Executive MBA helps forwarding agent to become a senior executive
After 12 years of often difficult postings with Panalpina* in Nigeria and
Russia, Willi Deubet happily accepted his company's offer to sponsor him to an Executive MBA at IMD.
"Since I had greatly benefited from IMD through the Managing Corporate Resources program (now the
Management program), I was enthusiastic about returning to Lausanne", he says.
But Willi found the Executive MBA was not without its challenges. "My biggest worry was that I had
a very different background to the engineers, consultants, bankers and entrepreneurs attending the
program. But once the program was underway, I became one of the team and enjoyed the interactive
learning with my classmates during the Discovery Expeditions and the virtual group learning between
modules. Although I found it difficult to cope with family and work at the same time, I came away
from Lausanne with invaluable tools that have never ceased to be of benefit to me since."
As Global Key Account Manager working with Shell and BP, Willi used the Executive MBA strategy
assignment to help build a motivated, competent and efficient oil and gas team (a global, virtual,
matrixed network) and increase customer value creation opportunities. Later he was promoted as
Regional Head, Marketing & Sales EMEA.
"The Executive MBA 'learning from your customers' assignment was useful for coaching others in the
organization on how to listen to our customers. I was even asked to support the Panalpina PanAcademy
Sales Training with a session I called 'How to make the elephant dance'.
Today, in his role as Head of Global Oil & Gas Downstream Businesses, one of his major concerns is
to understand the competitive landscape. "The industry analysis exercises from early on in the
Executive MBA, and then my learning from the financial health sessions, continue to be particularly
The IMD Executive MBA program has a series of in-depth distance-learning assignments where
participants use their companies as the "live cases." IMD's goal is to give the participants an
opportunity to apply their classroom learning quickly. This makes the assignments that much more
interesting (it's their own companies) and provides real value to the companies themselves.
"We didn't just learn tools. One's confidence and self-awareness grows during the program. I am
scared of procrastination and feel that in our organization (and many others) we're sometimes too
'nice'. The Executive MBA gave me the confidence to address this and also the ability to know how!
The feedback that I get from my customers is not only that I know how, but also why!"
This added confidence also allowed Willi to step out of his comfort zone in the oil and gas
industry and move into the marketing and sales role when the opportunity arose.
When asked about the most important benefits from his Executive MBA, Willi Duebet states: "I
treasure many takeaways for my work and private life. I am very grateful for the extensive feedback
and recognition I received, and continue to receive, from my class buddies and the IMD professors.
Thanks to extraordinary networking among so many talented people, we have been able to create value,
not only for ourselves but also for others such as family, friends, colleagues/peers and customers.
It makes me very proud to be part of this."
Today he is Panalpina Country Manager in Venezuela.
"With 28 years at Panalpina, I feel I know what really matters to the customer, and know how to
deliver it. I could easily imagine taking on a challenge abroad with global responsibility and a
commitment to drive the business."
* Panalpina is one
of the world's leading providers of forwarding and logistics services, specializing in
intercontinental air freight and ocean freight shipments and associated supply chain management