- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

A culmination of transformational journeys

IMD’s Executive MBAs celebrate their graduation with class
June 2016

 - IMD Business School

IMD recently graduated a new class of Executive MBAs after a life-changing journey through global business, travels around the world and intense moments of crisis preparation.

The ceremony took place at the Hotel Royal Savoy in Lausanne, Switzerland, and was officiated by IMD Professor Stefan Michel, who directs the EMBA program.

Developing global leaders

“I am proud to lead IMD’s Executive EMBA because I believe it is at the very core of IMD’s mission to develop global leaders,” he said opening the event.

Professor Michel thanked all of the family and friends of the graduates in attendance, recognizing that the program is a big commitment which demands a good deal of support from loved ones. He also gave thanks to fellow EMBA faculty members Howard Yu, Leif Sjoblom, Jim Pulcrano, Nuno Fernandes, and Ben Bryant.

“We promised you three things. You learn more about the world, more about management, and more about yourself,” said Prof Michel. “This class stands out because it is thoughtful.”

Acknowledging the final project of the program, which involves a realistic crisis management simulation with the Swiss military, he said: “The last three days on the crisis management module were a proud moment as I watched the class present your briefings to the Commander and Chief of the Swiss Armed Forces, General André Blattmann.

Distinguished guests

Next up was the keynote speaker of the ceremony, Michel Demaré, Chairman of the Board of Syngenta, Vice-Chairman of the Board of UBS and a Member of IMD’s Foundation Board, among other roles.

“You have changed. These last 12 months have revealed a number of facets of your personality, and of your intellect which you had not been aware of before. This experience has opened your eyes, taught you new concepts and has boosted your self-confidence,” said Demaré.

“The program will have changed your life but there is still one test you need to pass. How will you behave now? Don’t expect the red carpet, admiration or an immediate promotion. You must prove yourself through mastering this newly acquired wisdom that will translate to maturity, curiosity, a passion to learn more and to share it with others.”

“A career cannot be planned. It is the result of many factors: some you can influence and some not. What you bring back from IMD is an inner maturity, a forceful self-confidence which will let you take some risk with your career that you might not have taken before and will send the message to your superiors that you are ready.”

Factors for success

Michel Demaré also shared his four secrets of success with the newly minted EMBAs.

1 – Learning from bosses

“There is so much to learn from bosses: the good ones and the bad ones! Bosses are like family; you can’t choose them but you can choose what you extract from them. Observe them. Take note of what they do well or not well. Watch how they behave with their peers and supervisors and try to understand their decision making processes.”

2 – Being lucky

“So many deserve to get to the top but few do. You need to be in the right place at the right time.

3 – Risk-taking

“You need to be a global citizen. Not just travelling but really living among other cultures and environments. There is nothing that can replace these types of experiences. You now have enough self-confidence to take risks with your career. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Too much planning and too many calculations is not how you build a career.”

“Don’t shy away from crisis. This is where you excel, make a difference, and really learn about yourself.”

4 – Emotional intelligence

“You cannot succeed without a team. You have to first be aware of your own weaknesses and build a team which offsets these weaknesses or is complementary. You have to inspire your team, challenge them, chastise them if needed, but respect them always. Listen and be ready to learn from them. Build a team spirit. Be approachable and stay in a good mood. And it doesn’t hurt to crack a joke from time to time.”

Demaré finished his address by sharing a few indispensable skills for every manager.

Integrity: “I have a simple rule – if there is something you want to do but you don’t want to tell your kids about it, don’t do it.”

Balance:  “A good manager is a person with a private life. There is nothing worse than working for someone who thinks of work 24/7. This is unsustainable.”

Communication: “You need to be excellent at this even if it is not natural. Keep practicing.”

“Good luck and once again congratulations for your great achievement,” he said passing the podium to Terry Akitt, EMBA program manager, who called each of the graduates to the stage to receive their diplomas.

An important milestone

During the roll call Stefan Michel interrupted the ceremony abruptly.

“Since the beginning of the program 999 participants have received a diploma,” he announced.

For the 1000th graduate IMD President Dominique Turpin and Dr Jim Pulcrano, an associate of the EMBA program, came up on stage.

Dominique shared some memories about the origins of the EMBA in 1997-98. Jim Pulcrano said the beginning of the EMBA was like a startup. “But even though I have been involved in many startups since then, this has been the most rewarding from a personal point of view, thanks to all of the graduates who have passed through.”

The 1000th diploma went to Thomas Lundstrom

Next Kasper Bodker Mejlvang, the class valedictorian, took the stage.

“We have been through a transformational journey together. It was a holistic and integrated way of understanding and driving business to create value,” Kasper said.

“Finance, strategy, sustainability and leadership came together in the program in ways that were often quite surprising. The program made us understand our impact on the world and the impact we want to have on the future.”

4 journeys

According to Kasper, the program took the form of four distinct journeys.

“The 1st journey started with business mastery in the real world.”

“The 2nd journey took us outside of our usual business environments to discover different parts of the world through the discovery expeditions to Silicon Valley, China, and Brazil.”

“The 3rd journey was a journey of building a strong community together.”

“The 4th and final journey was about internal discovery. We have felt pain balancing the program on top of family and careers. But the sacrifice was worth it.”

Ending his address Kasper said: “The journey of real discovery lies not in seeing through new lenses but seeing through new eyes. Thanks to IMD.”

Closing the ceremony Professor Stefan Michel gave a final word of congratulations to IMD’s new Global Leaders.

See more photos from the IMD EMBA Graduation Ceremony.

Find out more about the IMD EMBA.