Annual Report 2021

Special Features

IMD at 75

In 2021, IMD celebrated its 75th anniversary, tracing its roots back to pioneering educators in post-war Geneva right through to the present day.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Standing on those shoulders is humbling, but it is also incredibly inspiring, because from that height you get to look into the future, and you see how much more we can do together to live IMD’s purpose; to contribute in a small way, but hopefully in a very real way, to a more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive world.
Jean-François Manzoni, President, IMD

Celebrating a remarkable story

The institute commissioned a 30-minute documentary and a special edition book, which explored the insights and ground-breaking achievements that helped to create a world leader in executive education and research.

An anniversary gala, on 5 November, brought together a congregation of 140 current and former faculty, alumni, board members and dignitaries to pay tribute to the impact and legacy of an ever-evolving brand.

At the event, IMD President Jean-François Manzoni said he felt “a feeling of deep gratitude towards a generation of visionary and pioneering leaders who created this extraordinary, independent academic institute”.

In recognition of his contribution to shaping one of the world’s leading centers for executive education, IMD appointed its former president Peter Lorange as its honorary president.

“All top notch institutions, even IMD, need to evolve, evolve, evolve,” Lorange told attendees at the gala.

Explore the remarkable story of IMD: a birthplace of pioneering ideas

IMD’s 75th anniversary gala event
IMD’s 75th anniversary gala event

A brief history

In 1946, as Europe began to emerge from the aftermath of the Second World War, Canadian aluminium producer Alcan (now Rio Tinto Aluminium Division) founded the Centre d’Études Industrielles (CEI) in Geneva, with an inaugural class including many Chinese and North American participants, to train young executives in industrial management.

IMD at 75

The composition of that first cohort at CEI, later to become the International Management Institute (IMI), revealed what would prove to be the enduring and defining values of IMD – an open, internationalist and pioneering spirit of collaboration in pursuit of development and progress.

The aim of that first post-war class was to develop leaders who understood one another and would build a better future together. As the origin story of IMD, this initial ambition of a globally-minded institute founded by business, for business, has also remained a central and unique thread.

In 1957, Swiss multinational Nestlé established its own management training center – the Institut pour l’Étude des Méthodes de Direction de l’Enterprise (IMEDE) in Lausanne in coordination with Harvard Business School.

Inspired by the new management training styles of North American university-based business schools in the post-war era, the decision by Alcan and Nestlé to establish their own schools was an exceptional one at the time.

It also introduced a different lens to the discipline that, over time, has enabled IMD to build clear differentiation in the market and a global reputation as an expert partner that understands real business and leadership challenges and delivers real learning and impact.

Indeed, these two pioneering institutes placed an emphasis on practical, field-based research and executive education that created value for executives and their organizations.

In 1990, in response to a highly competitive global market, the two institutes merged to form the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), an independent academic institute located in Lausanne at its present day campus, just meters away from the stunning Lac Léman.

IMD has been huge for me. I don’t think I would have got as far as I have in my professional life had it not been for IMD.
Woods Staton (MBA 1976), Executive Chairperson, Arcos Dorados
The story so far - an IMD documentary
The story so far - an IMD documentary

To the present day and beyond

Since 1990, IMD has diversified and fine-tuned its portfolio through world-leading expertise to anticipate and respond to the needs of a rapidly-changing globalized economy, and built an influential library of rigorous, relevant, insightful and actionable research and thought leadership content.

Always focused on pushing boundaries, this has included creating the world’s first executive education center dedicated to family business, the Global Family Business Center, and the elea Center for Social Innovation, which explores how private capital can be harnessed for positive impact.

In the spirt of innovation, IMD’s diverse and award-winning faculty has also introduced a wealth of business critical themes to the curriculum of its MBA, EMBA, open and custom programs, such as digital transformation, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion.

New partner initiatives such as E4S and Business Schools for Climate Leadership have been formed to contribute to the search for solutions to today’s complex challenges, and IMD’s footprint has grown to include a campus in Singapore and sustained growth as a trusted brand all over the world.

And, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, new ways of delivering real learning and real impact have been prototyped and introduced, from programs that blend in-person classes, online modules and virtual liVe sessions to the use of virtual reality to create experiential learning scenarios.

Today, IMD’s purpose is to challenge what is and inspire what could be, developing leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society; a mantra that would have, no doubt, resonated deeply with the pioneers of its post-war beginnings.



Alcan creates Centre d’Études Industrielles (CEI) in Geneva


Nestlé establishes Institut pour l’Étude des Méthodes de Direction de l’Enterprise (IMEDE) in Lausanne


IMEDE introduces one-year MBA and Program for Executive Development


CEI changes name to International Management Institute (IMI)


IMI and IMEDE merge to form International Institute for Management Development (IMD)


First edition of IMD’s flagship program Orchestrating Winning Performance


IMD opens South East Asia Executive Learning Center in Singapore

You enter naive, and you exit with your eyes wide open to the world
Karen Huebscher (MBA 2000), Chief Executive Officer, Solvias AG