Transforming From Good to Great

Catherine Chan

"It is worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change."

– Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas 2019


The struggle is real

At the mid-point of the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) programme, most of us have experienced a wide spectrum of ups and downs.

We are still living in the shadow of the pandemic and we have become more agile.

At one of my lowest points, I told my classmates that the course was the only break I get from work and my family. The 18-hour school day now has a name. We call it the ‘GEMBA study quarantine’, where most of the Zoomers stayed home the entire length of the module. We are either catching up with pre-readings, working on the assignments or putting together presentations.

In Module 4, more than halfway through our core subjects, some of the experienced Zoomers have reached the platinum standards in virtual learning. Some of us would spend hours in front of the screen at online communication platforms, and the on-campus groups would continue working in breakout rooms hours after a long day in the class.

On a positive note, I am starting enjoy my two-minute commute from my bedroom to the living room where classes take place.

We become global

Most of us are familiar with virtual meetings at work, with colleagues based around the world. The pandemic opens up an opportunity for us to become truly global.

INSEAD professor Gabriel Szulanski pulled together all the talents in class and connected us to a real strategy challenge thousands of miles away in Belgium. We worked across multiple time zones across Asia Pacific and Europe. My group was working on the assignment from Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, as one of us called Belgium to ensure that we had complete understanding of the challenges presented to us.

The step-by-step plan was a little confusing in the beginning, but it became crystal clear at every milestone. We learnt about the ecosystem, completed the internal and external analysis. Towards the end of the module, the stage was ready for all of us to apply our learning and we were able to contribute to the challenging business arena thousands of miles away.

Professor Szulanski, in collaboration with Erik Weytjens, an external consultant, connected us to the world of shipping and port management and watched us deliver our best solutions. The experience helped us both academically and on personal level, especially helping us to see how we could be effective leaders.


"Most developmental psychologists agree that what differentiates leaders is not so much the philosophy of leadership, their personality or their style of management. Rather, it’s their internal ‘action logic’ – how they interpret their surroundings and react when their power or safety is challenged."

-David Rooke and William R. Torbert

Transformation of Leadership, Harvard Business Review April 2005.


At the end of Module 4, we learned the importance of allowing others to have a voice, enjoying the process of being creative with solutions and welcoming the expansive experience among us.  



As we learn from each other, we also learn to create an environment allowing our shared values to flourish.

The GEMBA' 22 Asia section managed raised more than SGD 5,000 in December 2020 to support the Needy Patient Funds at the Singapore General Hospital. We also initiated a lunchtime session where insider perspectives of different sectors were shared; from healthcare to sustainability, tourism, aviation, energy and more is being planned. We found interesting insights, which never we never really had the opportunity to discover before.    

52 stars in the night skies

The journey with class has been amazing. We work hard, and there is a lot of goodwill among us.

We share real-time challenges with multifaceted aspects. We listen to the same issues as they are being expressed differently. We learn how to solve problems fast. More importantly, as the Leadership Development Programme takes the centre stage, we are being transformed.

I may be thousands of miles away from the campus, but I can see the class. When I look up from my screen, I see 52 stars shining brightly in among us in the GEMBA'22 Asia section, working diligently and hoping to transform from good to great!