Exploring Swiss Business Excellence: A Sloan Graduate’s Global Experience Reflections from Zurich

The Global Experience is a remarkable opportunity for students to broaden their perspectives and expand their international networks and outlooks. Our Sloan 2023 graduate, Gaurav Deolalkar, recently had a chance to participate in the Zurich GE. The project helped him analyse different business approaches and cultures within a global environment.

Overall, Gaurav had a fascinating journey exploring the secrets of success of small and medium Swiss enterprises and discovering what makes them unique and dominant within the market. By listening to Gaurav’s story, we can all agree that it was a valuable experience that has undoubtedly contributed to his professional and professional growth.

Could you please tell us a little about your background and your motivations before you started the programme?

    Before Sloan, I had the honour of leading new investments at IARC, Blackstone’s pioneering India distressed investment platform and captaining a dedicated team through successful investments and turnarounds across diverse sectors during the nascent phase in Indian distressed credit.

    Coming from humble beginnings, I have seen the hopeless struggle of many individuals denied access to basic banking. Early in my life, I understood the critical role of credit for economic enterprise and growth, ultimately shaping my career in finance and investing. While my experiences in India have been distinct and rewarding, I’m eager to expand my skill set by learning from diverse investment, rescue, and turnaround approaches practised in other global markets. This desire to elevate my capabilities to a global stage fuelled my pursuit of LSB Sloan.

    I believe Sloan embodies the perfect programme to achieve this aspiration. Its revered curriculum promises invaluable knowledge, while the world-renowned faculty and accomplished peers from diverse backgrounds offer enriching perspectives and collaborative opportunities. Moreover, London’s unique duality as a vibrant city and top financial centre provides an unparalleled backdrop for academic exploration and professional networking.

    What location did you choose, why, and who was part of your group?

      From a young age, Switzerland’s majestic mountains and crystal-clear lakes captured my imagination, even if only through glimpses of Bollywood movies. Beyond its natural beauty, Switzerland intrigued me professionally. This small nation, seemingly unassuming, nurtured world-renowned brands known for their exceptional quality and innovation. This intriguing duality – natural beauty alongside world-class business titans – sparked an unyielding curiosity to delve deeper into Switzerland’s cultural and commercial identity.

      The Zurich Global Experience meticulously crafted an unforgettable week. Diverse industry leaders shared their insights through engaging presentations, while immersive company visits offered firsthand glimpses into Swiss business acumen. I interacted and learned from fellow participants across various career stages – budding professionals, seasoned executives from various MBA programmes, and my esteemed Sloan classmates.

      My sincerest gratitude extends to LBS faculty Linda Yueh and Yiorgos Mylonadis for designing such a thought-provoking programme, and to the entire GE and programme office team whose meticulous execution ensured a seamless and enriching experience.

      Do you remember any key speakers that you met during the Global Experience?

        Yes, it feels like just yesterday! The week kicked off with Michael Schütze, MD of Allianz Global Investors, providing an overview of the Swiss fund management industry. A panel discussion with Tobias Baumgartner from Credit Suisse and Ryan Moore, ED of Pictet Wealth Management, offered interesting insights into Swiss culture and businesses, including questions about the “roller coaster ride” at CS. Victor Balli, a member of various boards of Swiss companies, provided valuable insights into what makes Switzerland stand out from other countries and contribute to its success.

        The organizational visit to Swiss Re was equally exciting, guided by LBS alumnus CEO Moses Ojeisekhoba and his team. They unravelled the company’s fascinating evolution, taking us back to a time when the UK and Germany were dominant players in the reinsurance industry. Marcel M. Samstag of SBB CFF FFS, the Swiss national railway, discussed the factors contributing to their exceptional punctuality and reliability.

        The Q&A sessions following the presentations and discussions were equally valuable. A particular highlight was the strong bond and approachability of the Zurich LBS alumni, who hosted a fabulous dinner for the entire group.

        What were the main takeaways from this 1-week project? What do you think you learnt, and can still apply nowadays?

          One key takeaway from my experience was the pervasive emphasis on culture in Swiss business. This deeply ingrained culture of excellence is evident throughout the entire ecosystem, from established companies to startups. Many businesses, large and small, began by focusing on a specific niche and relentlessly pursued excellence, achieving a global benchmark for quality that’s difficult to replicate. Yet, amidst this tradition, there’s also a strong receptiveness to change. This is visible in their support for startups and their own efforts to adapt to the evolving business landscape.

          On an individual level, this experience highlighted the vital role of culture in any organization. It acts as the invisible thread that binds everything together, ensuring long-term success even when founders are no longer at the helm.

          What advice would you have for upcoming Sloan candidates?

            Sloan represents a time of incredible personal and professional growth. It’s a chance to step back, reflect on your journey, and explore endless possibilities. Embracing new ideas and challenging yourself will unlock doors to opportunities you never imagined. Don’t shy away from stepping outside your comfort.

            Think back to this moment 20-25 years from now. Use this unique experience as a springboard to chart your course and pursue your aspirations with passion and purpose.

            For more experience about the learning experience on the Sloan programme, click here.

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