Thursday, December 30, 2010

IMD students and the White Horse Pub

Yesterday night, we met up with a bunch of 2011 MBA students at the white horse pub, which is a located down the street. How convenient! It's literally a stone's throw away. We met up and exchanged travelling stories as well as the logistics of acquiring internet access, mobile phones, registration...

It was a great feeling that we are not alone and everyone of us is in the same boat: anticipating the year, excited to start the program and some more jet lagged than others. After an hour or two at the pub, the owner came over with two bottles of champagne and two trays of glasses. It was on the house and he wished us a great year ahead as well as a happy new year. Considering the price of drinks in Lausanne, it was a really nice gift! The sudden appearance of champagne delayed fondue and sleeping plans for some students. Who could pass up on some free booze!

I am convinced the white horse will be a frequent drinking hole for us... cheers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bonjour Lausanne!

We finally made it to Lausanne. After months of planning and figuring out logistics, we are here setting up our new home for the next year. A couple of highlights:

Before departure:
1. Alison receiving her visa 3 days before departure
2. I realized that I did not have a lien release certificate on the day I was selling my car
3. My Macbook Pro's graphics chip gave out on me the night Ali got her visa
4. I fell sick the day before departure

The day of departure and arrival:
5. We found out at the check in counter that each passenger could only take 1 bag per person
6. 3 extra bags and 2 overweight bags would cost us $350
7. We lucked out and only had to pay $200
8. We hauled about 400 lbs worth of luggage on the train, off the train, on the cab, off the cab and into our apartment without breaking our backs
9. I picked up the keys at IMD and bumped into an IMD classmate
10. We registered at the local authorities only after 3 unsuccessful attempts
11. The passport photos we took in the US were not usable
12. We hooked up our WiFi
13. We tried to open a bank account, but was turned away because there were special restrictions for US citizens and even for green card holders
14. Ate a pretzel
15. Bought some groceries and pillows
16. Received our skis, snowboard, linens and towels
17. Crashed in bed at 6.30pm

All in a long days work!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Counting down, counting up and counting on you

We are counting down to our big move to Lausanne, Switzerland. It's 7 days, 18 hours from this moment before we take off from the MSP airpot runway. Once school begins, it's Day 1, 2, 3... as I am immersed into the full business school experience. Lastly, we are counting on you, Switzerland, to approve Ali's visa, so we can close out the last logistical item on our list and move on to Europe without worry.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Down to the wire

We are waiting for the last piece of the puzzle! It turns out that we have to submit a list of documents for me to the Vaud Canton authorities to register as a resident. This should allow my wife to get her "family reunification visa". We submitted the new documents on Monday, Dec 6th and we are slated to depart Tuesday, Dec 21st. The countdown is on! We will still have to mail her passport to the consulate in Chicago and then wait for it to come back. It's no doubt going to be tight and because of the time difference, I've been aching to get up in the morning to check my email. Hopefully, I'll get an "Approved!" email in my inbox sometime soon...

Wish us luck!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A test of influence?

In the past few weeks, I have become increasingly frustrated at trying to close out some items before we head out to Switzerland. One particular item is the visa. The situation is as follows:

1. Holding a Singapore passport allows me to go to Switzerland without a visa
2. After consulting with members at the Swiss Consulate in Chicago, my wife applied for a family reunification visa at the end of July
3. The process is supposed to take 8-12 weeks
4. At the 12th week mark, we started to inquire about the status
5. It turns out her visa is "In Process"
6. The Swiss consulate cannot contact Switzerland to inquire about this visa
7. We are recommended not to contact Switzerland
8. My wife cannot fly while her visa is "In Process"
9. It is recommended that the school inquires to get more information

It is at number 9 where my frustrations come in. How do I get more information? I cannot just wait, without knowing an end or what to do next! The first email out was at the end of October, but it is now December and the only information I've received is still "In Process". By putting myself in the shoes of the support staff, I try to understand the difficulty in getting an answer.

1. Perhaps the support staff is extremely busy
2. Perhaps the consulate in the canton is extremely difficult to deal with
3. Perhaps no one really knows what's going on with the visa except for this one person that went on vacation

These may all be possible, but the last one I've considered is this:

Perhaps, this is all a big case study on how to influence someone to perform a task with urgency while minding cultural differences and priority levels. This is a business school after all, specializing in leadership. And we all know that leadership IS influence, no more, no less.

