Meet IMD Business School’s MBA Class Of 2022

Mountain Experience


Along with leadership training, IMD Business School also differentiates itself through academic rigor. Think of IMD as a throwback, with heavy case readings and team assignments. However, this traditional approach also acts as a daily simulation of leadership. As Amanda Tan notes, the rigor forces students to set priorities and make choices, knowing “you can’t dedicate 100% of your time and energy to everything.” Despite the school’s daunting academic reputation, the Class of 2022 quickly snapped into shape.

“As the first few weeks go by, you start to get a sense of the bigger picture of the things you study and focus on that. The rest comes with it,” says Juan Perlas.

Each class member found a different way to make it through the early transition. Oghosa Evbuomwan urges classmates to eat fruits (antioxidents), while Ekaterina Volkovich counsels brushing up on accounting and finance fundamentals to lessen the learning curve. The worst thing IMD students can do, adds Shivam Chandra, is trying to go it alone.

“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,” he tells P&Q. “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.”

Discovery Expedition in Buenos Aires


That’s not to say IMD is all work and no play. Truth is, the Class of 2022 has found plenty of opportunities in Switzerland to kick back. When the class arrived over the winter, Shivam Chandra notes, the class gathered at the White Horse, a “cozy” pub for some “light music.” As the weather warmed, the class hangout shirted to The Lacustre. A restaurant and bar, The Lacustre features an outdoor terrace with a stunning view of Lake Geneva. The music, delivered by Steve the DJ, is another plus.

That place has seen so many of our weekend gatherings and other social activities, including the end-of-exams celebrations that the social committee organize every time we finish a module,” writes Maureen Pellicer. “As of why we have gravitated towards that place, I think it is a combination of the closeness to campus with the amazing view, the food & drinks (the pizzas & brunch are highlights) and the music. These are all a perfect combination for a nice evening, where we are all trying to decompress from the program’s workload, while also serving as a great spot for us to get to know each other better on a more personal level.

According to Parco Chan, most class members live within a 10-minute walk of IMD, which enables them to enjoy many of the perks of living alongside Lake Geneva in the shadow of the Alps. That includes running on a wooden boardwalk that hugs the harbor. However, most IMD students, past and present, remember IMD’s famous “Dungeon” – the basement study rooms (that are better lit and more spacious than its moniker might suggest).

“While we spend lots of hours in the study rooms there, there is always time for a quick game of foosball or ping-pong in between classes,” jokes Juan Perlas.


Ask the Class of 2022 for their favorite memory and you’ll probably hear all about MBAT – or MBA Olympics. Here, you’ll find nearly 1,500 MBAs from over a dozen programs competing in sports and activities over three days. Even IMD’s Dean, Omar Toulan, showed up to cheer his students on at every competition. This year, IMD earned a record 8 medals – including IMD’s White Horses winning the Battle of the Bands.

“We had formed a band of eight musically-talented MBAs and selected four songs that we felt incredibly passionate about performing,” writes Bavly Obaid as he sets the scene. “Imagine the rumble that you feel in your feet as you walk onto a stage in front of an audience of more than a thousand people, and as the entire IMD cohort is in the front row cheering on “IMD!”. We didn’t know how it would go, but we knew we did our best job at rehearsing. Now it was time for us to have a great time performing, and that we certainly did. Living true to our Swiss roots – and since IMD is located right next to Lake Geneva – we closed with a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’, sending the crowd into raptures.”

Peter Holt Theisen’s best memory is centered around a long-standing IMD tradition: The Polar Dip. Think 20-25 students jumping in Lake Geneva in January and February, which can get as low as 20 degrees Celsius. “At first, they thought I was nuts,” he admits, “but somehow, they keep coming back wanting to do it – I think they’re slowly turning Nordic. During summer, it’s probably more turned into a Tropical dip, but the Polar Dip will return later in the year!”

