This is the first of a four-post "series" where I will write about my experience during IMD's famous Assessment Day.
Making our way to Switzerland
The big day was on Friday, April 5th. Ashley and I decided to fly out on Wednesday night, and arrive there on Thursday, the day before the interview. With our work schedules we couldn't afford to take the extra vacation day so we couldn't go any sooner. Arriving the day before wasn't so bad in the end, but I would recommend getting there two days before if you can. That way you can have more time to fight the jet lag, if that's an issue. You can also give yourself a little extra peace of mind in case there's a flight cancellation or unexpected delay.
The thought of a flight cancellation hadn't occurred to me at all until we were actually sitting in the plane, taxiing to the runway about to take off. The captain made an undecipherable announcement, turned the plane around and started taxiing back to the gate. It suddenly hit me - what if this flight gets canceled? We wouldn't be able to make it to Lausanne in time!! PANIC ATTACK!! Thankfully we just had a minor delay, the flight didn't get canceled and everything went smoothly - but not without a little excitement!
Meeting the other candidates
One of the candidates for my Assessment Day asked the IMD admissions team to send out his contact information to the other candidates, so that he could orchestrate a meet-up before the big day. He also set up a private LinkedIn group which allowed us to 'virtually' introduce ourselves and not be complete strangers when we arrived. I thought that was a great initiative. If you're going to IMD for Assessment Day, I would really encourage you to find a way to connect with the other candidates beforehand if you can.
Ashley and I arrived in Lausanne at around 5pm on Thursday, and I went pretty much straight out to meet all the other candidates. I was immediately impressed by them. There was a scientist from South Africa who manages projects in telecom; a guy from Iran/Canada who is a manager at Accenture; a civil engineer from Spain who has lived and worked in France, Chile and Libya; an engineer from India in the electronics/microchip industry, a guy from Japan who is a Sr. Consultant at Booz Allen. Diverse and accomplished, just as advertised! There was only one guy, an Australian who is an equities analyst in London, who we didn't meet until the morning of Assessment Day.
We walked around Ouchy just chatting about each others' experiences and motivations for applying to IMD. We later sat down at a café and had a couple of beers, and just chatted a little about our initial thoughts on the case study, about each others' countries etc. Nothing too formal or competitive, which was nice. Everyone seemed very mature, not to mention very sharp. I walked away with a great impression of my potential MBA buddies. Every now and again I would ask myself "could I become friends with these people? Could I spend 12+ hours a day interacting with them?" and the answer was a definite "yes!"
I think meeting up beforehand helped us all feel more comfortable and more confident. I really feel we had better "chemistry" as a group during Assessment Day because of it.