I really hope this is all a "test" or case of some sort and we will get answers from IMD as well as a visa from Switzerland before December 21st, when we are supposed to fly out...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What business school cannot teach you

During the Thanksgiving holidays last week, I visited my wife's Grandmother Millie in Chicago. At a young age of 93 years, she is witty, very much mobile and plays a mean game of Scrabble. Throughout the couple of days, I find myself practicing my note taking skills as I scribble down quotes and meaningful advice as she doles them out at random times. Here are the best ones:

Grandma says:

Personal Development
- "laugh out loud and laugh often"(as she points to a plaque on the wall) "that's the secret to long life!"
Facing Adversity
- "live your life one day at a time, and be flexible when things happen"
- "do what the kids tell you to do" (she gestures to my mother in-law) "until they are gone" (she grins)
Profit through ethics
- "I follow the angel in my heart"(she points to her chest) "and the devil in my head" (pointing to her head with a cheeky smile)

and my favorite advice she has for an MBA student like myself:

Prioritization and time management
-"less loving and more studying!"

We will miss her dearly and I expect during the tough times throughout the year, I WILL remember her kind words of wisdom.

We love you Grams!

Grandma Millie and Alison

Monday, November 22, 2010

2nd installment on BW

"Completing the MBA checklist" by Howie Chan

My second article on Bloomberg BusinessWeek is posted! As a follow up, I'm glad to say that my loan was approved and will be disbursed on my birthday. We are still waiting on my wife's visa... so that is still somewhat concerning.


Getting used to homework

As I continue to work on my pre-MBA assignments, I cannot help but feel lucky as I have not days but weeks to read the assigned books and complete the 15 page essay. This privilege will no doubt disappear when school starts in Jan. Meanwhile, I am slowly getting used to the idea of no free time and in preparation for this, I will continue to take things easy until school starts. It will be interesting to see how ridiculous hours are going to be, but I have a feeling I'm going to have an extraordinary amount of fun while facing 5-6 hours of sleep a night. This is what I say now anyway...

2.5 books to go, 12 more pages to write!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tawantinsunyu - The Inca Empire and the Inca Trail

Our trip to Peru was anything short of amazing! Primarily due to our guide Miguel, who is sort of a renaissance man, proud of the Quechua culture and really a great guy. We were fortunate enough to spend a whole lot of quality time with him, since it was only Alison and I in the group during our 4 day hike along the Inca trail. It was a tough hike but it was an experience of a lifetime.

Instead of putting all of it down in a long narrative, here are the highlights:
  • Altitude sickness - headaches, fever, elevated heart rates, indigestion
  • Coca leaves - went on a quest for some leaves, drank them in tea, chewed them
  • 25 lbs on our backs? - both of us carried our own packs (~80% of hikers do not!)
  • Highest elevation - dead woman's pass at 14,000 feet!
  • Microclimates - the mountains presented us with: humid, hot, dry, cold and rainy weather
  • Porters - the heroes of the hike: with >55 lbs on their backs, they leave later and arrive earlier to cook and setup camp
  • Ruins - beautiful and amazing ruins that are part of a grand vision of the Incas that radiate from Cusco, the navel of the universe
  • Machu Picchu - the most beautiful and spectacular experience after ~26 total hours of hiking
Day 1 - at the start of the hike

Day 2 - at the top of dead woman's pass

Day 3 - close to campsite (Winay Wayna)

Day 4 - Machu Picchu 

Friday, October 29, 2010

IMD MBA is going to start... today?

This week, pre-work has been posted in the IMD MBA 2011 portal. The classes that will require some work to be done before January are:

1. Leadership - a book and some articles to read and a personal and professional narrative (PPIN) to write.
2. Finance - two chapters of a finance book to digest
3. Entrepreneurship - a book to read and an assignment to prepare
4. Global political economy - a book to read

So here it is, a couple of books to start reading, some questions to prepare, and an essay to write. Clearly, as my work winds down (9 days left!), my MBA program will start to ramp up. Although I would have liked some real down time before school begins, I'm starting to enjoy this self paced learning and eager to open my mind and soak up all there is to absorb and experience all that I can in this once in a lifetime opportunity...

Cheers! We're off to Peru tomorrow, catch you all when we get back!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pleasant surprise, great company!

Last Friday, my wife and I met with a future classmate right here in Minneapolis! It turns out that in order to meet up in the Twin Cities, we had to both be planning a life changing trip to Lausanne, Switzerland. We also found out that they lived within minutes from us. We were anxious to meet them and wondered if they would be good company. We were optimistic and this was yet another step that moved us closer psychologically to Lausanne. It was great fun! We chatted about our interview process, other future classmates, plans and our hopes for next year. It was a fun double date and it helps to have a familiar face when we jump-in in January. I'm becoming more confident that my classmates will be great and our intereactions will form lifelong bonds. 14 working days to go!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Count down

I've begun to count down the work days... 17 days! It's slowly started to sink in that we will be in Lausanne in about 2 months. In the mean time, we are still scambling to get the visas, our finance in order and insurance for next year! By constantly checking the school portal and chatting with future classmates, I feel like I'm somewhat in control and that I have not slipped up on any major dates.

