During the process of choosing an MBA, networking and the relevance of the school in our after-MBA target region are always taken into account. However, no matter how much research we do, there are always some activities, carried out by the school or students, that are relevant to increase the school presence in the region that we have never heard about. For me, this was the case for the Latin America MBA Career Fair. This is a very interesting initiative because it is, in fact, organized by INSEAD students in conjunction with MBA Candidates from IESE and London Business School. The fair was created three year ago and was designed to happen in such a way that it occurred at a different school campus each year using a rotation method.
The first time I came across the fair website was through a completely random online search back in March this year. A few days later I spoke to Michael Schott, about the site I had discovered. He mentioned that Juan Bustos and him had also seen the site and were also interested in running the Latin America Club at INSEAD and the Fair. Michael later became our treasurer for the fair and Juan Bustos handled the logistics and marketing for the fair. I immediately put myself forward to help in the organization team with the preparations for the fair. At that time no one was sure about what to do or how to distribute the roles amongst ourselves. Yet, we were truly amazed not only for the fact we were going to organize a relevant fair for Latin America on our campus, but also for organizing it with students from IESE and LBS.
In April, I moved to Singapore and we started to coordinate the tasks to host the fair with our counterparts at IESE and LBS. We all believed that working in a team spanning two continents should not be a problem for students of TOP global MBAs such as INSEAD, IESE and LBS – in fact it was not until summer, when we had people in our team in three continents, America, Europe and Asia, that we were tested by the time zone challenge. Students from both schools IESE and LBS were in the previous edition of the fair, and their support to organize and distribute the tasks among the 2015 team was very helpful. At INSEAD, we had immense support from Vimi Emraz who works in the career development centre supporting students’ initiatives and who also joined the fair in the previous year at London Business School.
The teams were running different tasks simultaneously, from setting up interview rooms to inviting professor Felipe Monteiro to give an opening speech to aligning other logistical details. The biggest challenge we were to face, however, was the process of securing companies to be present in the fair. While we had data and access – either through personal contacts or the schools’ relationships – to leading companies interested in Latin America, the current region’s landscape prevented many companies from coming to the fair. To make matters worse, even a few companies that had already confirmed to come, had to apologize and inform that they would not be able to come anymore.
The teams experienced a peak of adrenaline just 4 weeks before the event. Within a few days more than 30% of the companies that had already confirmed, suddenly told us that they were not coming anymore. We even had to have emergency meetings with students from the three schools, where we decided to continue to organize the fair. From that point on until the day we held the fair, the number of new companies more than doubled. To keep it exciting, some of the companies were cancelling or confirming their presence at the fair until as late as two days before the event.
Despite all the turmoil, the fair went smoothly. Dozens of students travelled to Fontainebleau from London and Barcelona, respectively the home campuses of LBS and IESE. Important companies came to the fair from many places, from Brazil to Singapore. We were happy to even welcome a BRF representative coming all the way from Singapore. We invited other INSEAD students to join the organization committee to specifically support the companies with their needs during the event, which they did brilliantly. Companies’ presentations were very well attended and the interaction with companies and students happened constructively. And above all, we had loads of fun, as usual!
Please feel free to visit the fair website, to know more about the fair, the team and so on: http://www.latamcareerfair.com/