Not surprisingly, traveling across Switzerland has yielded unforgettable memories for the Class of 2022. “A highlight for me was paragliding down the breathtaking Lauterbrunnen Valley back during our 5-day spring break holiday,” reminisces Maureen Pellicer. “The MBA year is one of firsts for sure, but paragliding was something I was not expecting to cover, and I am so glad I did. Switzerland is a beautiful country and having the opportunity to explore a part of it in this way has been a true dream come true for someone like me that enjoys travelling so much.”

On Campus Picnic


By the numbers, women make up 35% of the Class of 2022, where the average work experience is seven years and 75% of the class is between 26-32 years old. In terms of nationality, 20% of the class hails from Western Europe, followed by South Asia (18%), East and Central Asia (14%), Latin America (12%), Africa and the Middle East (10%), and North America (10%). Professionally, the largest class segment last worked in Manufacturing (26%). Financial Services (14%), Energy (11%), Technology (11%), Consumer Goods (10%), Healthcare (9%), and Consulting (8%) also represent largest segments of the class.

True to form, Faculty Quality and Programme Content remain two of IMD’s biggest strengths. In the 2022 student and alumni survey conducted by The Economist, IMD notched the 5th- and 8th-highest scores in these areas. That said, the school has recently been tapping into new strengths. To weather the COVID-19 pandemic, the school invested heavily in boosting its online capabilities – particularly in its executive program (which ranked as the world’s 2nd-best in the latest Financial Times ranking). As a result, the program boasts greater flexibility with its blending learning opportunities than ever. Such opportunities should make the program popular, with the school slated to expand class size to 120 students next year. Along with that, IMD intends to make the class younger, moving from the 31-year-old average for the Class of 2022 to “settl[ing] at 28-29” much like other top 1-year MBA programs.

To do this, IMD doubled its scholarships, though this doesn’t necessarily give younger students an advantage in admissions. “If you are on the younger side, the bar will be higher,” explains Omar Toulan, who assumed the role of dean in January. “We are looking for people who have something special despite their age that will allow them to actively participate and contribute in international conversations. But given the still small size of the program that is definitely feasible.”

One of Dean Toulan’s top priorities is sustainability, which the school is integrating across its programming – no different than leadership. After auditing its curriculum, IMD established 10 key skills for MBAs to master so they can make an impact in sustainability-related issues. The school has also incorporated a Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) certification in its core Finance course along with making sustainability the centerpiece of its May Innovation Week.

“Our vision is to develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society,” Dean Toulan told P&Q in December. “Traditionally, we’ve been more focused on transforming organizations. But you can’t ignore the impact you have on society. We want to make sure we’re balancing both sides of the equation; transforming organizations, but also impacting society. Sustainability is at the center of that.”


Omar Toulan, dean of the MBA program at IMD in Switzerland

And it is part of Dean Toulan’s discussion with P&Q on the future of IMD – short for the International Institute for Management Development. In July, P&Q reached out to Toulan to learn about new developments, along with signature experiences and underrated aspects of IMD. Here are the dean’s thoughts on the state of the program.

P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program in the past year and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

OT: “1) The Sustainability stream, including our partnership with WBCSD [World Business Council for Sustainable Development]. Throughout the year, our students build on their sustainability-related skills to help develop critical thinking and enhance their ability to make difficult decisions that will impact their future. The stream includes three 2-day labs: our introduction Mountain experience, where we take all the students into the Swiss Alps to discuss the key sustainability concepts and work on some experiential exercises; a Science behind Sustainability lab; and a COP simulation.

2) As we value diversity among our students, not all of them have prior experience in finance or finance-related topics. To help ensure that all students start out the program with a more solid foundation in this topic, we provided more online tutorials in the pre-course work where students can self-pace themselves. Then, once they arrive on campus they can focus more on applied work. As of this year, the applied work includes gaining a PRI certificate, to ensure that our graduates are equipped with responsible investment training.”

Next Page: Profiles of 12 IMD MBA Candidates

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