I've just returned from a week in Lausanne, Switzerland that was both productive and refreshing. The original purpose of my trip was to attend IMD's annual meeting for presidents of its global alumni clubs. As the founder and president of the Houston alumni club, I was invited this year for the first time. As this is a great time of year to be in Lausanne and a terrible time of year to be in Houston, I extended my stay a bit to work from a different location.
I flew out Wednesday evening, arriving in Geneva early Thursday morning. Instead of sleeping on the plane, I got on a real roll of catching up on some work, which was great for productivity but less great for feeling rested upon arrival! Still, I knew that I couldn't sleep during the day Thursday if I hoped to synchronize my body clock with the new time zone.
After checking into my "hotel," the exquisite house of a former IMD professor and mentor of mine, I spent the afternoon at IMD, attending a session of OWP. OWP, Orchestrating Winning Performance, is IMD's flagship event every year, featuring a full week of cutting edge research presentations to the 500 execs who come in from around the world to stay up-to-date. It was my first time attending a session and it didn't disappoint!
Thursday evening I had dinner with another IMD professor / mentor and a new colleague of his. The three of us will be presenting together at the Academy of Management's annual conference in August so it was a great chance to coordinate our goals, content, and logistics.
Friday and Saturday I spent at the Alumni Club Presidents meeting. Many of the presidents come from much larger markets than Houston (where we have 500+ alumni) and have been running their organizations much longer than I have. Therefore it was interesting to hear about their challenges, successes, and ideas.
Many of the discussions reminded me of the same discussions we have in Rice University alumni leadership meetings - philosophical questions about the purpose of school-alumni relations, metrics of success, debates about best practices, etc. Hopefully I can bring some of our good ideas from the Rice community to IMD and vice versa!
Sunday was a relaxing day as I met a high school classmate (who now works in Geneva!), showed her around Lausanne, and went out on the lake with one of my IMD classmates and his family. The weather was absolutely perfect, the lake was gorgeous, and the company couldn't be beat - what more could I ask??
Monday we hosted a 4th of July party at the "hotel." They have a great house for entertaining - big yard, nice patio, great pool, amazing view - so we BBQ'ed out, lit up some fireworks, and celebrated American independence. What a blast!
Tuesday and Wednesday I worked from IMD as my "remote office." This afforded me the opportunity of catching up with several contacts for lunch or coffee and it felt good to be back in the setting where I worked very hard not so long ago. It helped, of course, that the food at the restaurant is still AMAZING!
Wednesday evening I attended the Euro Tech Tour Cleantech Summit's gala dinner in Geneva. Well, at least we *met* in Geneva but the dinner itself was on a big boat lake cruise. Meeting other cleantech entrepreneurs to learn about their innovative ideas, networking with European cleantech investors, and fine dining on the beautiful lake - what a fantastic way to wrap up the trip!
This morning I left for the airport WAY too early and the trip was over WAY too soon, but it was a welcome change of scene even if just briefly. Although there are many things I love about being back in Houston, there are many things I miss about Lausanne as well. I feel fortunate to have developed a good network there which makes it still feel like a second home. I hope this will always be the case!