Hello everyone!

I am Hirohisa IIJIMA, one of the five Japanese 17Ds starting INSEAD’s MBA program from its Asia campus. I am going to be a Singy lifer (staying in Singapore for the whole of the program), unlike two thirds of my classmates who wish to transfer campus at a certain point of the year. Like me in the past, you might think that every student has to transfer campus to benefit from the school’s multiple cultures and opportunities, but some still decide to stay at one campus, for example because of their families, job search in the Asian/European region, or just because they love the tropical island! Especially if you have kids, you might find it logistically difficult to move between Singapore and France.

In any case, please do not feel disappointed even if your situation does not allow you to change campus: I have stayed at each campus for three weeks so far and I can confidently say that both are excellent places to live in, and each has a variety of its own advantages. Also, please remember that even if you can’t change campus, you still have the opportunity to participate in one-week study treks which are typically part of the electives and organized between periods. These treks could take you to different destinations such as Russia, Israel, India, or UAE (different countries depending on the year) as part of the school’s curriculum, and they are another great way to experience INSEAD’s multi-culture and wide network.

Before writing about Orientation Week, I would first like to talk a bit about my motivation to do an MBA program, as part of my commitment to all the readers of this blog as well as my close friends and family.

Firstly, I would definitely say that I came here to equip myself with well-rounded business intelligence that is necessary to have as a global business leader. Leadership is beautiful because it has the power to change our own and our neighbors’ lives. With splendid leadership, we can dramatically transform a collapsed team into an efficient, organized one. My career goal is to become a strong, helpful, inspiring leader and I am here at INSEAD to learn all the business knowledge that is necessary to make good judgements as a leader. Consequently, I would definitely say that my priority for the year ahead is study!!

Secondly, I would love to make friends from all over the world. As I have never lived in other countries before I came to INSEAD, I did not have much opportunity in the past to meet and make many friends across the world (and industries!). I believe that a diversified network brings me brand new ideas, unexpected innovations, avoidance of stagnation, and uncountable benefits. Hence, I wish to participate in as many social events as possible and build up a wide network inside and outside of the school.

Last but not least, over the period of one year, I would like to change myself: I am a weak, biased, narrow-minded person. By breaking my comfort zones, I will break out of my old, small shell and become a more big-hearted gentleman. To accomplish this, I will participate in activities that I would not consider if I had not been to INSEAD. For instance, I would like to join several volunteer activities, or start new sports, or explore Asian countries with friends or I may join some business contests – anything that widens my world. Most importantly, INSEAD and its people offer and help us find fields where we can achieve these goals.

I would like to use the next section of my post to tell you about Orientation Week, which in our case spanned from Jan 5 to Jan 16. In the first week, we had a campus tour, laptop configuration, several tests, Career Development events, Welcome from the Dean and Alumni, and other general matters. We got to know the basics about living and studying at INSEAD, and also started to prepare for our future career search.

In the second week, we had several kick-off classes and a teambuilding activity called “SPLASH”. SPLASH was definitely a meaningful event which allowed us to participate in volunteer work for a kindergarten in the Northern area of the island. We spent a whole day building things like chairs, gazebos and boxes, and painted walls for the children. Such an extraordinary “classroom” was certainly a good way to start bonding with our 70 classmates.

Another impressive lecture for me from the second week was called “Developing Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness”: here a Professor introduced us to  concepts on how to become a global leader and how to work across cultures. This struck me in particular since my primary goal at INSEAD is, again, to obtain the skills and mindset to become a splendid global leader. The Professor taught us the attitudes that will allow us to make the most of INSEAD’s renowned leadership curriculum. Other classes, such as General Management, Business Ethics, as well as the Career Development events, were very insightful too and again taught us how to effectively spend our MBA year.

Although only a few weeks have passed since the program started on January 5, I have already learned and experienced so many things that I would not have encountered but for INSEAD. I am really excited about starting our Period 1 (the first two months) in the coming few days and developing myself by exploring challenges.

I am very pleased to have a chance to share my INSEAD story with numerous readers of this blog including my beloved people! One of the takeaways from the aforementioned Leadership class was that “an inspiring leader is a story teller” and that in order to make your story more impactul, you could end with a reference to literature. Following this idea, I am quoting a word by George Bernard Shaw, my favorite play writer, to close my first posting:

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.