INSEAD Fontainebleau Electives Week
This is a long overdue recap of the Fontainebleau electives module that occurred during the summer of 2018, in a little French town an hour and a half from Paris.
Weeks of study finally culminated into the long-awaited Fontainebleau electives week at the INSEAD campus in Fontainebleau. This is a module where 400 executives from the Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) programme, all three sections of the Global Executive MBA programme (GEMBA) and the INSEAD Executive Masters in Finance( EMFin) as well as alumni from all over the world gathered together for two weeks of networking, learning, and merry-making. In fact, it is at INSEAD Fontainebleau that one truly understands the other meaning of INSEAD ... ... I Never Stopped Eating And Drinking!
As the name suggests, the electives week is a two-week module where participants get to choose four 2.5-day electives from a list of nearly 30 ranging from Negotiations to Private Equity to Digital Transformation to AI to customer insights, among many others. With 400 candidates each fighting to choose their favourite four among 30 courses, bidding for the electives is in itself a battle of wits and a real-life simulation in strategy and game theory.
Positions are just starting points. To be a good negotiator, one must uncover the interests lying beneath
I managed to get the electives I've wanted, all were good but some were simply outstanding! Negotiation was one such elective, taught by Professor Roderick Schwab - nominated for the Best Teaching award for the INSEAD electives. The elective is made up of a series of negotiation exercises in a wide variety of settings, from simple one-to-one distributive cases to multi-party multi-issues integrative examples such as the Disneyland negotiation involving government officials, corporates and mayors of various villages all with their own agendas. We learnt about BATNAs and MESOs, we also examined how culture affects whether people negotiate individualistically or collectively, how it determines negotiators exchange information etc. It's amazing that the amount of things covered in this elective could probably be the topic of a few more blog posts, here or under KeyHole Insights. What I took away was more than just becoming a better negotiator. Hopefully, becoming a better negotiator also makes me a better leader, entrepreneur, colleague, husband and father!
Good negotiation skills is about being generous and finding win-win solutions, it is not about selfishness.
Another key part of Fonty (a term of endearment we so fondly refer to the France campus) is the big party where all the executives come together at the Fontainebleau Palace dressed in their national/ethnic costume to celebrate the very values - inclusiveness and diversity - the school was established for. Unknown to many,
INSEAD’s founding ambition was to promote reconciliation and renaissance in post-war Europe.
In between the big party and the studying, there were of course lots of other events such as lunchtime talks where we had speakers such as the ex-CEO of Saudi Aramco, Chief Strategy Officer of Schneider Electric, class-initiated company visits to Corning Inc, as well as many other group dinners, sports events, parties and even the World Cup 2018 Finals!!!
What made the Fonty electives module really unforgettable was the fact that we learned not only from the professors, but as much from participants from other programmes all over the world, in the topics we are most interested in. We build stronger relationships with old friends and classmates, and network with new ones. We celebrated and basked in the diversity of the backgrounds of all participants. We studied hard and played even harder!