INSEAD is a school that promises cultural diversity, career development, and a network beyond comparison. With more than 60,000 alumni spread across over 170 countries around the world, both past and present students have been empowered to prosper in business globally. This has also allowed students from the African diaspora to use this synergy for business growth on the continent.
Imagine a school that brings people together. A place that builds and develops leaders who transform business and society. Enter the place of higher education and learning, INSEAD.
Their Master programmes are creating positive change with people globally, from different generations and from all walks of life.
Fast Track to the Top
INSEAD’s Master programmes offer a state of readiness.
Rudolph Bella, an Ivorian Director at Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), started his career at a “Big Four in France”. After moving to Africa in the mid-2000s, he found himself managing finance teams in more than ten countries including Senegal, Tanzania, South Africa and Cameroun.
“This made me realise the many opportunities offered by our vibrant continent, but also the diverse African cultures one needs to adapt to when we have regional responsibilities,” he says to Forbes Africa.
This is when Bella began to think about the next steps in his career and INSEAD’s Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) programme sat at the top of his mind.
"Given my work seniority I decided to join the GEMBA programme, which allowed me to meet with peers of similar and more working experience,” Bella says who graduated in 2011.
Citizens of the World
Kenyan Alumna Cezanne Maherali, Head of Policy for Uber in the Middle East and Africa, sits down with Forbes Africa and attests to how INSEAD has prepared her to become fearless in venturing out into the world of business.
After graduating from her MBA with INSEAD in 2010, she recalls how she had a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to move to Nairobi to be part of the founding team to launch the Kenyan offices for McKinsey & Company.
A few years later, in 2015 when Uber had just moved into the city, she was headhunted by a fellow INSEAD graduate from South Africa, who had just set up their offices in London. She was told about an opportunity to join the business, and though she had no transport industry experience, she “dived in headfirst”.
“This is the thing that INSEAD prepares and trains you for,” Maherali says.
“You’re not afraid of the unknown. You just jump in with both feet and you say ‘okay, sink or swim, let’s figure this out’.”
Bella also states that despite more than ten years’ of working experience, INSEAD has added value to roles he has had procured in private equity.
“Being able to assess all potential risks and decide what to invest in or not, requires complete skillsets in various disciplines, which are usually built by experience in PE.
But with programmes like those at INSEAD, the knowledge and learning you gain can also help fast-track these skillsets, especially in Africa, where investments have more growth stories than financial leverage,” he explains.
Rigour and Relevance of the Curriculum
Fearless is not only the name of the game when you leave INSEAD but even while you are actively studying there.
Speaking to Forbes Africa from Singapore, Master in Management (MIM) Nigerian student Abdulhameed Obileye agrees with Maherali’s sentiment.
The MIM programme, in its first year, was an aspiration for Obileye as INSEAD has always been his “dream school”. So much so that he was willing to take the risk of being part of the first year of the programme at “one of the finest global business schools in the world”.
“I think part of being a pioneer means that we were willing to take the risk on a programme that wasn’t tested. But then, based on INSEAD’s reputation and the quality of their faculty, it was well worth it,” Obileye says.
The Value of Diversity
Aside from being advert risk-takers, other advantages that come through when pursuing any of the master’s programmes at INSEAD is that you are exposed to diversity beyond measure.
“One of the most important things that you come out of INSEAD with is learning how to work with people from diverse backgrounds. In the first period of our course at INSEAD, we were put into study groups with people from different countries, as well as different personal and professional backgrounds. This taught us how to navigate diverse business situations, taking individual cultures and experiences into account,” Cezanne Maherali says.
INSEAD helps you think globally,” Obileye adds.
The Power of the Network
The alumni network is something the business school prides itself in.
“The network at INSEAD is very broad, which is unique and special about the school, as they have infiltrated all of these other different networks that I’m a part of,” Maherali says who explains that there was a group of INSEAD alumni who were part of the McKinsey network as well.
For Obileye, the network he has gained so far has given him a range of opportunities that even he knows will have a long impact, even after he graduates from the MIM.
“It’s difficult to quantify how amazing the network is,” he says. “It’s a tight-knit community.”
Bella adds to this by stating: “I guess once you have gone through the INSEAD ranks, people are convinced that real leaders should always try to alleviate others. This is a lesson that one learns at INSEAD:
Business should be a force for good.”
This article was originally published on Forbes Africa.