Victor Lamm

Ah INSEAD…. So unique that it’s hard to describe it to other people sometimes. The diversity, the pace, the combination of hard work and social life… but what makes INSEAD stand apart (and be the BEST MBA IN THE WORLD) is its short length mixed with the incredible number of options it offers to students. The hard part: choosing what to do. Finding out what we really want. And make decisions. Just like when we go to a restaurant with a long menu…

When I go to a restaurant, I am one of the most annoying people you can think of, because I tend to ask the waiter one of the three stupid but still widely widespread questions:

  • What’s good here?
  • What do you recommend?
  • What’s better: the steak or the salmon?

This is very silly because he/she is not going to tell me: "Everything on the menu is horrible and makes people sick, except for one specific item that is truly delicious". Sometimes though I do get a reply like "our specialty is … you should really try it" which makes me very happy since I do not have a decision to make anymore. But the vast majority of times, I get the normal response: "Well, it depends on what want, sir" (let’s pretend they call me sir).

Well at INSEAD, it’s the exact same thing: there’s an incredible number of options for students, but we just cannot do it all. At the restaurant, you can only eat a few things before you’re full (and sometimes "broke"). At INSEAD, we have a different constraint: TIME (we’re all broke after paying the tuition fee anyway). So let’s check out the menu for a moment :


We can all agree that the menu looks very good. But with a 24-hour "time budget" per day, we cannot order everything. And just like a waiter at any restaurant, INSEAD will not tell you to have one specific item because it depends on what YOU want.

Which makes me move to my point (I do have one I promise): we learn about management and business in the classroom everyday, but the amazing and unique value of INSEAD comes from our ability to manage the entire experience.

To manage it on a daily basis, we need four of the main skills every top manager needs to have nowadays:

1) Self awareness to be able to make the right choices. With so many options at INSEAD, we really need to know what we want ourselves in order to do the things that will ultimately help us become who we really want to be in the future. If you do not trust me, trust Dumbledore when he tells Harry (Potter) in the first movie: "it is not our abilities that define who we are. It is our choices".... wise man... May he rest in peace.

2) Time management to be as productive as possible: any top manager has to deal with a million things in a given day. So do we during that very special year at INSEAD. We therefore have to learn how to prioritise and how to maximise the number of things we can achieve in 24 hours.

3) Openness to change: Charles Darwin (better than Dumbledore...) said "it is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change". The world is constantly changing, and top managers need to be able to cope with the fast pace and the diversity of today’s world. With students from over 80 countries, three campuses, classes in all fields of business, cases from all around the world, INSEAD transforms us into chameleons.

4) Social & networking skills… because in the end, "who you know" sometimes matters more than "what you know". The social life at INSEAD is the best, and creates bonds between students that will remain forever. Just check the hashtag #INSEADmoments on social media…

Some core principles of our "Corporate Financial Policy" class might be forgotten in the future, but those core skills we learn through INSEAD will now be part of our DNA for the rest of our lives.