The Insider’s Guide to IMD

Welcome back to our latest installment of our Insider’s Guide to European MBA programs. We’ve taken a deep dive into INSEAD, HEC, Cambridge Judge and IESE, and now it’s time to pull back the velvet rope and share the secrets to one of the world’s most exclusive MBA programs: IMD.

The What

IMD is smaller, older, wiser, more intimate… and in Switzerland (anyone down with hitting the slopes?). It’s is VERY different from your average MBA program. Not only does it have a very very small class (only 90 students!), the focus – unlike other MBA programs geared towards finance and consulting- is mostly on INDUSTRY jobs, with 25% of the students going into manufacturing jobs, and 20% going into consumer goods.

One of the most unique things about IMD is its focus on each individual student. In addition to its general management program (which is the same for every student) everyone gets a personalized hands-on project, allowing each individual to develop their career in the direction they need to take it.

The Who

IMD’s grads are especially strong in Industry – manufacturing, consumer goods, healthcare, tech. Yes, some banks DO recruit at IMD (it is, after all, a Swiss school!), but the focus here is more on industry leaders. Consulting is also a favored industry for IMD grads, although they make up a smaller portion of the graduate pool than in most other schools.

Also, like most MBA programs in Europe, the average age at IMD is around 31, making it a fantastic choice for those who might find themselves a wee bit on the old side for your traditional US MBA.

The How – Tips for Getting In

So, what sort of person makes the cut at IMD?

First of all, you need to FIT. When you apply, make sure you show that you are aware of just how different the school is. 90 students per year as opposed to 1000 in INSEAD!!! They may both be “European MBA programs” but they are very, very different. So why is that the right place for you? SHOW THEM.

Second, IMD looks for people with vast industry experience, especially proven managerial experience. Bonus points if you have/do work in Europe, and if that experience is for a big multinational company.

Finally, given the school’s prestige, the mean GMAT of IMD is surprisingly low for a top program – 676 – but that’s because IMD is looking for something a little different. They much prefer candidates with a rich work experience and so-so test scores than the opposite. So experience and uniqueness are key.

Bottom Line

IMD is a fantastic school, with a fantastic reputation… and the post-grad salaries to go with it. But it is very unique, and not necessarily for every candidate. So before you apply, think about how IMD’s very specific characteristics fit in with your dreams and goals…and make sure those things are front and center when you submit that application.

The Insider’s Guide to HEC