- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Strategy

Continued self-development through IMD to face the challenges of expansion

Over almost a decade, Ivan Kurtovic attended IMD three times, each time honing his leadership skills as the investment firm he worked for expanded in size
January 2018

Ivan knows the IMD campus in Lausanne only too well. In 2008 he attended the Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) program, before participating in Building on Talent (BOT) in 2010, later attending an Executive MBA (EMBA) program at the business school between 2015 and 2016.

Working for InterCapital Securities, a leading independent investment company in Croatia, and after becoming the youngest manager in 2007 to lead a brokerage department in the firm, he has risen up through the ranks to Head of Broker Operations in Croatia and Board Member.

As a child, Ivan experienced the civil war in Croatia and was later involved with his University’s Student Union in Zagreb. It is perhaps these experiences that have entrenched in him a sense of unwavering focus on continuous self-improvement and personal and professional growth.

This ethos brought Ivan to IMD and after attending OWP, he later decided to take part in further management and leadership training and attended BOT. Looking back, he believes the program was instrumental in propelling his journey of self-discovery and leadership growth. Particularly impactful for him was BOT’s leadership stream, which he describes as “truly amazing.”

According to Ivan, the course provided him with solid foundations for using his expertise in a cross-functional system. He also gained insights into how to be a strong leader through self-awareness. The program also helped him to learn how best to lead, behave and project himself as a leader. For Ivan, these skills proved crucial for his success back at the office at InterCapital (IC).

Joining the EMBA program five years later seemed a natural step on Ivan’s development journey. It was also at a time when IC had expanded into a highly specialized financial services firm and grown from nine staff when Ivan had joined in 2007 to over 60 by 2015.

As a result, the executive felt that the EMBA would help him develop a global mind-set and take his leadership development to the next level. The program proved invaluable, helping Ivan understand the complexity of team dynamics in both day-to-day business as well as crisis situations. The skills he learned also proved impactful for his work at IC through the series of in-company assignments.

One such assignment ‘Learning From Your Customers’ was instrumental in the process of clearly identifying specifically which IC Fixed Income Fund products should be introduced as key elements in the partner bank’s product portfolio. The end result was a more clearly articulated value proposition for the end customer.

InterCapital also benefited from Ivan taking part in the ‘Strategy and Digital Transformation’ stream assignments. The exercises helped him marry solid structure and process with instinct when deciding which courses of action to take in managing IC’s growth.

As a result of tying Strategy and Digital Transformation into a coherent company-wide effort, Ivan led the successful design and implementation of a bespoke digital platform, which allowed the firm to fully automate information exchange between IC and its partner banks. In doing so, the firm leveraged the expertise of a local digital partner company in Croatia, which also helped create positive impact on the regional business ecosystem.

Overall, Ivan recognizes the paramount importance of patience and humility in leadership, and has understood the benefits of applying these values when engaging with team members. He has also learned that it is important to avoid over-emphasizing immediate impact, but to aim at a clearly articulated long-term vision.

He believes that only by using this approach can leaders be sure to enjoy the benefits of a solid team that will be ready to face any challenge and which will ultimately emerge winning.