If it seems like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth recently, I apologize; I’ve spent a significant part of 2007 wrestling with a major career decision. At long last, I have chosen a course of action:
On January 1st, 2008 I am moving to Lausanne, Switzerland to study and practice international leadership and business.
This may catch some of my friends, family, and colleagues by surprise so I have prepared a basic overview of my decision and what it entails:
WHO: Bryan Guido Hassin
WHAT: a one-year, intensive, full-time MBA program focusing on leadership and international business
WHERE: IMD, the International Institute of Management Development, on the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland
WHEN: 2008-1-7 – 2008-12-3
WHY (develop leadership): Not to be melodramatic but . . . to help save the world. We are becoming increasingly dependent on sources of energy that are bound to run out. We cause major damage to the environment. There is a worldwide increase in political and religious intolerance. We need strong leadership to overcome these challenges.
Whether on the athletic field, in the business world, or in volunteer organizations, I am constantly answering the call for leadership. However, if I really want to help solve the world’s problems, I must be a responsible, effective, global leader. Until now my leadership development has been purely experiential. I have decided to augment my background with formal leadership education and international experience to help me grow into such a leader.
WHY (this program): IMD is just what I was seeking. IMD is:
- Small: only 90 students per class year. This allows the program to be highly personalized, providing leadership coaching and mentoring to each student every day throughout the year. Why only 90?
- International: the 90 students come from 44 countries and speak an average of four languages. The IMD Class of 2007’s profile
- Excellent: IMD is consistently one of the highest-rated MBA programs in the world; this year it even earned the global #1 ranking from the Financial Times “Ranking of Rankings.” I’m the first person to take rankings with a grain of salt, but I like that IMD does best in the rankings that reward schools for producing responsible, grounded graduates. IMD is elite without being elitist.
- Selective: Attendees have the highest average work experience (over 7 years) of any full-time MBA program in the world. If I’m going to be learning from my peers all year, I want them to be experienced, accomplished, and knowledgeable! Applicants are subjected to two rounds of grueling applications: the initial application has 13 essays and those who make the second round are subjected to a full day of grilling interviews, ad hoc presentations, timed group projects, and case analyses. Accordingly, attendees are not only qualified, they also have to be highly motivated even just to apply–again, this is the type of person I want to be around! The IMD admissions process
- Intense: 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, with the only vacation in July.
- Real-world: Half of the program isn’t in classrooms at all; it’s spent on consulting projects for governments of countries with difficult business environments or for CEOs of multibillion-Euro companies. The IMD program structure
I wasn’t sure this was for me until I interviewed on-campus. The challenges were hard and I learned a lot from them. The other applicants (Most of the day’s affairs were conducted in groups.) were incredibly smart, successful, and diverse. I learned more that day than I had in probably my previous several months on the job–just imagine what I could learn in a whole year! Needless to say, I came back ready to sign on if accepted. Just a few days later I received the call from IMD’s Admissions Director and I was on board.
HOW (did/will this happen): None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support I received this year from friends, family, and colleagues. I engaged 50+ people in my “information gathering” stage to determine what my options for leadership development were and which would be most appropriate for me. Everyone provided incredibly valuable insight and I used all of it in my decision-making process.
When I finally made the decision to apply to IMD, there was only one week left before their final deadline. I had to mobilize myself (essays, GMAT, application forms) and others (recommendations) on very short notice. Without my recommenders and essay editors, I probably never would have been accepted; they were invaluable.
Now, as I prepare to move halfway around the world for a year (or maybe longer!), everyone’s support continues to be my greatest asset. As I rent out my house, sell my car, apply for a visa, find a place to live in Lausanne, read assigned books, prepare assigned writings, transition my R7 responsibilities, transition some (but not all!) of my Rice Alumni responsibilities, buy cold weather clothes for the first time in 10 years, etc., etc., knowing that everyone is behind me keeps me going.
What will I do after I’ve finished this program? I don’t know. For once in my life I’m not overplanning! My mind is open to all possibilities; in the meantime I am focused on personal growth. One of the hardest decisions a person can make is to leave a comfortable situation. I am leaving a life I love for a year of extremely hard work and no clear outcome. However, I owe it to everyone who believes in me if, by doing so, I can prepare myself to make the world a better place. I am eager to begin and excited to see where unknown opportunities will take me.
HOW (to stay in touch): My electronic contact information will remain the same and I will post new phone and address information once I have it. This blog will serve as the primary medium for me to publish updates, pictures, and stories. My plan is not to email everyone every time I have something to say. Instead, those interested can subscribe (using RSS) to this blog and be automatically notified every time I post. I hope to be able to catch up with everyone before I leave and, even more, I hope to stay in touch throughout this adventure!