Monday, May 6, 2013

Why I chose IMD

Going to business school is a big decision. It is an incredible opportunity and I am very very excited, but I can't help but feel a little anxiety about how big a life change it is. I will be leaving a solid job where I've done really well, and will be giving up all my income for the year. I will be moving to a totally different country and uprooting not just my life, but Ashley's as well. Big stuff!

I have no doubt it will be worth it - I fully expect to come out of my MBA a better person and a better professional - more knowledgeable, more strategic, more well-rounded, more self-aware, better able to influence and lead, and better connected. I really believe IMD will provide me the best chance to accomplish all these expectations and I plan to work my butt off to take advantage of the opportunity. 

Here are my reasons why IMD is my top choice: 

The truly international environment

I'm fortunate that growing up I was able to live in different countries, make friends from across the world and live my life with a pretty global perspective. It's really become a part of who I am, as cliché as it sounds I really feel like a "world citizen." In my career I've been somewhat disconnected from that. I do work with diverse people who also have an international perspective, but the job function itself is very much based on the US only.

While most of the top schools offer a good degree of diversity and an international setting, IMD is the one school that really excels at it. It's unbelievable that there are no more than 4 or 5 people from any one nationality in the MBA class. It reminds me of my International School days back in high school. I know I will feel right at home in this kind of setting.

I have high hopes the environment at IMD will translate into an international post-MBA life as well. Surely recruiters who come to IMD know they will be getting people with world exposure who can bridge cultural gaps. I'm hopeful the IMD MBA will open the doors for me to get into a truly global career path.

The leadership stream

I have to admit, I am already dreading the leadership stream. I suck at being introspective. I have the hardest time understanding and communicating my feelings. I'm logical and straightforward. Knowing that I will spend so much time and effort reflecting and "getting to know myself" is a little scary. But while the leadership stream will probably be one of the most challenging aspects of the whole experience for me, I also think it will be what I will benefit from the most during the program.

(In a way writing this blog is a "warm up" to this kind of reflection. I hope it helps!)

IMD puts more focus on self-awareness and leadership development than any other school I've researched. By the look of it, I will have barely arrived in Lausanne and will already be expected to get cranking on my "Personal and Professional Identity Narrative" which sounds like an autobiography. I'll have my development constantly tracked throughout the year and will be constantly receiving feedback, both from the faculty and also from my peers. I'll need thick skin!

And the craziest thing to me is that I will have the chance to discuss the whole self-discovery process with a psychoanalyst, which I imagine will be very interesting and useful.

The cost-benefit factor

Sticker shock is a big deal in the consideration to get an MBA. Not only do I have to come up with the funds to pay for tuition and program expenses, I have to give up my salary as well.

Thank goodness I will have Ashley as my sugamama next year! :) 

There are all kinds of figures that prove that an MBA from a top program is a great investment that pays for itself pretty quickly (and I certainly hope those figures prove true in my case!). But I want to make sure I am getting the best value for my money, and it seems the IMD MBA is among the best return-on-investment you can find.

The fact that the IMD MBA is only a 1-year program was a big factor for me. I like that I can get 2 years' worth of content without having to pay a second year's worth of fees/give up a second year's worth of income. Also, IMD graduates' salary figures are ranked among the highest out there, so I hope I will be able to continue this trend!

I do worry about the high living expenses in Lausanne. But many of the other top business schools are also in expensive cities (London, New York). Also, having my lunch included in the cost of the program doesn't hurt!

Career services

Although the range of recruiting companies may not be as vast as that of other schools with larger programs, IMD's career services seem to be among the best in the business. I don't expect that I'll just sit pretty and wait for the job offers to flood my mailbox - but by all accounts IMD's career services do a great job at every aspect of helping MBAs find a job, from resume building, to interview practice, to company presentations, to face time with recruiters.

IMD's tight-knit alumni network is a big factor here as well. IMD alums seem to stay in touch with the school, and get involved by recruiting or at least help the outgoing MBAs as well. 

Between my research and all I learned during assessment day, I feel like IMD will open a lot of doors and give me an excellent opportunity to find the right job in the right company. I don't feel I will have to settle for something that doesn't check all the boxes.

It remains to be seen how my year in Lausanne will go, if all these factors will play out as expected and if I will be able to meet my goals - but I definitely feel like I am in a good place to do so.

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