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Alumni Stories · Leadership

Putting learning into practice with the IMD EMBA

Gaurav Kapoor tells why he thinks the Executive MBA was “rewarding beyond imagination”
August 2018

Gaurav Kapoor graduated from IMD’s Executive MBA program (EMBA) in 2018 and found that he was immediately able to implement the new knowledge into his work.

“In the EMBA we did a lot of work across a number of business topics and I have been able to share some of the insights with very senior people at my company,” he says. “After implementing some of the items, I am looking forward to seeing the return we get from all of the ideas and analysis.”

Gaurav works for software corporation SAP in India and was recently promoted to Director of Strategy in his business unit. The new position involves him developing the unit’s strategy, as well as leading SAP’s customer excellence program.

“The confidence that the program has given me in the past year has enabled me to feel comfortable in this new role and absolutely embrace it with both arms,” he says.

For the executive, stepping in to this new position tied in perfectly with his graduation. His journey at IMD began in 2016 with him attending Foundations for Business Leadership (FBL), a 20-day program enabling participants to develop general management skills as preparation for the EMBA.

He then went straight through to the EMBA and the assignments he worked on during the program mirrored and prepared him for the real-world tasks he was to take on.

For instance, he explains how the module on customer service gave him valuable insight into the customer excellence program he is now working on, while the assignment around finance “was very insightful because the strategy we are building is going to be based on finance value creation,” he says. “Any strategy you build that is not a positive business case or that does not add value to the company is a strategy not worth pursuing,” he adds.

Another assignment he worked on at IMD was around culture, and for Gaurav it became clear throughout the task that culture makes up an integral part of strategy.

The EMBA at IMD also includes ‘discovery expeditions’, whereby participants travel abroad to get insights into markets. These trips help them assess what makes a country tick when it comes to doing business.

Throughout the 12-month program, as well as spending some time on IMD’s Lausanne campus, participants get to spend a week in China, one week in Silicon Valley, and a further seven days in destinations chosen from a selection. Past destinations have included Singapore, South Africa and Vietnam, among others.

“These discovery expeditions were eye-opening,” says Gaurav, who along with classmates is used to travelling with work. “In one week you learn so much about that country, you understand the cultural aspects of the country, and you understand how to do business in the country.”

The program culminated in a crisis management exercise, where the Gaurav was given the role of chief of staff and had to get his team through a crisis situation.

“The crisis management exercise was the icing on the cake as it brought out all the leadership concepts that we were taught: the individual evolution, the leadership essays, the executive coaching, the one-on-one conversations,” says Gaurav. “I came to IMD for the leadership track and it’s been rewarding beyond any value.”

He also appreciated and values the in class learning at IMD, given by leading experts in their field. “The kinds of connections that IMD has, means that they bring top class speakers in front of you, which gives you such a broad perspective in such a short period of time – it’s incredible,” says Gaurav. “I didn’t think an individual would be able to accomplish this on their own in that short period of time,” he adds.

Overall Gaurav describes the leadership module he attended as “absolutely fantastic”.

As for advice the executive would give to others considering taking part in IMD’s EMBA, he says: “I would encourage any applicant who is looking to understand business in the real world and see results and analysis immediately, to come to IMD. It will be a rewarding journey beyond your imagination.”

Find out more about IMD’s EMBA.