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INSEAD January 2015 Intake (Class of December 2015)

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The human side of the MBA [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jan 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: The human side of the MBA
I love my section. Everyday I feel lucky to be in a class full of fun, smart, energetic, ambitious, interesting and collaborative classmates. In P1, our section successfully pulled off several fun class pranks on our professors that scared (in a good way) some while amused others. My 70 classmates from my section come from over 40 countries. While I’ve always known that each person has a fascinating story, I really didn’t know just how incredible each one was until last week.

The new initiative, “Talk IN”, made me appreciate INSEAD and my classmates even more. It was inspired by the Stanford GSB MBA talk where students share intimate stories about themselves—beyond the standard questions of “where are you from,” “what did you do before,” and “what do you want to do after MBA?” It’s certainly not for everyone since it can be uncomfortable for those who are more private so only those brave enough to share their stories will volunteer to speak.

Not many classmates knew what to expect with the talk but in just 20 minutes, the first speaker stunned the class by exposing her past failures and insecurities. It was shocking for many of us to hear that our seemingly perfect classmate had such a tumultuous past. On the surface, she seems like the model MBA candidate: driven, intelligent, confident, international and accomplished. However her intimate stories exposed a different person – someone who also has fears and vulnerabilities. It took incredible courage to share a story like hers and it allowed our class to get to know her at a completely new level. With just one story, she broke down the superficial barriers by reminding us we are all human.

The next day, more students opened up and shared stories in our business ethics class. My fellow classmates shared stories about their experience with war, medical ethics, theft, etc. We soon concluded ethics is highly subjective depending on the culture we’re in. The in class discussion that our classmates shared were even more profound than those in our business ethics case studies and I learned so much just from listening to their stories. What surprised me most was that some classmates who appeared to be extremely positive actually had major hardships in their lives. Also some shy classmates I have never really talked to revealed touching stories that made me see them in a completely new way.

Coming to business school, students often forget that behind the facades of success, we’re all human. Initially, most students only show off their best sides; vulnerability, however, is sometimes even more powerful and genuine than a perfect façade. We are all human—we make mistakes; we yearn for belonging; and we want to feel loved.

For me, the biggest lesson of this week was never to judge others by my first impressions of them. I’ve met so many people in the past two months that it’s easy to make quick conclusions about a person. Talk IN reminded me to give each person a chance to share their story beyond their standard “MBA story.” Just listen. You’ll be surprised at how each person, especially those you least expect, has something remarkable to say.
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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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‘Predictably Irrational’ [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jan 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: ‘Predictably Irrational’
It’s 10:31pm. In 89 minutes time we will embrace the first day of P3. P1 and P2 passed in a flash, and to be frank, it is difficult to translate the experience into words adequately. Nonetheless, I feel somewhat compelled to share a few perception shifts I experienced in the past four months, and I hope that gives a glimpse of what INSEAD has to offer.

Managing Uncertainty

Prior to INSEAD I managed my life via apps, calendars and spreadsheets, and I was not bad at it. That sense of control I depended on was challenged at INSEAD, with an intense schedule and multiple events taking place at the same time. I tried to fight it by doing more spreadsheets, adding more calendar entries, and having less sleep, and soon I was burned out. Eventually I realised that the schedule was not meant to be exhausted. I have to choose between a company presentation and lunch, a weekend in Belgium and a finance tutorial, and a night of peaceful sleep and a halloween party. INSEAD taught me how to refine my judgements when faced with ambiguity, and how to adapt to a fast-pace environment with composure.

Managing Network

In the years of my working life, I interpreted the term ’networking’ as much as I needed to impress my direct report. I gave little thought to it in part due to my introversion and in part due to an occasionally negative connotation I felt towards the term. Coming to INSEAD changed my view. After attending over a dozen of networking events, reading, and discussing cases with fellow classmates, I came to realise that networking is not only about growing LinkedIn connections or making small talks at cocktail parties. It is about listening, asking well-thought questions and making people like you.

Managing Self-Development

I have a habit of writing goals down and revising them regularly to track progress, and I used to derive satisfaction from ticking off the list. A week ago I reflected on the goals I set for INSEAD. They were met, but the satisfaction was not there. It then dawned on me that I was doing it all wrong. GPAs and job titles are only validations to serve my insecurities; they do not provide real development. I experienced growth when I succeeded in cracking an unfamiliar subject, when I was able to dissect a case study from different angels, and when I shared a laugh with others whom I barely knew. INSEAD MBA has more than a job and a certificate to offer, and to grow from the experience one must be willing to let go of presumptions and maintain an open mind.

Just as Daniel Ariely pointed out in Predictably Irrational, our assumptions about making decisions based on rational thought may be flawed. I now truly come to appreciate my ‘irrationality’ and I look forward to more interesting turmoils in the coming months.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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INSEAD application reflections [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jan 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: INSEAD application reflections
Life is filled with precious moments that money can’t buy. Receiving INSEAD’s admission letter is one that I will treasure for a long time. To thank those who helped me, I want to share a few key lessons I learned throughout the process.

Be consistent and coherent.

From the outset I asked myself what my three most important values are and I used them to form the backbone of my essays. The coherence it created made it easier to incorporate experiences that best demonstrate those values. Attempting to showcase everything will only make your profile unmemorable, so be selective and tell a good story.

Focus on strengths.

One of the mental obstacles I had to overcome was to stop worrying about my weaknesses. During the initial stage of research much of my focus was on how to address the weaknesses in my profile, but soon I noticed others were doing much of the same thing. I came to realise that expanding on my strengths pays more dividends than trying to become the ‘perfect’ candidate, and I shifted my focus immediately . How you write gives away your confidence, so focus on what you are good at and really shine.

Persistence trumps talent.

I went to at least a dozen MBA related events, and they were filled with people of extraordinary intellect. Talent alone may get you lucky once, but to be consistently ‘lucky’ it takes persistence and work. I don’t have a high GMAT score or a flawless resume, and I started my application from scratch and learned from trial and error. If I can do it, so can you.

Overall, the pursuit of an MBA is a rewarding journey in itself regardless of the outcome. I guarantee that if you put your heart into it you will experience self-discovery along the way, and that in itself is well worth the effort.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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Takeoff [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2015, 21:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Takeoff
Dear Reader,

One week into arriving in Fontainebleau to tackle this one-year MBA, and I am already deep into activities, classes, and social events. It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve put my other ‘regular and normal’ life on the sidelines 6,000 kilometers away but it’s only been seven days.

