A New Adventure Begins

Ross Emerson

There I was… an experienced professional searching for something still missing and feeling unfulfilled. So, I went on a quest to continue my lifelong learning. But what programme to enrol in at this stage in life? 

After completing an MBA 20 years prior, it was important to select the right course for my goals now.

After stumbling upon the INSEAD Executive Master in Change (EMC) online and conducting a year of due diligence interviewing INSEAD staff and alumni, I decided the EMC was the right programme for me.

The application process was cathartic - challenging and encouraging me to recount meaningful moments in my life that have shaped me into the person I am. Although many classmates said it was a daunting experience that took them quite some time to complete, it was a welcomed outlet that allowed me to express things I needed to acknowledge and confront, regardless of how difficult and personal the subject matter.

The admission interviews reaffirmed that I was ready for this programme, and that the programme was ready for me.

But what kind of experience would I have and who would I encounter? These questions could only be answered in time as I completed the eight modules of the programme through the 18-month period.

It took just a few hours on the first day of module one to realise that this programme was something special. The diverse blend of consciously selected participants for the Wave 25 cohort in Fontainebleau undoubtedly enhanced the dialogue and augmented the learning. More importantly, the willingness of participants to fully engage and be vulnerable, be honest, be genuine… be themselves – well, this made the learning experience even more special to me.

At first, I was unsure how the course would progress. I assumed that the programme would be challenging, difficult, competitive, and exhausting. At least this is how I remembered business school to be when I completed my MBA. I was pleasantly surprised by how the challenge manifested itself. 

The programme was structured effectively for working professionals who are busy holding down demanding careers elsewhere while studying concurrently. But the intensity came not with the volume of work required, but instead with the emotional and psychological depth required to really get the most out of the experience. 

And competitive? Well, it was anything but. 

The INSEAD EMC provided the safe and reflective space I needed to truly learn and develop myself and my leadership skills. What I gained through the programme was not only new knowledge but more importantly, a cohort of the most honest and supportive colleagues anyone could ever hope for. 

INSEAD EMC Master in Change

They spoke the truth to me. They helped me become aware of my own demons that, for whatever reason, I could not (or would not) acknowledge for myself. They supported me; they helped me; they nurtured me; they cared about me in ways I had not experienced in any of my professional roles. They helped me to be more self-aware and to be a better version of myself. 

I felt great satisfaction in applying new concepts learned and my new systems psycho-dynamic abilities early on. 

I was able to see professional situations through a new lens and put into practice new skills developed through each successive residential module. I used the post-module reflection papers as a journal to summarise my experience and document new insights I gained. 

The case papers allowed me to validate my understanding of the concepts and the peer-review conference calls were a valuable way to test my own perspectives against those of my peers, thus raising my awareness. 

The practicum assignments were an incredible learning experience that helped me grow and improve my skills through the course whilst building my professional confidence to apply my skills in real-life settings. The implementation essay was a great way to synthesise my learning after completing all modules. 

The most valuable and meaningful experience for me was completing my EMC thesis.

The EMC thesis was challenging, all-consuming at times, but extremely rewarding because it gave me the opportunity to use my new-found skills and capabilities independently, while simultaneously contributing to a body of knowledge and make a contribution to both the academic and professional communities.

And of course, it goes without saying that one of the most important and critical success factors of my EMC journey was the incredible faculty we had the privilege of working with. Under their guidance and supervision, we all had the safe, reflective space needed to learn and grow. 

INSEAD EMC Master in Change
With EMC faculty Prof. Roger Lehman (first from left) and Prof. Eric van de Loo (third from left)

Before I started the EMC programme, I was focused on getting value for my investment. Once I started the course, I realised the uniqueness of the programme and quickly understood how it would help me both as a professional and as a person holistically. I was humbled to graduate with Distinction recently and now after graduation, when I reflect on my INSEAD EMC experience, I truly believe the EMC was a force for good and a cherished gift to myself! 

If you would like to learn more about my personal experience of the EMC programme or discuss further to help you decide if the programme is right for you, please feel free to get in touch via [email protected]