Second Impressions and Insights

Ekaterina Kuznetsova

Dear All,

Time spent at INSEAD is indeed strange. It passes so quickly and yet it feels like eternity. While I’ve only just got settled here, a wintry Europe is a distant memory for me already. Weeks are passing, they are packed with experiences, and we are approaching the end of the first period.

In my last blog entry, I left you with “destination unknown” for the short break between the two periods. I’ve figured that one out, I will enjoy the beaches of Phuket. However, now I have a much bigger journey decision to take – do I exchange to Fontainebleau and if so, when? Or shall I opt for the partner school exchange with Kellogg or Wharton? I will give you an update as soon as I have clarity.  

Until then I would like to share some of my “insight moments” with you.  

  1. Statistics can be fun – especially when you learn using M&Ms

Although I like math, I was never a fan of math just for the beauty of it. All the more surprising that “Uncertainty, Data and Judgement” has become one of my favourite classes!

The professor’s passion for the topic and even for the most simple and essential aspects of statistics is irresistible. On top of that, he has a very engaging teaching style.

How about estimating the confidence interval for blue M&Ms in a bag of 48 pieces based on the number of blue M&Ms in one single bag? And yes, you can eat the M&Ms after counting them!

  1. Financial markets are fascinating

Yet another topic which I was less passionate about before the MBA. I simply preferred tangible goods over any financial instruments. After 10 sessions of “Financial Markets and Valuation” I changed my mind and now I deeply enjoy analysing how much of the Asset Manager’s performance could be attributed to reward for taking risk, to skill and how much to luck. In other words, could a lucky monkey have picked a portfolio just as good as this Asset Manager? Once again, the high quality of the professor played a key role in lightening up a fire for financial markets in me.

  1. Group work outside of traditional work settings is both challenging and rewarding

In consulting we are used to working in diverse groups. We understand and follow implicitly team effectiveness guidelines to ensure that our team is better as a joint unit than as the separate individuals. In the setting of group work for the MBA classes, it turned out to be less straight forward.

For the first four months we will need to submit many assignments as a group and the group stays in the same configuration over that time. Since there was no common training before the MBA and everyone has different previous experience, we needed to calibrate our norms first.

The first weeks were challenging – how often do we meet, what do we split, who takes which assignment? Do we aim for effectiveness and efficiency or for maximal learning effect? Six weeks in, we are like a well-oiled machine and what’s more, we really enjoy each other’s company and appreciate our different personalities.

  1. Singapore is a great place to live in – and to travel from

My sister has lived in Singapore for the past five years and she truly enjoys it. Thus, I did expect something very nice, but life in Singapore turned out to be even above any of my expectations. First of all, it’s warm, and it’s usually sunny – a very important factor when you are used to fog and rain in Zurich – particularly during the autumn and winter. Second, the variety of different cultures and cuisines and the rich flavours are truly special.

I am trying as many different things as possible – be it the various fruits, the hawker centres or any speciality restaurants. And lastly, travelling is simple and affordable. Last weekend I was in Bali, just for one night, but it was simply paradise. Next weekend I will go to Jakarta, to add some contrast to the sunny beach to my experiences.

  1. INSEAD is a school which is good for consultants– for both the already employed and the ones to be

I knew that a lot of consultants choose INSEAD for their educational leave as it offers the intense one-year MBA and two intakes per year. And I also knew that many consulting firms heavily recruit from INSEAD. For my firm, McKinsey, it is definitely true that we recruit many high performers from INSEAD due to the fact that the transition from MBA to consulting feels very organic. With summer internship recruiting starting soon, I am excited to discover who my future colleagues will be!  

As you can see, a lot of thoughts and realisations in just seven weeks. You might wonder why I chose in the write-up above to focus on my insights and not on any of the great social activities I undertook during the MBA so far. Simply speaking, the latter can be summarised in one sentence: each evening there is something happening somewhere and if you go, you will meet even greater interesting people and have a really good time!

The MBA is something special. I hope I was able to provide you with some further insights and information on the INSEAD MBA. If you are still thinking about it, don’t wait for too long! Application deadlines for the first round of the 19D intake is March 14, 2018. Get ready to take your exams and write your essays. You won’t regret it!

Take care,