I opened my groggy protesting eyes slowly. The Mac on the bedside table demanded attention—my application essays for INSEAD had all of 3 lines written so far!
Ringing a bell for a morning Milo, I stretched to get my laptop. It was out of reach; just a bit more I thought, stretching further before a shot of pain in the neck made me recoil with a yelp. The attendant came rushing, and handed me the laptop shaking her head in disapproval. She could not comprehend my laptop addiction, just days out of a brain surgery recovering in the Neurosurgery ward.
There I sat, looking like a cross between Frankenstein and a virtual reality gamer – with a bandaged head, and wires running into gadgets – typing furiously to finish my essays in time. When and why did the INSEAD application become such a priority for me? Almost unbelievable, considering I had declared it a “waste of time and money” only 3 years ago when my husband was about to join his INSEAD MBA.
However, after seeing INSEAD as a partner, it had dented and deflated most misconceptions I had of an MBA degree…. and I had become an INSEAD convert.
My MBA myth #1: MBA can’t add much to an already successful career, if one enjoys his/her work and is already good at it. Work experience trumps academics.
Surrounded by bankers in Singapore, I got excited on meeting a ‘Googler’ at an INSEAD barbecue, though in just a curious manner towards someone in a “cool” company. It remains etched in my mind how excitedly she spoke of her role before. Then surprisingly, she spoke about going back to perform the same role better with lessons from INSEAD. She might not know it, but that 11D Googler would be my first inspiration to think differently of what an MBA can provide to an already good career.
My MBA myth #2: Diversity is just a marketing gimmick, so what if I know diverse people…
80 Nationalities – that’s how many countries get represented typically in an INSEAD batch. Wow! But wait – what does this really mean, other than getting excellent travel advise. The INSEAD events I attended and friends I made since 2011 has smashed this ball out of the park. Once at a party, I got to discussing how a private wealth manager in Switzerland got his first client and 10 minutes later, how an Indian-born banker made Japanese his forte while working in Tokyo. I could see how INSEAD could enhance my knowledge of the world in ways inaccessible to me at work.
My MBA myth #3: INSEAD is tough work and might not be worthwhile for everyone.
Ok, this belief was not entirely dispelled as I still expect it to be tough, but I am now convinced it will be worth it. After speaking to at least 50 INSEAD-ers, I am still searching for that one person who might even remotely suggest that “The INSEAD year disappointed me”.
On hearing I was a partner, people often say, “Ah, you already know it all”. Personally, I am not so sure. The diversity of INSEAD will still overwhelm me on days. FOMO (fear of missing out) will keep me awake on occasions, and deciding whether to join a consultancy, a bank, or the industry will probably still tempt me to apply to all the available jobs in all sectors. What I am sure of is that I want to get my share of the INSEAD experience. Thankfully, hastily written essays from the hospital bed worked and I am in!
I have felt this trepidation of a life change before when I came to Singapore on a scholarship at the age of 15. I came in blind—a kid who couldn’t even find Singapore on the map! This time is slightly different. I am 14 years old in the lion city with a good career and marriage. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that I am stepping into another uniquely incredible life-changing journey.
Here’s to INSEAD 15J—what a year it is going to be!