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IMD MBA program graduates class of tomorrow’s responsible leaders

IMD’s 2014 MBA graduation ceremony was a touching celebration of 90 future business leaders.

December 5, 2014

The 2014 IMD MBA graduation ceremony opened with classical music in the air and the 90 graduates entering the auditorium in single file, being greeted with a warm round of applause from their IMD professors, parents, spouses, partners and friends. Each of the graduates, with their very different career paths and cultures, shared the same smile that day, filled with pride and accomplishment, well-earned after the past year of hard work toward their IMD MBAs.

Ceremony 1

"I hope you will value the network you have built and stay friends for life," said MBA Director Ralf Boscheck. "The uniqueness of this program is thanks to you," he added.

Responsible leadership was the underlying theme of the ceremony. 

The first keynote speaker, Dr. Syed Babar Ali, Pakistani entrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist and former Finance Minister of Pakistan, told the audience how he founded what is now Nestlé Milkpak Limited, one of the largest food processing companies in Pakistan.

He discussed how his decisions impacted his own life and the lives of others. "There was no tradition of milk collection on a large scale. For the first time, a poor man could get pure milk," he said.

With the help of Harvard professors and IMD Professor Bob Collins, Ali also established the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in 1985, which is now home to some of the brightest students in the country. "This helps not only families but entire villages," he said.

Ali warned the audience who he called "future world business leaders" that even with a great diploma, "you realize one day that you are Mr Nobody and that it is up to you to make a difference".

The second keynote speaker, Mark Cornell (MBA 1999), recently named Sotheby's Managing Director for Europe, said for him the IMD MBA represents "curiosity, confidence, and global culture".

He gave two pieces of advice to encourage the 90 graduates when choosing their next career steps. First, "understand what you need and want. What makes you happy is what you will always do well". Second, "all good companies need good people, new fresh ideas, young (and maybe a bit naïve) talent to keep them moving". He congratulated the class for "getting the finest MBA available".

Cornell also shared his wisdom on leadership: "If you have the opportunity to lead, take it. But leadership is not about popularity, it is about driving change. It can be extremely lonely at the top so don't forget to talk about it with people who are in the same situation," he said.

Since 1985, IMD has awarded the Welshe Family Memorial Prize to the most outstanding woman in the IMD MBA program. The award was given in memory of Gillian Welshe (IMEDE MBA 1984). Though 2012 was announced to be the last year of the award, prior award recipients came together to continue the prize. This year's prize was given to Lara Pierce who was described by her predecessor as "courageous, never biased, always ready to help her classmates, and well trusted by her peers".

Bernardo Tarbes was honored by his classmates with the Michael Hepper Award, given to a student demonstrating a spirit of altruism and selflessness throughout the year.

Ceremony 2

"Natural talent, intelligence, great education none of these guarantee success. It is about the sensitivity to be responsible towards society at large. Leadership begins and ends with authenticity. It is not about status, but about doing the right thing," concluded IMD President Dominique Turpin, emphasizing the importance of personal values and critical thinking.

2014 graduate Diego Barreto, the final speaker of the ceremony, said: "We cannot ignore our potential. People are waiting for us to build a better future. It is our responsibility".

The following members of the 2014 MBA class graduated with honors: Pierre Houdart, Anurag Khilnani, Olivier Laplace, Thorsten Madsen, Fabian Meier, Andras Pentek, Thomas Pongratz, Florian Schnappauf, and Joan Vozeh.

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