INSEAD MBA – At Some Time You’d Like to Compose a Poem for It

Catherine Zhang

It's half past midnight. I have just come home from school after a long walk through a foresty neighborhood. Suddenly I felt this tenderness flying around in the air.

As this mystical wind blew, I decided to pause my individual report for Strategy.

The MBA suddenly became soft. The past 50 days have been a softening process, of time, of humanity, of everything in my life that I can touch and feel.

Seriously? Don't people think of an MBA as stainless steel? Tough, cold, shiny and unbreakable. 

I dare to say, not many people who came to this programme had more doubts than me. I was already an entrepreneur. I obtained my master's degree in management from a renowned university in France. I almost had investors for my firm before I knew I'd be going for MBA. I write songs and I maintain a certain level of fantasies about life.

Most importantly, I'm not eager to prove myself.

Then why do I have to come to INSEAD? Being intentionally reserved, I came as a quiet observer and await the answers.

The MBA is the wave that completely crushed my sand castle of reservation.

The moments that made me believe that I might have found the answers:


When I was sitting in my career coach's office, she said, you are such a corporate hippie, just like me. Then she asked me to "go wild" on drafting my paragraph about my drives for life.

When I told the PLDP (Personal Leadership Development Programme) coach in our group coaching session that I still feel like as if I'm gliding over most of my group works and not really contributing, all of a sudden every one in my group started to defend me. One harshly hilarious banker said, you're the one person I've never worked with whom I found most difficult to work with, but I learned many things, that's the reason I came to INSEAD.

When we went to Jakarta with the Private Equity Club and held an amazing event with one of Y Combinator's portfolio company, and in the end the Co-Founder was so excited and asked me one thousand questions about my experiences with all these payment apps and online bank accounts I've used in all the six countries I've lived.

When I accidentally got invited to be the VP of Events for the new leadership team of the Women in Business club. And we were elected!

When I received my first interview, and then the second interview from one of my favorite programmes.

When our group won a bottle of Champagne in class.

When I insist on being very picky about friends, but still have so many of them.

When I'm usually resistant with any immersive experience, but this time, I just want to immerse in it until it becomes a part of me.

Because it's not like stainless steel.

It's soft, human, and close to my heart. 

Of course, days would go by when we would wander around looking for empty breakout rooms, when we were feeling dragged by meetings and classes but still managed to get a coffee or a fruit cup in between, when the weather in Singapore was so humid and warm but we were still in sweaters and scarves on campus. When we didn't have any time for shopping so we would shop at the IN-store just to kill the desire.

It's an experience that will reward you with happiness, not the kind of commercial or successful happiness, but the "plain tiny details that shine in your life" type of happiness.

At some time you'd like to compose a poem for it.

And sing.