Computer Science and IMD

A prospective applicant to the IMD MBA program recently contacted me to ask about how my computer science (CS) background affected my IMD experience and whether or not IMD was a good fit for him. It got me thinking, especially since I had just received an invitation to talk to the current crop of Rice undergrad CS majors. Following is an abbreviated version of my response:

No one else can answer whether or not IMD is a good fit for you – only you can. And in fact, you probably can’t truly answer that question until after you’ve completed the program! For example, I thought IMD might be a good fit for me before I applied. After my second round, onsite interview day, I thought IMD would be a great fit for me. After completing the program, I knew it had been a great fit for me–but for very different reasons than I originally thought! 

Still, I’m glad to provide some contextual information about my experience in the hope that it helps you better anticipate what the program is like.

To answer your practical question first, yes, the international organizations you have mentioned recruit very heavily at IMD. The World Economic Forum is probably the most prodigious; 4 of my 89 classmates took a job there after graduation. Something I didn’t realize until I was already in business school is that your location has a significant impact on the job opportunities that just come your way. If you’re looking to work in San Francisco after business school, Stanford is your best choice hands-down. If you’re looking to work in Geneva, there is no better pedigree than IMD. Can you go to Stanford and then take a job in Geneva or go to IMD and then take a job in San Fran? Of course, but it’s more of an uphill battle.

As for my CS degree, I didn’t find that I used it much at all during the program. Certainly my engineering-driven problem-solving approach came into play every day. Certainly my experience pulling all nighters to study/do problem sets/build software helped prepare me for the intense IMD work load. Certainly my skill with software programs like Excel was very useful, but I would guess that your career in the Finance world has imbued you with more of those skills than did your CS studies.

Honestly some of my greatest take-aways from the IMD program were really the result of unlearning my CS education. In studying CS I was taught that everything is rational/logical and that everything can be modeled with deterministic formulae. However, at IMD I learned that actually most people–myself included–behave quite irrationally. Recognizing that and learning to identify “what’s really going on” in intra- and interpersonal dynamics has been one of the most useful skills I have ever developed.

Is this helpful background information for you? Again, only you can decide whether or not it’s a good fit (although the Admissions team is pretty good at gauging that too!) but I applaud you for seeking out some more data. In the end you’ll just have to do something that you probably didn’t learn in CS class (but that you might learn at IMD): trust your feelings.

Published by Bryan Guido Hassin

These are the musings of a global cleantech entrepreneur. This blog began as a way to document my experience during the IMD MBA in Switzerland and now is the place where I publish eclectic thoughts on business, politics, fitness, entertainment, travel, wine, sports, and . . . whatever else is top of mind.

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