A Toddler, A Pregnancy, and INSEAD

Shubhanjali Gupta

When I got accepted into INSEAD the first reaction I got when I told people, was “Who will take care of your child?” instead of “Congratulations! You can do it”. Then when I found out I was pregnant, and I chose not to defer, I was told all sorts of things, like “Think about your child, this is an impossible task, you cannot raise a toddler and be pregnant and do such an intense MBA, stop thinking you can do it all”. 

I shut my ears and took my leap of faith. And I am so thankful I did that, as this year was truly the most enriching experience of my life. 


My classmates were my strength – not one of them demotivated me to take a step back but more so rallied behind me and pushed me to take leaps forward. My professors encouraged me and allowed me to attend classes as per my medical schedules and also offered to help me go through class notes individually if I happened to miss lectures. Teaching assistants worked with me to shuffle my schedule around if the only class I could attend was that ‘one other class from a different section’. The administrative staff got together and helped with the tiniest of things – be it assigning me the one free moving seat in the lecture hall or helping me understand the nuances of INSEAD insurance.

But more than anything, being at INSEAD made my belief stronger that there are people in this world who are truly working hard towards women empowerment and being pregnant is no reason to hold you back. 




Every step of the way, women are questioned, women are demotivated, women are deterred and their children are used as an excuse to tell them that they can’t have dreams anymore because they have a family to look after.

I want to offer a different perspective - a perspective that I have learnt from my Mother and that was nurtured by my husband, my family and later my INSEAD family. 

Motherhood teaches you skills that no job in the world can. Pregnancy teaches you endurance. It teaches you how physically strong your body is.

Helping a child learn how to do something, again and again and then again, teaches you patience. Cooking beautiful food while sneaking in the vegetables, teaches you creativity. 

Explaining things at the most basic level to a toddler raises the benchmark on communication skills. Constantly keeping the child engaged, while keeping them safe, while keeping an ear out for the laundry to get done, while also thinking about what will be dinner, teaches you multi-tasking. 

Reasoning with a toddler teaches you negotiation skills of the highest order. Waking up night after night after night with the child because they are teething, because they are going through a growth spurt, or just because, teaches you care. 

Watching for tiny cues in the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they eat develops your intuition. Raising a child and looking after the house, all while studying, teaches you time management skills like nowhere else. 

And then doing all this together with your partner, teaches you the true meaning of love. Motherhood is not something that someone can use against you. It will not hold you back. 

It gives you wings, and it gives you drive. 
It gives you skills and it gives you determination. 

Being a mother is not a reason to stop dreaming, it is the reason to do better, to dream bigger and to dream brighter.