Metamorphosis Underway

After almost 3 months of job hunting, course cramming, and networking-like-my-life depends on it (it does!), I see green shoots to a more structured mind, a broader hustling network, and a business gun-belt filled with powerful weapons. Now, I just need to get my fat ass in gear and close a job deal. Oh, it’s so stressful…

Unfortunately, I did not survive the consulting house-of-horrors. While I was impressed with the sheer number of interviews my classmates obtained (great job….best friends), I failed to convince any firms of my entrepreneur-turned-business guru value. Still, supposedly, internships are more difficult to obtain than full-time offers and I do have a grisly, tenacious streak (think of Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber-“So, you’re telling me there’s a chance!”). In fact, most of my entrepreneurial successes were built around brushing off the first 100 no’s. So, I’m recalibrating, seeking Zen, and renewing my focus. With a calm mind, I shall move forward.

But back to metamorphology, INSEAD is paying off big time for me. My initial pre-MBA goals were to build up my network in Asia, advance my understanding of important business concepts, and re-brand myself away from frantic deal-making entrepreneur to wise corporate and strategy “badass”. I already feel like I have gained a foothold towards reaching these heights. In discussions with my former partner at my last (and still alive) venture, I can see how the strategic frameworks I’ve studied: Blue, Green, Brown, and Yellow Oceans, are helping me view the firm’s problems through the “competitively advantageous Harry Potter’s 5 Magic Forces ” business lens. Eureka! Business knowledge doth flow-eth from my mind. In reality, I do think the quantitative and communication tools are, indeed, very valuable despite our cumbersome handling and not-so-“out-of-the-box” application. Unfortunately, every time I hear someone say “Blue Ocean” in class now though, I pass a kidney stone. What’s the value proposition to this post for the key strategic stakeholder’s takeaway you might ask? I’ll email you the answer and deliverables in a cash cow matrix later…..Peace.

Moving at the speed of INSEAD

Only eight weeks have passed since we first stepped foot onto INSEAD’s Singapore campus, wide-eyed and over-eager, but already it feels light years away.  Orientation week gave us a taste of what the rest of the year would be like. Each day was packed with presentations, events and social activities. We fought to handle the flood of information breaking over us. We tried hard to memorize our classmates’ names and backgrounds. But by the end of the week we were positively exhausted, both mentally and physically.

Then P1 came and went in a heartbeat. While in the beginning it still seemed feasible to manage the course load with all the student activities, career events and parties, it soon became evident that the “magical triangle” of sleep, studies and social life is indeed elusive. So we simply try to squeeze in as much as possible into the meager 24 hours the day holds (and up the coffee intake). This leads to very busy schedules and often times, feeling like a hamster running in a wheel, forever trying to catch up with time.

Now we’re already halfway through P2, fretting over internship applications and fantasizing about the next break. The pace at INSEAD is breathtaking and leaves you feeling like you can never accomplish everything you set out to do. However, it is also exhilarating because it forces you to set clear priorities and stretch yourself to the maximum. And once you reach the limit, you realize it’s actually not the end and that you are capable of more than you ever thought possible. So you just take a deep breath and continue to move forward at the speed of INSEAD…

Me, myself and I…discovering identity at INSEAD – part 1


“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” 
― Aristotle

Less than 100 days left of INSEAD. Reality is kicking in. Recruiters are milling all over campus. Suits and ties, groomed hair and go-getter heels have replaced the relaxed student attire of jeans and a t-shirt. All of a sudden I discover a new side to my classmates, another facet of their identities.

Identity. Such a powerful, yet very ambiguous, word. Our identity was created at birth, and has since that day been with us, wherever we go. 

Still, when I think about my identity, it has a sense of unfamiliarity to it, like something unknown yet to be discovered. 

Not sure if there is such a thing as the right time to discover yourself, but as we are running out of time at INSEAD, faced with those difficult questions about where we want to live, what job we would like and what makes us happy has at least prompted me to look inside for a guiding compass, a way to navigate this myriad of opportunities and choices. 