On another note, we are considering getting a pair of Kindles so that we will not have to haul books all around the world. We are considering the WIFI only, and it seems reasonable that we download books only in hotspots. Anyone has Kindles out there? I would love to hear some thoughts and reviews!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My first article

"Finding the right match in B-School" by Howie Chan

I found it really hard to actually find this article. The MBA Journal section does not really link to the new articles! Perhaps, they are still trying to revamp the MBA Journal page. I stumbled upon my own article while surfing the web. Enjoy the article nevetheless!

Monday, October 11, 2010

IMD Contest

Do you want a fully paid trip to IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland to take part in the Orchestrating Winning Performance Conference and an iPad? Take part in this easy contest for a chance to win any of 9 prizes!

Click "Here" for the video that explains the contest.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back in town

Back in the cities and the first article on BusinessWeek is out! The trip out west was fantastic, we drove west from Minnesota through South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, then south through Utah, Arizona and then back east through Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa. The road trip covered 9 states, 6 National parks and we probably collected over a thousand bugs on the windshield.

Badlands - South Dakota

Yellowstone - Wyoming

Grand Tetons - Wyoming

Grand Canyon - Arizona

Zion - Utah

 Arches - Utah

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Camp, camp, I wanna go to camp!

The first part of our move is complete and now comes a series of vacations before the big jump over the pond. Our much anticipated trip out west is finally here! We will be leaving tomorrow for our little over 2 week road trip. We will hit Yellow Stone, The Grand Tetons, North Rim of the Canyon, Zion and Arches National Park. It will be a blast and after the past few weeks of logistical and physical stress, it will be a relaxing break from it all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bschool Rankings

IMD does not usually turn heads, especially not in the US, unless you have been one of the people researching Bschools around the world. In Europe, I'm sure IMD is more recognized and the brand much stronger. So what do rankings say about IMD? There are several main rankings that we see in the market today:

1. BusinessWeek (Non US - 7th)
- Based largely on MBA grad and recuiter surveys
2. Forbes (Non US - 2nd)
- All about ROI, purely financial score
3. Financial Times (World - 15th)
- Survey of MBA alumni 3 years post and some business school data
4. The Economist (World - 2nd)
- 20% based on student and alumni surveys and 80% data provided by the school

Not too shabby? The ranking game gets really old as each organization ranks the MBA programs differently. What an applicant needs to do is to really understand what the main goal and purpose is when going for an MBA. Keep asking yourself Why? Why? Why? Weight your factors selfishly and you will have your own ranking of Bschools, which in the end is the MOST important!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apartments and furnishings

The situation for next year is that furniture in the apartment is sort of "rolled over" to the next tenant for a price. However, sine the apartment was listed as furnished, this comes as a surprise. It seems that students in the past have bought things for the apartment and simply sold them to the next ones coming in. The first thing that came to my mind was what if at the end of next year, the next set of tenants don't want to buy the furniture? What do I do? Do I have to haul all of it to my new place? Yikes... it's definitely a tricky situation. In the end, I think we will bite the bullet and pay for all the furnishings hoping that someone will buy it the next year. I do not know what I might do different, knowing what I know now, but keep that in mind when you find yourself a place to stay! At least we have a place ready when we get there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MBA journal writer - On a stick?

It IS in my stars to write for Bloomberg BusinessWeek for 2011! I am honored and excited to share my experiences at IMD. I believe the last representative for IMD on BusinessWeek was for the class of 2006, it's time to give another boost to the IMD brand. Well... I will try anyway.

So immediately after I received an email from Francesca this morning about the news, I sent a text to my wife about it. The return text was a "Sweet!" and a row of corn layed neatly next to each other. No, it's not an inside joke between us, she is spending the day at the great Minnesota State Fair and secretly giving my subconscious a craving for some beautifully roasted sweet corn. The state fair has been a tradition for many minnesotans and in my view, all about food, on a stick!

I'm going this evening and I ate a salad for lunch. Bring It On!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Big dog, small dog, no dog, hot dog

The meeting took about 5 min. It seems we can have as big a dog as we want! Unless of course there are complaints. Seems fair enough. Now we have 3 potential leads: a couple with a big dog, a dude with a small dog and a international visitor with no dogs. Which of these will pony up and sign the lease?

On another note, we have been finalizing our vacation trips in the next few months and that has been fun. The dates are drawing near and the anticipation is building up. In the mean time, the 2011 class has also been filling up. About 60 students (33%) in the class already and 8 months (33%) have gone by in the year... talk about swiss precision!

Next week, a trip to Nathan's hot dog in NYC? A friend of mine also mentioned a Kim Chee ladened deep fried hot dog at PDT (please don't tell) pub. I don't know about that one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

GEM #5

John Maxwell does an incredible job boiling down the "laws" of leadership, 21 to be exact. After reading this book, it definitely seems to me that only a handful of leaders in the world are practicing every law and great leaders are definitely hard to come by. A clear, succinct book with numerous examples that show you the way to being the best leader you can be.

