Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ayesha Fariz, IMD Business School

Ayesha Fariz

IMD Business School

“Somewhat cosmopolitan with an appreciation for the creative and the quirky.”

Hometown: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Fun Fact About Yourself: My dream job was to become a detective after reading many of the Enid Blyton mystery novels as a kid. I’m still solving cases today, just a different kind!

Undergraduate School and Major: Knox College (USA), Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: edotco Group (Malaysia), Senior M&A Analyst

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? I think it’s easier to value authenticity and consistency in a more intimate setting. These are really important elements of a community or network, and the fact that the class is not only small but also very group-work oriented is what makes the program so immersive. It’s been very common for me to have deeper conversations with a classmate from a completely different background, and the knowledge and experiences that many of them have shared have really expanded my worldview.

The IMD MBA alumni network is also smaller compared to other schools, but to me they’ve been incredibly responsive, open and helpful. In a way, it probably becomes more important to look out for each other when there’s only a handful of us.

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? I became really convinced after speaking with the admissions office and several alumni about their experiences. IMD is known for its focus on leadership and general management, and I was drawn to the parts of the curriculum that would encourage me to be more introspective and self-aware. The leadership stream truly turns the MBA into a personal journey that’s different for each candidate.

One of my favorites has been the Personal Development Elective. It’s been a great way for me to make sense of the experiences I’ve had, and what they might mean for me moving forward. These are learnings that will be retained for many years to come.

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? I can’t stress enough how much of the workload comes from groupwork, so I would say if you can figure out how your team prefers to work together, you’ve already won half the battle.

From a course material aspect, the classes go by very quickly. If you’re come from a non-finance background, I’d recommend finding a finance classmate for some Q&A. It’s a great way to make friends and if you happen to be the finance classmate, don’t be shy and let yourself be known. I remember the night before exams, there were last-minute unofficial “TA sessions” in the basement study rooms, so there are always people willing to help.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Since I was a relatively fresh grad, I was doing buy-side M&A for an in-house team at a telecommunications infrastructure company. I think one would typically need a lot more credibility and experience to get the opportunity to do something like that, so I’m just grateful that my bosses and colleagues saw potential in me, and more importantly understood my drive to make a meaningful contribution. It was satisfying to see my work have a direct impact and it also taught me how to persevere in high pressure, time constrained environments.

Describe your biggest accomplishment at IMD so far: Accomplishments are always nice, but being too results-focused has sometimes limited me in my past. To shift gears a little, I would say that the biggest milestone for me right now is feeling comfortable enough to take risks. IMD is an excellent sandbox that provides the opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone and experiment outside what has already worked for you. This can lead to maybe even finding something better, or otherwise failing forward. Every time I’m courageous enough to push myself out of my comfort zone by taking on a leadership role or being candid with my feedback, for me it’s a win in itself.

Where is your favorite hang-out in Lausanne? Why do you (and your classmates) gravitate there? I’m staying near a park called Parc du Milan which also has a small café that opens in the spring and summer. It’s also close by for classmates who live near the train station and I will occasionally bump into them while I’m on a walk. The best part about it is how accessible it is – it’s the quickest way to de-stress when you need some fresh air, and at the top there’s a beautiful view of the lake.

After living in Lausanne, I’ve found that many classmates like myself have grown to enjoy nature and we try to take in the scenery of Switzerland at every chance we get.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? There came a point where it wasn’t enough to solely be good at my job, but to also start thinking about my personal impact and how I fit into the bigger picture. I think most people who choose to pursue an MBA are thinking along these lines and want to become more intentional with their leadership and have the right support and infrastructure to do this.

What has been your best memory at IMD thus far? If I had to choose one, it would have to be the final gala dinner when we were representing IMD at this year’s MBA Tournament at HEC Paris (“MBAT”). When the organizers announced the winners of each competition, our class cheered so passionately whenever IMD won a medal because we weren’t merely cheering as fellow classmates, but also as friends. We were definitely the smallest crowd there but also the loudest and most invested, like I’d say there was a 100% participation rate. I think it’s one of the most IMD things I’ve experienced.


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