The IMD MBA class of 2018 has just graduated and reached the end of an intense year of challenges. They now embark onto the next chapter, with new leadership skills, expanded business thinking, and friends for life.

Seán Meehan, Dean of the IMD MBA program since the beginning of 2018 and previously in 2002-2005, moderated the ceremony. The ceremony took place on IMD’s campus in Lausanne, in the presence of the 89 graduates and their loved ones of all ages; some were even carried by their newly minted MBA parents onto the stage.

The best is yet to come

Opening the ceremony Seán Meehan said: “Let me introduce you to some of the most talented and hardworking young men and women that you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. As the saying goes and as their track record shows: The best is yet to come.”

IMD President Jean-François Manzoni congratulated the graduates on their hard work and gave them some parting words of wisdom about the most important qualities of today’s leaders: “Be mindful. Be reflective. Be generous. Be grateful, and last but not least, try really hard to do the right thing.”

Next up, Professor Manzoni introduced the keynote speaker of the ceremony: Ton Büchner, an IMD MBA graduate (1993), who is currently a board member at Novartis, as well as former CEO of AkzoNobel and Sulzer. IMD was proud to welcome Ton back 25 years after his graduation from the school.

Mr. Büchner reminded the graduates that their careers will not always be easy and that his own has been filled with outstanding success but also challenging moments. He made clear that achieving pure business and financial success are not the only accomplishments that matter.

Financial success is not everything

“I’ve been proud to generate outstanding financial results, but also to help my company be a winner in pushing real sustainability projects forward,” he said. “Taking a stance is important even though it will make many people unhappy.”

Mr. Büchner also stressed the importance of not losing sight of family and relationships, giving examples from throughout his career where former IMD MBA classmates have stepped up and helped each in other in times of need to get back on their feet again.

“I wish you great personal and professional lives; The two are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

Watch Mr. Büchner's keynote address

Prior to the ceremony, members of the class nominated Guilherme Mendes and Shingo Kawano for the Hepper Award, recognizing their performance and altruism during the year. Guilherme was also awarded a prize by the Fondation Vaudoise pour la Formation Bancaire (FVFB) and the Association Vaudoise des Banques (AVB), who have come together with IMD to offer a prestigious, merit-based award to an outstanding MBA participant. The prize of CHF 10,000 is awarded based on the recipient’s contribution in the classroom, openness of attitude, capacity for overcoming obstacles, contribution to teamwork and development over the year.

Commitment toward women in business

During the event, Lauren Versagli and Ana Du were awarded the Welshe Women’s Award for the class of 2018. It has been a tradition since 1994, named for former graduate Gillian Welshe, an Australian national who made her name for, among other accomplishments, standing up for women’s rights in the workplace.

Last year’s winner, Beatrice Maccaferri, presented the award. “Women don’t just want to get to the top; they want to change the rules. We need more women in positions who can lead change,” she said.

The Welshe award honors moral force of character, leadership, academic strength as well as kindness and courage.

Toward the end of the ceremony, Andrea Bertino addressed the crowd on behalf of the graduating class.

“There are no words to explain how much we learned this year. IMD is not about simply learning concepts; This year was about being friends. My moments with you my fellow classmates made me truly happy,” said Andrea.

“Ask yourselves: what did I learn? What will I remember years from now?”

Seán Meehan wrapped up the ceremony with these questions.

“If this year has taught you anything, it is that you can face challenges that others cannot. The most important decision you will make is: Do you want to make a difference or not? We all wish you every imaginable success and complete happiness in everything you do,” said Professor Meehan in closing.

IMD wishes very warm congratulations to the IMD MBA class of 2018!

Watch the highlights from the IMD MBA Graduation Ceremony 2018

Read Seán Meehan’s reflections on the class of 2018.