The “Integration Week” has been the most intense, action-packed week I have ever lived! Three months ago, I received the thrilling phone call from my Admissions Officer announcing the great news. After having spoken to many alumni, but also in light of all the accepted students of my cohort reaching out to me, I had a feeling I was entering a world of its own. In fact, only a few hours after receiving the official letter from INSEAD, my future colleagues were already contacting me to get acquainted. I already felt I was right there on campus! Getting to meet everyone over the web, and through reading the different introductions of my peers on different social platforms, I instantly understood I had entered a special community. My future peers were a group of overachievers and self-motivated leaders in their respective fields. I realized I had stepped in a unique world, an organization where the sum of all individuals is so much stronger than each single person.

It is in this state of mind that I left snowy Montreal, in the first few days of the New Year. I thought I knew what an intense first week lay ahead me, but it turns out I had know idea.

We had 20 different conference speakers talk to us over the course of the week, all of them passionate at communicating with their audience and involved in the development of the students. The personnel and professors take great pride and interest in contributing to INSEAD, and their doors are always open. Furthermore, you’re encouraged to reach out to them for help or to expand on subjects of interest.

I must also talk about classmates: I wonder how it is that so many talented people as my peers ended up in the same establishment. In my former universities, at work and in different activities, I met lots of driven people, but never that many in the same environment. The students bond right away, whether it is with your 7 roommates in a 17th century country house, with the previous intake in student clubs, or with teammates from your project team. Each one is there to help you push your limits, get out of your comfort zone, and support you. This culture of empowerment among the student body comes from each MBA participant, but it is also fostered by INSEAD through policies such as non-grade disclosure and the explicit encouragement for all to have an open mind and an inclusive mindset. Having more than one hundred nationalities on campus helps promote this acceptance culture as well.

During a discussion on general management, I spoke up and mentioned that I was surprised to see as many people interested and curious about so many diverse subjects as I was, and that I could really associate with the student body unlike any other environment before. At this point, the professor addressed the 75 students and made us reflect: “Show of hands—how many of you came here at INSEAD to be led in the group?” I didn’t see one hand stick up. “You are all leaders here. You want to take charge and want to get results, and that’s why we want to help you develop this leadership, and that’s what makes you feel so at home here.” I take it that’s the environment I associate with here, and I’m pretty certain this self-enlightening journey is just getting started.

Not even one week after starting the program, and I fully realize the depth of what all the alumni are saying when mentioning their year at INSEAD changed their lives.

I am really excited at the prospect of starting other classes next week, and I’m looking forward to sharing different stories with you for the coming year, a year that I am sure will make me a transformed man.

Cheers,

Ed
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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We are never alone [#permalink]

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New post 15 Feb 2015, 21:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: We are never alone
A very pleasant call

Months ago, riding my bicycle down through Av. Faria Lima in São Paulo, I received a call from INSEAD. That was the yes-you’ve-been-approved call I’d been anxiously waiting for. Applying for a top business school is definitely not a solo job. Some help you to choose the school with the best fit. Others take you out when you are too GMATired. So, I immediately started calling, pinging, and messaging most of those who had helped me throughout that process. I knew the MBA would be a similar experience in terms of helping and being helped, but I didn’t know how powerful this virtuous cycle would be.

Image

 

Before the start of the program.

Moving to another place always is a lot of hard work, and moving to another country can potentially reach another more tedious level of work. Details and paper work can be very annoying. I was starting the preparation to tackle all of this bureaucracy and other details such as: where to live, renting a car, buying a bicycle, and so on. And suddenly I was added to an instant messaging group of other Brazilians who were also coming to the MBA. For a start, I didn’t know, and still don’t, how one of my classmates found my mobile number. I also couldn’t imagine how helpful the insights people were sharing there would be. The mutual help did not stop there. The more friends and colleagues knew I was about to come to INSEAD, the more help I received from my friends and  friends-of-friends. My move ended up going smoother than I could ever imagine.  Before the class, it happened that I even ended up being invited to a lunch prepared by Brazilians of the previous intake and to my very happy surprise they prepared FEIJOADA, which is definitely among the dishes I enjoy most.

Image

 

First Week and Splash Project.

During the first week at business school, I already came to meet the team I would be working with during the core part of the program. To foster camaraderie among the students while improving the life of the surrounding community, the school involved us in a Splash Project. The main activity is to build or improve a local facility that is used by the community.

 

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Before Splash Project
Later on the day

 

The following weeks and my MBA Group.

To me, the Organizational Behaviour class has been one of the best surprises in terms of academic and personal development here. The practical approaches we have in classes along with the quality of faculty have been making a huge difference in my overall experience. One of the practical jobs we had was to deliver a contract to the group, with our group name and logo on it. The debate we had to design this contract helped us to understand how five people from four continents could work better together. We had two more activities thereafter, giving us even more opportunities to improve the way we worked together. And why is it important?

As Steve Jobs once said:

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”

Until another post.

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They Call Me Mr. Start-Up [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2015, 19:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: They Call Me Mr. Start-Up
“Well, it’s not so bad! I think I’m even going to have time to read a couple of novels along the way.” These are exactly the thoughts I shared enthusiastically with my friends back home when I received the course schedule a few days before kick-off.

Then the first week hit, leaving me only a few hours of sleep and a whole lot of networking and career workshops. A bit of wishful thinking and I figured that with all the activity associated to the beginning of the degree, things would settle down very soon. The interesting part is, you can choose to have it pretty laid back (relatively) at INSEAD! But is this what you want? What your heart truly desires? To have a laid back year at INSEAD? You can launch your professional or personal life in any direction you wish! You can choose from a plethora of social or professional activities, workshops, or sports and outdoor clubs, without mentioning anything about the low cost flights all over Europe or Southeast Asia.

It is in those spirits that I didn’t hesitate to join an intensive 48-hour Entrepreneurial Startup Bootcamp that was offered by a finance angel. My heart quickly took over, and decided for me: I’m not here to have a relaxing year off work. Bring on the challenges, workshops and never-before-seen activities!

With 34 other MBA candidates, the weekend was launched Friday night at 7pm where we touched base with dynamic duo consisting of angel Charlie Mason, bootcamp director, and start-up artist INSEAD alum Alexander Argyros. We set off to get acquainted with the three crucial start-up ‘P’s: People, Proposition, and Pitch. Within 4 hours, 35 ideas were proposed by participants and we got in teams of two to four with an idea to cherish and pamper over the next 44 hours. Fully aware the end of the weekend culminated with pitching the proposition to seasoned professionals of the startup sector, I wondered how we were to come up with a decent presentation.

Image

Finance angel Charlie Mason in rapid-fire mode.

