It's Not the Destination, it's the Journey

Joao Costa

We see the light at the end of the tunnel ... and it is not a train moving in our direction. Quite the opposite, it is a feeling that you get when you are very close to the finish line but you actually don't want to cross it because it is all about the journey itself not so much about the destination.

My GEMBA'22 journey started 10 months ago and there are four months to go. The last module was the Electives in July and, without exaggeration, a mind-blowing experience.

First because it brings together, at the INSEAD Fontainebleau Campus, GEMBA students from all three cohorts – Europe, Middle East and Asia - and as well Alumni. This gave us amazing networking opportunities and truly shows the outstanding diversity of INSEAD community. With the COVID restrictions being lifted in France, with the sunny weather, and with the more intense core modules with nerve-breaking exams behind us, the conditions were prosperous for networking.

And of course, networking also means partying – and we did that a lot too. I'm not going to list the innumerous parties and events, some organised by INSEAD, some spontaneously organised by participants, but I must say these social moments elevated the experienced and bonding to an all-new level. Meeting new people, expanding my network and making new friendships from every corner of the globe. 

It wouldn't be fair to my house mates if I wouldn't not mention the mega party we ourselves organised in a beautiful chateau with more than 100 people attending; great food, flying drone, live music and even limo service to bring people back home! So a big thank you to Ivan Amaral, Daniel Hoyos, Oswald Bloemen, Gernot Ruppelt, Aljaz Primec and Cem Nisanoglu - you redefined my concepts of house party, team work and camaraderie – unforgettable!

Also a big thank you to our GEMBA Europe Class Reps: Jens Peter Koch, Susanne Leonhardt, Jeanne-Astrid De Foki and Deb Nag for really going the extra mile and organising beautiful networking events from wine tours to dinner events – you really elevated our experience! Since often times images and video speak more than words, take a look at this amazing video collage of the most memorable moments during the electives.

Thank you so much Lycole Hou for producing it and for presenting us with such an amazing gift that will make this experience even more unforgettable! 

The second element that made this module one of a kind were the elective courses themselves since it allowed me to personlise my learning experience. I had the pleasure to learn The Art of Communication from Professor Steve Knight and Coach Dorothy Grandia, Data Science (and Machine Learning) for Executives from Professor Anton Ovchinnikov, Negotiation Dynamics from Professor Roderick Swaab and Psychological Issues in Management from Professor Derek Deasy. Thank you to the faculty for making each of the two and a half days such a great and practical learning experience and, most importantly, to lay out the toolbox I can use to continue my learning on those relevant topics.

I have to mention a few sticky moments in each of the electives even tough it might not mean much for readers who did not take those courses but if you are curious about it then it’s super easy: just enroll next year and find out!

  • Art of Communication: Being coached by an ex-opera singer, and yes, after 300 requests the coach Dorothy Grandia sang to us at the end of the course.
  • Data Science: Datarobot platform - so simple and so powerful. No more excuses not to apply machine learning in everyday problems.
  • Psychological Issues in Management: The virtual reality exercise. It's surprising what you could learn when you are the fly in the room.
  • Negotiation: Thank you for the Moet & Chandon, not deserved but super tasty.

I would like to close this chapter on Electives by giving a big shout out of deep appreciation to our Dean Urs Peyer and the GEMBA Operations team, in particular Noemie Routhier, for making this highly complex module work so smoothly, for the extra courses and for such nice events on campus. Key takeaway: I'll come back every summer!

Since my last post, another important thing has happen in my life: my second daughter, Gabriela, was born and she's already 4 months old, time flies! Of course, she already has an INSEAD baby to partner with, Helena, her 4-year-old sister. They will be wearing the T-shirt “One day I wanna go to INSEAD” together in Singapore for the graduation ceremony in December – fingers crossed because remember: nothing can stop us.

For now, before the graduation ceremony, it is time to deep dive into the final project and prepare for the Key Management Challenges (KMC). For my final project, I am lucky to be working with two superstar colleagues, Aljaz Primec and Cem Nisanoglu. We have already had the opportunity to meet our Project Advisor - Professor Adrian Johnson - who we think is a great fit for the project and has given us a great first impression both in terms of his entrepreneurial experience and flexible approach and framework.

Much of our final project inspiration comes from within. On top of their time-consuming jobs and the intense programme, our GEMBA colleagues and entrepreneurial heroes were still able to bring top-notch new venture ideas and solid pitches to the 42nd INSEAD Venture Competition, which took place last June. I feel so proud of what our GEMBA cohort has achieved already and so privileged to continuously learn from you Raimundo Frohlich, Mohamed Diabi, Sunny Kumar, Eric Houdet, Helene Barrot, Satoshi Yamada, Faisal Hasan, Mustan Lalani, Mariia Antonova and Deb Nag. I wish you all tremendous success!

For the KMC, I’ve chosen AI versus Human Judgement in Abu Dhabi with Professor Miguel Lobo and Digital Transformation: A Leapfrogging Opportunity in Fontainebleau with Professor Felipe Monteiro, both in October back-to-back. I am really looking forward to learning from the faculty and my classmates during this KMC.

So now that I’ve experienced it, I have to say the INSEAD GEMBA journey makes a lot of sense: First, you do the heavy lifting and one-size-fits-all during the first four core modules with topics that, in all honesty, every business executive needs to master, no excuses! And then you tailor the second part of the programme to your specific learning needs.

Last but not least, I want to say a big thank you to the Magnificent 10, very important people, that really make this intense learning journey possible since without them I couldn't dedicate so much quality time to it. So thank you to my wife Liza Mori, to my mum Filomena Quitério, to my PMI bosses Maria del Carmen Fuste and Enrique Jimenez to my dream team led by Carlos Martins-Barao, Cristina Montero and Francesca Bugatti and my wonderful peers Lucio Ruopolo, Edgar Nunes and Rodrigo Rodrigues. I'm so lucky and so grateful to have you around, you rock!