We Stand Together, No Matter What

Raimundo Frohlich

I am now four months into this life-changing experience that is the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA), and with the constantly changing landscape in the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, each module has been an experience on its own, challenging our capacity to adapt.

Nevertheless, a common denominator emerged from this situation: an intense feeling of camaraderie amongst the cohort.

The first big challenge for our class arrived sooner than expected. After an enriching first day on campus, we had to face the consequences of a new lockdown in France, forcing us to use Zoom for the rest of the module. I was amazed to see that, even with the limited time spent, we could easily rely on each other for advice on how to better react to this sudden and unexpected event, taking into account each personal situation. As a result, some decided to travel immediately back home, some waited until the end of the week, and others stayed in Fontainebleau for the remaining two weeks of the module. I was part of the latter.

I must admit that I was feeling a little skeptical on going fully online for classes, but the experience was much better than expected.

The professors were mind-blowing, the course materials were relevant and applicable, and the interactions in class were incredibly insightful.

A great learning experience. And the networking, even if challenging, worked very well thanks to the numerous social Zoom meetings that we made sure to have. Moreover, we ended up forming a strong support group with the people staying in “Fonty”, where with a little bit of creativity, we managed to spend some time together, whether with a small dinner in a hotel room, a home-cooked lunch in an Airbnb, or even with a walk in the forest. It was clear since the beginning that no matter the circumstances, the GEMBAs are always looking out for each other.

The quality of the people that INSEAD managed to put together makes any interaction a great experience to have.

And the fact that we are going through this journey in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all its related challenges, made us quickly develop a common sense of purpose and a mentality that we are all in this together.

So, what could I expect for a second module with confirmed on-site classes? Nothing less than an even better experience. The professors were again exceptional, and with the majority of the cohort on campus, the discussions in class felt even more exciting. Thanks to a comprehensive setup for a hybrid learning experience in the amphis, we could feel our Zoomers actively present in the class, greatly closing the distance between us. In terms of networking, getting to personally interact with the class, whether on or off campus, help me expand and develop many relationships, and I am confident that this network will continue to grow as we still have a big part of the journey ahead of us.

I was notably amazed by how the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) managed to transform an extremely diverse group of classmates into a real group of friends in such a short time. And this level of bonding is common to see within the cohort.

Whether rooting for others, consoling each other, giving advice, or providing support for personal situations, camaraderie is what characterises this class, and I cannot help to feel that we are building relationships that will last for our whole life.

The most enriching part of the experience has to be the diversity that INSEAD managed to bring together. This not only brings an extremely appealing aspect to the discussions in class, but you will usually find yourself discussing ideas or projects in a group where each member comes from a different continent, and the level of insight you can get from such diverse backgrounds is invaluable. I am convinced that this is the way to truly understand some of the main problems in the world, and therefore be able to offer real worldwide solutions. It is clear why INSEAD is the “Business School for the World”.

I must say that the “GEMBA experience” is far exceeding all my expectations. Being part of a group that will always have each other’s back makes me feel excited for the journey to come. We will certainly face more challenges along the way, and we will continue to learn how to cope with uncertainty, but we will get there, leaving no one behind.