The Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) Class of 2022 started their journey in 2020 on our three campuses in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Meet some participants from this extraordinary group of ambitious and inspiring professionals who have firmly set their sights on the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead!
Group Safety Manager, Cathay Pacific Airways
“In times of crisis, everything that we do has to be re-thought, and the strategy has to be relevant,” says Catherine, an operations and risk professional in the aviation industry.
Currently, she is the Chair of the IATA Cabin Operations Safety Technical Group, providing support for airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I look at the GEMBA as an expansive science laboratory, which will allow us to test our hypotheses in real time,” she says.
Catherine has a strong interest in women’s rights, diversity and inclusion, and loves training for sports races. At home, she describes herself as "a typical hands-on mum with two young children".
“My husband has always been supportive throughout my career,” she shares. “He attained his PhD years ago, and therefore understands how much it means for me to continue my education. It did not surprise him when I told him casually that I was looking into executive courses, but what really got his attention was my ‘gutsy’ choice to apply at INSEAD!”
Though there were other options available in Hong Kong, for Catherine the GEMBA stood out as it allows her to continue her learning at locations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
“More importantly, I appreciated the fact that INSEAD embraces diversity, equality and inclusion, something I value incredibly!”
At the GEMBA, Catherine hopes to acquire the toolkit to build resilient and people-oriented organisations, while her ultimate objective is to support the development of a just and fair society. She also looks forward to having many enlightening discussions with her classmates on working and thriving amidst today’s most unpredictable, complex and volatile circumstances.
Assistant General Manager, Cheung Woh Technologies Ltd
For Christopher, a senior executive with 10 years’ experience in regional operations and sales who is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, the primary objective of attending the GEMBA programme was to prepare himself to stay relevant in the global business environment.
Having spent eight years in operational roles in China and Malaysia, and leading business development for the past two years, he felt that 2020 was the right time to seek a new challenge and develop new skills to further his career.
Christopher only applied to INSEAD due to its rigorous education with a global perspective, strong understanding of disruptive technology and innovation, as well as the opportunity to engage with like-minded peers from a diverse range of backgrounds.
“While I was accepted to the programme before the start of the pandemic, this global crisis has only reinforced my decision to pursue the EMBA,” he shares.
“The current chain of events have led to real-time adaptation of multiple industries, and this situation has become an extraordinary opportunity for learning in this crisis.”
Middle East Section
Managing Director, CardinalStone Securities
Elile joins the class with over a decade of experience in investment advisory. She has successfully executed several major equity capital raising transactions, and is well-versed in strategic planning and implementation, marketing, teambuilding and leadership.
Furthermore, Elile is passionate about leading Africa’s best efforts in attracting private and social sector capital for investment into critical economic sectors.
“My goals for the Executive MBA are to broaden my knowledge and skills, expand my professional network and my career opportunities”, she shares. “I chose the GEMBA programme for three main reasons: I have always admired INSEAD, a world-class school and widely known for its diversity and robust curriculum, particularly the Leadership Development Programme.
Another reason was the duration of the programme as well as the three campuses in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and France. And lastly, my engagement with the alumni was very positive and sealed my decision - all of them were so authentic and confirmed that the experience was life-changing.”
“When COVID-19 hit the world, I had made up my mind I was not going to defer my programme. Moreover, we all do not know for sure when the pandemic will be over," says Elile.
"I was keen on going ahead and just taking it one step at a time."
With current safety precautions in place, she had to zoom in from home for the first two modules. While she certainly hopes to eventually still be able to avail of the “full package” of the GEMBA experience with travels and networking, Elile also enjoyed the comfort of being close to her family during these times of uncertainty.
“My 3-year-old little one keeps tapping my door intermittently to offer a hug; honestly, those hugs were timely and have seen me through the intensity of the GEMBA programme so far. These are some of the privileges you enjoy as a "Zoomer,” she shares.
Of her classmates, she says: “I have met some very smart, amazing people from different cultures and truly can't wait to meet them in person. After module 1, there was a riot in my home country, and I was so moved that amid the uncertainty, two of my classmates saw the news on TV and reached out to be sure that I and my loved ones were fine. Even though we haven’t yet met in person, we are connected.”
