- IMD Business School
News Stories · Leadership

'Keep speaking up and challenging the status quo'

The September 2023 “Dare2Change” EMBA class celebrated its graduation with inspiring takeaways for the future: keep investing in personal growth, value relationships, be grateful, and strive to create lasting impact.
September 2023

The September 2023 “Dare2Change” EMBA class celebrated its graduation with inspiring takeaways for the future: keep investing in personal growth, value relationships, be grateful, and strive to create lasting impact.

Addressing the September 2023 EMBA graduating class, Professor Vanina Farber, Dean of the EMBA Program and elea Professor of Social Innovation, referred to the graduates’ personal journeys and defined them as a group of individuals who “speak their minds and question the status quo”. This focus on individual growth to strive for a better future was the leitmotif of an evening of celebration at the IMD campus in Lausanne. 

Ten years after her own graduation at IMD, CEO of Norwegian Energy Partners Ann-Christin Andersen said that the most valuable learning from their collective experience is intrinsically personal: “The most fundamental lesson I learned from my EMBA was with respect to my own personal growth. I was inspired by all the talented people in my classes − the relationship with your classmates is priceless,” she said. 

“When you get to a certain level of leadership, you need to be the leader, and as such you must take yourself and others where you have not been before – in thought and action – often against initial preferences. Did I really need an EMBA to get the career I wanted? Maybe not, but without it I would not know how to lead a team into an unknown future. And, quite frankly, my bosses would not have seen the improved version of myself, as a more diplomatic and strategic leader. More importantly, IMD taught me how to visualize the future I wanted for myself.” 

Promises to the future

Professor Farber encouraged the September 2023 class to consider making three fundamental promises from that day onwards: 

“Firstly,  promise yourself that you will never stop learning. And I promise to support you in this lifelong learning journey.  

Secondly, promise each other that you will stay connected. The bonds you’ve forged here are invaluable. I promise you that in our strong and engaged alumni community lies the true power of IMD.  

Lastly, promise to continue speaking up and challenging the status quo. Continue to use your skills and influence to foster inclusive businesses and a fairer society.  

I promise that I will be your partner to create lasting impact together. In essence, these aren’t just promises to yourselves, to each other, or to the world we live in. These are promises to the future — a future you will be shaping, one promise at a time.” 

We dare to change

 What sets apart the future from the past, more than time, is change. That word – “change” − was the common denominator among the 56 graduates when they first gathered to decide on their so-called “alliance”, the culture that would nurture their learning journey: “Dare2Change”. 

 “What we all have in common and what is embedded in our DNA is that we dare to change, even if it’s painful,” said Raffaella Desiati, Factory General Manager at Hitachi Energy in Switzerland and one of the two designated “EMBAssadors” of the class. “We are brave. We have the courage to decide and take action despite the fear. The world around us is full of uncertainty: markets and businesses are changing, technology is changing, politics is changing, society is changing… everything seems to be spinning at high speed, and who knows what the next crisis will be? But we’d better prepare for it.” 

Her classmate Rasmus Kirkeby Salling, Head of Commercial Legal at Falck in Copenhagan, agreed: “Change can be many things and have a multitude of impacts. It can be solely for yourself, for your family and friends, for your community, society at large, or even for the planet. Through this transformative journey, we have been offered new lenses to observe the world − to see it in a new light − and we have probably identified a few things we would like to change. On this special day, what commitments to positive change will you make?” 

Gratitude and community

IMD President Jean-François Manzoni also looked ahead to the future: the immediate future actions of the class in their newly acquired status as alumni. He offered them a suggestion and encouraged them to take a pledge: 

“The suggestion: in the months and years to come, I want to encourage you to develop a strong gratitude practice. You must develop gratitude yourself, by working at it. The more you get the gratitude neurons to fire, the tighter they will wire, and the easier it will be for you to maintain a gratitude stance through thick and thin,” said Manzoni before inviting the graduates to be “engaged, proud and productive alumni”. 

“I hope that you will stay in touch with one another, because this class can be your free consulting team and your first circle of friends for the rest of your life. In the years to come, may you be proud of this community, be proud of your school, and – when you have a chance – support it in any way you can.  No school in the world can remain among the very best without continued engagement and help from their alumni.” 

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