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.