Sonal is an MBA from IMD, Switzerland (Class of 2008). After his MBA, he joined Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Netherlands as Global Head – Strategy & Business Development for Business Group Personal Care ($1.8bn business group) . Currently, he is the Marketing Director, Middle East Africa, Turkey and International Customers for Business Group Coffee, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Netherlands.
1. What was your pre-MBA profile?
I had worked for 6 years in Consumer Banking with ICICI Bank & GE Capital in India & SE Asia.
2.Why did you decide to do an MBA?
My motivations to do an MBA at IMD, Lausanne (Switzerland) were primarily to:
• To understand the nuances of working in an international business environment.
• To build on learning’s from my education in India and on my job and harmonise them with international marketing and global business practices.
• To enhance my abilities of working in cross cultural teams, make new friends, establish international networking and develop abilities to work globally.
• And most importantly, to enhance my market value.
3. Do you think your choice of B school has been proved correct? Given my age, previous work experiences and my plans for the future I think IMD, Lausanne was absolutely the right choice & custom fit to my expectations.
4. What are the most important things you learned during the MBA?
• I learnt much from all my international colleagues. Being a small class size we were a close-knit team and hence our interactions were far closer and frequent than in other business schools. I learnt a lot from my colleagues with regards to their culture, how things are done in their home countries, their experiences and their way of thinking. It has helped me to adapt to a more open and global environment.
• I learnt to bring fresh thinking to business problems.
• There was greater emphasis on independent working and on developing entrepreneurial skills
5. Has the B school experience helped mold your personality?
Most certainly, the IMD experience has helped broaden my outlook in all its dimensions. It has enabled me to be able to operate in the global business environment with greater knowledge and confidence.
6. Where did you do your MBA internship?
How hard was it to get the internship? Did you get adequate assistance from your B school? At IMD, Lausanne there is no MBA internship. Instead we do an International Consulting Project. I did my Consulting Project with a mid-size Danish firm called Dantherm Filtration assisting them on setting a framework for Business Partner Selection.
7. If you are asked to pick the 3 best things about your B school, what would those be?
• The small class size of ninety students. This coupled with the mix of international students in terms of previous work experience, age profile, qualifications and countries of origin, give the most varied and holistic cross cultural experience to all the students.
• The highly innovative course content and extremely rigorous course structure.
• The Swiss countryside and environment.
8. What will be your advice to MBA aspirants targeting your B school?
An excellent B-School, you will gain immensely from School academics and interactions both inside and outside the classroom.However, be prepared for an extremely rigorous school curriculum. Some describe it as a ‘boot camp’.
9. And finally, given the current economic slowdown, is this the right time to embark on an MBA programme?
There is no right or the wrong time. The desire to do an MBA must flow from your quest for knowledge, to review your learning bottom line and to recharge yourself in an academic environment with fellow students. And not the least there will always be opportunities for the promising.