A Foundation in More Ways Than One

Joanna Teoh

From the decision of doing an MBA, to sitting for the GMAT, and staring longingly at your mobile phone to see if I would get the admissions call, it has been quite a journey to get here. With the official opening of school for 19J, the whirlwind has been slowly picking up speed.

Before this, I signed up for the Business Foundations course in Singapore and started school a few days earlier with a smaller group of classmates. We had a good mix of people and half the fun, for me, was learning about them and their backgrounds. As a Singaporean, I was more than happy to share stories, food recommendations and trivia. Their questions and perspectives shone a different light on the country, which was extremely intriguing for a local like me.

Academically, the course was structured like this - we had classes in the morning from 9am to 3pm and group work for the rest of the day for five days. Finance, Financial Accounting and Quant Math were covered with pre-readings, cases and presentations. Our amazing professors, Lucie Tepla, Peter Joos and Miguel Lobo, possessed immense patience and kindness as they took us through the topics. Frankly speaking, it was, and possibly still is, a challenge to gear myself back to studying after years of being out of school – but I was thankful for the engaging lessons and an array of cafes nearby that helped me along the way.

It was interesting to see how each student processed the teachings and how we fed that back to each other when we worked on our assignments. Every member of our group played the role of a teacher, filling the gaps for one another. Sometimes, our interpretation was not as accurate as we hoped. With questions left unanswered, our professors, who did rounds in the afternoon, stepped in to help. With a collective effort, we made it through the five days relatively unscathed and more prepared.

From left to right: Hammad, Beatriz, myself, Yannick and photographer Chase

Going into the Business Foundations course, I was excited with a tinge of nausea. This feels exactly like being on a roller coaster that is slowly climbing before the big drop. You are excited, you are nervous, you kind of know what will happen next, but at the same time, you have no clue. Of course, it also feels like your stomach has somehow moved up to your throat.

However, at the end of the five days, I felt refreshed with a renewed sense of confidence.

The group of us bonded over our experience, our growth (from “I have no clue” to “I am somewhat comfortable with this”) and shared meals at the food court, using any small possession to “chope” (Singaporean way of reserving) a seat.

Business Foundations was just an appetiser of the INSEAD MBA experience. I am ready for the main course and more of such experiences with the rest of the class.