GEM #5: The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership
SPECIAL BONUS! My top 5 quotes:
1. "Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less"
2. "Leadership is developed daily, not in a day"
3. "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care"
4. "You are the message, people buy into the leader first, then the vision"
5. "A leader's lasting value is measured by succession"

Use this as a guide in all your future leadership endeavors and I know you will be successful. I'm preparing for the day that followers will look to me to steer them into the clear, are you?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sneaking up on you

It's been a flurry of activities trying to get ready for the move, and the weeks are just flying by at this moment. There are a couple of big rocks to move before the trail gets smoother. The 2 big things are the Condo and Financing. Other little ones include insurance, visa and storage.

The trick is to keep our focus on the big rocks and still enjoy the anticipation and excitement of it all. It's never easy, but constantly stepping back and looking at the big picture always helps to bring us back to the ground. Little distractions will continue to pop up and try to steer us away from our main items! IMD activities have slowly started to gain momentum. Enthusiastic MBA candidates are planning a ski trip in January and perhaps a new year party. Pre-program courses have been suggested by IMD on Finance and Finance Accounting. I anticipate more TO-DOs will pop up shortly.

In the mean time, reading about current students continue to prepare me for the next year. The second half of the year seems to be more dynamic and less structured. No more big lectures, traveling to different countries for the International Consulting Projects, just a more flexible schedule in general. I have a feeling the second half of the year zooms by pretty fast and that is the part most students will miss.

On a different note, but related, our big dog meeting has been moved again! Alright, time to buck up and flyer the town this weekend. I have 80 flyers waiting to be posted and I know there is a potential renter out there waiting to be found.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

To rent or not to rent

To our dismay, the one showing we managed to score did not pull through for us. Even after listing our condo on the MLS ($400 down the drain), we did not receive any hits. We are finally open to the idea of renting and perhaps, it may be the better option after all (only option?). We have a good candidate as a renter, but the only problem is that our friends that want to rent our place has a Bernese Mountain Dog. It's a 100 pound dog, that's affectionate, good natured and stable, one big friendly giant!
The problem is our association has a weight limit on dogs - 35 pounds. All we have going for us is that there is a dog that's about 75 pounds that is living in the building and it was allowed for special reasons. I think helping us get good renters is a special enough reason! Maybe we can get the dog to lose about 20 pounds...

The verdict comes August 20th, let's hope it's a good one, if not, it's time to cast a wide net and hope we nab some fine renters.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1st showing

We showed our condo the first time this week and it went pretty well! The couple recently got married and a little older, so they should have no problem with the condo price. They were pretty impressed with the space and the best condo they've seen so far. So it's time for us to just buckle down and wait. Hopefully we get more bites now that we listed our condo on MLS (multiple listing service).

With the real estate market still pretty depressed, it has been a bear for sellers and a bull for buyers. Since we want to sell and nothing to buy, we are in a challenging situation. There is always the option to rent out, but that would mean managing the property from afar.

I'm visualizing the sale and I hope readers send out some positive energy to make this happen!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A time to reflect

I've been following the 2010 students on the IMD Blog and it's been fascinating to live vicariously through their posts. Summer vacation is almost over and they head to South Africa on Sunday, as they head into the 2nd half of the year. I feel their sense of excitement while realizing that the program is a little more than halfway done. I feel some really complex emotions as I put myself into their shoes: apprehension, excitement, calmness, sadness, happiness, melancholic... Deep down, I also prepare for a quick year, but also reminding myself to savor each moment. The over-night assignments, hanging out with my classmates, the lunch buffets, and dates with my wife over the 11 months next year .

I sense a common theme in the blog posts. It's apparent that the MBAs have already transformed quite a bit after a couple of months at IMD. I'm more excited than ever, to learn, to transform, to experience.

Good luck applicants and see you soon future classmates!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ouchy Ouchy Ouchy

We've reserved an apartment on Ouchy street, and have received the lease contract. We will have to pay about 4000 CHF up front as a deposit. I guess it's not that bad, a little less than 3 months rent. I don't really have a sense of how this compares in other European countries, but we have no choice.

On another note, more and more students are being admitted and the class of 2011 is slowly forming, it's been fun looking at the sitebuilder webpages and facebook profiles of my future classmates. Our condo is currently on sale and hopefully we will get some bites, but in the mean time, we are selling items and lightening our load as best we can. December will come very soon!

our humble home - up for sale!

Monday, June 28, 2010

GEM #4

An absolute awesome read, Scott Bedbury gives his learnings at Nike and Starbucks which, under his watch, became one of the most well known brands in the world. He goes through 8 crucial and distinct principles to achieve brand leadership, but I will yet again condense and give you my top three learnings.