Starting Saturday at 9am sharp, we quickly got hands-on training on how to target a problem and transform it into a market opportunity. Through an ongoing iterative process, we developed a plan to acquire clients as well as develop the financial needs and requirements of the venture. The most crucial aspect I realized, was the importance of teammates all completing one another through the entire process. You close the books and go home in the middle of the night, to arrive once more, at 9am sharp on Sunday.

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Masterplan!

One of the many appeals of the start-up world is the paramount importance of presenting to external parties to obtain funding. This is exactly what the third day focused on: How to pitch your startup venture to investors. How to capture an audience in only a few minutes, and keep your public hungry for more.

By the end of the weekend, the 10 teams proposed their idea to a panel of three, and five semi-finalist teams were shortlisted to present in a more detailed fashion. In the second round, a winning team earned the top spot, to close an intense weekend of learning and building new ideas and network.

Coming out of the fruitful weekend, I was totally exhausted, and took a few days to reflect on what I had gained through these 48 hours. Many people went into the workshop in order to develop an already existing idea, and to learn how to enhance their proposition. Others went out of curiosity, and in order to learn more about a fascinating sector. I was part of the latter group. After all, 53% of INSEAD alum go on to be entrepreneurs at one point or another during their professional careers. Before this weekend, I had always been afraid of entertaining a startup idea as I didn’t know how to develop it. I was scared that I wouldn’t know what to do with it, and that the opportunity would be ‘wasted’. Well not anymore! The bootcamp also convinced me an idea is only the beginning to starting one’s own company. It’s all about the right people coming together and completing one another, in order to build a project that goes in the same direction to stand the test of time.

Most of all: go out there and have fun!

Photo credits: Edouard Chehade; Jane Venet Fellowes
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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The INSEAD Entrepreneurship Club [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2015, 21:00
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FROM Insead Admissions Blog: The INSEAD Entrepreneurship Club
Top business schools usually help MBA students prepare to land their dream jobs. The average increase in salary, a key indicator among many MBA rankings, is clear evidence of this dynamic. Entrepreneurship, however, has been gaining momentum among business schools lately. Schools have been introducing the subject to their curriculum through many avenues, from entrepreneurship electives to Entrepreneurship-in-Residence. Students, yet, have played a decisive role in facilitating this shift.

At INSEAD, one of the most vibrant student clubs is the INSEAD Entrepreneurship Club (IEC).  This Club has been promoting the subject via many activities: speaker series, startup treks, and pitching sessions, to name a few.  In February, IEC organized the 2015 IEC Entrepreneurship Week, which was an amazing opportunity not only to dive deeper into the subject but also to allow newcomers to understand how engaged the club is.

This experience made me think about writing a post related to IEC. Once I shared this idea with the president of the club here at the European Campus, my compatriot Breno Araujo, he promptly agreed to answer some questions about the club and its history. Doing so, we would raise awareness of a broader audience about the service provided by the club to students and vice-and-versa.

 

Bruno, for how long IEC has been around?

The club has been around for many years, at least for 15 years, maybe more than 20 years.

 

How is IEC organized? How do the interactions between Fontainebleau and Singapore occur?

The club has a pretty unique leadership team. Most INSEAD clubs hold a voting system that elects 5 students to manage the club. All the other candidates that want to help with the leadership and are not elected won’t be part of the leadership team.

In the IEC, we decided to do something different this year. We brought on board everyone that wanted to help with the club. As a result, we started the 15J leadership team with 20 students on it and now there are already 26 students on the leadership of IEC in Fontainebleau. The club kept recruiting along the periods, which was also something new.

In the club’s structure, I hold ultimate responsibility for the club, and together with 3 other students I am responsible for the administration team. We deal with all the typical club bureaucracy, such as treasury, communication with stakeholders, support, and e-mails. The other students are free to work on the initiative they most want to.

The club is structured as follows:

  • Marketing and Communication – 3 students
  • Speakers Relations – 4 students
  • Trek and Workshops – 5 students
  • Fund Development – 4 students
Each initiative has one student responsible for it.

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Original 15J Fontainebleau IEC Team

Regarding the club in Singapore, we have a pretty good relationship with them; we have regular communication and organize simultaneous events such as the Entrepreneurship Week.

In addition, when students working on the leadership team exchange campus, they start working with the club on the campus they are based in.

 

What is the major differentiator of IEC, compared to other INSEAD clubs?

We believe that being inclusive rather than exclusive is the differentiator of the IEC.

Allowing anyone that wants to help to work on the leadership team and work on an initiative that they want to, was a game changer.

People constantly underestimate others’ intrinsic motivation. Because of that, they try to control and assign roles to people that do not necessarily want to take that role. They think there are roles that nobody will be willing to do. This is not necessarily true. If you open the club to whoever wants to help, you might find that there is at least one person willing to do each task. And that is where the IEC has excelled.

As a result, we managed to have amazing events, averaging more than two events per week, plus the Trek to Berlin, visits to companies in Paris and the Entrepreneurship Week.

All that was done during the four months we have been on the leadership, and in addition, we have worked on parallel initiatives such as building an external communication, we started with a Facebook page and now we are about to launch our external website.

 

What is The Mews, when INSEAD opened the space to IEC?

The Mews was originally created to be a first step towards having an incubator at INSEAD. Sponsored by Accenture, the Mews is a very recent space, created a little more than two years ago. Students who are working on a business idea can use this space to work on their ventures, have meetings, etcetera.

In addition, the IEC itself uses this room for holding most of its events. We consider it the house of the INSEAD Entrepreneurs.

Image

The mews – INSEAD Entrepreneurship house

 

IEC recently hosted Entrepreneurship Week 2015. How was it?

This was the first Entrepreneurship Week at INSEAD, and we are very happy to say that it was a success. INSEAD is very happy with the result and how the week was managed across campuses.

We had some big speakers such as the recently retired Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Jan Mülfeiht. His talk attracted around 100 students. Another presentation from Index Ventures also reached the 100-student threshold. We got 120 students enjoying our Michel et Augustin breakfast.

Finally, we had some student-to-student events. We built a success gallery with Alumni profiles, we had our second celebrating failure event, and a week closing in partnership with the Arts Club.

 

What are the next steps for the IEC?

We are working on some very exciting stuff.

A new initiative was created inside the club, Mentoring and Coaching. This initiative will be helping students to prepare for the INSEAD Venture Competition.

We will help the Career Department on their Entrepreneurship Career Forum, which takes place on April 14th.

We are about to launch our website, an idea that began with the 14Ds and we have been working on it to make it possible.

