBA.”
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, at 5 pm CEST / 11 am EST, Fortuna Admissions is hosting an exclusive webinar with IMD’s Admissions Director, Anna Farrus, and Stephanie Hurry, IMD Class of 2020, moderated by Fortuna Director and business education industry expert Matt Symonds. This live conversation will include IMD admissions insights, application tips, and an opportunity to get your questions answered.
Ahead of this look behind the IMD Admissions curtain, I’m offering my perspective on how to position your successful candidacy to IMD. As a Fortuna Admissions coach who supports international MBA applicants, I’m practiced at helping MBA hopefuls understand what IMD is looking for, and how to tell your unique story in a way that speaks to your fit with the program.
5 TOP TIPS FOR YOUR MBA APPLICATION TO IMD
Take a personalized approach.
IMD prides itself in having a personalized admissions process and encourages applicants to connect with them from the outset. Remember that the school is keen to build a close-knit community of outstanding individuals who will make a real impact on the world – so be sure to reach out to the admissions team, students, and alumni in order to establish that connection. The website offers you the chance to have your profile evaluated – seize the opportunity!
Clearly communicate your work experience.
IMD students on average have around seven years of work experience, slightly higher than some of the other top-tier schools, and the focus is on mature candidates who create a small class of 90. Be clear on the experience you’ve had to date and how that will add value to the class. The collaborative environment is a key element to the program and you should demonstrate both what you bring and what you will gain from it. If your work experience is on the low side, then be clear on the quality of it. Show the skills and attributes you’ve developed and the progression you’ve achieved over this time.
Showcase your leadership potential.
The program is designed to nurture your leadership qualities and the school is looking for individuals who have demonstrated the potential for strong leadership in their careers and lives so far. If you’ve had leadership experience at work (whether formally or informally), then be sure to communicate this clearly. Equally, if you’ve shown leadership skills in another capacity – extra-curricular activities, nonprofit work, or even in previous academic settings – then this is all valuable evidence.
Additionally, you might consider the impact of the pandemic – has this allowed you to demonstrate any additional leadership skills for example? Have you had to adapt/innovate to enable you to fulfill your role? Have you taken on additional responsibilities that you wouldn’t otherwise have done? Have you been able to support colleagues during challenging times? These sorts of examples help to build a picture of you as a responsible, versatile, positive future leader. (See this related article by Fortuna’s Judith Silverman Hodara: Extracurriculars in Quarantine: Building Your MBA Leadership Profile).
Demonstrate your global mindset.
Though a relatively small class, the IMD MBA program offers a genuinely global environment – with an average class encompassing around 40 nationalities, the vast majority of whom will speak multiple languages. Show the international exposure you’ve had to date and how this has shaped you. Ideally, you will have worked in a number of countries, but if not, consider the diversity of the people you work with, the places you have traveled to, and your passion for a globally focused career. It is vital that you come to the program with an open mind, a willingness to collaborate, and a genuine interest in the perspectives of others – consider all the elements in your profile that can evidence this and be sure to have your recommenders reference these points, too.
Share your vision.
IMD wants its graduates to go out into the world and really make a difference, so when you’re preparing your application, be clear on your goals – explain your motivations, your drive, and your ambition and show how you plan to make an impact. Consider your personal goals (be clear, specific, focused) but then go on to show how those goals ultimately will bring wider benefit. IMD has links with a large number of companies that take part in recruitment events every year, so do your research, and show you’ve considered your first steps beyond the program.
The intense, fast-paced nature of this international MBA program means that successful candidates must be prepared to hit the ground running, and IMD’s career-focused questions within the MBA application reflect this awareness. In addition, there are no fewer than four required essays, which require you to be both succinct and self-reflective. For my advice on how to tackle IMD’s essays and career questions, read my related article.
Join our upcoming webinar with IMD Admissions Director Anna Farrus, hosted by Fortuna Admissions Director and business industry expert Matt Symonds on Wed., June 23, 2021, at 5 pm CET / 11 am EST. Participation is free but spaces are limited, so reserve yours today.
Karen Ponte is an expert coach at MBA consulting firm Fortuna Admissions and former Senior Program Manager at London Business School. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.