TC034-15 - IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership - Strategy

IMD’s EMBA: “A huge challenge, but amazing”

Career educator Dominic Liechti gives excellent grades to IMD’s Executive MBA
March 2016

Dominic Liechti is no stranger to innovative learning and internat - IMD Business Schoolional education.

He completed a teaching degree and after that his qualifications in education have continued to accumulate. He later graduated with a Master in School and Education Management from the Zurich University of Teacher Education. Simultaneously, he founded a non-profit educational organization called learn4life with the objective of fostering learning for economically disadvantaged students that helped over 1,000 young people. In addition, he served as the principal of an inner-city junior high school in Zurich, Switzerland, has been working for several years as a homeroom teacher for grades 7 through 9 in a junior high school, and also worked within the city of Zurich’s education department. The list goes on.

This was all before he moved to Silicon Valley seven years ago and founded an international middle school and became managing director of the entire school thereafter. He still calls Silicon Valley home and has recently become Executive Director and President of the Board at Khan Lab School. Originating from the Khan Academy, it is a non-profit international institution that specializes in personalized and project-based learning experiences for students, with the vision of having a global impact and advancing student-centred learning.

One of the first things that impressed Dominic about IMD was that the screening process for candidates was less about GMAT scores and more about finding out who the candidates really are, which he said showed him that IMD was very serious about who they pick.

Leadership journey

Dominic’s initiation to IMD programs came in the form of Building on Talent (BOT), where he said he his leadership journey began.

“The better you know yourself, the better you can lead in personal and group settings,” Dominic said was one of the key takeaways from the program. “I learned a great deal about finance, marketing and strategy, but leadership and the personal reflection that accompanies it, along with peer feedback and coaching sessions, were the most rewarding aspects for me.”

If Dominic was exposed to a greater sense for the need of leadership in BOT, the EMBA program, which he completed last year, propelled him even further into his inner and outer leadership journey, he said.

“I was predominantly a task-based leader and over the course of three years at IMD, I was greatly challenged to strike a balance between being a task and people-based leader; resulting in greatly improving my leadership approach as well as awareness and related skills.”

The EMBA program also provided Dominic with what he calls a toolbox that he can pick and choose from to solve strategy, finance and other business challenges.

Dominic’s early intuitions about IMD served him well and he was not disappointed. “I appreciated the international experience at IMD,” he said. “It was action-based learning. We took what we learned and applied it with a high-performing and personalized team in a global context during the program.”

“The EMBA was a huge challenge, but it was amazing.”

Crisis management

The crisis management component of the program — which was organized by the Swiss Armed Forces in a hidden mountain fortress and tested the limits of all of the EMBA participants — also left a lasting impression on Dominic.

“The crisis management module was such a critical but underestimated part of what we learned. Spending a few days in a bunker testing our stamina and endurance, while having to put our leadership and knowledge of finance and strategy to the test, was really strenuous but crucial learning.”

Dominic said he also appreciated the high-quality distance learning component of his studies at IMD.

International context & building lifelong relationships

One thing that tied all of his experiences at IMD together were the professors.

“IMD has a strong faculty. They are all very internationally minded. I was excited to sit in the lectures and tap into their insights during breakout sessions.”

Dominic made many interesting contacts and friends among the other participants in the program and said he learned a lot about working in multicultural, international contexts. “Leading in an international environment will be one of the many features that will be directly applicable to my career and I’m even able to tap into all these lifelong relationships,” he said.

“I’m really grateful for my EMBA experience, and its fantastic worldwide journey, including the Swiss bunker experience. My leadership coach also gave me a lot of great support during my transition. It was experiential learning at its finest.”

IMD’s Executive MBA program is for fast-rising, internationally experienced executives. It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding EMBA programs in the world.

Find out more: