Business Foundations - Should You Do It?

Damien Engelhardt

In short, yes.

Long answer, definitely.

There are three foundations that the doing BFP lays for you: academic, social, and omgwhatisgoingon.


Many of those who did BFP came from a completely non-business background. Journalists and lawyers for example. For them, as I understand it, BFP was a life-saver; an intense week to find out what you don’t know. But I’d also recommend it to people with finance/business experience. I came from a moderately quantitative and financial background, having spent the previous two years working as an Impact Analyst and Financial Associate at two financial non-profits (microfinance and impact investing). I did a lot of accounting, built models, and basically lived (and, sadly, dreamed) in excel. That being said, school is a different animal, and it’s not easy to get those gears turning again.

Remember the first time you opened the GMAT textbook? Perhaps you felt some vague familiarity, like seeing an old friend from high school. Maybe you didn’t recognise anything at all (an old friend from middle school?). Or maybe you knew all the terms but liked knowing what was going to be on the test (an ex-best friend from uni?). BFP helps you with any of those stages.

Quick –

What is the exponent of a logarithm?

What’s the relationship between dividend payable, dividend expense, and retained earnings?

How do you find a bond’s yield if you know the NPV?

Wait – what’s an ‘NPV’??

Do that in class for five hours, now do problem sets for five more hours.

Head hurt? Mine did. But now I remember how to listen in class, how to study, how to learn. You don’t realise you’ve forgotten how until you remember.

Whether you are familiar with the material or not, BFP is a great warm up for actually studying for your MBA.


Why did I apply to INSEAD? A major reason was for the people – I wanted to meet folks from all around the world who have done all kinds of things. BFP is a microcosm of what the year will be like – a mining engineer from South Africa, a real estate developer from Lebanon, a national defense consultant from Sydney. Yeah, that’s why I’m here! I get to work with you, grab a coffee (or two) with you, and grab a beer (or three) with you?? Sign me up. It was a ridiculously fun week the reaffirmed my decision to attend INSEAD (especially after having paid that deposit... gulp).

Not only that, it will help me when I start properly in January. It is exhausting to meet hundreds of people while battling jetlag and trying to figure out what is going on. BFP gave me a head start – 40 friends who I can relax with. 40 friends who I can ask for advice. 40 people who won’t ask me ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘What do you do?’. I know that it’s going to help because attending the Welcome Weekend helped during Business Foundations, and meeting future INSEAD-ers in New York helped during the Welcome Weekend. The first few weeks are going to be fast, it’s great to have some friends to start.


Where’s my house?

Where’s the bank?

Come to think of it, where is campus?

Wait, lunch is subsidised, but I can’t pay in cash… come again?

What’s the wifi!??!

Yeah, this is real. There are sooooo many things that Google and Slack and Facebook and Yammer (?) won’t tell you. BFP let me get the lay of the land and make INSEAD start to feel like home.

These three foundations (academic, social, omg) won’t make or break INSEAD by any means. But it’s a fun week that is an academic kick in the butt, gives you a bunch of friends, and let’s you start to figure out what’s what.

Plus, everyone says this is the best year of your life. Why not make it a year and a week?