The Time Is Right for an EMBA

Tabrez Khan

We are all destined to achieve great things, at the right time.  
In simple terms, the universe sends events (e.g., an EMBA) our way when ‘we are ready to receive those events’.

There are other reasons for why unplanned events happen or planned events don’t happen – reasons such as teaching us life lessons, setting challenges to get the best out of us, and provoking us to think of things we have never thought before. 
But in this blog, I will talk about the state of readiness and its relevance in choosing the timing of one’s EMBA.  


I wanted to do an MBA in my late 20s, but time and resources were insufficient. I was building a foundation from the £726 that I had in my pocket when I landed in the UK for an internship after a Bachelors degree in India.

Taking on a £100,000 loan, giving up my job, stopping financial support for my parents – it was the unthinkable. Now, 10+ years later from that decision, at the end of Module 1 of my EMBA – the penny has dropped.  
It wasn’t just the extrinsic reasons I mentioned that stopped me from doing an MBA. It was something more fundamental – an intrinsic feeling, quality, state of readiness – I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to learn about business management, I didn’t have enough to offer to my cohort. I didn’t have an avenue to use what I was going to learn. The ‘It-wasn’t-the-right-time’ list is long.  


In the last five years, my wife, an OB and Talent Management professional, has been nudging me to do an EMBA. She was frustrated that I was wasting my untapped potential. All of this fell on deaf ears.  
In the spring of 2021, I received news that my milestone promotion was deferred for a year, yet again. This hit me very hard. It was the tipping point for me.  
At the same time, my industry (oil and gas) found itself in an unstoppable storm of resistance from the public at large – despite its existential relevance in our daily lives.

The outlook for the Global Energy landscape was revised to VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Time to reassess.

Over the years, on a professional front, I had already developed a strong network, created a personal brand in my internal and external market, had advised on transformational energy deals, and worked with interesting clients across the EMEIA region.

I had even found a business purpose that aligned with my values. But I had stopped learning.

On a personal front, I had gathered some wisdom and plentiful life experiences. My finances were also in order (I’ve still taken out a loan but this time I am comfortable with it).

To add to this context, yet another event occurred – my wife received news that the body part she had been waiting to receive a donation of, had become available – our long wait to address her partial disability was over.

All these events happened within a space of three months!  
As they say, the stars in my personal and professional life aligned during these three months. I woke up one day with the realisation that I was now ready to do an EMBA!

Within one week, I was speaking with INSEAD and two other leading B-schools. 
I share my story with an encouragement to reflect on yours. Are you ready to do an EMBA?

Do you have the business foundation, intellectual curiosity, work experiences to bring to the class, a burning desire to learn, an ambition to achieve personal and professional growth, an openness to get outside of your comfort zone, maybe an unmet purpose that you feel needs upskilling or retooling, a willingness to learn from your peers, a passion for something that needs other perspectives?

Do you want to meet some of the coolest people on the planet, that are similar to you in the core but wildly different in background? If your answer to many of these questions is yes, then you may be ready for an EMBA.

I chose to only apply to INSEAD because of the diversity of the cohort, alumni, and professors.

I wanted to learn from people who are from different cultures and business backgrounds, not just from the UK, US, or the more well-known European countries, but also from other parts of our rich world.

My cohort of 109 has 42 nationalities!

My first (of many) project group has citizens of Hungary, Bulgaria, India, France, and the UK (me). In addition to diversity, and its spirit of learning, innovation, and forward thinking, INSEAD’s objective of promoting responsible business leaders shone through in all my exploratory discussions with the school stood out from its peers. I was also drawn to the unique leadership development work stream of the 14-month EMBA.  
It has now been 19 days on campus – my experience so far, from an EMBA and from INSEAD, has significantly exceeded my expectations.