IMD Business School
“Airline captain and instructor, passionate about talent development and making a sustainable impact in aviation.”
Hometown: New Delhi, India
Fun Fact About Yourself: I achieved captaincy at the age of 27 on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of the youngest on the fleet
Undergraduate School and Major: Cabair College of Air Training
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Commercial Airline Captain and Flight Instructor at Scoot, Singapore Airlines Group.
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? From “Mighty 90” we have come to be known as the “Centum Forte” as the class size has increased this year. The best part for me has been the interactions and the close connections that you form with not only the classmates, but also with the faculty. With a class of 104 from 40 different nations with backgrounds ranging from a Sportswear designer to a doctor, the word “diversity” takes a whole new meaning; the term “diversity of thought” would describe it more accurately. Whether it’s working on group projects or going on discovery expeditions organized by the school, it is always a learning experience, and I am truly grateful to be among such talented individuals.
Aside from classmates, what part of IMD’s MBA program led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The experiential aspect of the curriculum, with a stellar cast of professors and a strong focus on leadership, was a critical element that made me choose IMD. We start the year with not only the core courses but also working with real startups for a period of three months to add operational value to their businesses.
Overall, the whole year is centered around a very crucial global challenge – that of climate change. We learned about difficulties that businesses face in sustainability through interactive courses such as COP simulations, sustainability accounting, and impact investing and worked with a green startup accelerator for a week during the innovation lab.
IMD has also had a fantastic track record of bringing distinguished guest speakers from various industries, which serves the interests of everyone in the class, however niche they may be. Finally, I will be starting an international consulting project with an internationally well-known NGO after the summer break. With a plethora of such opportunities, I knew I would not regret my choice with IMD.
IMD is known for academic rigor. What is one strategy you used that would help a future IMD MBA better adapt to the workload early on? The workload in the first three months definitely needs a strategy; without one, it is very easy to fall behind in the courses. Core courses combined with working with startups can pile on the workload fast.
First, I would suggest paying close attention to the professors in the class and overcome the hesitation of asking questions. I feel some people are shy to ask questions with the fear of coming across as “silly” or “disruptive” – but by doing so they are only harming themselves. Moreover, there is hardly any time to revise at home because of the startup workload and case assignments. Therefore it is crucial to pay attention to classroom discussions.
Second, coming from a niche background of an airline pilot, what really helped me was tapping into the knowledge of the class by building strong connections with my classmates. The MBA cohort is a huge resource, the value of which cannot be understated. My struggles with finance and accounting were easily fixed through the help of my classmates who were just a phone call away.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest achievement has been achieving the post of an Airline Captain/Commander at the age of 27, the youngest on the fleet on the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. This task required immense preparation both on mental and academic levels for over a year. Once selected through the interview process, our skills were assessed over a period of six months and then the final verdict is given. I am incredibly proud to have achieved this milestone at such a young age.
Describe your biggest accomplishment at IMD so far: My biggest accomplishment was when I was nominated to lead a team of 15 people during the Innovation Lab. The mission of our client was to become the most climate responsible startup accelerator in Europe. In line with this, our goal was to come up with selection criteria for startups that had a positive impact on SDG’s and also to design a system to quantify and measure impact moving forward.
Being nominated for this position through a voting system gave me a lot of confidence in my leadership abilities especially coming from a non-traditional background.
Where is your favorite hang-out in Lausanne? Why do you (and your classmates) gravitate there? Favorite hang-out spots change with the weather. During the initial winter months, most of my classmates hung out at the White Horse, a local pub in the Ouchy area of Lausanne. It is a cozy spot with some light music, perfect to have an after-work drink and unwind after a long and tiring day.
During the summer, we switched to Lacustre by the lake. Lacustre has a great terrace which faces the lake, a fantastic and affordable menu and great music on the weekends which truly makes it an all-in-one package.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? 10 years in the aviation industry taught me many things, especially when it comes to leadership and decision sciences. Over the years, I also learned how the industry needs to adapt and change to meet the climate challenges of today and of the future. I wanted to use the pandemic as an opportunity to gain a robust business acumen, so I can step outside the flight deck and help make a long-lasting impact in the industry I am so passionate about.
What has been your best memory at IMD thus far? My best memory at IMD was from the MBAT tournament hosted by HEC close to Paris. Here I saw the fantastic support of our dean, Professor Omar Toulan, who was present at every single game. Watching our school band perform at the battle of the bands was a sensational experience. The whole class united to support our band and the cheers of the “Centum Forte” drowned out those of the crowd which was 1,500 strong. This speaks volumes of the strong ties formed between the students. Watching my classmates up on the stage and singing a melody in four different languages and then going on to win the gold medal for their performance, was one of the best memories I have of the whole IMD experience.
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