Finding My Way at INSEAD - from Confusion to Confidence

Heather Chang

I came into the MBA unsure completely of what I was getting myself into but confident it was the right move in my career. I felt frustrated working in a company where I felt I was creating “strategies” without any real idea of what I was doing and how the “higher-up” decisions in the company hardly mattered compared to the “fires” I was constantly putting out in my day-to-day work.

Instead I arrived at INSEAD and was immediately introduced to a world I hadn’t known existed, where everyone talked about the “MBBs” and inside jokes in class involved a guy named Porter.

Despite initially being overwhelmed, I have zero regrets of pursuing this MBA and owe it to my study group for playing a pivotal role in my transition from confusion to confidence.

We were officially put together during launch week, quickly sharing names and going through the classic introductions of where are you from and what did you do before. The real turning point came later in the week.

High off of debate around a case in the Introduction to Management class, the group came in sceptical to a “Personal Leadership Development session” where we learned that it would be a couple hours of sharing our background stories. My tactic was to share quickly that I was nervous about my lack of hard skill to optimise getting help.

To my surprise, they each also began to share about their own personal goals and motivations coming into the MBA. Even though my background was drastically different from theirs, the hesitation of what the year would entail but desire for growth was shared by all. I began to understand them, not as whatever career they had come from previously, but as people going through a chaotic journey together.
Though the whirlwind of classes in the following weeks did not die down, I was constantly encouraged by my team members to share my thoughts and ask questions. Despite my own doubt in understanding concepts like EBITDA and hockey sticks, they wanted to hear what I had to say and were patient to explain and support.
In the year, I have learned that it is much more a battle of insecurity rather than lack of knowledge. The reality of the business programme is that yes, there are some people who really are just that smart. However, it is way more common to find people who are just confident in their thinking and ready to share. It is more valuable to be able to believe and explain your opinion so others can learn and try to understand. I was so insecure about my lack of education in all of these major business subjects, however the reality is, my experience and perspective is even more valuable because it is different.
Our last PLDP session ended with my title as the “organised chaos” within my group and a transformation from a silent observer to active participant. I fully believe that my bachelors degree at a school that did not even exist on the INSEAD application page does have a place in the #2 MBA programme in the world and will give me an advantage as I continue on my career journey.