Basil Alrayes, IMBA student

Some weeks back the April 2013 intake of the International MBA started. Basil Alrayes from Saudi Arabia talks about his first impressions and especially his experiences during the LAUNCH week.

Last week I participated in the LAUNCH program, which consisted of a week full of activities designed to prepare the students for the upcoming year. I have only two words to describe my experience: surprising and inspiring.

It was nothing like a typical MBA class. There was no talk of finance or accounting (that, for sure, will come.) Instead, the classes were about teambuilding, working in diverse environments, communication, sports, and even acting!

I had several favorite classes, one of them was “The Pursuit of Happiness” delivered by Adam Pervez, an IMBA alumnus who graduated in 2009. After his graduation, Adam worked in two very demanding and high paying jobs in Copenhagen and in Dubai until he realized that, in spite of the excellent financial incentives, he was not happy. As a result, he left his job and started traveling around the world and searching for happiness. He showed us pictures of his travels to India, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, and many other countries. His story was quite interesting and very relevant to us, since many of us wish to improve or switch careers. It made us question the meaning of success and what we really want and although I have a different view from Adam’s, I admired his courage in doing what he wanted. I also realized that we worry too much!

Another favorite session was “Teambuilding,” delivered by a professional basketball player. We took the session in a gym and our teams were given goals to achieve with time limits. As we practiced, the lessons became clearer. First, the more you practice the better you get, as a team. And second, the whole team improves even if not all team members improve. Our results were an eye-opener for me, as they demonstrated that a team generally does better than its individual members. To build a strong team, you do not marginalize the underperforming members; instead you practice more as a team. That was my conclusion.

The classes I mentioned are just examples, as each class had a lesson to learn and a question to think about. I particularly appreciated the fact that our instructors came from different professional backgrounds. We had an architect, an actor, a professional mountaineer, and an athlete, which made our experience more diverse and richer. I also loved the intellectual nature of the discussions. We were not learning and applying tools, instead we were learning a new way of thinking.