Lac Leman, Mountains, Lausanne

Ludovic ChoppinA former resident of Paris and now the Geneva Chapter President, Ludovic Choppin, MBA 12D, still gets a thrill driving to work with a view of the Alps, or being able to jog along the lake and ski in the nearby mountains most weekends. Here he provides tips about the best places for coffee and wine in Lausanne, insight into the region’s startup scene and a recent Swiss Alumni event that left a lasting impression. Besides being a active Alumni community member, he is a business developer, specialized in startup companies. Ludovic settled in Lausanne in 2013 when his partner, Magali Larangot, MBA12D, acquired Soleil Vie, a brand focused on nutrition and gluten free products.

This article is the first in a series entitled City INSIDER Views produced by the INSEAD Alumni Association of Switzerland.

Most Novel Alumni Association Event

The Geneva chapter hosted a dozen business events in recent months and they were all great, but the one that touched me the most was the visit to the ICRC with a presentation by its General Director, Yves Daccord, especially in view of the recent developments in France.

It was a profound contrast being in Geneva but hearing details about what it is like to work in the world’s most dangerous countries. It was surprising too to learn that Twitter is an essential tool for the Red Cross, used to communicate with local groups to negotiate safe access to hotspots and pass through checkpoints. At the same time, Daccord cautioned that technology has its limits. Despite the Internet and all of today’s social media and search technologies, the ICRC did not see the Arab Spring movement coming. It was an unexpected event.

Startup Vibe in Lausanne

The nearby presence of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) makes Lausanne more of a hub for entrepreneurship than Geneva. There is the right mix of incubators, networking events, corporates, and research activity. If I had to highlight one group it would be the A3 Angels, associated with the EPFL, which has the kind of mentoring programme that they have at MIT (Cambridge, Massachusetts).

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Being an active volunteer keeps the INSEAD spirit alive.[/pullquote]

Why Volunteer?

Being an active volunteer keeps the INSEAD spirit alive. I liked my experience at INSEAD so the Alumni Association helps to maintain relationships after graduating, and to make new friends, especially when you move to a new country.

On the INSEAD Experience

One word: diversity. It’s a very real experience and a case where the corporate image of a business school really does match reality. Fully half of the MBA experience is done in a group, working on classroom projects together for two terms. My group had four other nationalities besides mine which is French (Canadian, Russian, Singaporean and Lebanese). It was challenging. A good deal of the time was spent stabilizing the group dynamic. It’s tremendously enriching learning how to work with other cultures, and even if you end up working in a company that is very local, you will always have different personalities within the organization, and that’s where the group-work experience really pays off.

Best place for coffee

Café de Grancy

Av. du Rond-Point 1, 1006 Lausanne

Located about 200 metres from the train station, this place has a young vibrant atmosphere. It’s always busy, so it’s more suitable for informal meetings.

Best for wine

Yatus Œnothèque & Winebar

Rue du Petit Chêne 11, 1003 Lausanne

It has a young crowd, a nice design and a good list. It’s not too expensive, although compared to France it is.

Best for place for business meetings

SBB Businesspoint

Geneva, Cornavin

This is a new venue located at the main train station in Geneva, available for CHF 100/hr. We used it for a recent annual general meeting. It is convenient for commuters, fully equipped for presentations and a great value for money. Any of the grand hotels in the region are excellent for quiet discussions. The Lausanne Palace is one that INSEADers have used for get-togethers.