The INSEAD Master in Management (MIM) aims to empower the next generation of well-rounded, agile-thinking, and innovative individuals who are ready to impact today's society positively.
As one of the newest members of the school community, a diverse group of MIM students developed the social impact initiative "Funds for Good". Funds for Good is an INSEAD MIM initiative brought to life by students with experience in female empowerment and refugee support worldwide.
Through webinars, a fundraising campaign and a charity gala in January, Funds for Good strives to educate about the importance of women's education and empower many more women by facilitating their path to education.
Can you tell us why you decided to apply for the INSEAD MIM and your goals once you graduate?
Bachelor in Business Administration, Copenhagen Business School
I visited INSEAD in 2019 during the Summer@INSEAD programme - and I fell in love. Before that, I hadn't even considered doing a Master outside of Denmark, but coming to INSEAD and experiencing the intellectual and international environment completely changed my perception.
I was met with an environment where everybody was curious about learning in the classroom and from each other. That shared curiosity and interest in the world and in people were inspiring. After returning home, I knew this was my only choice for furthering my education.
Bachelor in Internaional Relations & Management, University of Applied Sciences Regensburg
I had worked in consulting for one and a half years and was looking for a new academic challenge. I wanted to acquire profound business knowledge, and I knew that INSEAD would provide academic excellence with their world-renowned professors.
Another reason was the vast potential for peer-to-peer learning. I could not imagine a more exciting and inspiring scenario than being around 129 smart people from all over the world with such diverse backgrounds.
The third aspect is the fantastic global alumni community. It provides readily available access to advice and networks and ensures a lifelong connection to the school.
Bachelor of Law and Commerce, Monash University
I think I chose to come to INSEAD for very similar reasons. While growing up, I realised that multiple disciplines drive my curiosity, so choosing a course covering a wide range of disciplines, like the Master in Management, is great.
Specifically, given that this programme is relatively new, the content that we cover is quite cutting edge. We learn from traditional management strategies, but also things like machine learning and AI which is absent in a lot of the conventional programmes. So having that broad exposure feeds into my thinking, fostering creativity, and building that problem-solving skillset from a wider base.
What do you hope to do after graduating from the INSEAD MIM?
Both Joanna and I have accepted offers at MBB [MBB refers to the name colloquially given to the world's three largest strategy consulting firms], so I will start my career there. I will continue to work in this sphere as long as it is inspiring and growing.
The learning opportunities, international environment and perspectives consulting brings when you are fresh out of university are, in my view, absolutely unique – and I'm excited to start that journey.
Down the road, I would like to use my passion for achieving gender equality as a driver in my career.
I find it a worthy goal to ensure that no woman, or other minority, should have second thoughts about their abilities or options due to factors outside of personal control.
INSEAD's vision of using business as a force for good was one of the key drivers that motivated me to come here. I'm a generalist with a broad range of interests, and my education included business-oriented topics, politics, and cultural sciences. I would now like to combine this knowledge with actually having a social impact.
That is why I use my time at INSEAD to explore as much as possible - because I don't think there are many better places to find out what you want to do. You get inspired through the very lively campus life, with career events, many alumni and MBAs whom you can talk to. This will, step by step, lead you to your ideal role.
In one sentence: Solving the unsolvable, so it's solving it differently and solving it better. I think my pathway in law and finance, in not-for-profits, and consulting is building on that. My ambition is to continue learning new skills, solving big problems, and tackling them from a different angle.
What were you most looking forward to in the MIM programme?
The people, without doubt. I don't think it needs any further explanation.
I was and still am very much looking forward to Singapore. As a European who has not seen Asia, except for India, having the opportunity to live there for four months, being exposed to an entirely new culture in the middle of a vibrant city like Singapore, is fantastic.
The structure of the MIM programme allows us to first be in Fontainebleau, where we can build a close-knit community because of the proximity to one another, and then together move to Singapore, where we'll have an entirely different experience.
I think we can all agree that the diversity in people creates chemistry, which is fascinating.
At the same time, without a doubt, we all experienced friction because of that diversity. But that's one of the challenges that we're looking to overcome because it's one of the essential skills in the business world these days. It's great preparation for your career to build that skill.
Adding to Joanna's point, I believe that [managing diversity] is what INSEAD teaches you. You can go anywhere to study business or machine learning - it's not that hard to find a programme that offers that. But it's not everywhere that you have a chance to experience the world's most complicated group dynamics in one setting.
The learnings brought on by this are invaluable and humbling. I believe everybody coming out from INSEAD has an entirely different perspective of how they are leaders and team players – and hopefully also changes for the better in the process.
Tell us about the Funds for Good Initiative.
The gender equality cause has been close to my heart since I was young. In Denmark, we are struggling with getting females into top leadership positions, which led me to found Female Leadership Academy (now Denmark's largest organisation offering leadership programmes to students and young professionals).
