Barely two months after their programme kickstarted, students from the Class of December 2020 found their MBA experience taking an unexpected turn. Despite the COVID-19 upheaval, they braved through the changes, adapted to new circumstances and graduated in December 2020. Some of them share how they pressed on despite the challenges and attained their INSEAD MBA right on schedule.
Chris came to INSEAD for the same reasons as many others: INSEAD is one of the most international and diverse business schools, and it provides the best opportunities to expand his network globally. “Apart from the networks, one of my main goals was to learn and improve my soft skills to be a more effective leader,” says Chris. When the pandemic hit, Chris chose to go ahead and finished his MBA as planned.
“INSEAD offered a lot of support during COVID-19. They provided portable WIFI routers for people like me without WIFI at home, extended deadlines for assignments because of the circumstances and offered psychological services to help us cope with the situation,” recalls Chris. “Thankfully, most of the lecturers were very engaging from the beginning. The others improved drastically upon receiving feedback from students and created a positive virtual learning environment throughout the year.”
Chris’ advice for others, who are considering an MBA during times like this, is to view uncertainty as an opportunity to learn more about oneself and how to respond to unexpected conditions.
If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again.
With the goal of transitioning her career from healthcare to consulting, Grace’s year was a little different from the rest of her peers when COVID-19 hit. “Moving classes online was the least of my worries. Being part of the medical community in Singapore, I was involved in the pandemic response efforts,” Grace shares. “I returned to contribute as and when I could as a doctor, and was thankful that I could continue my online classes despite that.”
Despite an unprecedented year, Grace achieved her pre-MBA goals as she gained new business and management skills. More poignantly, she underwent a successful career switch via INSEAD’s on-campus recruitment events and landed a summer internship with a top consulting firm where she was later offered a full-time position!
“In my opinion, pursuing a full-time MBA always requires a certain leap of faith. COVID-19 has definitely increased uncertainty and anxiety, but for that reason, I also think that now is a good time to do an MBA,” says Jiwon, who came to INSEAD after living in the United States for a decade. Her aim was to make a geographical transition to Asia.
“A top-notch global MBA programme from INSEAD offers an opportunity to take a break from what might be an unstable job market, and develop new knowledge and perspectives to become a better leader in this rapidly evolving society.”
Jiwon managed to navigate around the changes when COVID-19 hit, with help and support of the INSEAD community. “The pandemic threw a curveball that none of us anticipated, but the school remained flexible and supportive to help us make the most out of this crazy year. From learning new technology to checking in with friends so as to better cope with stress during the circuit breaker, we supported one another to make the transition possible.”
Completing my MBA in the midst of the pandemic allowed me to re-evaluate my life trajectory and learn crucial life lessons that I will bring with me for years to come.
Arthur Chiba Fioravante
When Arthur realised that a “tough couple of weeks” had turned into months, disappointment set in. “We only had two months together on campus, and we were looking forward to experiencing the stories we heard from our alumni – trips, boot camps, career treks…” shares Arthur. “But personally, I believe things happen for a reason. It was clear to me that 2020 was a year that I took off from my career to focus on developing myself with an MBA.”
“While my MBA experience turned out quite different from what I thought it would be, in the grand scheme of things, I have ultimately achieved my goals. I got a job in the impact sector with a company that I would not have contacted if not for the INSEAD network.”
Serine Haider Ahmad
“Never in my life I would have imagined meeting a group of over 500 intelligent, loving, inspiring individuals in one institution across two continents. Every outing, class, or group session felt like a speed dating game,” Serine shares, as she too, chose to continue her MBA studies amid the COVID-19 disruption.
Interestingly, the pandemic brought Serine closer to her classmates. “We planned everything together, recruited together, attended classes together, found creative ways to have fun together however possible. It wasn’t easy for many of us at first, but we leveraged it as much as we could, and built lasting relationships,” says Serine.
COVID made us stronger, more resilient and drew us much closer.