Choosing INSEAD’s MBA for its Global Identity

Wei Low

The final exam has just ended. People are streaming into the school bar, congratulating each other. Some even start hugging their friends and bidding teary farewells.

A typical bunch of graduating MBA students, you say? Not quite. That was the scene played out last month when we finished Period 2, only four months into our ten-month MBA.

The end of Period 2 is a milestone for INSEAD students. Prior to that, we take only core modules with the same group of peers. But once Period 2 ends, everyone’s journey begins taking off in disparate directions, because from Periods 3 to 5 (until graduation), we disperse into different elective modules as well as campus exchanges.

Campus exchanges are a highlight of INSEAD’s MBA.

About 80 percent of students participate, heading on to France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, USA or China, via campuses belonging to either INSEAD or its partner institutions. Some students even participate in three or more exchanges in total.

With most of us zipping off on exchange elsewhere, the completion of Period 2 therefore heralds the last time we get to see some friends until graduation day. That explains why, on the final day of that period, we were bidding each other farewell, though our MBA was barely halfway over.

Such “premature” farewells are tough. But they are also a tough reminder of why I had initially chosen INSEAD – for the global nature of its MBA, which matches with my ambition to have a career with a global impact.

For one, few other schools provide such flexibility for overseas campus exchanges, or allow so many students to participate in these exchanges and develop their networks globally. INSEAD does both, as it boldly defines itself as “the business school for the world”.

While I am usually skeptical of such self-branding statements, I believe from my four months here that the school indeed takes its global identity seriously. For example, it is one of the only schools that require competency in three languages for students to graduate, which means that some of us are taking language classes on top of our usual ones.

The language requirement might appear challenging. But, together with the exchange programmes, it spurs us to interact with a world beyond our own, making our INSEAD experience truly global.

That said, some might question the merits of a global MBA, since shifting sociopolitical trends have caused some parts of the world to become inward-looking instead. However, such unpredictable trends all the more require one to effectively adapt to a fast-changing world. I believe that INSEAD’s MBA will equip me to do so, paving the way for me to strive for an international career. Therefore, for someone like me, INSEAD’s global identity remains relevant as ever.

This is one big reason why I chose the school, and I look forward to an exciting international career after graduation. For now, as Period 3 begins, I look forward to two exciting months ahead of being on exchange in INSEAD’s Abu Dhabi campus.