Global Head, HR and Transformation Projects, Hikma Pharmaceuticals
United Arab Emirates, Jordan
“As an experienced individual progressing well in my career, I had two thoughts in my mind related to getting an MBA,” shares Laith, who is a member of several leadership teams and joins the class with 12 years of work experience in the FMCG and pharmaceutical industries.
“First, I wanted to minimise the time between taking in new learnings and applying them, and secondly, the opportunity cost in going for a full-time versus a part-time or Executive MBA.”
The format of the INSEAD’s Global Executive MBA programme ticked all the boxes.
Laith, who is experienced in managing global teams in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America, also valued the opportunity of being surrounded by seasoned professionals sharing unique and diverse experiences in the class.
When it became clear that the pandemic would not be over any time soon, he pondered whether he would still be getting the best out of this investment. “The thought process I had is that there will never be a precisely ideal time to go for an MBA, as there would always be something not in favour of this commitment - especially being amidst a COVID-19 quarantine with no known end date,” he says.
Ultimately, Laith felt that going ahead with the 2020 intake despite the circumstances has unconsciously made him more committed and diligent to make this a worthwhile experience.
The frequent updates and flexibilities provided by the programme management team further reassured him that the GEMBA core offering would not be compromised, even if some parts of the programme would be conducted virtually.
“Having gone through module 1 already, meeting my classmates was a highlight that made a huge positive difference in making this experience go beyond my expectation,” he shares. “With 14 months to go in the programme, I can see how this will be a great leap forward in my personal transformation, network, and my career!”
Managing Director, IAVQ
Raimundo is an accomplished manager and technology specialist with more than seven years of experience leading IT and business development projects. His industry experience includes airlines and tourism, where he has lead multicultural teams in commercial and technology strategy across South America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Originally, Raimundo had planned on pursuing a full-time MBA, but when an exciting new position in technology strategy came up he decided to postpone his application and focus on career progression first. He never let go of his plan though and started considering an Executive MBA.
“I must admit that I saw myself applying to the programme in a year from now, but suddenly COVID-19 struck,” he says.
“Seeing the big impact this pandemic was having on the airline and tourism industry, this seemed the perfect time to take a step back and focus on different challenges.”
The pandemic also affected his family business – a higher education institution – and Raimundo took on the challenge to bring it back to profitability, focusing on the digital transformation process this requires. “This turned out to be the perfect moment to apply to the GEMBA programme, where I could improve my leadership potential, learn from some of the most renowned academics, and grow a network and exchange ideas with some extremely accomplished fellow participants; all while applying every bit of new knowledge to my current position,” says Raimundo.
Talent Manager, Schlumberger
Gulseren started her career as an engineer on oil and gas drilling sites, working in diverse positions across Germany, Gabon, Ghana, Congo and France.
“I spent most of my career in Sub-Saharan Africa, and my assignments allowed me to witness the challenges of local communities in several countries,” shares Gulseren.
“What I felt I needed was a management skill, a leadership trait that would make lives better for people and a mind that could identify a problem and produce solutions before things escalate to a point of no return.
I was also looking for the best academic community that would challenge my intellect and strengthen my resolve in building a professional career that would not only make profits for companies, but also touch lives wherever I would find myself.”
In early 2020, she moved from Ghana to Paris, starting a new HR career track in her company in a completely new environment, and being on probation once again. “It was during this awkward moment that COVID-19 struck with all its constraints, including the infamous lockdown,” she says. “However, the lockdown allowed me to really look inward, and I found myself questioning again what my positive impact could be on my generation."
"The world had changed, but more importantly the world needed people to lead and drive that change.”
This insight renewed Gulseren’s resolve to pursue an Executive MBA, and she found INSEAD and the Global Executive MBA programme to be aligned with her own ideals and values.
Heading into module 1, Gulseren found herself amazed and excited about the easy interaction with her classmates, all coming from such diverse backgrounds. “I have worked as an expatriate my entire professional life, so having a semblance of a family means a lot to me. I am sure I will learn a lot from each of them,” she says.
About the Class
INSEAD’s Global Executive MBA’22 consist of participants from 54 different nationalities, with an average age of 38 years and 14 years of work experience. Women make up over 30% of the cohort.