 

To finish the post, nothing would be better than the video of the Final Act of the INSEAD Entrepreneurship week.

from Breno on Vimeo.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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Closing the Books [#permalink]

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New post 18 Mar 2015, 22:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Closing the Books
Image

Morroco Sunrise

One week into the program, we had our first quiz. Then, six weeks later, a frenzy came along: the final exam frenzy.

Only then, when you take a look at practice final exams do you realize the amount of material covered in such a short amount of time. (I heard the second term takes this concept a notch further, with an extra class in the schedule, but I digress. Let’s keep this topic for, perhaps, a few weeks from now.)

We all do an MBA for different reasons. The learning experience, diversification of your network, career promotion, and change in job sectors are a few that often get mentioned. It is essential for you to figure this out so you can sort your priorities, and these can serve as some sort of personal “MBA Handbook” if you will.

Over the program, the learning experience is usually on par with a series of other priorities. The academic experience is usually a setting for attending a multitude of networking or social events: on-campus corporate events and conferences, student clubs, playing a squash competition with your colleagues or even travelling off to a new country with 40 other classmates!

Coming into exams, however, the non-academic activities get brushed on the sidelines, and it’s a great relief to know you can count on classmates to review and explain more challenging concepts during late-night study sessions. It can be a stressful week, but you learn a lot through it, on an academic level as much as on a personal level.

Then you close the books, the exams finish, and the fun begins—rather, the fun continues. Immediately when the last exam finishes, everyone meets at the INSEAD bar and the champagne starts to flow. You discuss excitedly about all the fun that was first term, and all the fun to come in the second one. After all, recruiting for summer internships is right around the corner! Thirty minutes later, it’s already time to get onto that shuttle to the airport, and board a plane to Morocco, Prague, or Bali to enjoy the long weekend before the second term. It promises to be as eventful as the first.

It is in that state of mind that I write these lines, on the plane to Marrakesh to discover a new city, a new culture, a new country. I look forward to sleeping in the desert, straddling a camel and to better get acquainted with my colleagues which I’m sure will quickly become good friends.

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Camel Riding is fun!
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Citizens of the World [#permalink]

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New post 30 Mar 2015, 22:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Citizens of the World
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Since the welcome day in October, I have been increasingly thinking about what I want to get out of my MBA experience at INSEAD. I think about the school’s tagline: The Business School for the World, and I ask myself, what does that make the student body, the professors and the staff?

I often think about my projection and perception. I was born in London, so I have the cultural mannerisms of a Brit. My family is Sikh, so I am taking on board the teachings of its Gurus. I have learnt some European languages, so I am aware of the intra and inter-social nuances of mainland Europe and Great Britain. And I have recently lived in New York, so my personality has been somewhat molded by the cultural pageantry.

Now I wonder, what am I? How do I define myself? Do I even want to define myself? In our adolescence we try extremely hard to fit in, but as we get older, we try to stand out. I feel like I found myself trying very hard before university to find my place in social circles. The harder I tried, the less belonging I felt. There are often moments of enlightenment that obliterate our previous ways of thinking. This is mine.

I once flew to Singapore for a friend’s birthday, which he held at a club. A merry time was had by one and all, and upon leaving I struck up a conversation with a French chap who was the opening DJ of the evening. As soon as I heard his accent, I decided on brushing up my French. We bid ‘adieu’ to each other and my friend pointed out that his jaw dropped when he heard this turban wearing ‘rosbif’ bust out some French. What was I? I have since refined this description as a ‘Citizen of the World.’

Having met future classmates and alumni this year, I am confident that I have found my place in the world. This place encompasses all countries, religions, races and cultures. It is the entire world and its dual capitals are found in Fontainebleau and Singapore. INSEAD brings together people who transcend their places of birth, their families’ teachings, and their cultures defined by academic and professional organisations.

The only homogeneous characteristic we have is that we are all different. I wish to promote this ‘Citizen of the World’ persona upon us and even try to get this phrase embedded into INSEAD’s vernacular. I need your help; just continue who you are and what you do. Become a better, wiser, worldlier version of yourself everyday. We live in a world where divisions are causing endless tension and suffering for a significant proportion of humans. We can overcome these divisions and engender many more ‘Citizens of the World!’
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Exploring different landscapes [#permalink]

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New post 12 Apr 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Exploring different landscapes
Exploring different landscapes

As an avid traveller, studying at INSEAD brings me another advantage: the possibility to reach in a few hours completely different landscapes, which range from the Sahara desert, the largest subtropical hot desert, to the Mont-Blanc, the highest peak in Europe.

It seems that this month I tried my best to cross the two most extreme types of environments available to me. Yes, I went to the Sahara and the Mont-Blanc within a 14-day interval. To be honest, I had never thought, planned, or whished to visit extreme surroundings in such a short time.

In the middle of P1 (INSEAD MBA is organized in 5 periods, each lasts roughly 2 months), different options of P1/P2 break trip started showing up. The first one I saw was a ski trip, which sounded interesting because I had never skied. However, as a Brazilian from Rio de Janeiro, I needed sun! I remember that Sunday afternoon. I was tired of organizing my stuff at home and I went online when suddenly I saw this trip to Morocco. I couldn’t wait to confirm my presence on the trip and book my ticket. I was second to do so after my friend Sophia, who in fact was the trip organizer.  Later on, I even ended up joining the organizing committee for that trip.

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On the way to the Sun

The schedule of the trip was: arrive in Marrakesh; travel to the desert the following day, where we would ride camels to our tents; sleep there; and then go back to Marrakesh, where we would spend two days before returning to reality. Many readers of this itinerary might think that riding a camel would be the most exciting moment of the trip. But as someone once said, the important thing is nor the destination, but the journey. There were so many bonding moments in our tour that is a challenge to pick the best ones to describe here. When we arrived at Marrakesh, we went to a riad where a delicious dinner was waiting for us. Then on the way and back from the desert we had many, almost nonstop hours of conversation with our classmates. It was an invaluable opportunity to get to know each other in a deeper way, chatting about as diverse topics as the nationalities that form our classes. In fact, it was in one of those conversations that I started thinking about my initiation into snowboarding. The next day, at the airport, I was already arranging my trip to Chamonix, where I be discovering why almost everyone at the school had spent at least one weekend skiing or snowboarding.

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Going for the snow at Chamonix-Mont Blanc

My only expectation was to have fun while trying to explore this new cold and snowy world. Because I had done skateboarding for a few years, learning snowboarding was easier than average and I was enjoying that kind of—I mean very cold—environment more than I had imagined.

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Chamonix is connected to Fontainebleau via an excellent motorway. The quality of the motorway enhances the driver experience and despite the long hours, the journey was quite enjoyable.

So there we were, coming back from our trip when suddenly we discovered that the motorway was closed. This wouldn’t have been a problem had there been alternative routes—and there were none, according to our GPS.

We contacted some INSEAD’s students from France and with their help we were able to find our way. The alternative route took longer but on the way we kept laughing and having a good chat. In that adventurous experience we almost took the Spanish poet Antonio Machado’s famous verse: “traveller, there is no path, you make the path as you travel” to the limit.
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Journey to the Centre of the Network [#permalink]

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New post 19 Apr 2015, 21:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Journey to the Centre of the Network
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Network—and networking—are probably one of the most spoken words in any business school across the world. It also has an ambiguous definition. If I consider it the action to acquaint oneself with like-minded professionals then all of my interactions with my INSEAD classmates could be considered networking. Before this weekend, I felt that the networking I was doing through social activities around campus during the weekdays would be sufficient to make memorable impressions and foster relationships that would last well beyond graduation.

A Bloomberg article about travelling networking was published a few months ago and I initially dismissed its argument that travelling is a value-added way to networking and to the MBA experience. However, I am now fully subscribed to the belief that travelling with business schoolmates is incredibly enriching to the bubble in which we find ourselves.

This past weekend I travelled with a troop of Fontainbleau-ers to Barcelona, Spain for the IESE Spring Games. It was the first trip that I’ve taken with my MBA classmates because I came to INSEAD with probably less desire than the average student to travel. I attributed this to a few reasons: I had already visited various proposed destinations (and I prefer new experiences) and among various networking opportunities presented in business school, I was not prioritising networking among my classmates high enough.

I no longer think along these lines. On this trip I realised that traveling with my classmates creates an abundance of social capital far better than in academic surroundings. Just as professional relationships can be cemented over time through one-on-one activities outside the workplace, business school friendships are often forged outside the campus environment.

Did I speak to more people than usual on this trip? Probably not. However, I can refer to this shared experience with those whom I am not so well acquainted to kick-start a friendship and boost those whose development has plateaued. I appreciated that the trip gave purpose to the students besides studying all the live-long day.

The trip was a much appreciated break from the normal grind of Fontainebleau. Some of us may go overboard, but trips can be treated as a pressure release. I could then argue that you should travel for the sake of your health! I feel that I may be triggering FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in some of the students who didn’t attend, but I would suggest some social travel with classmates is beneficial to the MBA experience. I am aware that there are temporal and financial constraints to respect, but if they can be overcome for a desirable trip then I would encourage as many students as possible to take up an adventure!
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Funky Facts about Life at INSEAD [#permalink]

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New post 20 Apr 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Funky Facts about Life at INSEAD
Who would have thought I would come to INSEAD to learn how to dance Hip-hop, discover the European après-ski, or get to hear the faculty gossip in the sauna every Friday afternoon?

It’s the small things in life that make INSEAD unique. They help shape an experience that make the school, settled in a quiet town in the middle of a boar- and deer- infested forest less than 45 minutes away outside of Gâre de Lyon-Paris, come to life.

Business School for the World. Focused around food.

INSEAD is truly as international as it was meant to be when founded nearly 60 years ago. No country has a dominant impact on the school. However, on the Europe Campus, it would be difficult to escape the food culture that is prevalent all over France and Europe. Everyone rallies at the cafeteria between 12 and 2pm. You usually enter with friends from your section or group. You grab lunch from one of the many stations offering different dishes, grab one (or 2) of the many deserts offered. After getting lost at the different food stalls or cash registers, you come out the other side to end up sitting down with a totally different group of friends you might know, or will get to know over lunch. But that’s all fine! So many people from so many different backgrounds to get to know!

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What’s for lunch?

I’m sexy and I know it. I work out!

Sauna culture is not prevalent back home, in Canada. I was delighted to learn there is one in the school gym, adjacent to the steam bath. Having gone there a few times after working out or going for a jog in the forest behind the school, I realized this is where the faculty gossip is usually going on. Want to know the latest scuttlebutt from faculty? Head down to the sauna around 5 or 6pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. But you didn’t hear it from me….

 

Where to live? Decisions, decisions.

The Europe campus is located in the middle of a forest which itself is in the middle of the fields. You have a direct train to downtown Paris, which makes for very nice evenings and weekends in Paris! You will have to decide where you wish to live: either in Fontainebleau, at walking distance from school, or on the outer edge of the forest.

A few legendary INSEAD houses exist in Fontainebleau namely Salamander, Villa Foch, and Club 16. You can also choose to live in quieter houses or flats in town. On the other hand, if you choose to live outside of town, a 10- to 15-minute car ride from campus, you’ll most likely be renting a car from MBAcars, a company managed by a friendly INSEAD alum. A few houses located on castle grounds even have swimming pools! You will also most likely be living with a few colleagues.

The great aspect about living with 6 or 7 fellow students is that your social life takes care of itself. You’ll get lots of occasions to mingle with colleagues, all while living in a big house with lots of space. If ever you do choose to live on the other side of the forest, watch out for boars at night! You’ll often see a ‘family night out’ with Papa boar, Mama Boar, and the 10 little Pumbaa piglets frolicking by the side of the road. They would be fantastic for one of the many BBQs happening around town! But I never ventured out of my car to catch one, as I fear Simba might be lurking in the shadows.

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Old 17th century inn and stable converted to a house

Can’t Touch This!

I once mentioned that the people with whom I was studying were nothing shy of impressive. One of the first memories I have of INSEAD is the kick-off party when a few people took over the dance floor. I then started being a little self-conscious about my arm, leg and body (un)coordination that might have made a toddler’s parents very proud!

A few weeks later, I learned we had dancing stars in class who were leading hip-hop classes. I don’t hope to be able to shred the dance floor like the King of Pop any time soon, but a vague imitation of Vanilla Ice’s running man now seems within reach!
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Inveniam viam aut faciam [#permalink]

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New post 12 May 2015, 22:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Inveniam viam aut faciam
I’m sure that every INSEAD interview candidate is asked why they want to go to INSEAD and then what they want to do after the program. These are very standard questions that every candidate will have prepared responses to. It is curious to then observe the divergence between what students thought they wanted to do after INSEAD and what they actually end up doing. I was very set on pursuing the tried and tested path of management consulting but two periods down (and a decent number of internship rejections later) I am re-evaluating my options.

