- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

Building On Talent (BOT): preparing the next generation of leaders

Online learning, two weeks of class on campus, and a six-week period to implement personal development plans at work - this layout proved to be a winning combination for Billy Erickson. The executive says the knowledge he acquired during BOT set the scene for his growth as a leader.
January 2018

As a young sales and marketing manager for Tequila Fortaleza, a drinks company based in the San Diego area, Billy Erickson was the perfect candidate for a program that targets younger generations of leaders and addresses hot topics in today’s work environment.

For two weeks, he attended the BOT program on IMD’s campus in Lausanne, where he joined peers to learn about business fundamentals, and feels that he hit the ground running thanks to the courses’ initial six-week online leadership course leading up to his time in Lausanne.

“I thought the online program was really effective at driving our class unity beforehand as well as giving us a good base for the education when we arrived on campus,” says Billy. “Integrating the online part with my work learning at home was challenging but in all the right ways,” he explains. Such preparation on IMD’s digital platform afforded him the breathing space to step back from his work once on campus, so as to really focus on the learning. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that without first working into the program through the internet portion,” he says.

The online course also helped him bond quicker with his peers once in the classroom.  Arriving at IMD, Billy felt like he already knew at least five other participants, thanks to prior contact with them online. “By week two of BOT, I don’t think our group could have been any closer. I’ve developed some close, lifelong friendships out of the program,” enthuses Billy.

Designed for young, high-potential talented leaders who want to gain larger and more important functional and inter-functional expertise, the program challenges participants to better understand their company, the environment they work in ­­– and themselves. As well as teaching about strategy, finance, marketing, sales and operations, and leadership, it explores three important modern day topics: innovation, sustainability, and the digital landscape.

Extra-curricular moments on campus afforded Billy the chance to exchange ideas with his classmates and he says that by going on runs with them or exchanging ideas at the breakfast table solidified his excitement and eagerness to take his new knowledge back to his California office.

Such implementation in the workplace was made even easier thanks to the final stage of the course, which sees participants implement what they have learned when they arrive back at their company. During a six-week period, Billy was able to put his learning into practice within his function, and was guided by an IMD executive coach throughout the process. “The ‘back-at-work’ portion is an exciting part of the course as you are able to take what you’ve learned, and really internalize it for your future growth, and future growth as a leader,” explains Billy.

The sales and marketing manager says that prior to choosing the program at IMD he had not experienced such a successful course format. “I’ve attended a few other programs lasting four days, but [in those programs] you don’t internalize the learning as much. With the combination of the three parts, you really get a chance to solidify what you have learned in class.”