Alumni Stories · Leadership

Take risk, be brave. It doesn’t matter if you fail just get up and go again

IMD caught up with alumni at the recent All MBA Reunion to discuss the impact of their MBA
December 2017

JOANNE HOLLAND – MBA Class of 1996 – Senior Vice President, McKinsey  

IMD: At what point in your career did you decide to do your MBA?

JOANNE HOLLAND: I’d spent 16 years in financial services in Australia. By that time I’d been the treasurer of ANZ Bank. I was the CEO of a trust company and the CEO of a building society, and I wanted to explore the possibility of changing my career. As wonderful as it was, I needed that change.

IMD: How did you choose IMD?

JOANNE HOLLAND: I went to see one of my professors at my university and I said, “I would really love to go to Harvard or to Stanford – what do you recommend?” And he said to me, “Don’t go to those schools – go to IMD in Lausanne,” he said, “If you go to America, it will be very much American-centric and you won’t benefit as much.”

IMD: In retrospect, were there any other reasons that made coming to IMD special to you?

JOANNE HOLLAND: I think it was that I’d had lots of work experience and IMD caters for those who’ve had work experience. I wasn’t just coming out of university; it was the fact that there were experienced people and a variety of different nationalities – I think in my year 39 different nationalities.

IMD: How would you describe IMD in three words?

JOANNE HOLLAND: I would choose challenging, interesting and fun. 

IMD: How did IMD change you?

JOANNE HOLLAND: It helped me very much to understand different cultures and to understand how to be part of a diverse working team: how to make the best of different approaches to problem-solving.

IMD: Would you recommend IMD?

JOANNE HOLLAND: Absolutely! I recommend it all the time. I recommend it almost at least once a week to many young people that are coming up in their career.

IMD: What brings you back to IMD?

JOANNE HOLLAND: I’m here today because I feel a great affinity with the people at IMD; as soon as you meet somebody from IMD and you say you’re from IMD, they almost hug you and embrace you! I’m also here because a couple of my colleagues wanted to come as well. In my particular year, we meet every year for a reunion. I think I’ve missed one, in Singapore, but the rest of them I’ve attended every one. And I think that brings a whole lot of camaraderie and good spirit, and also very, very good networking. I think this day has been a great day to network with other people. We often don’t get enough of that. And I think it’s a brilliant concept.

IMD: What advice would you give to up-and-coming women in business?

JOANNE HOLLAND: My word of advice is: Take the risk, be brave – and it doesn’t matter if you fail; just get up and go again.

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