What is International Motivation?

Aidan O'Halloran

International motivation is listed as one of the criteria for being admitted into the INSEAD MBA programme. But what does it actually mean? How do you actually prove such a thing?

International motivation is one of the things I like to talk about, as it is key to the mission of INSEAD, bringing together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society.

I often hear things such as “Is it true that I need to have lived in many different countries to be accepted into INSEAD?"

Although many applicants to INSEAD have either worked or studied outside their home country, this is not always the case.

So imagine this (and I’m boasting a few facts about the INSEAD MBA here): You’re on a campus full of students who come from over 90 different countries, and who all speak different languages. To add to that, they’re all from a range of different professional backgrounds, from different industries.

How do you feel? Are you comfortable being around so many different backgrounds? Will you be able to adapt your communication across the different cultural barriers? Can you not just function, but thrive outside of your cultural comfort zone?

If you actively seek these kinds of experiences – then you may be INSEAD MBA material.

In short, international motivation is not necessarily about how many countries you have lived in. It is about your willingness to adapt your communication style around different cultures, your motivation to want to explore them, and your desire to effectively collaborate with people who may be very different from you.

Your ability to navigate this level of diversity can be demonstrated in many different ways, such as working in a multicultural team or for a multinational company, dealing with international clients, learning foreign languages, or even a passion for travelling in your spare time.

Hopefully, that passion for experiencing diversity would be part of the reason your journey has lead you to INSEAD.