A Diversity of Experiences

Farah Tamer

On its website, under “Why the INSEAD MBA”, the school lists eight significant qualities that differentiate it from other programs (for the record, all absolutely accurate). The second item on the list states “The Most Diverse MBA” and qualifies that with statistics—over 90 nationalities represented each year in campuses literally across the globe. Of course, with such a pool of geographically heterogeneous candidates comes as robust a mix of professional backgrounds and personal experiences. The diversity factor compounds itself, growing from a ‘trait’ the school possesses to a defining part of its DNA.

The value of this cannot be sufficiently articulated in words. It is the kind of magic that only exists in experience, the net effect of which is akin to a microcosmic United Nations General Assembly. Class discussions truly leave no stone unturned as we draw from a seemingly all-encompassing, collective wealth of knowledge.

The layers of diversity continue to unfold at INSEAD as the MBA program progresses. You have come from a manufacturing background in the Middle East, and wish to pursue a career in investment banking somewhere in Europe. Your housemate is a consultant being sponsored by their firm back in North America, eagerly waiting to get right back into the thick of it. You are seeking an internship for the summer, your groupmates intend to explore Asia. You plan to spend the year in Fontainebleau, your newly discovered soulmate is on his or her way to Singapore comes May. On and on, the number of modes by which our experiences all begin to diverge from one another increase. It is as though orientation week is a point of confluence for all these infinitely varied vectors, before they are again dispersed into the world. For a moment we are all the same: INSEAD MBA candidates at the starting line; and then just as quickly it is “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

Of course just as the diversity compounds itself to our mutual gain, it also spreads us out across the field with the same haste.

By the end of the first month, beyond the coursework, our individual MBA experiences to-date are hardly comparable.

Whereas we were somewhat synchronized during orientation week, now we experience individual joy, while a neighbour laments temporary frustration. Conversely, your self-assessed lacklustre performance on an assignment is universally balanced by your study partner’s stellar result. “You win some, you lose some, but you live to fight another day.”

It is important not to lose this perspective. Approach every moment of the day despite your potentially less-than-ideal state of mind, not because of it. INSEAD will provide the unparalleled career transforming process as advertised, but by individually engaging our fellow candidates through a lens of empathy it can be so much more.