Physicist Albert Einstein once said that “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”. For organisational leaders who roll up their sleeves and continue to find ways to demonstrate success in the face of challenge, this is especially true.
But leadership is learned, and what was defined as a demonstration of success yesterday may not hold true for tomorrow. How messages are delivered matter more than ever, and staying relevant when it comes to leadership is imperative. Those who open up their horizons for personal growth by gaining new skills and insights therefore set themselves up with opportunities for success.
Disruptions as opportunities for growth and resilience
Raimundo Frohlich, current INSEAD Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) participant from Chile, had wanted to advance his career in the Aviation and Travel industry with an MBA in 2017, but after taking up a challenging new position with a leading airline felt the time was not right.
When the pandemic struck, the crisis became a catalyst to pursue the opportunity. “Seeing the impact it was having on the industry, it became the perfect moment to apply to the GEMBA programme, where I could improve my leadership potential, learn from some of the most renowned academics, grow a network and exchange ideas with some extremely accomplished fellow students; all while applying every bit of new knowledge to my current position.”
João Costa, his classmate from Portugal, agrees that the recent months have been “a tremendous business and personal opportunity.”
Speaking of his GEMBA experience so far, he says, “Recent times have made everything more challenging but also more meaningful, because previously trivial and taken-for-granted moments now become rare and valuable opportunities to create memorable stories and friendships.”
Leadership is much more than management
Maximising leadership potential is at the heart of everything INSEAD stands for, and a crucial part of that is fostering an atmosphere of mutual support among students and alumni. Through classroom activities, shared projects and WhatsApp groups, students freely share insights and knowledge with each other and recognise this as key to their individual growth as well as that of the community.
It is one of the aspects that Gulseren Topcuoglu, from Turkey and currently also pursuing the INSEAD GEMBA, most appreciates. “As we experience in our professional lives, one of the traits of effective leadership is genuine care, and this is even more critical in achieving success in times like these,” she says.
“I have seen every person in the cohort care deeply about the others, and offer help on different occasions. This could be academic content, coaching, or just making sure our classmates on Zoom are engaged in the discussions in the class or virtual group work.”
Others, such as Natalya Markhiyeva from Kazakhstan, who graduated from the EMBA in 2021, have praised the “strong alumni network”, describing the community as “open and supportive.”
One of the unique features of the INSEAD EMBA is the Leadership Development Programme (LDP), which runs alongside other modules, concentrating on an individual’s progress. It focuses on flexibility, self-awareness and versatility, encouraging reflection as well as action.
“The faculty at INSEAD is outstanding, the programme is extremely well designed and the course materials are world-class, but this is not what makes INSEAD the most special,” says Bozena Adamczyk, from Poland, who graduated in 2018. “It is the personal journey that every Executive MBA participant embarks on, called the LDP.”
Costa agrees, seeing it as one of the backbones of the GEMBA. “[The LDP] was one of the key reasons I joined the INSEAD GEMBA, since I truly wish to improve as a leader. It has allowed me a much deeper level of self-awareness and understanding of why I behave as I do. This safe environment, backed up by a lot of insights from observers, facilitated by our very professional coach and with peer-to-peer feedback, made the experience eye-opening.”
Diversity as a leadership pillar
Key to all of these experiences, however, is INSEAD’s celebration of diversity, a foundation stone that provides a solid base for learning and growth.
“Diversity is not just about achieving a certain number of nationalities, a percentage of gender balance or a ratio of disabled persons,” says Joëlle Marsot, from France.
“In class, professors have exposed us to myriad types of organisation, business strategies and ideologies. They constantly encourage us to share viewpoints in an unrestricted way and to voice criticism in a careful way,” the current GEMBA participant adds.
“Diversity and inclusion are about giving a voice to people who don’t think, talk, look or move like you. INSEAD is making sure that everyone counts.”
Redefining the leaders of today, and tomorrow
Over the past six decades, INSEAD has built a reputation for honing some of the world’s most entrepreneurial minds. The business school attracts students from every stage of their careers, from those who have recently graduated, to experienced and successful leaders wishing to increase their skill sets.
The challenges of recent times and the increased appreciation of business agility have only boosted demand for INSEAD’s master programmes, which combine educational rigour with an emphasis on creativity and innovation.
The objectives for students are two-fold – to open new horizons for personal growth, while bringing benefit to their companies and organisations in the shape of new skills and insights.
What attracts many to INSEAD specifically is its global reach and the importance that it places on multiculturalism and diversity. Alumni hail from over 170 countries globally, and the school has campuses in France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and a Hub in San Francisco.
Several of its programmes offer opportunities to travel between the campuses. Among others, GEMBA incorporates modules in all three, while the Tsinghua-INSEAD EMBA (TIEMBA) also features a component at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.