The faculty of INSEAD constantly warns the students not to get caught up in the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) culture that permeates the campus, as do other business schools the world over. However, there is a possibility that you may be exposed to an industry, role, or business concept that may not have piqued your initial interest otherwise.

Having attempted to set up a small business myself prior to INSEAD, I established the mindset that if I came across an idea for a start-up (in addition to or subsequently after management consulting) in which I believed I could add value, I would pursue the opportunity. Although I feel I may not have substantiated this mindset enough given that such an opportunity has recently presented itself, and I’ve found myself being apprehensive and risk averse, as opposed to enthusiastic to take on the risk then possibly reap the potential reward of it.

Recruitment for internship positions at INSEAD has been a tougher ordeal than I expected. Perhaps I was too naïve and felt that going to INSEAD would be the fillip to my career, that opportunities would be plentiful and the likelihood of succeeding would be better than say, at an undergraduate level. But I am experiencing the same sentiments as an MBA student as I did when I was an undergrad. This is something that I believe reflects poorly upon myself as I should be better able to handle these challenges given my experiences back then. Although the MBA and undergraduate student environments are similar; I am surrounded by smart and extremely accomplished people who are looking for positions at prestigious global companies that visit the campus to recruit the best talent.

I did everything I could in my power to get interviews for banking in P1: I attended the London trek before the course started; I tried to teach myself valuation; I researched deals and prominently involved bankers; I attended the company presentations and networking events; I followed up with the bankers at these events and even had some informational interviews. There were probably candidates at the other end of the spectrum who applied without doing much groundwork and went further in the process, due to their previous experience and achievement. This is perfectly fine. It is the companies that are hiring, not the business school and they want the best candidates according to their criteria. To this point, it’s possible that INSEAD could better manage the expectations of students with a more realistic perspective, rather than be overly optimistic about the process, particularly for those interested in career switches.

I understand that there is a clear distinction between effort and attainment but when all advice from the Career Development Centre is being followed to no avail, it’s quite easy to become introspective and question one’s worth. There is an aura of optimism (that sometimes becomes expectation) that business schools can help their students achieve anything in terms of career switches or boosts, but my experience so far, has been far from that.

In P2, I tried to dust off my banking malaise and I participated in the management consulting recruitment campaign. I take all the responsibility for my candidacy shortcomings as I interviewed with a handful of firms and did not perform as well as my peers.

Taking the point of view of the recruiter, it is of course easier to take the low-risk option, a candidate who has the experience or explicit transferrable skills rather than just a capable and enthusiastic one. Perhaps all parties should be better at managing expectations of the opportunities, rather than promoting an environment of equal chance.

This is also hard because I’m sure the companies are not so forthcoming with their hiring intentions which are likely driven by shifting business needs. There are a few consulting firms with which I networked intensely. I became connected with many consultants through my own social circle, whose firms did not invite me for interviews and a couple of others which I only attended the events that were offered through INSEAD (i.e., evening presentations and coffee chats) who did invite me. It’s very hard to see any patterns of consistency and draw lessons from them as to which approach works best.

Rejection is always hard to take, even though we should be optimistic in applying but pragmatic about the entire process. One candidate will be picked from at least twenty and 5% is not a safe bet. It can be particularly hard because all candidates are incredibly accomplished so have probably not experienced much rejection throughout their careers.

Alternatively, I reflect upon the title of this blog entry. The entire phrase is latin for “I shall find a way or make one.” It is attributed to Hannibal of Carthage, when his generals told him that it was impossible to cross the Alps by elephant in order to surprise the Roman army with an attack from the north. There are many students at INSEAD making their own way and starting their own businesses. The entrepreneurial culture is much stronger than I expected. And why not? The desire to build a company and make an impact can be an incredibly powerful motivator. I’m not sure what infrastructure other business schools have but the Mews seems to be a robust unit. It is high risk, but then it could come with high reward.

The entrepreneurs in the student body have ambition that I can only admire. This ‘woe is me’ attitude is extremely unbecoming and I need to remind myself that I am in a great position to achieve. INSEAD is the agent and not the principal of my career; it can help get me part of the way but not all of the way.

I don’t profess to have any ground breaking advice to this dynamic among business school, student, and career. It is a tough slog; if it were easy, we would all already be successful. Getting into INSEAD was one challenge and getting out to where I want to be will be another. Much of my frustration is borne from my impatience to achieve. Success will not come to me the moment I graduate; I will have to aim to find a way, or make my own.
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Company Presentations: Events that go well beyond job search [#permalink]

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New post 14 May 2015, 00:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Company Presentations: Events that go well beyond job search
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Many MBA students had to quit their jobs to embark upon their MBA journey. During this journey, many will have to find a new job. Attending company presentations on-campus is a good way not only to identify opportunities but also to verify whether the culture of a company fits you. These events can be much more enriching than one can imagine. Attending these events, I learnt a variety of subjects ranging from the sharing economy to agricultural advancements in Brazil.

In the last two months in every single week, some companies came to campus to present themselves in events organized by the career centre— not to mention the presentations organized by the clubs. As usual, the major consultancy firms visited the campus. Most of the times the most senior person (CEO, MD, or any other title) of those firms gave a remarkable speech. Banks and companies operating in many segments—from consumer goods to energy—also made their way to Fontainebleau. In addition, an entrepreneurship forum took place in the campus where more than 20 startups participated.

The sharing economy is gaining momentum. One of the INSEAD alumni founded a European-leader company that provides a platform to ride-share. He came to campus and presented to us how he developed the idea, how hard he’s been work to make the dream to come true, and so on. To be honest, not only did I learn a lot about the sharing economy but I also felt that it was an invaluable opportunity to listen to someone who is changing the landscape of an industry.

One global-leader consulting company presented a world outlook for the next decades. This was a brilliant class about global trends. Two points in particular captured my attention: One of them is related to the huge potential that is very likely to be unlocked in Africa, moving millions of people to a better life. And the other is the intensification of the industrialization of farms. The presenter mentioned a Brazilian farm as example of high technology being used to produce more and with greater efficiency.

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The entrepreneurship career forum was also a unique event. Usually, we have at least one start-up presentation per week at the Entrepreneurship Club. These events are quite often presented by an INSEAD MBA graduate who runs a startup and is able to share his experience with the current students. This event was different. Having more than 20 startups operating in many different markets on campus was an extraordinary opportunity. There you had the opportunity to learn from people who are being pioneers at Internet business in Africa, or from people that choose London to launch their business.
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The Pre-Interview Grill [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jun 2015, 02:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: The Pre-Interview Grill
Most people come to business school with different aspirations—to change careers, build a global network, or, for some, take a year off to reflect on life. Among the majority of people looking for a new career, what tops people’s minds is undoubtedly consulting. While I would disagree with calling INSEAD the clichéd ‘consulting school’ given the sheer diversity and range of opportunities available here, I would definitely say that it is rare that a person at INSEAD who hasn’t been in consulting before doesn’t think of consulting at least once while here.

