When I first thought of doing an MBA, one of the first people I spoke to was a friend from the class of ’15D at INSEAD. She was so excited that I had decided to pursue an MBA and she instantly said: “you need to go to INSEAD, you’re going to love it!” She added: “but, you need to know what you want; it seems to me that you still don’t know why you would go for an MBA…”
She was totally right.
In the beginning, I wanted an intense self-knowledge experience that would stir my professional and personal life. At the time, to be very honest, I was thinking: INSEAD? France? For the fourth time? Of course not! Going to France wouldn’t be an intense move in my life as I had already lived there three times before (at the time I wasn’t aware of the possibility to start in Singapore). I was very confident that my MBA would be pursued in the US.
My friend was also right in that I didn’t know exactly what school I should go to. The “fit” for the school is super important, especially since if you don’t bond to the school’s vibe, mood or mission, you won’t connect enough, so the experience cannot be truly transforming. For me, studying solely for the purpose of learning hard skills is an exercise that anyone can do from home. You don’t need to move from your house for 1 or 2 years of your life to learn finance, marketing or corporate strategy. The decision to pursue an MBA abroad should come from the fact that you want to connect with people who can inspire you for much more than technical skills. So, to find out which school was worth my time, I started searching for information online. I also went to several information sessions in my town.
At those info-sessions, you meet school staff and alumni, people with whom, if you go to that school, you may end up being connected to FOREVER. Through these meetings you can get to observe the way alumni speak about the school and interact with each other. I can say that from those meetings I instantly removed many well-known schools from my list, because I simply could not relate to those people, nor did I want to be like them. In almost every meeting I met very intelligent people, but unfortunately, most of them were very stagey and categorical. People were doing what they were supposed to do: advertising their schools. The only exception was the info-session of INSEAD.
Through alumni speeches I could see a link between them. There was a common feeling among their different experiences: there was vibrancy to their talk. I had the feeling that they really wanted to share their experiences, knowledge and time with those that could have same values. It was above all, a very genuine and sincere reunion. And sure, there was also a presentation from a Brazilian entrepreneur that came to INSEAD before starting his company, a leader on marketplace clothes in Brazil. So the event was about success and passion, and it has completely changed my choice. From that moment, INSEAD, definitely, got into my list.
Now, having arrived on campus, I can feel all that enthusiasm that captivated me in the info- session again, and I can understand it better too: an impressive diversity of people from 74 nationalities curious by each other and eager to learn by sharing. At INSEAD, there isn’t any dominant nationality which obliges you to very quickly distinguish to accept and engage with diversity. When a certain culture dominates the environment, and even if this culture accepts having different people around, by being the dominant group they don’t need to engage with others. Usually, the minority groups capture the culture of the dominant group. Here at INSEAD, as there is no main ethnicity, you are forced to engage with other cultures and truly try to understand and interact with differences. It is a fundamental experience for those who are looking to work on a worldwide environment, for those that really want to go global in their professional space and of course, for those who want to innovate, as innovation always comes from new connections. This may look subtle, but it is important for the world to evolve equally and leverage growth from larger possibilities. The more we can embrace this idea and replicate it in other institutions, the better our business environment can become.
Another captivating characteristic of the INSEAD environment are the smiles. Everybody appears to be smiling, which makes it easy to ask for help, to learn, or even to have a quick coffee-chat. In my opinion, this is also the consequence of several other aspects including diversity and family presence, as many students bring their families during studies. And I guarantee that they also keep us happier and smiling.
A third aspect very alive since the first instance in class is the teaching-smart style. In class we interact all the time: it’s impossible to get bored because professors don’t let anyone sleep. Lecturers, here, are masters in grabbing our attention by curiosity, challenging questions, intriguing and funny dynamics among students and themselves.
Everyone should have the opportunity to come here and understand that the environment created by INSEAD is everything that any founder, owner, entrepreneur, executive and manager would want to have: a group with a diversified skilled people and with the same goal of building through sharing, a group with a hunger for achievements combined with a sense of collaborative work and a mission to work for the good. Now that I am here, I have no doubt that I have chosen the best business school to be trained as a global leader and I will do my best to share as much as I can from this experience from now until the rest of my life.