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News@Ivey · Kristen Kovacs

Mindfulness session teaches students to play it cool when the pressure rises

Mar 26, 2024

CEMS students at Port Stanley Beach

CEMS students at Port Stanley Beach

Submerging yourself into icy water is a seemingly impossible challenge – until you take the plunge. In her blog below, Kristen Kovacs, Associate Director of Experiential Learning and CEMS Corporate Relations Manager at Ivey, shares how CEMS Exchange students at Ivey recently learned how cold-plunging relates to leadership during their CEMS Skills Seminar with Dr. Ellen Choi, PhD ’17.

Ivey’s visiting CEMS Masters in International Management exchange students learned a chilly lesson on resilience under pressure during a recent session on mindfulness led by Dr. Ellen Choi, PhD ’17.

Part of the CEMS Skills Seminar, the session explored a research-based, mindfulness approach to resilience and leadership in contexts that are volatile, uncertain, and ambiguous.

The students began the seminar in the classroom where they delved into topics including the power of self-awareness and self-regulation, psychological safety and authentic vulnerability, as well as self-compassion and experiencing discomfort. Next, they travelled to Port Stanley Beach where they participate in a cold-exposure experience. This activity helped them to explore their fight/flight/freeze response and apply the mindfulness techniques they learned during the classroom session.

Choi says her research shows practising mindfulness can lead to more positive outcomes and resilience during stressful situations.

CEMS students participating in mindfulness session

What the students had to say

The combination of in-class learning and preparation for the dip were spot on, being able to learn more about oneself, share these learnings with friends and colleagues, and then ‘steep’ these thoughts in freezing water was definitely a memorable experience.”
– Flavio Panci, Stockholm School of Economics
Really enjoyed the experience we had. It was the first time for me and, honestly, while standing on the beach I thought I would not be able to handle the cold water. Finally, when we got into the water as a group I really felt empowered and was finally able to do it.”
– Gauthier Donze, HEC Paris

CEMS students in the water