- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

The sky's the limit: witnessing others' experience to fuel career ambitions

The international setting and a diverse range of experiences at IMD helped jet company director map out her own career ambitions
February 2018

Xenia Baranova works as Commercial Director for the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company, whose mission is to design and manufacture new models of commercial aircraft. Headquartered in Moscow, its main airplane is a Superjet 100.

As a young talent in her field, Xenia chose to take part in Building on Talent (BOT), an IMD program designed for young, high-potential talented leaders who want to gain larger and more important functional and inter-functional expertise. The program challenges participants to better understand their company, the environment they work in ­­– and themselves.

BOT is split into three parts. The program begins with six weeks of online leadership training, followed by two weeks’ tuition at the Lausanne campus, which takes place both in the auditorium and in the nearby mountains. It ends with a six-week project that the participant undertakes once they are back at their company. This takes place under the guidance of an IMD coach, who follows the participants’ progress and offers any relevant advice.

While at IMD, Xenia found herself exposed to a colorful international community, which she found stimulating. “My two weeks at IMD were a really great experience. I found myself in an environment where you can see all types of people from different industries. This helps you to broaden your horizons and sometimes think a little bit outside of the box,” she explains. This experience also enabled her to take note of other participants’ experience. “This helped me imagine where I might take my own career,” she says.

The executive says the online part of the course, which involves a digital platform that features informative videos, sessions on leadership essentials and includes input from tutors, was also extremely useful, says Xenia. “It gave me the chance to schedule my preparation and the possibility to find enough time to view all the material and online lectures.”

Xenia says she was able to test the knowledge she had acquired through the online-based module taken before coming to campus once she arrived at IMD “in a really beautiful environment in Switzerland”. As well as learning about strategy, finance, marketing, sales and operations, and leadership, she discovered that the course explores three important topics: innovation, sustainability, and the digital landscape.

Incorporating these elements into her approach, Xenia worked on the implementation project that takes place once participants return to work. The objective is to take knowledge acquired in the classroom on the subject of good leadership and apply it in a work situation. “I received some good input from my professors and team mates [while preparing the implementation project],” says Xenia. “This helped me to realise how I could go forward with the project and I believe I will be successful with the one I have chosen,” she adds.