Viewpoints - Karen Loon

Karen Loon EMC

Nationality: Australian

Year Graduated: 2021

Current Role: Non-Executive Director; Former Partner at PwC Singapore; INSEAD IDP-C

"The programme has allowed me to go through a journey of personal self-discovery which I believe will help me to better determine the future roles and opportunities that I wish to pursue."

What made you decide to take on the EMC programme at INSEAD?

As I was starting a career transition, and I have an interest in giving back in the diversity and inclusion space, I decided that it was the right time to go back to school to prepare myself for new opportunities. 

I was aware of the EMC programme as I had met someone who had done it in the past. I was attracted to the programme as it appeared to be extremely practical. Furthermore, the profile of the student base (diversity of professional experience, ages) appealed to me.

How different is the EMC as compared to other Masters programmes out there?

The EMC is completely different from the MBA I completed 15 years ago. It is extremely practical because of the experiential learning approach where we consider how theories can be applied to our own personal and work lives. Much of the learning is also through group sessions with our peers. 

Finally, there are no exams; assessments are undertaken through applying our knowledge to a thesis topic of our choice.

Has the programme met or exceeded your expectations?

The programme has definitely exceeded my expectations. Our programme directors, Roger Lehman and Erik van de Loo, together with Susan Tang, our programme manager, were there to guide us through our programme from start to finish. I also had a chance to attend the programme with many amazing people from different walks of life, whom I hope will remain close friends for life. 

Finally, the programme has allowed me to go through a journey of personal self-discovery which I believe will help me to better determine the future roles and opportunities that I wish to pursue.

How has the EMC changed your perspectives or outlook towards life?

EMC has given me a new lens to look at situations with; in EMC, we call it “night vision” where we look "from the balcony" at situations and seek not only to understand them from a rational and logical perspective, but also to understand the emotions and “illogics” implied. I have found that this allows me to better appreciate the drivers and potential blockers of circumstances which I come across.

What is one most significant lesson you got out of the programme?

One of the most significant lessons for me is the role of reflection. I now seek to take time to understand a situation better rather than rely on my natural instincts, which is often to jump to conclusions, or to react to a situation. 

What advice would you give to potential EMC participants?

In an environment of rapid change where all of us are under increasing pressure to work faster and harder, and as technology changes the ways of work, there is an increasing need for all leaders to leverage different skills and experiences in our work environments. 

EMC is an amazing journey of self-discovery, which allows participants the time and a space to explore and learn about ourselves and how we wish to lead in a safe environment. Whilst the programme may seem long, the time is definitely worth the investment, and will ensure that you position yourself to be a better leader in the future.