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The Choice

A debut novel from an IMD EMBA alumnus

November 28, 2012

When Elisa Nistri was a child growing up in Italy, she always liked to write – diaries, short stories, anything.

When she did her EMBA at IMD, she was working full-time at Tetra Pak and studying at the weekend. But she never forgot her love of writing. After all, life is made of many shades and colors. So after she graduated from IMD in November 2009, she decided to write a novel.

She wrote "The Choice" during the summer of 2010, and the book was recently published in English and Italian.

The novel is about two Swiss half-siblings who meet for the first time after their father dies. The brother and sister meet in Lausanne – "a wonderful place, so I wanted to describe it in the book," Nistri says. Then they take a sailing trip around Sardinia during which their lives are progressively unveiled until the very last hidden secret. It's a journey that leads to a choice.

Nistri, who is now marketing director for Italy with Tetra Pak, says the IMD EMBA helped her with the novel in several ways, not least the time management aspect.

"When you finish the EMBA, you're so used to multi-tasking and being active at the weekend that it's not so much of an effort. You find time to fit it in, especially when you're doing something you like," she says.

The EMBA leadership stream helped with the emotional content of the novel. "During the program you do a lot of soul-searching and relate to the others in the class. It's very open," she says.

She sent a draft of her novel to four EMBA classmates – two men and two women – with whom she had stayed in touch. "I wanted to get opinions from both sides," she says. "The most interesting discovery is that everyone finds something of themselves and their past in the book. It's fascinating to see."

Nistri wrote the novel in English, the language used at IMD and during her daily life at Tetra Pak, and translated it into Italian herself – "a convoluted route, I admit, especially because I continue to like the English version more." Her next goals: find a publisher for a second novel that she wrote in 2011, and then write a third. "But I'll have to wait until next summer at least, because it takes a lot of time!" 

Perhaps the biggest lesson from Nistri's story is that it's possible to combine a busy professional life with other passions. "I think it's important to have a balanced life and not only focus on your job. It's hard to be good at your job if you don't have other sources of inspiration," she says. "Fill your life with extra colors – everything will become shining and more exciting then!"Elisa at sunset



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