The Power of INSEAD's Community

Madjid Ovaici

“While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.” —Albus Dumbledore

The obvious question many prospective candidates ask me is the impact of COVID-19, or more specifically online classes (for one month) during the MBA.

The honest answer from my point of view is that it's not ideal but it is much better than I had initially expected. Faculty have adopted quickly to provide extremely engaging classes and non-traditional assignments such as games and simulation exercises.

All in all – we see why INSEAD is different, and why it deserves the ranking it has. They say the best marriages are the ones that can weather any storm, the best friends the ones that stick with you in hard times and finally, the best leaders, the ones who can guide teams through the toughest times of adversity. INSEAD has shown elements of all of this, and more importantly has taught us how to navigate challenges as leaders. The encouraging thought is that we are going through all of this as one class, and have become closer as a result of it. We all have hearts beating as one.

The situation is far from ideal, but we have grown more than we would have compared to normal situations – and class participation is still bustling!

Now that the online question is out of the way – lets discuss some tips for INSEAD in general, mainly on the academic side.

In all major institutions (but particularly at INSEAD) there are individuals from so many nationalities, and different backgrounds that comparing yourself to others is difficult. Although everyone is graded on a curve – people have different strengths and weaknesses.

The key is to give yourself credit when it is due, and take every academic battle as it comes.

If you know you are stronger in a field then dedicate less time to it for the final, but still guide your study group in that topic. Your final grade is composed of the group work as well as the final. You can divide and conquer every assignment with your study group, and step up for the projects you are more versed in. You can plan a few days in advance, but also feel free to immerse yourself in the projects as they come. By the time exams roll around you might only have one or two days to study. This is not as scary as it may sound, if you were engaged in classes you can normally brush off some material and do decently well.

Section 2 – 21J students in their final class for OB2

The most eye-opening experience is the level of empathy of the individuals around us. Some professors do last minute tutorials, or show up to Zoom social events when asked. They really want to make sure we have the best experience possible. A big thank you to them! Additionally, as classmates we always cheer each other on. We always find new and innovative ways to socialise, such as by having “Zoom bingo tournament”, “best Zoom background” etc. 

As the year draws to a close the people we remember the most are the people we go through major ups and major downs with. This best explains the class of 21J, and these are the friends I will remember even after decades.

Happy holidays to all the readers, and may we have a great and healthy 2021!