What if knowing my identity and myself can shape the internal compass? If so, who am I? 

A few years ago I went through a major life change that forced to start exploring these aspects of myself, and it was probably one of the hardest, yet the most rewarding, experiences I have ever had.

As I have come to learn, there are two main parts of ones identity; the external and the internal.

Until a few years ago, the only way I used to see and describe myself was through my external identity. As I later came to realise, I meant I had left a significant part of who I was at the kitchen table every morning.

The external identity is composed of objective definitions like gender, nationality, work, hobbies and relationship status.

Is this me?

For a long time I was Louise, the blonde, Swedish banker living in London, who spent her weekends travelling to new places or in the CrossFit gym. It was easy to define myself that way; I always knew how to introduce myself in a party or a business meeting. But as I soon came to realise, this was only half of the story of me.

Deep inside I felt that something was missing. I was always busy doing things, but yet not fulfilled. Because of the company culture and nature of my work, I fronted a composed façade and hid the bubbly, energetic and emotional sides of me.

At the time I didn’t understand that I had locked up aspects of myself behind bars. I was puzzled as to why my ability to be creative was diminishing and why I constantly felt fatigued. It is called identity-depletion. 

In addition to the lack of stamina, a little inner voice had awoken in my head, and I couldn’t ignore it. 

It told me to go and change the world and leave a legacy. I suddenly understood knew that my career as a banker was never going to get me there. It was an excruciating, but at the same time a revealing aha-moment. 

I knew I had to break free.

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P1 to P2

Hello!

I finished exams, visited my special lady-friend in Shanghai (fiancée), started P2 classes, and attended some of the world’s top consulting companies’ campus presentations all in the space of a few weeks!

P1 was great. P2 looks even more awesome!

P1 takeaways:

•             I will find a job…patience is a virtue. My P1 internship  hustling has started to pay off, so I need to relax and enjoy the process.

•             I can’t do everything….INSEAD has a truly overwhelming number of opportunities, events, and attractions. I have a post-MBA strategy and I need to stick to it. While I would love to attend start-up presentations or every industry networking event, I have realized I need to commit to activities strategically.

P2 Goals:

•             Stay on top of course work

•             Hustle every company possible for a summer internship

•             Branch out from my social circle.

The start of P2 is both exciting and intense. With 6 classes instead of 5, the course load has increased and now all non-sponsored students need to hustle for jobs. There are corporate presentations and networking events literally every day. I’ve been sleeping in my suit and my 30 second “why Trey House” pitch is improving exponentially.

With 7 weeks to go until finals, we shall see if I am as upbeat after I endure this punishing P2. I’m already looking forward to a Thailand or Philippines break between P2 and P3.

A blue fish

Did you ever have the sensation of being at the right place yet feeling like an outsider? Or just that you try to connect with others and yet you can’t?

I like to call it the Blue Fish Dilemma; you are in the water yet you feel overwhelmed with the sea of other fish that all look the same but not like you.

Well starting an MBA is a bit the same: you know where you are going, but you are apprehensive to start new relationships from zero.

First week you introduce yourself to other fishes that you just met, you re-introduce yourself a couple of times (because let’s face it you can’t remember all 200 names). Then you find similarities with others, you try to connect and find a common ground.

Second week you are put in a group of 4 or 5 other fish, and you find out that you’ll share the same bowl for the coming 4 months. You play nice, and try to be yourself while in awe and impressed of others. You may feel like an outsider because all the others are so brilliant. And before you know it, 2 months have passed by and all you want is for the time to stand still.

Then you realise one important thing: you are in a sea where no fish is similar to another. Everyone is different; everyone has qualities and development areas. And this is the beauty of the INSEAD MBA program: Others will carry you up, no one will let you sink to the bottom and at some point you’ll do the same for someone else.

So what type of fish are you?

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