Exactly What I Was Looking For

Camille O'Sullivan

It was late January 2020 and I finally decided to apply to the TIEMBA programme, which also coincided with the start of the COVID pandemic. I had been researching and casually poking around the Executive MBA space for a couple of years, but now felt like it was the right time to make a commitment.   

The deadline for the next intake for the TIEMBA ’22 cohort was fast approaching, so I had to focus and thoughtfully prepare my application to make the cut-off date. When I received the news that I had been accepted into the programme in June, the world had completely changed from when I had started the process.   

We were still in the “circuit breaker” (lockdown) in Singapore with a lack of clarity on when things would lift. Faced with the reality of indefinite travel restrictions, I weighed whether to postpone my studies until next year or to start now, albeit in a quasi-virtual setup. I ultimately decided to press on and become part of the TIEMBA ’22 class.  

Why? I actually asked myself: Why not? 


I took stock of why I had applied to INSEAD and Tsinghua in the first place, and I assessed my personal goals of obtaining an EMBA. Sure, the school experience will be different for now but now is an amazing time to broaden my academic horizons and meet new people while we are all dealing with the backdrop of a global pandemic.

What new ways of collaboration and teamwork will I be exposed to because this situation has forced us to change the classroom experience? I considered the possibility of things being exactly the same in a year’s time and how disappointed I would be by having delayed my studies.   

The way the world emerges from this crisis will impact everything.  

I will be experiencing this unprecedented moment in history with my TIEMBA ’22 cohort and teachers. The potential for a life-changing experience was already a big draw, but now I am even more committed to the programme. 

The TIEMBA programme was exactly what I was looking for, which was part INSEAD Global Executive MBA mixed with the Tsinghua University experience. In my current role, I cover Asia Pacific as a regional head, and I need to become more informed of how business is conducted in China. Doing business in China is unlike other places and I look forward to broadening my understanding and cultural aptitude through exposure to my classmates and professors, as well as learning Mandarin!  

Since it is a dual degree programme, I will have access to two alumni networks, which was a key selling point. In fact, when I first toured the Singapore campus, Antony Widjaja from the marketing and recruitment team introduced me to a TIEMBA alumna with a similar background. I was able to get a sense of the programme, the commitment, where she was in her career when she entered and what she had gotten from it.

In my company, I work with someone currently completing the GEMBA (’21) and we spoke a few times about her experiences, how she was handling the workload, and the level of support she had received from our company and management. My work mentor is also a former INSEAD MBA alumna and I was able to connect with her on overall impressions of INSEAD and how she keeps connected to the school 15+ years later.  

Moreover, I’ve never written a thesis and I’m looking forward to this in-depth research and writing experience. Finally, I was drawn to the emphasis on diversity in the cohort. We are all such different people, but all seem to share an inimitable passion and energy. I am looking forward to learning from them most of all!  

Module 1 is coming up shortly and I could not be more excited!   

Whenever I’m on the verge of a big life event, it always feels like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff getting ready to jump into swirling waters below.

I’ve prepared myself as much as I can, but I won’t actually know what to expect until I’ve plunged into the depths and started swimming along.