MBA Journal: B-School on a Caffeine HighHowie Chan
Greetings from Lausanne, Switzerland. After a few weeks of handling some administrative tasks, my wife and I are finally settled into our apartment, which is a 10-minute walk from the IMD Business School (IMD Full-Time MBA Profile) campus. Similar to any relocation, we had to acquaint ourselves with where we can buy groceries, get a haircut, and find the best fondue. The challenge with the international move was the entirely new set of rules and regulations that pertain to banking, renting, Internet access, and just being here. We arrived more than two weeks ahead of the MBA start date and squared away these tasks to be fully ready by the time school kicks into full gear. Barring some hiccups with laundry machine operations and my wife receiving her visa just three days before departure, everything went smoothly.
After meeting the other 89 MBA participants, I have to say, I cannot wait to get to know them better. The 90 of us come from 45 different countries, and it is amazing every time I learn about one of my classmates. There can be no assumptions about your fellow students at IMD, as you will quickly learn that your classmate from France is actually fluent in Hindi and speaks English with an Indian accent. These occurrences may be extremely unique in other business schools, but not at IMD. Most of us have lived and worked in different countries, and every conversation for me is a fantastic discovery of who my classmates are, where they are from, and where they want to go.
The benefits of a small class size are many, and in the first few weeks it quickly became apparent. After receiving a personalized, hand-written card from the MBA office to welcome us to the program, an invitation to set up one-on-one appointments with a career coach, access to personal lockers, daily fruit baskets, and buffet lunch, I am absolutely glad I made the decision to attend IMD. The ability of the MBA office to give each of us personal attention, as well as having a faculty student ratio of one to three, ensures that we are more than mere numbers.
Caffeine, and More Caffeine
After a week and a half of classes, I feel as if I've been in school for more than a month. Our daily routine consists of classes from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with class preparation and group work taking up the rest of the evening. I'm slowly adjusting to getting less than seven hours of sleep each night, and we hear that we'll get even less sleep later in the program. This is where the free flowing coffee and tea will come into play. With an average of 4.6 caffeine beverages per day this week, I wonder what my peak average will be?
The faculty is impressive and passionate about the subjects it teaches, and each professor seems eager to impart his or her knowledge to us. Spending an equal time in research, teaching, and consulting, our professors have no lack of interesting stories and nuggets of wisdom. And here we are, sitting with our mouths open, attempting to drink out of several fire hydrants. However thirst quenching that may be, I wonder what percentage of the gush I actually retained? On realizing how much information there actually is to absorb, I instantly comfort myself by trusting in the unique design of integrated classes and the presence of exams that will force me to brush up on weaker areas when the time comes.
One of the main reasons I chose IMD for an MBA was its focus on leadership. After a few sessions of the Leadership Stream, a module that lasts throughout the year, I realized how unique this opportunity was. This setup will make it possible for me to experiment with different leadership styles, receive direct feedback, and test my perceptions of myself with a close-knit group. I believe that understanding one's self is the key to being a leader and, more importantly, making decisions that will invite happiness into your life.
Keeping on track is about prioritizing every reading, case preparation, and group assignment. As I sit here finishing this blog post as item No. 9 for tonight, I look forward to what may come next and take comfort that I am not alone. We are 90, and we will pull through one way or another.