Beginning My Dream Job During a Global Pandemic

Meredith Fensom

Did you know that the mosquito is by far the world’s deadliest animal? Nearly three billion people are threatened by mosquito-borne illnesses and these illnesses cause millions of deaths every year. Having grown up in Florida and having spent many years living and working throughout South America, I feel strongly about public health and the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.

That’s why I was so thrilled to be joining Oxitec as Head of Global Public Affairs in May this year. Oxitec is a pioneer in biological systems to safely and sustainably control insects that spread disease and damage crops, without harmful chemicals or off-target effects for beneficial insects like bees or butterflies.

The INSEAD Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) helped me secure this exciting role in a myriad of ways.

With a background in law and Latin American studies, I had built a successful career in the public policy and biotech sphere. However, I was increasingly being brought into commercial-side responsibilities and wanted to be able to contribute in a meaningful way and have exposure to new markets.

The GEMBA has equipped me with the robust foundation in business knowledge and skills I was looking for. The core courses have been challenging but they have not been dry. Our professors have been so engaging that even the most difficult content is intriguing and learnable!

Just midway through, the programme has already given me the confidence to fulfill responsibilities that just a year ago I did not feel prepared for.

For example, Professor Phil Parker introduced Python coding to our Marketing course. I STRUGGLED through and relied on the help of many but now approach website editing and similar tasks with a sense of calm.

Through INSEAD’s many career resources and the Leadership Development Programme I’ve been empowered to be more self-aware and set on a path to continuously develop as a better person and leader.

Lastly, the degree signalled to my new employer that I was both ready for as well as capable of more responsibility.

The fact that I’m beginning this new role in public health and agriculture sustainability in the midst of a global pandemic makes it all the more meaningful.

However, this post would not be complete without a special mention of the 104 members of my GEMBA’21 Europe cohort, representing 41 nationalities. I have learned something from each of them and miss them all during this time of COVID-19 travel restrictions. We are all at similar stages in our professional lives. There are many things that unite us, perhaps the biggest is wanting to find meaning in our work. The GEMBA class is an invaluable peer network of advice and support, and I would not have been able to achieve my career goals without them.