The Opportunities Behind Every Crisis

Raimundo Frohlich

Why would I pursue an Executive MBA during the COVID-19 crisis? Well, not only was I convinced that this is the best time for me to follow such a life-changing experience, but actually the pandemic was the catalyst of my decision.

To explain this, I need to go back a couple of years. With the idea that an MBA would be the perfect complement to my formation in order to advance my career and become an inspiring leader in the Aviation and Tourism industry, I started my preparation in 2017 for a full-time MBA. By doing the necessary research for which business school to apply, INSEAD quickly became one of my top priorities.

A school with such a focus on developing our leadership potential while being part of a truly global community was in perfect sync with my ambitions and aspirations.

But as it sometimes happens, the time wasn’t right. Working at the leading Airline in South America, I decided to postpone my MBA application, to progress my career in an exciting new position in technology strategy, leading a multicultural team to grow the Tourism business in Latin America and Brazil.

With this new commitment, the idea to pursue an Executive MBA presented in the horizon. That’s when the INSEAD GEMBA Programme entered my radar. I must admit though, that I saw myself applying to the programme in a year from now, but suddenly COVID-19 struck.

Seeing the big impact this pandemic was having in the Airline and Tourism industry, this seemed the perfect time to take a step back and focus on different challenges specially on a personal side.

This pandemic is having big effects at almost every level, and in my case, it was also heavily affecting a family business, a higher education institution, for which I took the challenge to bring it back to profitability acting as a Managing Director, focusing on the Digital Transformation process it requires.

This became then the perfect moment to apply to the GEMBA programme, where I could improve my leadership potential, learn from some of the most renowned academics, and grow a network and exchange ideas with some extremely accomplished fellow students; all while applying every bit of new knowledge to my current position.

Having only decided in May to apply to the programme, the application process was a big challenge with only six weeks to meet the deadline for round 3: July 12. It was intense and stressful, but I managed to prepare successfully for the Executive Assessment and write all the essays required.

But even with a great result, I wasn’t too optimistic to pass such a rigorous selection process having submitted a late application; so, I also applied to another top Executive MBA such as HEC. I was lucky to be accepted at both very prestigious schools, but all the interactions with the INSEAD community, from the admission officers to the Alumni interview confirmed to me that INSEAD was the way to go. I still remember the moment I was called by Ankica Merer, the Admissions Officer, to inform me that I had been accepted.

I literally couldn’t stop smiling, I hung up, told my wife immediately, and the decision was already made.

I was soon added to an incredible community. The energy of the very dynamic WhatsApp group was refreshing and convincing on its own that it was the right decision. The time difference made it challenging to keep up though, waking up each morning to 150+ messages every day. It kind of felt like an additional pre-reading assignment, but by far the most entertaining one, and arguably the most important considering the camaraderie and empathy that everybody showed with each other.

We never know what the future may hold for us, and in a world full of uncertainty it is very important to develop the skills to navigate these kinds of complex scenarios.

Being aware that we are accepting this challenge in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has made us closer to each other, even before start, which I am sure will only make us stronger in the long run.

We may face some inconveniences along the way, but I am confident that we will make it work leaving no one behind.

As anybody knows, big part of the experience is what you take form your classmates, and I am humbled to be part of such an incredible group of highly accomplished individuals. The inspiration they are already showing even before the start of the programme can only confirm how lucky I am to be part of GEMBA'22.

The road ahead is not an easy one, especially during this time. We may fall along the way, but I am confident we will always stand up and bring everybody to the finish line.