Meet The MBA Class Of 2021: David Roe, IMD Business School

David Roe

IMD Business School

“I am a resilient, dependable person with a passion for music and the outdoors.”

Hometown: Cambridge, UK

Fun Fact About Yourself: In my teens and early twenties, I grew my hair down to my shoulders and spent my evenings and weekends touring the local pubs and clubs as part of a Led Zeppelin tribute band.

Undergraduate School and Major: Durham University, Master of Engineering (Hons)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Lead Engineer, Better Origin, United Kingdom

IMD classes have been dubbed the “Mighty 90” for their talent and versatility. What has been the best part of being in a small class with this group of classmates? The best part of being a small class is you get a great deal more one-on-one attention from the faculty – particularly when it comes to leadership coaching. IMD even provides a personal psychoanalyst throughout the year to develop powerful insights into how our past influences our unconscious and semi-conscious thinking, and then how that manifests into behaviours. IMD places such a huge emphasis on leadership skills, and for me it is one of the most important components of any MBA.

Aside from classmates, what part of IMD’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Naturally, the consistently high position of IMD across many different rankings was a strong factor. Apart from that, I would say it was the diverse and international cohort. There are so many different nationalities and cultures represented here; it has provided a fantastic opportunity for me to learn outside of my comfort zone. Lastly, the IMD program office puts a lot of effort into supporting partners and families who make the move over to Switzerland, and then makes them feel involved and included. The MBA is tough and puts a lot of strain on the class, and having this support system in place for my partner was really important when I made my choice.

What has been favorite tradition or event at IMD? At IMD, I was introduced to the concept of ‘Jefferson Dinners’ by fellow students, which is essentially a dinner with a small group of people where there is a single topic of discussion. When one person speaks, the whole table must listen and there is no interrupting allowed! It provides a great forum for intellectual discussion. Most surprisingly, I found in one evening that I got to know some of my fellow classmates far better than I had after months of working together!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment was when I was part of a start-up company leading a small team to design and build a fully-working autonomous insect farm for the poultry industry. This was the first product of its kind in the world. Not only did I know nothing about this field when I started, but there was no expertise out there to draw on! I will never forget the moment when we fired up the machine in anger for the first time, and how proud I was to show it off to potential investors and customers. The machine takes in food waste, feeds it to insect larvae who then convert it into protein: it is essentially ‘upcycling’ food waste back into the food chain. One third of the world’s food is wasted and it is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions; feeling like I was contributing to something that was making the world a better place was a fantastic feeling.

Describe your biggest accomplishment at IMD so far: Aside from being part of this feature you mean? There have been plenty of achievements I am proud of so far this year – if I had to pick one I would say winning the ‘Markstrat’ simulation with my team against stiff competition from the rest of the class. An intense and in-depth Product Development and Marketing simulation, Markstrat pits five teams of MBAs over several days in a bid to maximise company value in a dynamic ever-changing market, balancing marketing mix, R&D and production. We identified a position early in the simulation that gave us an advantage, developed a strategy, and then consistently executed through to the end. This team consistently performed highly through the module and it was a privilege to be a part of it.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? The COVID-19 pandemic was a real catalyst for me to reflect hard on my career to date and where I really wanted to go. I remember being stuck at home with my partner with a bottle of wine (no bars were open of course!), discussing how we had both felt stuck in a bit of a rut in our professional lives recently. I had thought about an MBA for a couple of years, but had never quite felt ready. She really encouraged me to finally go for it, and I am so glad we did. It has been such a great adventure, I have learned so, so much and I can already see the value of the MBA in my potential prospects for the next career move.

What has been your best memory at IMD thus far? Going skiing in the Four Valleys is certainly up there, but I think my best memory so far is hiking up to an altitude of 2090m to Lac Bleu in Arolla, Valais with four of my classmates to camp the night. A warm campfire, amazing food, wine, whiskey and some of the best company you could ask for provided an unforgettable experience out in the heart of the Alps. My only regret was perhaps indulging a little too much before making the descent down to catch the bus early the next morning!


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