We just finished with the summer internship recruitment season, and I thought I should share with the readers my experience after going through the grill. Here is some advice on various aspects of the process before the actual interview.

 

Presentations: It all starts off pretty early in the term with the companies getting their best speakers, MDs, and other prominent executives on campus. You see more and more of the same names on campus. I recommend that you actively attend as many presentations as possible irrespective of where you thought you want to be before starting off with the MBA. While at first thought you might find it difficult to tell the difference between firms, attending these talks and meeting people from these firms give you a good start to knowing more about what really differentiates them.

Networking: You will hear this term a lot at B-School. I, like many others, was very confused on what is the right way to network and how much should you actually network. After being through the process, I realise that it isn’t really going to make or break your chance into getting into the firm you want (at least in consulting) but it serves two important purposes. Primarily, it helps you understand more about the firm by talking to more people. The key question it helps you answer is which kind of people do you see yourself being happy working with?

Second, it helps show your genuine interest to know about the firm and it may reflect in your interviews or other conversations. So, my advice on networking is to get to know a few people (two to three per firm at least, and they could even be your peers on campus), prepare your questions to help you learn more about working at that firm (cannot stress this enough!), and finally, don’t be too pressured by the whole ‘networking’ hype that you slack on your actual interview preparation. You never know when impressions are made (both positive and negative). Use the pre-application time and these events to assess whether you want to work for any of them; it’ll make convincing any company to hire you that much easier later on.

Applications: Put in your best effort in your CV and cover letters. As a career changer, I found a ‘skills-based’ resume format good to highlight key transferable skills from your earlier experience. Don’t waste time speculating if a company would actually read your cover letter or not; rather, give it your best shot. Since you are spending time on it, use it to synthesize your thoughts on the 3 major ‘whys’—why consulting, why that firm, and why you think you can do well in that particular job/firm.

Interview preparation: If you have done all of the above, you will most likely end up with an invitation to interview for the first round. Interviews typically consist of two parts—the case interview and the personal interview. To start off, make a preparation plan at least 2 months in advance to maintain a steady pace. You should ideally have done 25-30 cases and about five to six personal interviews before the actual interview. Remember, there is no magic number and these numbers are just indicative of your average, and being over-prepared is better than being under-prepared. The magic really is when you are no longer intimidated by having to solve oftentimes an ambiguous business case in an actual interview and are confident in speaking about your fit.

Next, stick to your plan. Finding one to three buddies equally interested in recruitment helps. One thing that really amazes me here is that people are more collaborative and helpful than competitive. You learn a lot by interviewing others, too. While maintaining two to three constant prep buddies, try to get different interview styles with other people occasionally.

There are more than enough resources at INSEAD: workshops, books, and peers. Use them wisely. While most people are consumed by cases, it is absolutely crucial that you do not leave the personal experience prep to the very end. I suggest you start by jotting down your well thought out answers to commonly asked questions (which you’ll find in any standard consulting prep book). Next step is to practice out loud. While getting enough mock interviews may not always be possible, you can always record videos of yourself to keep improving.

While overall core preparation remains the same, keep in mind that different firms have different case interviews and personal interview styles. Research the nuances  online, attend company-specific prep workshops, and speak to peers. Tailor your approach to interviews to the actual firm.

Finally, give it your best shot, accept that there are a lot of things outside your control, remain cool, and remember to enjoy rest of the INSEAD experience while going through the grill.
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Halfway in, halfway out. [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Halfway in, halfway out.
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The Usual Suspects: Team KLEGS (the K is silent)

Here we are, at the middle point. Five months ago, we knew nothing of these grounds; we hadn’t even set foot in this forest. Five months. That’s all it is, and that’s all it takes. So what has changed? I’d like to say a few grey hairs and perhaps a few extra pounds, but that would probably be half a lie. Or half the truth for that matter.

B-School for the world where we study with 90 other nationalities: This surely is bound to create a certain disorder—even a mess. Or does it? There is a natural and mathematical phenomenon known as a fractal. On a small scale, everything seems totally disorganized. However, once you start zooming out, the pattern keeps repeating itself and suddenly, everything comes into focus to reveal a unique, beautiful organization. Let’s take a walk together, down memory lane.

For the first four months of the MBA, each student is part of a five-man team, with which most projects are accomplished. Take one of my colleagues, a Japanese with a background in sales. He underwent a major in Czech studies. He then married a fantastic Czech woman and they now both have a little two-year-old son who is one of the stars on campus. The little kid will grow up speaking Japanese and Czech, and before he’s a teen, he will probably have a good understanding of English as well. Pretty amazing, no?

I was grouped with a trilingual Japanese, as well as an Indian having been brought up in the Middle-East, a Turkish having moved to England in her late teens, and a Chinese specializing in marketing and business intelligence. I, a Canadian with a background ‘à-la’ Walter White from Breaking Bad (i.e., chemistry), completed this odd quintet.

At INSEAD, there are 59 other teams on Europe Campus, and another 45 in Singapore. A beautiful pattern of diversity that you might fail to see at first. But halfway through the program, one can only look around and be amazed at this beautiful inclusive and cohesive diversity. One of the wonders of the modern world, I must say.

All of us came from different backgrounds and cultures, and this has undoubtedly created tensions within the group. As difficult as these tensions might prove to be, it’s usually through these frictions that one gains awareness of others, and even more so of oneself.

I must admit, INSEAD can be a bittersweet experience. Four weeks ago, many of us bid each other farewell as students from core groups and sections went their own ways. Some of the friendships born out of the pressure cooker that a 10-month MBA is will only be rekindled upon graduation, as the waltz of campus switching takes place. So it is with nostalgia that P2 ended.

On the other hand, I was certain group work was over. Therefore, I wouldn’t have to coordinate with other’s schedules which would ease logistics. Once again, INSEAD proved me wrong! The fun was just beginning with my initial team being dissolved, and 6 teams being created, one for each elective class. A great and fantastic way to try and apply the learnings of the first four months.