GEM #4: A new brand world

My top three ideas from the book
1. Support innovative products with emotional branding as emotional connections last longer (safety, love, affection, belongingness, esteem and self actualization)
2. Brands are defined by a lifetime of collective experiences and actions... so are WE!
3. Fight for brand stewardship with a CBO (chief branding officer) that will control all aspects of customer experience at every single touch point to ensure brand consistency both internally and externally

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Passed round 1, now for round 2

Received an exciting email this morning on my ipod touch, I've made it past IMD's review of the Business Week blogging candidates and was given the go ahead to send my entries to BW. I've now gotten into the habit of checking my email right when I wake up using my alarm clock (ipod touch), anticipating any kind of emails from IMD or the relocation folks.

So it will be in the hands of BW now as I prepare my application to be submitted before June 30th. Successful applicants will be notified in September. It seems that BW only selects a couple of students a year, so hopefully IMD will be represented!

Time to go take a decent photo of myself...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

2 essays, 60,000 CHF

Talk about pressure to perform. I have never written anything or much less do anything in a single sitting that can potentially make $60,000. I'm talking about the two IMD scholarships that I am eligible to apply for.

1. IMD MBA Future Leaders Scholarship
- Essay on "Leadership in an era of Globalization"
- 750 words

2. IMD MBA Alumni Scholarship
- “As a business leader, which issue would you set as your first priority to address in your region / country? Why would you choose this issue? How would you, personally, address it?”
- 1000 words

So here it is, $34 a word to help finance an IMD MBA. It's going to be fun, well it WILL help lighten the debt load obviously, but definitely a great challenge!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The visa situation is a little complex. Alison is a US citizen and I'm a Singaporean Citizen. The swiss consulate website that we were referred to is quite complicated. There were the required forms available, but we had no idea what documents to send, how to send the payment, what is the payment, who needs to send forms...

It turns out that Singaporeans do not need any visas, either short term or longer than 3 months. All I need to do is to show up at IMD and they will take care of the residence permit. Apparently I will need a residence permit for long term stay. Alison, however will need a visa for stays longer than 3 months. After several email exchanges with the consulate in Chicago, we got an idea of what to do. Alison will fill in a "family reunification" visa, and along with it, submit our marriage certificate, her passport, my passport, my permanent residency card and a letter of enrollment from IMD. At least we have an idea now of what to send. They estimated a turn around time of up to 12 weeks.

As we start the process to obtain our visas,  I will post a more definitive entry on how we obtained our visa.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I was finally able to confirm our reservation with the relocation partner for IMD. We are good! A 2 min walk from the Lake, a 5 min walk to school... I'm pretty psyched! I had a quick phone call with the IMD relocation manager and she urged me to contact the current tenant as well as start getting our visas in place. That's reserved for a whole other post on visas... anyway, I contacted the current tenant and it turns out the apartment is not furnished. Apparently the furniture is sold from one outgoing tenant to the next incoming tenant. What! What if the next tenant does not want the stuff? Do I have to bring it all with me? Not cool. It's also kind of weird as I put myself into the shoes of the current tenant. "Here I am, only halfway in the program, and this dude is asking about taking over the place" I hope I don't have to deal with an incoming tenant in the first half of my school year... Oh well, at least it's a reminder that 11 months go by just like that!

So hopefully it doesnt cost an arm and a leg to get at least the bed and some cooking utensils. Furnished or unfurnished, there is nothing much we can do now as the location and size of the aparment is a perfect match. Moving along with the preparations!

Monday, June 7, 2010

entering the portal

Last week, just before I flew to New Orleans for some seafood and jazz, I received a notice for the portal being available. This is the much anticipated IMD portal for the 2011 students! I was selected to do a beta test for the login and soon after, it was populated with all sorts of information. Needless to say I went straight to the housing section and forwarded the list of apartments to alison. My excitement level spiked again as I saw a renewed list of future classmates and where we would spend the year in Lausanne. We picked an apartment that is 5 min walking distance to the school and had a bedroom separated from the living area.

After reserving the place online, I immediately felt something was amiss when a confirmation window showed a different apartment! Ahhh! We were deftly afraid that the apartment will be taken. The IMD admin staff and the relocation personnel were extremely helpful and very responsive to help solve the issue. After a few days of back and forth, I think we settled the issue... well, hopefully. There is still much to do for preparations for the trips ahead and the big move.

On Ave d'Ouchy

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

GEM #3

This book was an absolute stunner! An easy read that will open your eyes to relationships and how an organization can leverage the insights in this book for team building, conflict resolution, and leadership development.

GEM#3: Leadership and self-deception

My top 3 ideas from the book
1. Be extremely self aware on how you treat people as it starts a vicious cycle of stress, conflict, poor team work etc.
2. Acknowledge that everybody slips one time or another, do not try to be perfect, instead always try to be better
3. Don't worry about how others are helping you, instead think about how you can help others

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Businessweek blog writer?

Is it in my stars to write for businessweek? It may be so! It turns out that I may have the opportunity to write about my experience at IMD in the MBA Journals section of businessweek's online business school coverage.

