Since its founding on 5 November 1946 in Geneva by Canadian aluminium producer Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan), IMD has shaped the lives of many leaders who have gone on in turn to transform organizations and society.
Celebrating a landmark
On 5 November 2021, IMD celebrates its 75th anniversary
It all began in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1946, as the organization that would one day become IMD took its first steps in executive education.
A lot has happened since then.
Join us on this journey as we bring to light some of the events and people who have shaped our institution, and made it into one of the world’s most influential and impactful business schools.
As you watch the story of IMD unfold, we hope it will help to understand the context, people, challenges and choices that were made and their impact, as well as the lessons and insights that were generated along the way. For IMD, the road to leadership is a lifelong journey.
IMD celebrates the pioneers who helped transform it into one of the world’s best institutions for executive education at a heart-warming gala.
The pioneers who shaped IMD and its future shared a commonly held desire to create a center of excellence that would always have a global outlook, punch far above its weight, and retain the shared DNA - with CEI-IMI and IMEDE - that would make this a special place.
But what is this DNA? What makes IMD unique?
And if such a thing can be captured. What is the IMD way?
Watch the pioneers of the past as they recount the history, and the pioneers of today as they outline the future.
That’s IMD - So Far.
In the words of IMD’s President, Jean-François Manzoni, “Today’s IMD faculty and staff, and I, we stand on the shoulders of giants! Visionary and courageous individuals who innovated relentlessly over decades, and day after day built a great institution and trained a fantastic Alumni group.
Standing on the shoulders of these giants is humbling, but it is also incredibly inspiring, because from that height you get to look into the future and you see how much more we can do, together, to live our purpose and contribute – in a small way, but hopefully in a very real way, to a world that generates the growth we require in a more sustainable and inclusive way.”
As IMD looks to the future, its leadership and team will continue to take inspiration from its visionary founders, living its purpose to innovate, lead, and make sense of a world defined by uncertainty and complexity.
That’s the promise in Shaping the Future, Chapter 13 of IMD 75 years. Look out tomorrow for the video documentary IMD – So Far.
As part of the degree curricula, IMD MBAs and EMBAs undertake projects to share expertise with and actively support the vibrant Swiss startup scene. Since 1998, more than 400 Swiss startups have worked with MBA and EMBA participants through the IMD Startup Competition. It is open to early stage companies in Switzerland and offers the opportunity to build viable business models and pitch to Silicon Valley investors. In a 2021 ranking of Switzerland’s top 100 startups by the website www.startup.ch, 40 of the top 100 were past IMD Startup Competition partners, with four in the top 10. Since the ranking’s creation in 2011, it has featured 438 Swiss deeptech startups, 40% of these startups have worked with IMD’s MBAs and EMBAs.
As Chapter 10 of IMD 75 years explains, it’s all about Driving Innovation, Digital Transformation and Future Readiness.
Creating new solutions for products, services, markets, models and processes to the benefit of global society by addressing social and environmental needs more efficiently and effectively than current policies and businesses. That’s social innovation in a nutshell and it lies at the heart of the elea Center for Social Innovation.
At IMD, the work of the Center has been integrated into MBA and EMBA degree programs and inspires Alumni to make a positive impact through their careers. And since 2020, that positive impact has been recognized with an annual award.
The elea Social Impact Recognition Award highlights the work of Alumni across the full spectrum of social impact and innovation. Nominated by their peers in the MBA Alumni community, three trailblazers working in very different disciplines (from environmental conservation to the worlds of corporate finance and toymaking) received the 2021 award.
Read more about how IMD prioritizes sustainability and social innovation in Chapter 11 of IMD 75 years.
What do these numbers add up to?
It’s the IMD Alumni network of over 125,000 individuals from 140 countries and 80 industries who have formed 49 Alumni Clubs around the globe.
The network is a widespread but close-knit global community that is caring, supportive and purposeful. In 2020 for instance, IMD alumni supported four MBA scholarships, enabling talented, young professionals to access one of the world’s leading programs.
To mark its 75th anniversary, IMD Alumni have shared their stories – read them in Chapters 4 and 5.
Way back in the 1990s, a former US Air Force officer joined IMD to teach leadership. Jack Wood kicked off what is still an exceptional offering in today’s business education environment. He wanted leadership to be taught by “people with psychological insight, who could read the agenda on and under the table, and ask students about their feelings”. It was essentially all about slowing down, being reflective and checking in with themselves.
This therapeutic approach, offering voluntary, regular consultations with Jungian analysts, has a profound effect on many aspects of the professional and personal lives of participants. In the words of IMD graduates, the Personal Development Elective (PDE) has enabled them to reflect more clearly on their management styles and behavioral tendencies.
Those “soft skills” that have suddenly become so important were already incorporated into IMD’s MBA program over twenty years ago.
The EMBA program at IMD includes three weeks of discovery expeditions to various parts of the world. As well as being exposed to new environments and experiences, the participants focus on explicit learning objectives. This is about learning all the time, from everything and everyone around them, not just in a classroom.
India, Silicon Valley, China, Israel, Kenya, Peru and Vietnam are just some of the destinations for a first-hand experience of globalization.
In the words of the current EMBA Dean Stefan Michel, “It is usually the participants’ most holistic and memorable learning experience.”
To mark the institute’s 50th anniversary back in 1996, the Alumni Association of the Netherlands presented IMD
with the Lifting Spirits sculpture. At that time, the Dutch Alumni formed the largest and most active group and
gifted the work of art as a special thank you. By the Dutch artists Jean et Marianne Bremers, Lifting Spirits takes pride of place in the campus gardens.
Read Chapter 3 to find out more about IMD’s Bellerive home.
The historic building at the heart of IMD’s campus – known as La Résidence – has its own story to tell. Built in the 18th century, it has over time been called Le Palais, La Maison de Maître and La Villa Bellerive.
In 1846, Dickens spent 5 months with his wife and children in Lausanne, writing Dombey and Son and finding further inspiration for some of his best known novels. The family rented Villa Rosemont and spent much time at La Résidence visiting the owners - the Baird family, whom he had known for some years. Lausanne’s Avenue Charles Dickens is named in his honor.
But Dickens was not the building’s only illustrious visitor.
French President Adolphe Thiers, as well as Serge Diaghilev and his troupe of Russian ballet dancers all stayed at La Résidence.
The villa became a part of the IMEDE Campus and today it houses the main reception and the Client engagements teams offices.
Chapter 3 of IMD 75 years reveals more history.
In 1971, a celebration took place to mark the 25th anniversary of the CEI. The choice of venue, in the mountains of Switzerland, was to have great historic significance.
Image Copyright: Nestlé
To mark this special occasion, we are publishing our first ever history: IMD 75 years, challenging what is, inspiring what could be.
Discover the insights and ground-breaking accomplishments achieved during IMD’s rise to prominence in this engaging guide to the events that shaped the organization. Learn what has enabled the Institute for Management Development to develop and transform the success of thousands of leaders and organizations worldwide.
Reserve your copy of IMD 75 years and get a 15% discount on the full price (30 CHF)
To ensure you get a copy of IMD 75 years, please complete the form to pre-order the book which will be published on 5 November 2021.