Sunday, October 13, 2013

The partner perspective

IMD is one the schools with the highest percentage of students who bring their partners. It's clear from reading blogs from previous years that the partners are an integral part of the IMD community. Not only do they play a crucial role in supporting their significant others throughout the MBA program, they also gain a lot of friends and positive life experiences during their time in Lausanne.

Needless to say, I am very happy that Ashley will be coming with me! More than ever, she will be my constant. She'll be taking care of the baby, working remotely, and pretty much keeping the boat afloat while I'm trapped in the dungeons at IMD. Considering how big a part she'll playing in getting me through the year, I thought it would be cool to ask her directly for some insights from her experience getting ready for our year at IMD so far.

So thank you Ashley for sharing your perspective, for everything you've done to help me so far, and for everything you will do next year to support me! You're the best! :)

  • What are you looking forward to the most about your experience as an IMD partner next year? What are you looking forward to the least?

  • Ashley: There are so many things I am looking forward to next year as an IMD partner! Getting to know the other IMD partners and their families is definitely at the top of the list. It will be a truly unique experience to be able to befriend so many people of such diverse backgrounds all at once. I am also excited to try life as an expat, especially in a French-speaking country. I’m hoping I can manage to pick up French again.

    Hands down, I am least looking forward to missing my Marshmallow! I’m told that I shouldn’t expect to see him too much, which will be hard, especially once Little Marshmallow arrives.

  • You have been extremely supportive, and all around awesome in helping Marshmallow get accepted and ready for IMD (and he loves you very much for it!). What was the application process like from your perspective? What kinds of things did you do that you think made the most difference?

  • Ashley: Why, thank you. :) The application process was unlike any other. When I went to grad school I just had to write essays with your usual word limits. IMD took it to another level with character limits, and the on-campus interview process. Though there wasn’t much I could really do, I tried to be helpful by reading as much as possible about IMD and sharing the information I found. In some ways, I felt I could contribute the most to the interview prep. Coming up with discussion topics and timing Marshmallow's presentations was actually fun sometimes. I was also happy that I got to go with him to Lausanne for the interview. I tried to alleviate some of the stress by taking care of little things, like removing lint from his suit. I think because I was able to go and see firsthand what a great fit he was at IMD, and vice versa, I was able to be more supportive as we waited for “the call.”

  • Not many partners have the ability to stay with their employers and work remotely from Lausanne. How did you orchestrate that, and how do you feel about the new setup? Do you feel these changes will have an impact on your career?

  • Ashley: Mostly I got lucky! Part of my job is related to happenings in Geneva, so it is fortunate that IMD is based in nearby Lausanne. As soon as we knew that attending IMD was a possibility, I put in as much extra effort at work as I could. My hope was that my employer would recognize my commitment to the organization, and would feel confident in my ability to work remotely if I needed to. Thankfully everything worked out!

    I am excited for the new setup, and think it will be a great opportunity to learn to work in a new way. I think the changes will have a positive impact on my career, because I will have more opportunities to network with colleagues in Europe, since I’ll be much closer now. I will also have to become even more disciplined with time management, since in some ways I will be managing myself now.

  • You are very brave to have your first baby in a whole new country. How do you feel about it? How have you been preparing for the baby's arrival, given your unique situation?

  • Ashley: I think that having a first baby is going to be a big adventure, regardless of the place. Being in a different country may make it slightly more challenging, but I am excited for the experience.

    To prepare, I’ve started brushing up on my French so that I can feel a bit more comfortable going into the actual delivery process. IMD has been great about providing resources for expecting moms in Lausanne, so I’ve been reading up on what having baby in Switzerland is like. I’ve also connected with groups for moms and moms-to-be in the Lausanne area. These have already been helpful as we’ve started trying to find doctors, plan the nursery, etc.

  • How have you and Marshmallow been enjoying your last few months of “freedom” before the baby and the MBA? How will you manage to stay sane with crazy schedule next year?

  • Ashley: Our last few months of “freedom” have really been focused on the move and prepping for baby. We do try to make a point to have a nice dinner, or a movie night snuggled up on the couch every now and then. Once we are settled in Lausanne, we are planning to take a few quick weekend trips to really take advantage of the last days before school and baby.

    I have no idea how we are going to stay sane next year, and I’m not sure we will. At least the pace of life in Lausanne itself seems slower, so maybe somehow that will help balance out our hectic lives? Having family over will also be a huge help!

  • Based on your experience so far, what would say to partners of future applicants, as they consider the big life decision of pursuing the IMD MBA?

  • Ashley: From my experience, I would say that I found it helpful to be as involved in the process as possible. I wasn’t sure whether or not I should travel to Lausanne with Marshmallow for the interview, but I am very glad that I did. Visiting IMD and getting to meet some of the other candidates reassured me that this was a great opportunity for Marshmallow, and that I needed to do everything I could to support his getting there. Once we got “the call”, I felt confident that the decision to go was the right move not just for him but for both of us.

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