Our Executive Master in Finance (EMFin) Class of 2022 participants started their first module recently from all over the world – on campus and online. We caught up with a few of them to find out how their first module worked out, what propelled them to embark on the EMFin amidst the COVID-19 climate and some advice they would share with people out there who are considering the EMFin programme.
Regulatory Reporting Service Delivery Lead at UBS AG
“After working in the financial industry for so many years, being back to school and meeting other people provides me a completely new perspective and deeper understanding of this sector,” shares Betty, who brings with her over 10 years of work experience in the Investment Banking and Financial Services sectors. In the span of her career, Betty has covered operations, risk control and regulatory reporting, and acquired in-depth knowledge of equity and fixed income derivatives.
When searching for a master programme, it was the modular format of INSEAD’s EMFin programme that worked for Betty – this means that she could continue to work while studying. “The world-class faculty and international diversity are also reasons why I chose INSEAD,” she adds.
Betty started the programme on the INSEAD Asia campus and met other classmates who are residing in Singapore.
“COVID-19 is one of the unprecedented changes that impacted both my professional and personal life. It has given me a chance to reflect back on how I can equip and better prepare myself for changes.”
Betty hopes to enhance her finance knowledge, establish a global network and accelerate her professional development through the EMFin programme.
For those who are still considering whether to embark on the EMFin, Betty advises: “There is no perfect timing (to start the programme).
The only thing unchanged is change itself. Uncertainty becomes certain once you embrace it. Continuous learning will eventually pay off. If not now, then when?”
Consolidation and Reporting Manager at Boluda Towage Europe
Hugo has 12 years of experience in EMEA and Latin America, with a focus on Financial Planning and Analysis. As an expat in The Netherlands, he was already familiar with business education because of his MBA studies in 2012, and already had INSEAD on his radar. Fast-forward to 2019, he decided to strengthen his finance knowledge and skill sets with the EMFin programme at INSEAD. Shortly after receiving his Letter of Acceptance in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
While Hugo was given the option of delaying his admission and join the programme later, he chose to go ahead as planned.
“I believe that crises are also opportunities,” he said.
Being based in the Netherlands, Hugo joined the class via Zoom, which was conducted in Singapore’s time zone. This meant that some lessons started at 2:30am for him. “While it is challenging, I am surprised and fascinated by how comfortable and seasoned our faculty seemed to be with students joining remotely, and participating via digital platforms,” shares Hugo. “Their experience and approach, along with the quality of my classmates created a really good learning environment.”
Apart from honing his financial knowledge, Hugo hopes to expand his global network and improve his leadership skills through the EMFin programme. In the long term, he aspires to transition into a CFO role in the Consumer Technology Industry in Europe.
Portfolio Manager, Strategic Investment Fund at Minderoo Foundation
"I was seeking a post-graduate education that would further specialise my skills and network as an investor, and so, the EMFin was a superior fit for me compared to other programmes such as an MBA,” shares Tanisha, who has recently moved back to Perth after four years as a Venture Capital (VC) Investor with one of Indonesia’s leading early-stage tech VC firms.
“I have a special interest in the investment landscape of Southeast Asia, and so my participation in the EMFin has provided me with an opportunity to connect with fellow investors who share this same geographic interest.”
Tanisha started her first module over Zoom.
“The INSEAD staff have been exceptional in facilitating the online experience in such a way that it replicated every benefit one would had if attending in person,” Tanisha shares.
She adds, “I was also extremely happy with the way the INSEAD professors and my classmates engaged with all of the online participants – everyone really came together to create a new kind of classroom experience.”
While she faced the challenge of having to juggle between work demands and classes, both her classmates and herself were well-adjusted to working across tech tools and time zones. “There were three courses in module one and each course provided a new opportunity to work with a small group of classmates. This meant that I was able to meet, (and work directly) with about half of my class. I am so impressed by the calibre of my classmates, and really enjoyed the time I had interacting with them – most of which felt more social than academic!” shares Tanisha.
Kuok Liang Chin
Manager at PwC
For Kuok Liang, there is no better time to embark on the EMFin programme than now. “I believe that the backdrop of volatility and uncertainty allows for a deeper level of discussion.
Many concepts are easy to apply in periods of stability or normality. However, during a black swan event, we learn to appreciate the nuances and limitations of such concepts,” he explains. And why the INSEAD EMFin programme?
“Apart from the course content being centred around my interest - investments and corporate finance with a strict focus on practical application - the modular format is also ideal for me. I am not keen to put my career and personal life on hold for a couple of years as one would in a full-time programme,” shares Kuok Liang, who has over six years of deals advisory experience working across South East Asia. In his current role as an engagement manager, he oversees teams and manages client delivery.
Like many of his classmates who are located in Singapore, Kuok Liang started his programme on campus. But the flexibility of the programme meant that he could attend classes online as well. “I tried the Zoom experience for one day and it was the closest thing to being there. From the voice-sensing microphones to the multitude of strategically positioned high definition cameras, the online experience was really good. I could even see the facial expressions of people who were speaking, all from the comfort of my home.” Kuok Liang recounts.
“The faculty also did a great job of ensuring that the entire class remains engaged and interactive via group projects and breakout room discussions.”
For many who are considering the EMFin programme, Kuok Liang’s advice would be to voice out and seek clarification from the INSEAD team. “More likely than not, there are many other potential candidates who have shared similar concerns and it will be useful for you to hear how they are addressed,” says Kuok Liang. “Moreover, the benefits from undertaking the EMFin are lifelong. The earlier one is able to get involved, the longer you can enjoy these benefits or - in finance speak – the higher the ROI.”
Investment Manager at Private Real Estate Management Group
Jonathan attended numerous information sessions for almost a year, before deciding that INSEAD’s EMFin is the right programme that could hone his career in the alternative investment space, as well as deepen his expertise in the finance field. “INSEAD’s global brand name and stature, guided by its focus on student diversity, is like a magnet that draws the best talents from all around the world right to my doorstep through its school here in Singapore,” explains Jonathan.
With more than 10 years of work experience as an investment professional, Jonathan brings a broad spectrum of skill sets ranging from advisory, real estate development, asset management and private equity investments into the classroom.
Despite facing a pandemic months before the programme started, Jonathan decided to go ahead as scheduled with a view that in the grand scheme of things, there would ultimately be an inflection point – everyone would eventually ride out the crisis. “Of course, my next question would be whether the quality of teaching will be affected given prevailing restrictions,” Jonathan shares. “This concern was alleviated by the transparent communication from the INSEAD team and their dedication to reassure participants in the lead up to course commencement. On top of timely email replies and updates, there were a couple of Q&A sessions organised via Zoom to specifically answer all the cohort’s queries and keep us all posted on conditions related to the conduct of the classes.”
While Jonathan did have some initial anxiety heading into the programme amidst all the uncertainties, everything fell into place once the programme started.
“Learning that I would have classmates joining from halfway across the globe and beyond (UAE, The Netherlands, Canada, Brazil, just to name a few!) sparked a real sense of excitement and curiosity in me,” says Jonathan. “Embarking on the programme under such peculiar circumstances had also fostered a sense of camaraderie amongst us. Interestingly enough, it was perhaps the obstacles presented to us that accelerated the bonding process and brought the best out of each individual.”
About The Class
The EMFin Class of 2022 consist of participants from 13 different nationalities, with an average age of 33 years and 10 years of work experience. Women make up over 40% of the cohort.