I’ve just finished the last final of my core courses. One of my classmates said something that stuck with me as we were about to start the test: “This is probably the last test in our lives that we’ll ever have to take.” Since most electives involve projects or group work rather than true tests, I believe he is correct.
Those words hung with me for the afternoon as I sentimentally reviewed the past 6 months in my head. Looking back, it seems insane that we’re already half-way through our journey here at INSEAD. It feels like it was yesterday that we were all meeting each other for the first time, dancing in a tropical storm for New Year’s eve on Sentosa beach prior to classes starting. And yet, everyone is now leaving Singapore (most for good) and heading off to internships, travel, or independent study projects for the summer. If any prospective or incoming students are reading this, I implore you to write down your thoughts and take as many pictures as possible during your time at INSEAD. Every time I scroll through old pictures on my phone I am reminded of an amazing trip/class experience/night out by the pictures on my phone, all memories that might’ve been lost had they not been preserved in my phone’s memory. However, that’s not what this post is about. Rather, as the title implies, I want to talk about pivoting.
In start-up terms, pivoting is all about changing the direction or product of your company. To use a fairly tired analogy, most of us here at INSEAD are pivoting as well. We all left good jobs in cool cities to come here and pivot our careers in one way or another. I myself wanted to do something outside of finance and like most of my classmates, wanted to jump into consulting. Most importantly, I wanted to try and get back to the US for the summer so I could spend some time with my wife, who has been amazing with my crazy lifestyle and the complete lack of knowledge in where I’ll be living or working at any given point in time. Just as the MBA itself is an example of a pivot, you could consider the actual program a series of Micro-pivots. When summer consulting roles didn’t work out, I decided to target tech (another area I’m interested in). When I realized how many roles there were available in Singapore, it became clear that I’d be spending my summer here, rather than back in the States. Even more surprisingly, I’ve found a passion for entrepreneurship, something I had no interest in pursuing prior to my beginning the program. However, it’s amazing what one amazing class and inspiring professor can do to change your mind about what you really want from INSEAD and your life after this fairy tale year off.
So what’s the point I am trying to make? I guess my advice to anyone thinking about attending or committed to attending business school is to always stay open to pivoting. Even if you are 99% sure you know why you are going to school and what type of job you are targeting after graduation, you should always be open to new experiences. Take classes that sound difficult, try things that you wouldn’t normally try, and most importantly, make yourself uncomfortable! As the awesome Professor Calmon said in our entrepreneurship class “Make INSEAD work for you, not the other way around.” This summer is all about making INSEAD work for me, and I hope to do so successfully. Next time I check in, I’ll be in the woods of Fontainebleau dear reader!
Until next time,