The "Can-Do" Class of MBA'21J

Daniel Nicholls

Our class has been defined as the “can-do” class.

Despite of the COVID-19 pandemic challenge, we decided to study a compressed 10-month MBA programme at one of the highest ranked graduate institutions for business education. I took on this pursuit, because I believed the context provided us with an opportunity: to take a break from our work to focus on our self-development. I believe the pandemic context has presented us with new challenges that require a change in mindset, and INSEAD provided the perfect opportunity to reinvent.

The first months were challenging adapting to the “new normal”: PCR tests every week, social gathering constraints enforced by governments, some remote classes due to the inability of professors to travel, and the constant risk of another lockdown (which did end up happening in late October in France). Despite all, I had a fantastic experience:

  • INSEAD provided us with the infrastructure to do our weekly PCR tests conveniently on campus.
  • We became creative in how to connect with our classmates: limited sized gatherings, outdoors activities, travel within France, etc.
  • Professors became proficient in digital tools and increased their bandwidths to provide us with a seamless experience.
  • For a limited time, we learnt to interact remotely when the country went into lockdown.

My INSEAD experience was successful, in great measure, due to my classmates.

The INSEAD experience stands out from other MBA programmes because of the unique class setting: 60+ different nationalities with none of them being a majority. The classes and teams are designed to engage multiple perspectives in business situations. This experience was not limited due to COVID. In my case, it allowed me to nurture and develop deeper friendships that I might not have otherwise. Today, I have friends and colleagues spanning all geographies: Canada, France, India, Brazil, Germany, Cameron, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, etc.


As COVID restrictions lifted and vaccination programmes advanced across Europe, I was able to, in a very intense period of months, travel to multiple countries along with many friends. COVID did create challenges, but it also provided us with the opportunity to learn and recruit remotely in a fashion that would have been unthinkable in prior batches. Our class pushed the boundaries of physical constraints that traditional learning paradigms promote. From taking classes from Tenerife, Spain to Brittany, France - I believe I truly had a unique experience.


Being a sponsored consultant at INSEAD means that you can provide support to many other classmates, and with COVID, many of us had to become resourceful. I learnt to provide case practice in Zoom environments, and I had to become creative to find ways to provide my classmates with the same quality feedback and learning process an in-person setting provides you with. On the other hand, remote interviewing allowed me to better support my classmates as transit time was minimised and we could even do group prepping remotely!

I came to INSEAD without expecting a job change. Knowing I would pursue a second Masters after meant that I would not recruit during my time at INSEAD. However, thanks to INSEAD's reputation and alumni network, I received an offer to join a top mobile gaming company before I start my second master’s degree. Even though INSEAD is a 10-month MBA, they do have internship recruitment infrastructure and expertise given that one batch a year joins in January, interns in the summer and graduates at the end of the calendar year.

As the INSEAD experience concluded, it was highly rewarding to see and hear the recruiting success stories of many classmates.

It was truly surprising to me to witness the degree of change that INSEAD allows you to achieve. From NGO management in remote islands to sustainability consulting in Amsterdam, from freelance project management in Canada to a CEO rotation-track at a top health/pharma company, from high-tech manufacturing in India to management consulting. INSEAD truly provides you with the grounds to change industry, function, and geography all at the same time.