At INSEAD, your horizons and opportunities are broadened to an international scale – and although it is great that back in Denmark we are tackling the national issue, the global problem is much larger as many countries don't have equal access to education.
I believe that equal access to education is a key driver to achieving gender equality.
When we started in August 2021, the Taliban took over Afghanistan and effectively banned girls from the same education boys receive – causing unequal access to education – and in effect limiting these girls from taking their place in society on the same terms as the brothers. Following the spirit from aiding this agenda in the Western world, where we need women to rise in ranks, to Afghanistan where girls need a proper education as a first step, is how the cause started.
On the first day of INSEAD, I was lucky enough to meet the two girls that could make this happen - Joanna, who has tremendous experience with refugees, and Celine, who has impressive experience in fundraising and marketing.
So, we came together to essentially promote this vision of aiding women's education in Afghanistan, the fact being that we are an educational institution ourselves. We also thought it was a very nice fit with the privilege we have been given of studying at INSEAD, but it should be extended, or at least a route to education across the world, which is why we started the initiative.
Fortunately, we are not the only ones believing in this cause. So did INSEAD, the Hoffmann Institute and our colleagues. Since the end of August, we and 25 of our classmates – from 18 different nationalities – have been meeting every Tuesday as active contributors to this cause, with the rest of the cohort following and supporting on the sideline.
The goal for the Funds for Goods initiative is to become a MIM tradition, where every year's intake comes together to aid the world for the better.
This year, the focus is on women's education in Afghanistan because gender equality and education are close to us. Next year's class might want to support climate change, and the following may like to support wildlife in South America. The main denominator should be that students are driven by a passion of coming together to support a good cause – because part of being a responsible leader (the shared INSEAD goal) is also taking on that responsibility before you become a leader.
The business world, the conventional one of capitalism, is looking for measures of success, but our generation has a different set of beliefs. It's all about impact.
I think this is a testament to who we are, what we believe in, and what our generation cares for.
And if we are doing good in climate change, in education, I think it's important to recognise and reflect that in our experiences and stay true to our values.
The initiative is based on three pillars. The first pillar is raising awareness, which we are doing through events, for instance, our webinar during INSEAD SDG week, where we partnered with the Hoffman Institute, Save the Children and Women for Women International.
The second pillar is the fundraising campaign, which was launched in November and will run until our highlight in January, the charity gala. The event will unite the forces of students, alumni and the INSEAD family to raise funds for our cause, for example, through live auctions.
To add, the primary purpose of the gala is to connect the attendees with the purpose so that they take a sense of responsibility with them when they go out and become the future leaders of the world.
We are noticing inevitable media fatigue about the Afghanistan topic already.
The situation for girls and women in Afghanistan is becoming more critical every day.
It was on top of everyone's mind when we started in August, but now, how much do you still hear about it? The need for help is essentially growing.
How can someone help support your initiative or find out more?
To support or learn more about our initiative, you can visit our website mimfundraiser.org. Here it is possible to donate; however, more important is to help by raising awareness in your network because the problem is not going away.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself on what is going on in the world, get your network activated, and help in the best way you can.
If you have friends or family affected by Afghanistan, check in on them, and if you have children, raise them equally – the fact that we don't have gender equality in a single country in the world is part of the bigger problem.
So concretely, you can support our work through our website, but more importantly, make sure you stay informed and treat the people around you equally.
Do you have any tips for future MIM candidates?
If you are an ambitious student who takes the initiative, there will be a space for you.
Be ready for an intense life. It's not solely about the complexity of academic subjects at INSEAD, the many group projects or the social life. The pressure and the intensity are created by combining those different dimensions. It's a social one, an academic one, and a career one as we progress further in the programme.
If you are someone with a sense of initiative and who wants to create change, INSEAD provides you endless opportunities to get engaged.
I've never been to a place where people give you as much support and always have an open ear for your ideas, which I find is very special.
Another piece of advice:
Think about what diversity really means because it's way more than what you might think it is. Though having had numerous multicultural experiences before, many people are surprised by how challenging it can be. Make yourself familiar with the culture of INSEAD, talk to alumni and current students because this is not the typical business school.
The biggest tip in my head is to have a can-do attitude. When you're at a place that is so well resourced, so talented, and where you're building a network with top-notch professionals, top-notch professors and there's a whole load of possibilities, and you might have a bold dream or goal. If you're thinking, can I achieve this?
This is your time to take ownership because this is a place where you can craft your pathways.
Just know that if you act on it, it's possible here. This is how the Funds for Good started; I had a conversation about experiences we try to achieve, and it's all happening within three or four months. So just having that attitude is very important.
For more information about the Funds for Good Initiative and the fundraiser, please visit the campaign website. The money will go towards the "Stronger Women, Stronger Nations" programme in Afghanistan, helping women to access education, generate income, and become economically self-sufficient, and to Save the Children, who focus on providing school access and necessities.