The Journey Finally Begins!
I have waited for this moment since I was 17 years old...and it is finally here! Ever since I was a teenager I heard about INSEAD from different family members. I was encouraged by them to keep it in mind in case I ever decided to go for an MBA degree in the future...and here I am now, living my family's and my own dream!!
Considering this is my first blog post, I thought I would split it into 3 sections: an introduction about myself, a brief summary about the business foundation course and orientation week, and a few pieces of advice on the application process and things to keep in mind before you attend the program. Onto the introduction!
I am Jad Saleh, I am turning 27 soon and I am part of the 17July class at INSEAD (starting and remaining the whole year in Singapore). I was born in Lebanon and completed my mechanical engineering studies in Montreal, Canada. I worked for 4 years in Montreal in a company that builds flight simulators and trains airline pilots. My last role within that organization was in the Business Development department. I love travelling, mountain climbing and playing Squash. But enough about me, let's focus on INSEAD, the number 1 MBA program in the world!
After being in Singapore for 2 weeks, and attending the Business Foundation Course (BFC) and the first few days of orientation, it became very clear to me as to why INSEAD truly is the best MBA program in the world. The 1 week of BFC was incredible, and I am so thankful I had the chance to take it. Not only did I learn new material (accounting, finance), but I also had the opportunity to meet 22 of my classmates. The BFC made me realize that although we are all coming from different countries, backgrounds and work experiences, everyone in the room was focused on helping each other and struggling together to get to the correct answers at the end of the night. One of my favorite moments was when I realized that INSEAD professors truly do live up to their reputation of being a world class faculty. Not only were all 3 of them very approachable, but they were also funny and engaging. I never thought accounting would be a fun class to take! The picture below is me with my BFC teammates (I am the guy on the right!). Our group was so diverse, and our chemistry was over the roof! Despite all of us coming from different countries (Kuwait, Singapore, USA, Brazil, and Canada/Lebanon), we all got along perfectly which enriched our experience and made it more fun than I ever thought it could be. That is the true magic of the diversity that is found on the INSEAD campus!
Orientation so far has been fantastic, full of inspirational speeches, fun activities and career related advice. Below are some insights I believe must be shared and always remembered:
- Some people attend INSEAD as hunters, knowing exactly what they want to do when they graduate. Others come as explorers, looking to learn about new opportunities and still undecided as to what company/country they want to join and be in after the MBA program. It doesn't matter if you're a hunter or an explorer, either way you need a plan and the INSEAD career services are there to support you throughout the year and make sure you have what you need to achieve your ambitions.
- In a world where INSEAD will propel us to be anything we want, be kind.
- Don't let someone else's dreams become yours. Know yourself first, and then start working on how to achieve your personal objectives.
- Are you a gazelle or a lion? It doesn't matter! Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing that it has to outrun the fastest lion to stay alive. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up knowing it has to outrun the slowest gazelle so it doesn't starve. When the sun comes up, whether you are a lion or a gazelle, you better be running and achieving the most from your day!
Now I know that many of you reading this post are still contemplating as to whether an MBA is for you, whether INSEAD is the place to do it, and whether you should apply now or later. Below is my advice that I hope will benefit you in your application process:
- An MBA is a big investment, but INSEAD has the highest return on investment out of all the programs. Don't be discouraged by the hefty price tag, it will pay off much quicker than others (the numbers don't lie!).
- Start your essays early: Everyone who gets accepted at INSEAD is smart, has a good GMAT score, a decent GPA, and good work experience. Your essays in your application are what will set you apart from other applicants and will let the admission office get to know the real you. Your essays should be a story about your life experiences so far, the objectives that you're trying to accomplish, how the MBA program will let you get there and most importantly how you will impact the MBA program and your fellow classmates. Make sure all your essays are coherent and connect together to form a story.
- Constantly follow up with the people you selected to write your recommendation letters (trust me they will forget to do it)!
- Prepare for the interview, practice with your family and friends, and be clear and concise in your answers.
For those already accepted into INSEAD and deciding to attend the Singapore campus, below are a few things to keep in mind:
- Start your apartment hunt early, the nice apartments will get taken rapidly!
- Change your wardrobe from cotton to quick dry polyester clothes and a pair of flip flops.
- Do contact the university to inquire about the real estate agents you should avoid (there is a list on mbaconnect).
- Do ask your agent to provide you the names of previous INSEAD students who rented with them so you can contact those students and get honest feedback.
- Don't worry if you've never met your roommates before, everyone attending INSEAD has similar mindsets and values and fits within the INSEAD culture. I never met my roommates until I arrived in Singapore, but they are both truly amazing and I am having a lot of fun with them and learning a lot from their previous work experiences (1 Brazilian/Japanese from BCG, and 1 Canadian/Chinese from the Banking sector).
This is it for now! In 3 weeks' time, I will attend the INSEAD Entrepreneurship Bootcamp which can be briefly described as an "intensive, interactive weekend training designed to test one’s entrepreneurial appetite and jumpstart the entrepreneurial adventure". I am so excited to go through that experience, and will definitely write a blogpost about it. Until then, feel fee to leave comments and questions below and I'll do my best to reply :)