- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

For Fay Li, the IMD MBA opened up new horizons

Camper executive makes career transition after MBA
June 2015

Fay Li completed her MBA at IMD in 2014. She is now a  - IMD Business SchoolMarketing Manager at Camper, the Spanish-based global shoe company.

After graduating from university in Beijing in 2006, she began her career in human resources first at UPS, the global shipping company, and then with the Swiss bank UBS.

Her passion for education and dream to contribute to bettering society then led her to put her skills to work at a non-profit organization called Teach for China. There she recruited top talent to teach in remote areas in China for two-year periods and helped them restart their careers after their missions.

But over the course of her career, Fay said she had always wanted to get an MBA. “I realized I never had a real business education. My business decisions had been intuitive up to that point. I wanted to become a more structured business thinker,” she said.

Fay chose IMD because she was looking for a program that was tailored to experienced professionals.”The program was right for me because it lasts one year, it has a more mature cohort with a lot of experience, and it provides a high-powered network,” she said.

Her motivation for pursuing the MBA was also to change her career trajectory and move from human capital related activities to more business oriented ones. “I wanted to change all of the aspects of my career: geography, function, industry and focus,” Fay said.

“The program was more than I expected. IMD is excellent at motivating self-development.”

Looking back to her time in Lausanne, Fay said she appreciates how IMD provides some key learning that some other schools don’t.

During the program MBA participants work with real startups to help them try to improve the new companies’ performance. According to Fay, this is a recipe for real world learning.

“If I took a program where I had to do an internship as a practical experience, I would learn how to do basic tasks. When we worked with the startup companies at IMD, there were high expectations and we were treated as consultants. We had to deliver.”

She said the program also helped to get exposure to the international business environment and key business leaders in Switzerland.

Through the coaching aspect of the program Fay came to discover what path was right for her.

“After being in the IMD MBA program for one year, I learned to understand myself more than I ever had previously. I understand now what drives me to succeed.”

She also opened her eyes to some career motivations that she realized she always had but tried to ignore.

“I realized that I wanted to work in the fashion industry because it would allow me to use my strong business motivation and to express my individual values,” she said.

“I really thank IMD. Otherwise I know I would have suffered trying to compete in an industry that I wasn’t satisfied with. The IMD MBA program provided me with direction, experience and high-powered networking.”

In addition to changing her function, industry and focus as she had wanted, she also succeeded at her goal of changing her geography; from China, she went to living and working in Mallorca in the Spanish Balearic Islands. For her this was no small feat. “It is so hard as a non-European national to get set up in Europe, but I managed to do it,” she said.

She now works with Camper’s COO and CEO on special projects such as product customization and product strategy as well as further developing the company’s accessory line.

One year after completing her program, Fay is still satisfied

“Everything I apply now, I learned at IMD. The tools I got there were extremely valuable. I am also still in touch with my former classmates.”

Every year, IMD’s MBA program enrols 90 mature individuals, with an average work experience of 7 years, broad international exposure and recognized leadership potential. They invest 11 months of rigorous work to acquire a solid and actionable education that is research-based but practice-focused. They work with coaches and analysts to develop themselves and each other. We offer a state-of-the-art career counselling process and access to IMD’s community of business executives and corporate sponsors. At the end, we aim to provide the skills to know, the confidence to act and the humility to lead.