Meet IMD Business School’s Distinguished Alumni: Pasha Pourfallah

Pasha Pourfallah

Class / Grad Year: IMD’s Class of 2014

Current Employer / Role: Amazon Web Services (AWS) / Head of Enterprise – Switzerland and Austria (Alps)

Best memory at school: There are many! One that I always tell new students is that during summer months, the pace of the job search intensifies and not all searches/interviews are successful. This can lead to discouragement, feeling lonely, and most importantly, facing questions about if one is on the right path. I remember one day I came early to the student study rooms (fondly known as the dungeons) and saw a board posted with all sorts of rejection letters from classmates. This was a heartwarming experience, showing that none of us were alone and that others were going through similar experiences.

On a lighter note, we went to Madrid over a weekend to participate in an MBA-school, friendly football tournament. While we were the smallest team of all the schools, +80% of all non-player classmates also travelled to cheer us on and we had the largest participation in the event.

Greatest achievement at school: I think personally, the fact that I was able to rethink my priorities in life, becoming truer to my own aspirations and understanding my life and professional drivers is the most long-lasting achievement that I took with me from my IMD MBA experience. This is thanks to the unique nature of IMD and the focus on defining self as a preamble to taking personal and professional steps. I utilized these learnings to further pivot my career (back) into technology few years after my graduation.

Your advice to incoming first-years: My advice is to be ready to pivot, reiterate, and challenge your pre-IMD ideas about your strengths, growth areas, and things that drive you in your career. Be open to challenge any pre-conceived notion of your post-MBA job/career.

Where do you currently live? Zurich, Switzerland

Fun fact about you: I have a passion for racing, specially Formula1; I have changed international travel plans before to be able to watch a race!

Why did you choose your school? I chose IMD over several other top schools in the US and Europe for:
1 … Its unwavering focus on leadership development and self-awareness as part of the leadership stream
2 … Seniority of the incoming class, with several years of work experience combined with  the visible and cognitive diversity of the cohort
3 … The small cohort as well as the rigor of the program.

What student organizations did you join? I was leading the speakers club and was also a member of the technology, life sciences, and consulting clubs.

Favorite trait in others: To this date, I am still amazed at the openness of the IMD MBA students and graduates and the curiosity that drives these individuals; always asking deep, probing questions and never staying on the surface (in a conversation or life).

One thing you would’ve changed in the MBA experience: One thing I wanted to change (and it has since changed) was ability to participate in various MBA competitions (e.g. MBAT and others).

Favorite class? Strategy with Prof. Phil Rosenzweig and Economics with Prof. Ralf Boscheck.

One secret to Success? Prioritize your time at IMD.

What is your biggest regret? I miss my time at IMD in general, but I could have dived deeper to better define the criteria for my next career step post-MBA. Once we got to the recruiting stage, I somehow didn’t put every offer or potential employer through the filter I had imagined for my post-MBA, and got distracted at times by the companies’ interest in my profile (as opposed to evaluating options more objectively). In retrospect, I could partially attribute this wavering to lack of well-defined criteria for my job search. The learning is that there is a lot of noise during the year coming from peers and other external factors; it is important to stay true to your aspirations, and not to get distracted and follow others’ dreams as if they are yours.

What is the next thing you’re going to do on your bucket list? Learn to fly planes.

For more on IMD Business School, visit the website here.

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