EMFin Viewpoints: Jonathan Lim
Year Graduated: 2022
Current Role: Investment Manager at Private Real Estate Management Group
"So seize the moment, plan early and give it a go. It may well end up to be one of the best decisions you could have made for years to come!"
Why did you choose INSEAD’s Executive Master in Finance (EMFin), amongst other programmes out there?
I was looking for a programme that offered elements relevant to continue building my career in the alternative investments space and at the same time, could provide an integrated and holistic approach towards developing professionals for a finance track in their careers. Sitting through numerous information sessions for almost an entire year prior whilst I was still deliberating my choices, had convinced me that a Masters in Finance degree was best suited for my career aspirations.
I was attracted to INSEAD based on its global standings and particularly, how the nature of its EMFin programme conducted from the Singapore campus worked perfectly for a professional here like me – to be able to continue my job locally as I studied whilst building as many connections as possible to an international network through the programme.
For me, INSEAD’s global brand name and stature, guided by its focus on student diversity, is like a magnet that draws the best talents from all around the world right to my doorstep through the campus in Singapore.
What made you decide to embark on a master programme with the COVID-19 situation going on?
Two main factors contributed to my decision to start the programme this year despite the pandemic – a personal resolve and the confidence given by the EMFin team at INSEAD.
I had already set my sights on pursuing my masters for a couple of years, but have been putting off the decision. Having committed significant time and resources to put in my application since the start of the year and eventually earning a place at a top-notch programme with INSEAD, I was determined to stay the course and not allow any externalities to put any dent on my ambitions.
Beyond that, I also hold the view that in the grand scheme of things, there would ultimately be an inflection point – we will eventually ride out the crisis.
Rather than sit and wait for a reset, why not take the opportunity to invest in myself to better position my career prospects for the future when conditions improve?
With my heart set on pushing ahead with the programme, the next question was whether the quality of teaching would be affected given the prevailing restrictions. This concern was alleviated by the transparent communication with the team behind the EMFin programme and their dedication to reassure participants in the lead up to course commencement. On top of timely email replies and updates, there were a couple of Q&A sessions organised via Zoom to specifically answer all the cohort’s queries and keep us all posted on conditions related to the conduct of the classes.
These were instrumental in convincing me that the programme would be managed in the best way possible.
How was your Module 1 experience?
I did have some initial anxiety heading into the programme amidst the unprecedented restrictions and uncertainties. However, once we had hit go, things just fell into place as lessons kicked off with participants resident in Singapore attending on campus while those abroad attended lessons via Zoom. And it wasn’t just by chance that things had executed according to plan, but was simply down to the tireless efforts of our programme manager, who ensured that classes chugged along seamlessly and that all our needs were taken care of – much like a nanny to overgrown kids!
Lectures took place at a breathtaking speed and the curriculum content was heavy, capped off with a full-day exam, as we had been “forewarned” for the first two foundation modules. Thankfully, the demands of the course were softened by daily wholesome breakfast / tea-break snack packs, lively interactions with professors and unreserved sharing of information and knowledge through breakout discussions.
Tell us more about your classmates!
True to INSEAD’s ethos of celebrating diversity in cultures and bringing together people of different backgrounds, my class profile has an outreach that spans across almost all major continents. Learning that I would have classmates joining from halfway across the globe and beyond (UAE, The Netherlands, Canada, Brazil… just to name a few!) brought a real sense of excitement and curiosity in me. On top of that, we also have a group that is well balanced in terms of age and professional background.
Starting the programme in the thick of a pandemic was something no one would have wished for, however the spirit to connect and interact was never dampened. In fact, a group of us, myself included, had arranged for drinks together even before the official start of Module 1. And now, there are still regular lunch group gatherings and drinks being organised by our classmates, albeit always in small groups and abiding by social distancing guidelines. To see such spontaneity and cohesiveness continuing to develop is indeed encouraging.
Experiencing the module under such peculiar circumstances had also fostered a sense of camaraderie amongst us. Interestingly enough, it was perhaps the obstacles presented to us that accelerated the bonding process and brought the best out of each individual. It felt like all of us had a common purpose – to ensure everyone get the best experience possible, and no one gets left behind regardless of where one had to plug-in from for the programme.
Any advice to prospects out there who are interested in joining the EMFin, but hesitating because of such uncertain times now?
COVID-19 has undoubtedly disrupted plans, changed lives and altered the perceptions of many people. Besides, committing to a master programme is understandably a big decision and more often than not, we end up putting it aside for things that are seemingly far less daunting, what more during such challenging circumstances.
But as they say: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. There will never be a perfect moment (or even right time) to embark on your Master's journey, as I have learnt.
So seize the moment, plan early and give it a go. It may well end up to be one of the best decisions you could have made for years to come!