I have to submit some writing samples to IMD marketing and if I am picked, I will submit them to businessweek with IMD's blessing. This should be fun, it will help me get back into planning mode. My activities to get ready for Lausanne come in waves as my wife and I start to de-clutter the home, plan trips and sell used items on eBay. These are interspersed with daily mundane activities and work. It's definitely hard to keep the excitement level at a high, but it's little things like these that puts a smile on my face: a new and exciting adventure awaits... cheers!

Monday, May 17, 2010

GEM #2

To be a successful leader and visionary, it is extremely important to communicate with impact. What does that mean? Do we have to leave them wanting more? Do we have to entertain and wow our audiences? Do we have to come across as passionate and very clear on where we are going? I believe it's all of these and more. The way to lead that will help your organization understand the why and the purpose of their existence is to communicate in a way that inspires and conveys the purpose/vision with a bang. This easy to read book gives many examples of strong communicators and the secrets of their success. I definitely used these to my advantage as part of my interview, but more importantly it adds to my arsenal when delivering business presentations

GEM #2: 10 simple secrets of the world's greatest business communicators

My top 3 ideas from the book
1. Leverage your tone, speed up, or slow down to bring to life your words and its meaning
2. Speak with high energy and passion as people naturally gravitates towards those who are passionate
3. Start and end your presentation strong, it's the ending that is the most memorable

Friday, May 14, 2010

one countdown after another

My wife has finally finished her masters of architecture degree and it was a well deserved 3 years of hard work! We can finally start to plan for our move and figure out what trips we want to take before embarking to Lausanne.

Yesterday, I was fortunate to chat at length with a 2009 IMD graduate and it was great! He talked about his experience in the program and he had nothing but good things to say. He definitely thought the work load was heavy, but the sense of accomplishment was well worth it. He also talked about how the soft skills and leadership training helped tremendously, and he definitely looks at the world differently now afther the IMD program. His words added to my excitement as I flip flop between being really excited to start the program to wincing as I imagine the 16 hour days, 6 days a week.

So here we go, I am anticipating the start of my adventure, but also anxious to enjoy the summer as well as having fun planning out our vacation time before school starts.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

GEM #1

Growing up, I was never pushed to read, and so I never really found much joy in reading. Perhaps a few novels here and there, but that's about it. It's only during the past couple of years that I devoured books and read as if I was afraid I would not get to the gems out there before I hit the bucket.

There are so many great books that changed what I do on a daily basis and I will start to post them here. The first one is really a book that changed how I read books. Something that caught my eye in a second hand book store and when I browsed through it, I instantly knew this was the one I was searching for. I do not really read fiction, and I think that is something that will slowly be added to my list of books. For now, I crave for any non-fiction about business, leadership, communication, influence... hard to believe that a MBA candidate will be drawn to these genres huh?

So this first one is special: Love is the killer app by Tim Sanders

My top 3 ideas from the book:
1. Constantly help your peers, your bosses, your friends by giving knowledge
2. Use books as a solution to their problems
3. Instead of reading, STUDY the books you love; summarize, digest and apply!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why do we help?

I engaged in an interesting discussion with my wife yesterday. "Why are you helping other applicants?" I was stopped in my tracks for a moment and wanted to quickly defend myself by saying "well, it's all public information, I'm not providing any secrets that you can't find out anyway". But then I really thought hard about why me and other past applicants help out by answering questions and giving tips.

I think I may have got it. Well, it's my best answer for now anyway. We understand what other applicants are going through because we went through the same process. We scoured the internet for tips and any statistics that will help us be more confident, be more prepared, because it IS a big step and whatever happens will change our lives forever. At least that is what we think when we are in the process of it all, essays, interviews, etc...

In the end, even though getting the extra information may help, the true value is that you will feel more confident, more prepared and that may add a little bounce in your step, a little more passion when you speak, and I think that makes all the difference. You want to get to that state where you feel like you can take on anything the world lashes at you, that's when you perform best.

So there, I'm helping out because I know what it feels like to be an aspiring MBA student, and I'm merely providing common sense tips and public information that will not thwart the intricate admissions process to ensure a fantastic class.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Impromptu presentation

For applicants that have been invited to an interview, congratulations!

The impromptu presentation can be a cause for concern for some of you since it is going to be a "surprise". I must say you need not be anxious, because I do not think they are looking for the content within your presentation. Well it has to at least be logical! I do not know if they keep the topics consistent, but I can tell you this. If you can tackle the case study given to you (and you probably can, since it's a required part of the interview), you will have no problems with the impromptu presentation!

I recommended Case in point in an earlier post if you really want to feel prepared for this section. It will help by giving a structure for tackling the presentation topic. With that said though, the book felt like an over kill to me. Again, I do not think the content matter as much as how you deliver your presentation.

