“Possibly the most intensive MBA program on the planet”
IMD caught up with recent graduate Christiaan Kuun to learn more about his personal experience with the program. Christiaan graduated in 2014 and is now Innovation Programs and Business Lead at Cisco Systems.
IMD: Why did you choose IMD and what set it apart from other schools?
Christiaan: I had gained some great experience during my first few years of work, but I realized that I couldn’t really pinpoint what helped me succeed versus what was holding me back. I realized that I could benefit substantially from a leadership focused MBA, and since I was already a little bit older, I didn’t want to take out two years out of my career to do so. I also wanted a one-year MBA experience that wasn’t “just another party”, and that I could see would tangibly open up career opportunities. I enjoy the process of learning and wanted to be challenged during the MBA. IMD struck me as possibly the most intensive MBA program on the planet. It met many of my other criteria and was the perfect fit for me.
IMD: How was your overall experience? What was the year like?
Christiaan: Like almost everyone who goes through the experience, I found it life-changing. The classes were an extraordinary amount of fun, and being challenged and pushed by your classmates was an experience I treasured. No argument was untouchable; no opinion couldn’t be respectfully opposed. I learned a lot through these interactions. Even though IMD is a school geared towards “up and coming executives”, I found that there were more social opportunities than I could possibly attend, and the bonds formed between classmates are very deep. We had a lot of fun while being placed under tremendous pressure!
IMD: What are some other aspects you appreciated about the program?
Christiaan: Like many people in the program, the leadership component really changed me the most. I was confronted with things that I needed to improve, and situations that I didn’t handle well. The learning that one gets in those situations is something that cannot be recreated in the real world. The feedback sessions after intensive simulations and exercises allows one to find key areas to focus on in order to improve oneself. After you learn about your weaknesses, you are given ample opportunity to improve on these, and practice doing things better over and over. By the end of the year, most of us are self-aware of our own impact in a group, sensitive to how our colleagues interact, and we manage to get the most out of our teams and ourselves.
IMD: What type of contacts did you make?
Christiaan: I have always found the IMD network and alumni open and willing to help whenever I have asked for assistance. But even more important than just providing contacts, IMD trains MBAs on how to use its network to reach objectives, whether it be for a job search or other professional goals. The IMD brand itself helped me a lot in getting interviews, and alumni gave me the “inside scoop” when it came to applying and searching for jobs.
IMD: What did you do after the program and how did it help you for your next step?
Christiaan: I wanted to join either a large technical company with a strong brand, or a big pharmaceutical company after the MBA. I eventually decided to join Cisco Systems working on innovation programs and new business development. The job I am doing now exposes me a lot to the startup community, investors, and other tech companies – something that I absolutely love. I was reminded the other day about the job search objectives that I had set for myself prior to the MBA, and I am happy to report that IMD helped me exceed those in every respect!