Our best year ever
Against a backdrop of challenging times, 2022 was in many ways one of the most successful years ever for IMD.
Like many organizations, we started the year bracing for the impact of a significant armed conflict in Europe, coupled with economic uncertainty and the ongoing process of post-pandemic recovery.
Thankfully we were well prepared, having laid down in 2020-2021 a solid strategy founded on the right blend of continuity and transformation, change and adaptation. We pursued this strategy unfailingly during the pandemic years, maintaining significant investment levels throughout the crisis in order to emerge from it as an even stronger organization fit for the future.
The result was an extraordinary 2022. In particular, it was our most successful year yet for executive programs, featuring record numbers of participants in face-to-face and/or virtual liVe learning journeys.
It was also our most successful year on the research and thought leadership side, and – last but by no means least – we also made great strides forward with our alumni and outreach.
This impressive set of outcomes owes everything to a great IMD team working hard on behalf of all IMD stakeholders, including and especially its students and alumni. I am very grateful to the IMD Executive Committee and all our Faculty and Staff colleagues for yet another great effort in 2022.
Let me now tell you a bit more about our Roadmap 2022 and how we fared on some of its key dimensions.
The roadmap guiding IMD’s journey into the future
Our 2022 roadmap featured five priorities resting on three fundamental enablers. This Annual Report provides in-depth reviews of several of these, and hopefully you will finish your perusing of this report agreeing with us that it was indeed a very good year.
In 2022, we strengthened our commitment to a more prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive world. This commitment – now considered an “IMD Fundamental” – applies to our own operations, as demonstrated by our Ecovadis Gold rating, as well as to our learning programs where we embedded our focus on ESG-related threats and opportunities even more deeply and across our portfolio.
We continued to strive to make our goal of a high-performance, caring, and inclusive work culture ever more a reality. This is a domain in which several IMD faculty members conduct research and on which we help several of our corporate partners – all the more reason for us to try hard to be exemplary on this front.
You will find details on our actions in this report, but for now, let me highlight a much more intense training effort in 2022 – for our managers as well as all other employees.
The world of work version 2022 is not an easy place to navigate, which led us this year to spend more time and energy helping our own colleagues to skill-up on both the professional and personal fronts.
On the outcome side, during the year we received very positive feedback from our latest employee climate survey, which reported significantly more positive perceptions than two years earlier and compared very favorably to external benchmarks. In particular, more than 90% of our colleagues reported understanding clearly how their job contributes to achieving the goals of IMD and having confidence in the future of IMD.
One of the dimensions that still shows room for improvement is how hard our staff had to work in order for us to achieve this year’s record performance.
Hence, our third enabler – process excellence – remains very much at the forefront of our focus (or concerns). This year, we launched a new grassroots initiative entitled “Better, Simpler, Cheaper”, encouraging and helping our staff to identify and implement ways to work better for our students/participants/customers, simpler for ourselves and/or cheaper for IMD.
Much remains to be done on all these fronts, but 2022 still enabled us to make encouraging progress.
Thought leadership and research sit at the heart of IMD and our license to operate as a first-class academic institution, and 2022 was yet another record-breaking year for our research productivity. The number of articles published in academic journals (including the Financial Times 50 journals) reached a new record high, as did global sales of IMD cases, with several garnering awards and featuring on bestselling lists. Publications by IMD faculty also received awards across a variety of disciplines, and several faculty members were recognized in influential thought leadership and teaching lists.
A new Center for Sustainable and Inclusive Business was established in 2022, a timely addition to our global research activities. Like all our centers, its mission is to act as a catalyst and accelerator for our research, education, and outreach efforts – in this case in areas associated with pursuing a more sustainable and inclusive world.
Our degree programs returned to deliver their full experiential learning journeys in 2022. Our MBA program, ranked for the fourth consecutive time #1 in Europe by Bloomberg Business Week, was redesigned to place even more emphasis on the way sustainability-related threats and opportunities will be transforming corporations’ strategies and activities in the coming years. On the continuity side, the program’s longstanding focus on entrepreneurship was further enhanced in 2022 through the launch of an annual Alumni-sponsored MBA Venture Award, offering a prize to one student intent on launching a startup at the end of the program. On the EMBA front, Vanina Farber succeeded Stefan Michel at the helm of the program, and, for the first time, we introduced a set of scholarships (five new specialist scholarships and one general excellence scholarship) aimed at helping us to attract an even more diverse group of talented leaders.