I leave you with three thoughts:

1. Be confident
2. Be logical
3. Be concise

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The strength of having an IMD brand is already starting to show. I've contacted several current students and alumni, asking for advice and help with the move. The response and advice were great! They were helpful, candid, down to earth, everything a good friend can be, and yet, I've not even met most of them!

I've received a certificate of admittance and am looking forward to accessing the IMD student portal in June. That is when we will be able to pick apartments, start the visa process and figure out other logistics to the big move.

On another note, I know the second round applicants will be getting the call pretty soon this week. Stay positive! Good luck and hang in there!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reality is still fuzzy

Made the 15,000 CHF payment! It was a big step, but I have officially reserved a seat in the 2011 IMD program. It's still too early to get the warm fuzzies and understand the impact of this decision. I must say, it has not yet hit me that we are actually picking up and moving to Switzerland. I joined an IMD 2011 facebook page, but right now there are only 3 of us in it. I guess it is a little early and we have not gained access into the IMD web portal, where I hear are tons of goodies and information on moving to Lausanne. I've heard that one of the benefits of getting in early is the best choice of apartments... I want to pick my apartment! 5 min walk to IMD, fireplace, fully furnished, wood floors, a view of the lake, a grocery store on the 1st floor, charming neighbors...

I guess once we actually start to complete tasks that move us closer to being ready for the move, I will start to feel excited again. =)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Planning the move

Now comes the bombardment of activities that will lead to the eventual move to Lausanne. Visas, loans, housing, selling our cars, our condo... the list goes on! I think I am the one that is now scouring for tips and "How-Tos". Once I go through these items, I will be able to post some helpful hints!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Interview tips

Today is the deadline for round 2 applicants! (it's April 1st here in Bangkok anyway...) As you guys prepare for your long wait ahead, what is there better to do than to start preparing for the interview? I know it might seem like a huge waste of time if you do not get the invite, but you should at least start!

To prepare, I made a list of potential questions that can be asked. A great resource for this is the Accepted site, where they store a number of feedback and interview questions from previous applicants.

From there, I listed all my answers and read them a couple of times, I also then made sure that I knew the main stories and examples that would cover multiple questions. It is at this point you have to make sure that it gels with your essays and strengthen it.



1. Stay hydrated! (you will be talking a lot)
2. Get to know your fellow applicants (they will most likely be awesome people and the rapport will help in discussions later in the day)
3. Be yourself (they are looking for the genuine you, will you fit in?)

1:1 interview:
1. Establish good rapport with your interviewer (show high EQ)
2. Do not be defensive, even if there are "holes" in your application, show them why that does not matter and how you are still the ideal candidate
3. Show confidence that you WILL achieve your goals and IMD will want to be a part of it (confidence is not arrogance)
4. Enjoy talking about yourself! Everyone does and this is your big opportunity to share your story

Impromptu presentation:
1. Relax!
2. If you have a business background, this should not be a problem (The book Case In Point can be helpful)
3. Create simple slides and brush up on the DOs and DONTs of verbal presentation (Slide-ology, Presentation Zen
4. You have 5 min, so be simple, concise and to the point

Case Discussion
1. Read and re-read
2. Jot down the main points and your thoughts as well as strategy
3. Contribute! Work with your fellow applicants and build on their ideas
4. Be positive and upbeat, it's not about the solution, but team dynamics

There it is. These points are just from my personal experience and is by no means gospel, I am not in admissions! If it makes sense, use them towards your preparation, if not, leave'em out.

The interview day is for you to find out if IMD is right for you as much as for them to find out if you are right for IMD.

Cheers! It's going to be a fun ride =)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Application strategies

There are many essays to be written in the application and when they mean 1230 characters, they definitely mean it!

I wrote my essays by planning out what exactly I want the admissions committee to know about me - strengths, weaknesses, experiences and values. You want to convey to admissions that this is a person I want to invite to an interview because the responses were compelling and very interesting. Remember folks, that these committee members have to read a lot of essays... a lot. You have to find a way for them to stand out. Think about stories, use stories to convey who you are, what you did and where you want to go. In essense, each essay has to be concise, be part of the larger story that is consistent with your personality. Remember that the key areas of fit are:

1. Leadership (why do you value it? why do you think you are a good leader?)
2. Drive (are you driven? what experiences have shown this aspect of you?)
3. Contribution to class (how would you contribute to the class? what do you bring?)
4. Industry focused (are your aspirations to be a leader in the industry? how? why?)
5. Fit (why this school? why would you fit in?)

I think if you position your "story" that covers these points, you will be very strong in your candidacy. Remember that IMD also looks for a specific profile:

1. Strong industry work experience
2. Committment to leadership and long term learning
3. International experience and outlook

If you convey the overall story this way, I think you will have a great chance to score an interview.

Be bold in your essays and position yourself as an ideal IMD candidate.

Good luck!

