Iona Hamilton is no stranger to IMD. As one of the daughters of Stewart Hamilton – Professor of Accounting and Finance at IMD from 1981 to 2014 – this Communications Manager in the European Commission has remained close to the institution since his unexpected passing.   

Every year since the scholarship was founded in 2015, an IMD MBA candidate has received a sum in his honor. On campus earlier this year, Ms Hamilton spoke with IMD about her father’s legacy and the announcement of the most recent winner.

IMD: What are some of your fond memories of your father?

Iona Hamilton: We really miss him. He was inspiring and very supportive of his three daughters. He encouraged us to explore all of the opportunities the world has to offer. We were a very close family. Switzerland has been a part of our lives collectively since 1981 when dad first came here. His initial year was a sabbatical and we all went to the local schools. I have very fond memories of being ten in Vaud and doing all the things kids do. After that he was always commuting between Lausanne and Edinburgh where we lived. When my mother retired she was able to spend more time here. It’s a very special place for us. I just got back from the supermarket to stock up on my favorite Swiss goodies.

What motivated your family to support a scholarship in your father’s name at IMD?

He died quite suddenly at 69. It was a bit of a shock for everybody including his MBA students, who came up with the idea for the scholarship. It was born out of a desire to remember him in some way. He really left a positive mark on a lot of the people he interacted with. He taught accounting which is quite a tricky subject for many people. He was a showman and he liked to ham it up a bit when he was teaching. He was very theatrical but caring and gave endless time to his students. He was a tough professor – expecting and demanding the best from everyone, but underneath, he was a real softie. He was also particularly encouraging of female students. I think that was a reflection of having three daughters and being aware of the challenges women often face at work and in society. We were really delighted with, and touched by, the scholarship initiative.

What were your father’s ties like with IMD?

He really loved IMD, and its predecessor IMEDE, before that. He always kept in touch with different generations of his students. Former students came from as far away as California for the funeral, which was amazing for us. It’s lovely for Dad to be remembered by IMD in such a way.

How does the scholarship contribute to your father’s legacy?

Because the scholarship tries to focus on what Dad really cared about, which was ethics and good corporate governance, it’s rewarding to know that people care about that and want to follow Dad’s lead. Aside from my work, in the area of competition where ethics is really important, I see in the current political climate how important it is for people to behave properly. Leadership is so important, and we seem to be suffering from a lack of it at the moment. People should be more willing to stand up for what’s right.

What were his main influences on you?

Curiosity. Empathy, and I’d like to think generosity. He always said, if you were born in a fortunate position you should try to make the world better for other people. My sisters and I are delighted that IMD is committed to having his name live on.

 

The 2019 Scholarship holder is Anna Barskaya, a Russian national who lives in Germany. She has spent the last ten years of her career focusing on digital transformation, automation, and change management in the areas of banking and professional services.

Read an in-depth interview of Anna here

Read Anna’s thoughts about women in business here.