MBA Alumni give back to IMD: The Social Responsibility Scholarship aims to benefit future classes and the world
Undertaking an MBA is known to be a life changing experience. Even more, the impact that the IMD MBA leaves on its graduates often inspires them to give something back.
Since 2009, alumni contributions have been allocated to ensure far-reaching and long-term impact in the form of a scholarship that is voluntarily managed by former alumni.
When the IMD MBA alumni scholarship was launched, the three members appointed to the selection committee decided that it should be dedicated to social responsibility, officially creating IMD’s Social Responsibility Scholarship.
By selecting social entrepreneurs or those with NGO experience from emerging countries to join the IMD MBA program, the aim is to leverage indigenous projects through the individuals who initiate or support them.
"We wanted to create a scholarship that makes a difference not only to the people who engage in the MBA, but also to their country,” said committee Chairman and 1990 graduate, Bo Risberg, CEO of Hilti Corporation.
By opening the program to entrepreneurs who work on social projects in emerging countries and who generally do not have access to an MBA, IMD is contributing to the sustainability of local initiatives, Risberg added.
"We are creating leverage by identifying the people who have the capability and a strong purpose to make a difference.”
Scholarship committee member Patty Dimond, Business Director at Value Retail Management and a coach with Go Beyond, a network of business angels in the UK, couldn’t agree more.
"Socially responsible was a clear choice for the scholarship. Education is a gift, and when given to someone who has not only great desire and ability, but also a passion for social entrepreneurship, it is just that much more meaningful,” she said.
"We also feel that these individuals, because of their unique experiences, will significantly contribute to the learning and richness of the MBA class.”
The first recipient was Earnest Musinamwana, participating in the 2011 MBA program. He came to IMD after working with rural business people in his country Zimbabwe with CARE International. He is committed to bringing poor people on board as business partners and participants in the value chain and sees this as a way to create sustainable wealth opportunities.
The second scholarship recipient, Manu Jindal, will start the MBA program in January 2012. Jindal has been working for an organization named Teach for India and was selected because he demonstrated a strong passion for making a difference to education in India.
More than 20 applications have been received for the 2013 class. Once candidates are short-listed, they still have to interview with members of the Scholarship committee. Afterwards scholarship winners must complete and pass the regular IMD MBA admission process, including the GMAT test, prior
to being accepted for the program.
"We have to find the passion, ‘the fire in the belly,’ but we also have to find the right fit for a very challenging course,” Risberg said.
The commitment must work both ways, he insisted, since the scholarship is not a complete give-away. By contributing to the costs, recipients keep a stake in the "self-help.” In order to sustain the drive, Risberg said that the support of companies and foundations is also being solicited. A five-year commitment for part of the scholarship has already been obtained from the Hilti Foundation, but there is a need for broader support.
Risberg, who is also on the IMD Supervisory Board, admitted a strong emotional bond to the school and said that, in his experience, "the MBA allows you to go beyond your own limits.”
"But, I need to take off my Swedish/Canadian/Swiss glasses when examining the applications.” Risberg, a Swedish national, trained as a mechanical engineer in Canada, lives in Switzerland and works in Lichtenstein, when he is not traveling, which he does four to five months a year. He now heads a company that employs 20’000 people worldwide.
Fellow selection committee member, 2002 graduate Armin Mäder, is also convinced that he would not be where he is without his IMD MBA. With a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biophysics, he is now CEO/CFO of the biomedical startup Neurotone.
As many alumni before them, both see their commitment to IMD as a way to give back part of what they received.
Dimond, who graduated in 1993, gained a lot from the program in terms of network.
"The ability to broaden one’s perspective is ‘uniquely IMD,’ which it does primarily through the richness of the cultural diversity in the classroom. My experience at IMD had a profound impact on me as I could not now imagine living or working in a homogenous environment – cultural diversity is extremely important to me.”
Mäder said that he looks at the scholarships from a business perspective by identifying the "stand alone business ideas.” He defends the principle that entrepreneurship is more sustainable than aid programs.
"Even if it’s only a small contribution, by supporting entrepreneurship and promoting grassroots projects, we hope to be more productive than the NGOs that haven’t always found a sustainable way of doing business and feeding the people,” he pointed out.
"By supplying the education that allows things to be done better, we are taking IMD knowledge to areas where it’s most needed.”
Together, on a volunteer basis, Risberg, Dimond and Mäder pilot the scholarship selection process with the help of Janet Shaner, Director of IMD’s MBA Program Design & Delivery and Barbara Martin, MBA Program Delivery Specialist.
They are also in charge of securing the funds for future scholarships, which is one of the reasons they have chosen to dedicate the scholarship to a sector that is attractive to alumni and that extends the impact of their contributions.
In order to sustain the drive, the support of foundations is also being solicited, with a five-year commitment that has already been obtained from the Hilti Foundation.
"We’re doing something good for individuals, good for their countries, but also good for IMD. It makes sense,” Risberg reflected.
"It’s a very interesting IMD initiative,” Mäder concurred. "By promoting entrepreneurship in emerging countries, the bottom line is ‘jobs to people’.”
Click here to find out more about Earnest Musinamwana
Click here to find out more about Scholarship guidelines