Friday, March 26, 2010


wow... after a few grueling days of anticipation, I finally got the call this morning! 7am, 10 days later, my phone vibrated and a +41 area code appeared on the screen. Lisa Piguet congratulated me and apologized for calling too early =). Well, turns out I was up at about 5.30am this morning for a conference call with a physician. So it was ALL GOOD... although I was in a dreamy state, it felt great. Called my wife immediately and did a little dance in the hallways of the office building, luckily it was too early to attract unneeded attention.

It's amazing how many times my mind slipped back to the interview day and scrutinized everything I said and how I behaved, wishing I could have answered questions a tiny bit differently so I may stand a better chance. Questions bubbled to my head about "what were they thinking when..." "did they realize this..." and then I would gather myself and then tried to feel confident again. That cycle was definitely spun several times in the past 10 days. I'm so glad that is over and new chapter will begin!

One School Application, One Acceptance! 100% field goal percentage, I guess I'm done and I will keep this stat.

Good luck to all those out there and I will start posting some advice and tips.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The waiting game

It's going to be harder than I thought. 10 business days before I find out how the rest of my life will turn out... wow. Perhaps this is as dramatic as when I was applying to school in the US about 10 years ago. I remember I was not at all nervous or anxious as I was probably not expecting to leave the country. Or maybe I was too young to understand the consequences of an admittance letter.

Well, it has only been 2 days and I am already restless. I guess I can focus my energy on forming backup plans in preparation for bad news. What am I going to do? Well, I am going to look for a new job for sure and maybe an alternative school? I don't know, I am so convinced that IMD is the best fit for me, I remain unmotivated to go anywhere else. Perhaps Cambridge? Sigh... I think the better path for me is to plug ahead in my career and if need be, I will get an executive MBA in the future.

I am pretty sure I can leverage my experience to get a job with more responsibility. Well, at least I will be preparing to go train the Asia Pacific field force in a week. =)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interview day

First of all, I would like to say that conditions for me could have been better. I was jet lagged and down with a sinus infection for the interview day. Well, no excuses right? I definitely put my best foot forward, especially in the late morning, having warmed up with the 1:1 interview.

I must say, that the calibre of the applicants are impressive, I feel that most if not all of the group of seven should be offered a place in the program. Well, let's see, it could be the magnificent seven, the courageous six, the elite five, or even the fantastic four. Any less would be unthinkable. So all in all, I was very impressed with the candidates and also the faculty. Well, we met with Martha, the director of the program, Lisa the admissions director and Prof. Bris for our case study discussion. I felt very comfortable with them as they were definitely very welcoming and warm.

Let's just go through the day briefly. It started off with a quick tour of the campus and Q&A with the ever so sweet admissions coordinator Corinne. Thereafter, I had my 1:1 with an admissions member. I think it went pretty well, except it was early in the morning, and in the last 15 min, I felt like i had cotton mouth... I was so thirsty! So an advice is to take 2 of those mini water cups, it will help you... The rest of the day was 45min breaks, the impromptu presentation on a business topic and a case discussion. I felt those went alot better, as we dive into cases and scenarios, I felt more comfortable contributing and being a part of the applicant team.

In summary, I had a great day, met some pretty cool people and I have no regrets. So the waiting game begins and lets hope I get a place in IMD, if not this blog will obviously be very short lived.

Cheers and good luck to all the 2011 applicants!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

4 days till the interview

I am anxious to interview at Lausanne. I'm privileged to have visited IMD last year in 2009 and had a great time. I was able to meet with two students and had an awesome lunch at the cafeteria, more like a restaurant. To think that these two students are already out there in their new job, taking on the world. Interview preparation has taken over most of my nights, jotting notes for the case discussion, reviewing my application and anticipating questions that will arise in the 1:1 interview. To think that in 1 day, my entire life can totally change, how exciting! I guess athletes make history in hundredths of a second.

Well, I hope my next entry will be after the interview, and then the wait begins...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Application submitted!

As a Singaporean with 7 years of work experience in the US medical device industry, I've decided to apply to IMD for an MBA program. Some people have asked me what other schools am I applying to? Well, I've only applied to IMD. Looking at the school and the unique niche it is in, I believe that is the only school for me. Silly? Maybe so, but if I don't really want to attend any other program, why would I apply?

So I've applied for the Feb 1st deadline and received an interview invite on Feb 13th. The 2 week wait was awful, but I'm definitely lucky as IMD usually send out interview invites after 4-6 weeks. So is this good? I'm trying not to think about it and I'm concentrating on the interview on March 16th. So this means I find out by March 26th if I am going to Switzerland next Jan! Wow, I can barely hold in my excitement. It is so hard not to make any plans and get myself overly excited, but I can't help it. I will continue writing if I get admitted as this would no doubt be a roller coaster ride from that point on. So either this will turn out to be a blog that may help future IMD hopefuls or it may fall flat and join all the other applicants with a big fat ding.

6 days till my interview... I'm sure I will write more to keep my excitement on a leash.