Thursday, August 1, 2013

I finally told the boss!

This week I finally told my work about being accepted to IMD. Even though in theory this is a situation where you go in with a "who cares what they say!" attitude, it still made me a little nervous to break the news to my managers. I've worked with these guys for a few years now and I have a ton of respect for them, so I wasn't quite sure how they would react. Thankfully it went well!

When I first started looking at applying to MBA programs (feels like forever ago!), I debated whether or not I should tell my managers about it. I thought they could be a good resource to discuss my goals and my career progression, and give me some good feedback. They also know my strengths and weaknesses very well, so they would probably write the most accurate and compelling recommendation letters. I also thought they may feel betrayed if I did get in and eventually had to tell them I had been applying to business school behind their backs the whole time.

At the same time, I considered what would happen if for whatever reason I didn't get into any of my chosen programs. I was being pretty ambitious with my choice of schools, and it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that I just wouldn't get into any of them. How would I look at my managers and say "yeah, I wanted to leave and go get an MBA, but it didn't work out so I'm just gonna stay." That's not a very good message, no one wants to be told they are just a backup plan.

Another big influencing factor was that I work for a large bank that is still feeling the effects of the financial crisis, and has been in cost-cutting mode for a while now. If/when the time could come for some "right-sizing" in my department, I didn't want to stand out as the "obviously expendable" person since I was looking to move on to greener pastures anyway.

I chose to keep my cards close to the vest and not tell.

Fast-forward to April, and BAM! I got into IMD! Woohoo! The question then became, when should I tell my work I am leaving for real? And how will they take it?

I tried to be strategic with the timing. I wanted to give plenty of advance notice, to demonstrate my respect and appreciation for the team. At the same time, I didn't want to say anything too far ahead of time. I still want to be a part of the team and be taken seriously. Not to mention, now I am more "obviously expendable" than ever, since it's a fact that I will be leaving.

This week felt like the right time to communicate the big news. I had my mid-year review scheduled, and I knew it would be a good opportunity to talk about my greater career goals. In my previous reviews I made no mystery of the fact that I am looking for ways to expand my leadership skills. Surely it would make sense to them why going to IMD is the right move for me. Plus, I'm not leaving for a few months, which will give them ample time to plan for my departure and even find a replacement if that's what they chooses to do.

I think my boss was a bit shocked, but he was very supportive and understanding. He even said he applauded my decision, and agreed it sounded like a great move for me. I think he appreciated the advance notice as well. That was a big relief!

Now my goal until I leave is to make the transition as smooth as possible for my coworkers. Should be very easy, since I'm a total slacker and don't do anything anyway. Most importantly, I want to absorb as much knowledge, feedback and wisdom as I can from everyone, and bring it with me to IMD!


  1. Hi Marshmallow, it is a factual dilemma indeed. It's great to know that you have made it happened at the end of the day. May I know to whom you did ask the letter of recommendation then? Did IMD ever ask why the current aupervisor was not part of your recommendation team? Thx.

  2. Hi - thanks for stopping by.

    Yeah, deciding on recommenders is a bit tricky. I ended up asking two of my former managers, who I had worked with until fairly recently and had a great relationship with. For my third, I asked someone from my volunteering/community service who I had worked with on several projects. I didn't end up telling my current manager and teammates until a couple months after I had received the offer.

    IMD was respectful of my choice of recommenders and never asked why I didn't include my current manager. I think at least one more person in my interview day hadn't told their manager either. I get the impression that this is fairly common so it doesn't seem to be a big issue. But I suppose it's possible they could ask why you didn't include the current boss as a recommender.

    I also appreciated that IMD respected my decision of when to tell my boss I was leaving. Once I was accepted, they started the background check process, but were kind enough to hold off until I was ready to break the news before running the employment verification part.