Adam: So, what have you learned at IMD so far?
Ryo: The first 6 months at IMD have been structured as the Building Block I and II. In those blocks, the students take the same core classes incl. (not exhaustive) Strategy, Finance, Marketing and Innovation. One of the features of the program is that there is “leadership stream” which continues throughout the year. This stream is not graded but we are given many chances to work in groups and to consider group dynamics, peoples’ behaviors and our own leadership styles through many reflections, peer reviews and others.
Adam: What part of the program have you liked the most? The least?
Ryo: I believe the best part of the program is the orientation to the “real-world”. Needless to say, most of the classes are case-based. Not just going through the cases, the program often requires us to analyze, consider and prepare the cases with other diverse students as if we are in an office. Also we have Start-up project (advisory to start-up companies) and International Consulting Project in which the students engage in the consulting to international companies. Also, we go to one of the developing countries to learn the complexities and difficulties there. We closely work with local companies, another hands-on project. There is no emphasis on mere desktop study. We are encouraged to study in the interactions with real world.
I do not have a strong dissatisfaction. If I am forced to say, however, I sometimes felt that I needed time to digest the learning during the classes.
Adam: How would you describe the culture of IMD?
Ryo: The culture of the school is very intense, demanding but warm, I would say. The program requires a lot of preparation within short period. Not only the prep, we are expected to make professional presentations and reports. Frequent and direct feedbacks from the professors and peers are built in the program. At the same time, I feel the school has a very warm culture which mainly comes from the small size of the class (90 people). Every faculty, staff and students have a lot of chances to know each other.
Adam: I know the interview process to get into IMD is harder than any other MBA program, but how hard is the program itself?
Ryo: The program is very tough. I suppose that it partly derives from the curriculum structure. As mentioned above, all core classes are completed within the first 6 months incl. 2 major exams. Therefore, naturally we need to go through a lot of cases and readings in such a short term. In parallel, we have other activities such as the Start-up project and integrative exercises (which force us to mobilize and combine all learning up-to-then).
Adam: Do you actually have any time for clubs? If so, which ones are you active in?
Ryo: There are some clubs set up by students such as Entrepreneurship club, Responsible Leadership club etc. I personally belong to Football club in which we play matches on Sundays and an ad hoc basis.
Adam: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?
Ryo: The culture of IMD students is very mature, intimate and international. The average age of the Class of 2009 is 31. Including the partners and children, the students know each other well since we are small school (90 students). I have plenty of opportunities to interact with students in depth, taking about the life, job and future. The 90 students consisted of 38 nationalities. No student group from a country exceeds the 10% of the student number.
Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to IMD?
Ryo: As is well presented in the recent post by you, IMD has a combination of very unique features. To understand the program and atmosphere, I suggest you to talk to students/ alumni, and check the web-site and other information carefully.
Adam: What are your favorite MBA related blogs (English or Japanese sites)?
Ryo: Let me introduce IMD related blogs. We, IMD MBA 2009 students has IMD MBA diary which you can subscribe to on the IMD web-site. Also IMD MBA 2009 Japanese students have a group blog as well.
Adam: Anything else you would like to tell us else about IMD?
Ryo: There are many opportunities to interact with corporate managers and executives throughout a year. IMD runs many short to long-term business education programs to senior people. It is easy to find the interesting people and have lunch or coffee together at the campus.
Lastly, the city where IMD is located, Lausanne, is very beautiful place. The school is located next to Lake Leman. The access to other cities is easy although you may not have time to do so during the first few months… It takes just 30 minutes to go to Evian in France. We can go to Milan or Paris by train as well.
I want to thank Ryo for taking the time to answer my questions.
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