As 2022 came to a close, we received the news from the Swiss Accreditation Council that IMD had been accredited as a University Institute following a two-year accreditation procedure. This is an important milestone that will further enhance our academic stature and will make life easier for our current and future graduates. It will also enable us to start to selectively enrich our portfolio of degree programs.
2022 was also another year of major investments in innovation. As always, we continued to enhance the relevance of the content of our existing programs, including the three deliveries of our signature Orchestrating Winning Performance program (Lausanne in June, Singapore in November, and liVe in September). We also launched several innovative new programs, leveraging our most recent research-based insights and our advanced understanding of how we can use various types of technology-mediated interactions to design and deliver impactful experiences.
In particular, we found a way to dramatically improve our ability to scale up interventions, thus enabling us to support our corporate partners’ ambitious strategy deployment efforts. A year ago, we wouldn’t have known how to offer an impactful program to 10,000 people in less than six months. We did it in 2022, leading the client to decide to offer the program to another 4,500 individuals. We believe that this new capability will be game-changing in the next few years.
These innovations – and our continued focus on challenging what is and inspiring what could be to develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society – helped us to grow our footprint in every region of the world and to ultimately achieve record revenues in both our open and custom programs.
2022 was also an important milestone in a few other ways. In particular, the year gave us several opportunities to reach out and connect with our alumni. In September, alumni from all programs explored Our Shared Future during the International Alumni Symposium. October saw the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the MBA program, with more than 200 alumni returning to an exciting and moving event on campus. The publication of the book – 50 (graduates) for 50 (years): Inspiring leadership journeys from half a century of the IMD MBA – gave us an opportunity to identify some of the extraordinary individuals who have graduated from this program and to celebrate the many thousands of others we are proud to count as IMD alumni. We also founded the IMD International Alumni Association, which will be rolled out in 2023 and will support and connect IMD’s global alumni community.
We were also able in 2022 to complete the “brand refresh” project we had initiated in 2019 and had to put on pause during 2020 and 2021. The result of our effort is – I think, and I hope you will agree – a happy blend of continuity and novelty. Our new logo looks and feels more modern; it offers a great many possibilities to personalize for programs and centers while keeping a strong IMD identity, and its use of Leman Blue – a color inspired by the lake facing our Lausanne campus – is both reminiscent of our roots and an inspiring reference to blue skies and good times ahead.
Last, and proverbially not least, we were fortunate in 2022 to receive the financial support of a number of individuals and organizations. As an independent, not-for-profit academic institution, IMD has always managed to generate its own funding – mainly by offering programs that a significant number of managers and corporate partners decide to select among the many alternatives offered to them. But it is also a fact that most of the business schools with which we compete also benefit from substantial support from their alumni and corporate partners. We are grateful to the many alumni and corporate partners who supported us this year and are helping us to progress toward the launch of a formal capital campaign in the next 12-24 months.
As we look forward to 2023, our ability to plan the year is constrained by the considerable amount of uncertainty that characterizes today’s world: the war in Ukraine, inflation and interest rate concerns, pressures on the banking system, growing social unease – and sometimes social unrest – in many countries, and geopolitical tensions, to name but a few. Thankfully, as of now, we are not seeing any negative signs for our activities in the months ahead. In fact, we are currently having the “good problem” of having to manage capacity constraints as demand for our activities remains very strong.
We are, of course, very aware that this situation could change quickly for the worse. We will hence continue to ferociously innovate, in order to increase the resilience of our portfolio of activities and our ability to propose very relevant experiences helping managers and corporate partners to deal with their threats and opportunities – whatever they may be.
We have already set our priorities for 2023. We look forward to next year’s report to tell you how we will have progressed on them.
In the meantime, we will continue to conduct research and offer programs designed to encourage and help managers and corporations to accelerate their progress toward a more prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive world. The world needs businesses to create economic value; we cannot share value that’s not being created… But the signs all around us are increasingly undeniable that we need to learn to create this prosperity in a way that is more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable – and we need to do so quickly, as time is increasingly no longer on our side.
Challenging what is and inspiring what could be, we develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society.
Our purpose has never been more relevant than it is today.
We thank you for your interest in and support of IMD, and we hope that you will find the time you spend looking through this Annual Report to be an inspiring and insightful investment.