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Faculty Q & A: Karl Schmedders

COVID has changed management education as we know it and the future requires innovative programs, says IMD Professor of Finance Karl Schmedders in this new interview series. 
September 2020

1. What are you working on at the moment? 

Management education as we knew it until February 2020 is a thing of the past. IMD is facing the greatest disruption of its business model in its existence. I am trying to contribute to position IMD for a successful future in the post-COVID world. Specifically, I am involved in the development of several open and custom programs in the areas of data analytics and finance; I am helping my colleagues to continuously update the ‘management of business analytics’ courses since the field of data science is rapidly evolving.

2. What quality do you admire most in a leader? 

Making difficult decisions in the face of opposition and great uncertainty. The best decision for an organization is rarely the best decision for each individual. When you want the best for the team, you may have to hurt some team members. That’s extremely difficult, in my mind.

3. If you had the power to make one decision to change the world what would it be? 

I’d replace all non-democratic state leaderships in the world with democratic systems – perhaps even the Swiss version of democracy.

4. What triggered your interest in your specialization? 

I like applied math and am very curious about the world around me. Combining these two interests led me to data analytics, economics and finance. The current economic crisis has taught us once again the importance of the global economy and financial markets. Just as in my research, I am trying to help managers to understand how market events affect their businesses.

5. What do you consider your greatest professional achievement? 

I do not have one great achievement but instead many small, incremental ones. I was the first one in my family to graduate from high school, for example. Without the first step, I could not have made the second, third and fourth – surviving Stanford, getting a tenured position at the Kellogg School of Management and coming on board at IMD – for example.


Learn more about Professor Schmedders and his research here