WOODS STATON – MBA Class of 1976 – Executive Chairman, Arcos Dorados

: Why did you decide to come to IMD? 

WOODS STATON: I came here because a colleague of mine at Coca-Cola came here two years before and he really loved it. I thought it was great that the participants were quite experienced. It was and international experience and a one-year program – and that’s why I came. 

IMD: What did you find at IMD and how did it help you? 

WOODS STATON: It was probably the toughest year, most stressful year I’ve ever had – even today. And I just learned about myself, I learned about business, and learned that I didn’t know everything I thought I knew. 

IMD: And did it create a switch in your life? Did it come at the right moment for you to move on to other things? 

WOODS STATON: Yes, absolutely. Coming here changed me forever. I think I became much more analytic, I became more self-confident, more humble at the same time because I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I was told so. And it did change me. I think it gave me more courage to look beyond my immediate future. 

IMD: What did you appreciate most?

WOODS STATON: The analytical tools – without a doubt. I also had great professors. 

IMD: How do you find the time and why did you keep coming back? 

WOODS STATON: The year at IMD was probably the most important year in my life, so to come back here and be with students, and to learn is great. You learn things that are appropriate for your own business, and it just shakes up your brain.

What was the lasting impact of the MBA program? 

WOODS STATON: First of all, the friends I made here are still my good friends, so I think the people element is key to everything; being with the right people and treating them nicely and being with them and listening. So that’s what I’ve learned. And I think it’s not just about being smart; it’s not just about being right. I think what I learned here was told to me by one professor: “There’s no one right answer. There might be the best answer but there’s no one right answer.” And that’s very important.