Engineering My Way to Business – An INSEAD Story

Abdulhameed OBILEYE

By the third year of my undergraduate degree in Engineering, I knew I wanted to do business. I didn’t know what exactly business meant, but I did know that I found my internships in commercial and business development teams absolutely fascinating.

So how would I make a switch from Mechanical Engineering to Business?

The plan was to graduate, practice as an Engineer for about five years, and then head to business school. In the meantime, I read as many business books as I could, especially autobiographies and memoirs of CEOs and business leaders. I also followed the world’s finest business schools on social media to learn from their insights.

Of the top business schools, INSEAD always stood out to me. The diversity and international outlook, fast pace, and people who seemed genuinely nice made it a first choice. Be patient, I thought. An MBA was still 5+ years into the future.

So imagine my joy and surprise when I found out INSEAD was launching a Masters in Management programme targeted at people with up to two years post-graduation work experience!

I immediately shared the link with my family and mentors, and the overwhelming response was ‘go for it’. Since I had taken the GRE exam much earlier in the year, the rest of the application was relatively straightforward. I prepared my essays, reached out to some of my recommenders, and applied in the very first round. It was a nerve-wracking couple of months while I was waiting for the response from the admissions team. Then on a warm Thursday afternoon, I received the good news. I had been admitted to the pioneer INSEAD MIM Class of 2021!

There were a couple of bumps along the way, not least the emergence of COVID-19.

With so much uncertainty, it was difficult to determine what the future would be.

But I stuck to my guns. INSEAD (and the MIM’s management team especially) did everything they could to allay our fears and keep us engaged. With support from home as well, I was convinced that going to business school in the middle of a global pandemic was the right decision.

Now a few months into the programme, I am able to reflect on my journey and note some of the key takeaways of life in the Fontainebleau campus.

The professors are amazing. There is nothing like being taught by world-class professors who are at the forefront of their fields. They are super nice and accessible too, always available to help out and explain when we are stuck. INSEAD professors have a genuine commitment to making the learning experience enjoyable, and I find it refreshing. This is not to say that coursework is easy. The hours are long, the work is rigorous but the learning is super valuable.

The diversity of my class is impressive. With a cohort representing 30+ nationalities, I am learning from and working with people from all over the world. I have gained an appreciation for different cultures, and have an increased interest in working with multi-cultural teams all around the world.

Thanks to the home group and period group rotation system, we are also able to form close relationships that would be beneficial lifelong. Even though we do not always meet physically (we have some virtual classes especially with the rising COVID-19 cases in Europe), we have strengthened our online interactions and have become a very cohesive class.

For anyone looking to apply to the INSEAD MIM, I would say just do it!

Just a piece of advice, if I may. Try to learn basic French before moving to Fontainebleau. It would make your life so much easier. As for me, I look forward to the rest of my time at INSEAD.

À bientôt!