The 5 Things I Learned by Doing a Multi-dimensional Career Switch After My INSEAD MBA

Marco Trindade Costa

In December 2019, when I was packing my bags to start my MBA at INSEAD and COVID-19 was still mostly unheard of, I would have never contemplated that by the following year, I would be starting a new role, in a new industry, and in a new geography after such an eventful and uncertain year.

After graduating and obtaining my MBA in December 2020, I ultimately switched from Consulting in Brazil, to starting a new exciting chapter of my career in Investment Banking in London.

Although there is no magic formula for such a transition (and luck always plays a role), and only you can determine if a multi-dimensional career switch is the right move for your professional development, I hope that some of my learnings and thoughts might serve as an inspiration for those who are contemplating an MBA at INSEAD and a career transition.

1) Plan ahead: 

INSEAD is an intense one-year programme and you literally have a world of possibilities during and after the MBA.

Engaging early in your thought process, your networking, and your mapping of possibilities is fundamental to make the most out of the programme, particularly if you’re thinking of a multi-dimensional career shift. Although you’ll likely learn and change during your MBA, making it clear to yourself what you want to take out of the programme will help you to prioritise the overwhelming possibilities that will come your way. For some careers, such as banking for example, taking a few steps before your programme starts can really help your chances of landing a job. Remember – strategy is just as much about deciding what to do as it is about deciding what NOT to do or to de-prioritise.

2) Embrace new ideas and adapt your plans as you go:

 Although an initial plan will come a long way, I think you could be missing valuable learnings by coming with a very narrow and fixed set of objectives.

The whole point of joining so many inspiring people in the arguably most diverse and vibrant student community in the world, in my view, is to learn about others – and yourself.

There may be multiple paths that can lead you to achieve your underlying career and personal ambitions, so keeping an open mind to update your plans as you learn or as circumstances change – as they continuously did during 2020 for example – can help you to not only achieve success but also enjoy the process of getting there.

3) Leverage the resources INSEAD offers you:

You won’t be alone in your journey at INSEAD to achieve a career transition.

From an amazing network of alumni and students, to dedicated company events, career and leadership coaching and the sheer day-to-day company of the many friends you’ll make along the way going through a similar situation, you’ll find plenty of support to do a career transition. The resources will be there, but it’s up to you to leverage them or ask for additional support, particularly for less “standard” career transitions. 

4) Weigh the risks and choose what works for YOU: 

A career transition doesn’t come without risks.

Regardless of how much you network, there are some aspects of a new career path that you just have to experience in order to learn.

Although post-MBA career changes are hardly irreversible in my view, and I believe that your INSEAD MBA will help to open doors not only to your first post-MBA job but to opportunities for the rest of your life, carefully consider not only the requirements for but also the implications of changing careers. Consider your professional and personal situation when making your choice and continuously connect to what are your priorities and why you’re doing an MBA in the first place.

During the finance trek in London, which happened right before the MBA start, and is where I first visited the companies (including Citi) and made many few friends that helped me to navigate the process.
Photo taken duuring the pre-MBA trek in London where I first visited the companies (including Citi) and made many few friends that helped me to navigate the process.

5) Learning is more important than just changing your career path for the sake of it:

I’ve come to learn first-hand that the INSEAD MBA can provide you world-class resources and opportunities to make a career change and enlarge your view of the world.

However, fundamentally more important than just changing your career path is learning more about those around you and yourself and how to maximise your impact in the areas that you are passionate about.

You might come to realise or confirm – just as I did – that doing a multi-dimensional career switch is a reasonable path to achieve those goals. You might realise, however, after exploring new ideas and meeting new people, that improving or continuing your positioning within your previous industry, geography, or role is the best way to achieve what really matters to you – which is also a very valuable learning. Whatever you conclude, INSEAD – a truly business school for the world – can be a remarkable step in your continuous learning journey.