IMD International

“IMD gave me a toolbox for all situations,” says EMBA alumnus

UBS executive Alexandre Renevey developed problem solving and expanded his network at IMD 

October 14, 2014

Speaking with Alexandre Renevey is a refreshing experience. He has an easy exuberance that is uncharacteristic for a Swiss banker of 20 years and he speaks his mind. He says that he didn't even know IMD until he came across the business school through his job.

This happened several years ago. During long meetings in his professional capacity as a banker with IMD's pension fund board, Renevey realized that he could speak the same language as professors of economics and finance, although there was room for improvement. "This gave me the desire to progress and I realized that I wanted to enroll in the Master's program," he says.

He then approached IMD's Chief Financial Officer to ask if he could have a discount and says, with amusement, that the refusal did not deter him.

Renevey mentions that he fell into banking "by accident." He was originally an IT operations man, but he was attracted by the career prospects offered by an international corporation and realized that he really enjoyed institutional banking (he has also done corporate banking and wealth management).

His career has taken him from Lausanne, to Zurich, to New York and now to Fribourg, where he is Executive Director of the UBS branch.

The IMD experience

Because he had attended the Swiss Banking School, Renevey was admitted to IMD's Executive MBA (EMBA) program, without going through the preparatory Program for Executive Development (PED), in 2007. "I was thrown into the deep end. It was a tough experience, one of the greatest challenges that I have ever faced," he admits.

What saved him were his course colleagues, some of whom were just as distressed as he was in the beginning. But then afterwards, "I had the time of my life," he says. As it happened, there were several Swiss in his group and they stuck together.

"It was very different from my time as an officer in the Swiss army, because at IMD we met around common aspirations," he says.

In fact, seven years later, they still see each other on a monthly basis. They call themselves "the buddies" and they know that each one will be there for the other in case of need. Renevey also appreciates the larger IMD network and always looks forward to meeting opportunities, such as the recent Biennial International Alumni Event in late September that focused on the digital revolution.

Renevey believes that although IMD is well known abroad, it deserves to be better known locally, including by the political authorities. "IMD generates considerable income for Lausanne and the canton, and should be better recognized," he says.

Alexandre's toolboxes

Renevey explains how he was transformed by his IMD experience. He already had a 'toolbox' to keep physically fit: he enjoys energetic sports, such as windsurfing and skiing, and goes running and takes part in marathons to clear his mind and prepare for the week ahead. "That is when I define my priorities," he says.

But it was at IMD that he acquired his "toolbox for all situations:" he learned to analyze a problem, describe it and look for a solution. "My IMD toolbox is a springboard to my confidence and is always with me," he says.

When UBS sponsored his IMD EMBA, his boss told him: "You have a right to learn so that you can become better at your job and progress in the company." Renevey encourages employers to be as wise and perceptive as his former boss was.

Alexandre Renevey is Executive Director of UBS SA in Fribourg, Switzerland. He attended the Biennial International Alumni Event focusing on the digital revolution on 26th and 27th September at the IMD campus in Lausanne.

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