TC029-13 - IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

EMBA graduate says IMD helped build his career and seal a record deal

Paul Krell rose to the top of the med tech industry and carried his IMD knowledge along the way
May 2017

 - IMD Business SchoolPaul Krell just experienced the most bitter-sweet success of his career. He was involved in selling a company, Sequent Medical, which he helped grow from scratch and that he considered his “baby”, for USD$ 380 million to Terumo, a Japanese corporation, one of the largest deals ever in the medical devices industry related to neurotechnology.

“I know for a fact that my current success would not have been possible without my learnings at IMD,” says Paul.

Paul completed the Program for Executive Development, an IMD experience that transforms managers into leaders, in 1999 and 2000, and appreciated it so much that he decided to continue his learning path and went on to do the IMD Executive MBA.

Paul is from Germany and was a qualified electrical engineer before getting into sales by accident, he says. After that he often found himself playing a connecting role between the sales and R&D departments at Guidant, a medical devices company.

Then he was promoted to a Marketing Director position responsible for Europe and came to IMD to boost his knowledge in managing people and finance.

The experience was enriching and in addition to learning in the classroom, the other participants helped him tremendously to learn about people management and even designing his own career.

“I have to be honest, it was intense, challenging and hard to keep up with my job while I was in session,” Paul says of the EMBA experience. “But it was rewarding and a lot of fun too,” he adds.

“The impact of the program was that I was seen as, and I was, a different manager afterwards. I began to look at my work and even my life very differently than before.”

“One of the most important takeaways from the EMBA, and something that has helped me immensely throughout my career, is the value of teamwork,” says Paul.

Paul also learned how to think more creatively. And the wide diversity of backgrounds and nationalities of the faculty and fellow participants broadened his horizons.

The Discovery Expeditions to, at the time, Ireland, Silicon Valley and Shanghai were excellent additions to the EMBA program, according to Paul.

“Silicon Valley was very interesting from a tech point of view. Ireland was about learning about creating an environment where companies can flourish. Shanghai was a very important experience learning about other cultures and my first time to Asia.”

Looking back to his EMBA days Paul says the program shaped his management philosophy: “Managing people means orchestrating their talent and knowledge and putting them in the right place, not telling them what to do.”

Some other wisdom he picked up at IMD that he continues to live by is:

“It’s better to design a strategy 80% and then to execute it 100% than the other way around. Execution, execution, execution is what counts.”

After graduating from the EMBA with honors, Paul was recruited to work for a medical technology startup called ev3. “It was like living in a case study that we worked through at IMD. When I joined the company there were 10 people working there and when I left there were 1000,” he says of his time with ev3. He also believes that he never would have had the opportunity had it not been for his learning and networking at IMD.

He joined Sequent as a consultant in 2009 and later became Vice-President Europe. The company evolved into the passion project that he recently ended up selling in a record deal in 2016.

“One of the keys to our success was that at every board meeting we asked ourselves as a startup if we were better than the big guys in what we did, if we were moving faster. When we realized that a large company would be better at what needed to be done, we knew it was time to find an acquisition partner.”

Paul says he takes immense pride in having built up the company and that its sale was financially rewarding. But he couldn’t stay on after the acquisition because he has long been more at home in a startup culture than in a corporate setting.

So what will Paul do next? He’s looking for another startup.

The EMBA program offers a rigorous general management and leadership framework with a focus on innovation and globalization. Throughout the program, participants build on theory and frameworks from classroom sessions and Discovery Expeditions by applying these learnings in their own companies or organizational contexts.

Find out more about IMD’s top Executive MBA, which gives you maximum flexibility to learn while you work.