The sweetest part? Receiving a fresh contingent of new faces from Singapore! Remembering the fun of meeting great and engaging people that was the first weeks of the program! And with the great weather that came along, BBQs began, and the last four weeks have gone by in a flash. Right at the midpoint, halfway in our MBA. Most likely, halfway out.
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Colors of the parachute [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jun 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: Colors of the parachute
I received my first job offer after two dozen applications and a dozen interviews. I wanted to write about it because it was drastically different from what I expected prior to INSEAD, both in process and outcome. I made several mistakes and I hope readers will better manage the recruiting process than I did.

1. Integrate what you have learned

I never thought what I learned from Process and Operations Management could come in handy, until an interviewer asked me how I propose to mitigate risks of a stock out. Don’t discount what is taught in the classroom, use the knowledge intelligently.

2. There is only one shot, plan carefully

When recruiting kicked off, I had in mind a specific program with a specific company, and I applied to only the program despite multiple other openings within the same company. It turned out to be a flawed strategy as I had no backup with the same company when my first choice failed. Ask yourself what compromise you would make if top choices disappear, and apply to the alternatives at the same time as the top choices, because the recruiting window is too short for anyone to re-strategise.

3. Managing applications as well as motivation

One of my toughest experiences was recovering from an unsuccessful application, for which I prepared extensively and went through a gruelling interview. In hindsight, I could have set more realistic expectations had I known the conversion was about a 1:50 offers to application ratio. Knowing your chances and having a support network in event of setbacks are important, as job hunting is a marathon, not a sprint, for many.

4. Focus on the long term

I once asked an interviewer how he became manager of the firm, and it turned out that he declined the offer in the first place to join its competitor, only to reactivate the offer after several years after his MBA. This insight taught me not to look at the emails, coffee chats and handshakes as means to only the next job, but a starting point to build networks that may lead to something bigger in the future. Don’t burn bridges when an application is unsuccessful.
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The last mile [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jun 2015, 19:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: The last mile
I often wonder why the Internet is flooded with articles like “10 things you should know before turning 30”, or “Five reasons to quit your job ”, until I find myself frantically trying to retrieve all files and contacts related to INSEAD, preserving every single detail. The end of everything offers an opportunity for personal reflection, and I am doing no different than a 30-year-old or a job hunter. With less than three weeks before graduation, I am in the last mile of the INSEAD experience. Below are a few personal recounts of my learnings:

1. Know the ‘Why?’

Daniel Pink has a theory on why some companies are more innovative, and I believe it’s true for educators as well. An average school teaches the what, a good school teaches the how, and INSEAD teaches the why. Why is Zara pioneering in fast fashion? Why is alpha return a compensation for risk in hedge funds? Why do big companies provide public goods? Asking the why is not easy, because our jobs do not always require us to know the why. However, it’s important to build the discipline of taking a bird’s eye view, because leadership and faith are only as strong as knowing the why.

2. Choose how you measure success wisely

I grew up in an environment where success is directly correlated to grades, and I brought that mentality to INSEAD, despite the non-disclosure policy in GPA. Predictably, I experienced joy when I did well, and embarrassment when I did not. It took me five months to realise what could be confidence boosters could also be confidence destroyers, and there are other ways to measure learning besides GPA, such as ability to tackle unfamiliar subjects, degree of collaboration in group work, and flexibility in adapting to different communication styles. Sometimes, focusing on things that do not have explicit metrics may be more important than the ones that do, and I learned to be more in tune with myself.

3. And last, my list of seven odd things I became good at because of INSEAD

  • water cooler conversations, with anyone, anywhere, anytime
  • sourcing cheap flights in all languages with travel buddies from all countries
  • using “always” & “never” as infrequently as possible
  • voice-to-text note taking—it helps during exam time
  • using acronyms for everything
  • being close to people I thought would never become my friends
  • dropping everything immediately when interesting conversations take place
  • remembering the ‘news vendor’ theory and exchange rate parities by heart during job hunting
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The Business School for the World [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2015, 20:00
FROM Insead Admissions Blog: The Business School for the World
“Globalization cannot be taken for granted”. This is probably one of the biggest takeaways from the International Political Analysis classes I had during my P3 at the INSEAD’s Asia Campus. In this course, Professor Michael Witt—born in Germany, earned his PhD in the US, settled in Singapore—taught us frameworks and led us through case discussions that would help us not only to understand the world better but also to become better leaders in international contexts. Beyond the formal training, a global well-connected network is also key element when it comes to internationalization. And it is during this summer that I am witnessing what represents the “for the World” at INSEAD.

Image

INSEAD Asia Campus, Singapore

The ultimate determinant of globalization is politics (another key takeaway from the same class). Despite the increasing debate about visa restrictions/easing here and there, the INSEAD students from the same cohort as me are all over the globe. If you throw a dart at the world map, chances are that there will be a MBA candidate from the 15D class. And I am amazed to witness this dynamic. It is true that visa requirements are set by sovereign countries (a clear evidence of the relationship between politics and globalization) and as foreigners we agree to abide to the rules of another state and have to ensure that we meet the requirements of this or that country. However, in spite of bureaucracy procedures many friends were visa sponsored to run projects in many different places.

Undoubtedly, some places attract more people than others. For example, there is relatively large number of students spending the summer in the Silicon Valley (including one of my teammates from France) and another in London (including a few Brazilians). It also is possible to find friends in, lets say, places less-known as MBA’s destinations including Tokyo (where one of the best friend I made at INSEAD ended up going). For many reasons, Singapore is on the list of places that attract a large number of students seeking summer internship. First, the city has a very active start-up scene. Second, the city is a hub of the region and home to many big companies’ head quarter in Southeast Asia. Third, Singapore, a country that is always very well-ranked in the Global Competitiveness Index, has a very simple and efficient process that allows students from top schools to persue their summer internship in the country.

I found an interesting and entrepreneurial project in Singapore, so I choose to spend at least part of my summer in the city-state. Initially, I thought that working in another country for a company with two INSEAD alumni, neither of them Singaporean, from previous classes, was already representing a lot of the “for the World”. However, as I started working, I began brainstorming how to take the service the company offers to Brazil, form local partners in the country, and so on and so forth, I became again amazed by the fact that “for the World” could represent even more than I originally thought. Doing my research, I came across to an INSEAD alumnus in Brazil who served exactly one of the key possible partners we identified. This made forming connections much easier. The fact that he is an INSEAD alumnus made a tremendous difference to my project.

Image

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

So far, that is a little bit of what “for the World” has become for me. But, to be honest, I believe that “for the World” can stand for different things for other students and that it can still take a different shape for me.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Re: INSEAD January 2015 Intake (Class of December 2015) [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2016, 07:47
15D!
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Re: INSEAD January 2015 Intake (Class of December 2015)   [#permalink] 04 Feb 2016, 07:47

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