What you can expect from INSEAD: an insider’s story

Vendy Chandra

Four months have passed since I first joined INSEAD. The journey has been very productive and transformational and for me, the overwhelming energy (from the students, faculty and guest speakers coming to campus) I felt inside and outside of the classroom is what makes this a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

From the outside view, INSEAD seems to differentiate itself through its diversity, global perspectives, and by being the feeder school for top consulting firms. All of these are true, but why are these important? I have had the privilege to study alongside some of the world’s brightest minds and I’d like to share the ‘under-the-hood’ meaning of the business school for the world:

  1. INSEAD is a ‘diverse’ school

“With 94 countries represented, there’s no single dominant nationality!”

I heard this at the Welcome Week and knew immediately that my perspectives will continuously be challenged. Not only in terms of cultural norms, but also the diversity of thoughts, backgrounds and expertise are carefully curated and really celebrated. Rarely have I found a topic where all students agreed on and that’s the beauty of it: when there’s disagreement, there’s conversation and along with it, your views will expand and grow.

For the first four months, we were placed in groups of 5-6 people, acting as our support systems to navigate the early campus activities. I was honored to be part of a group, together with a creative British engineer, a detailed Slovenian lawyer, an empowered Brazilian banker and an energetic Kyrgyz entrepreneur, who constantly challenged my thoughts. I’d say the way INSEAD deliberately puts opposing personalities in a group really delivers on the promise of diversity.

  1. INSEAD is a ‘global’ school

With three campuses in France, Singapore and the UAE, and another one planned in San Francisco, USA, INSEAD challenges itself to broaden its academic prowess. What we, as MBA students, can leverage is the best practice from around the world.

You can easily find classmates having lived and worked in more than three countries in an industry you’re passionate about. And trust me, we are very supportive and helpful!

As aspiring global citizens, we look forward to understanding the way different parts of the world work. So, I can count on every class discussion to be engaging and thought-provoking.

  1. INSEAD is a ‘consulting’ school

Why do top consulting firms love INSEAD students? As you might know, consulting applies the apprenticeship model and for me, this is the core model of what we are taught here at INSEAD. First is the culture of giving and receiving feedback. As a self-critical person, as probably most students here are, I view feedback as an opportunity for constant betterment of myself and on campus, we are celebrated our vulnerability as we know this is a safe space for learning and growth.

The second concept in an apprenticeship model is experimentation. I am encouraged to develop my own leadership style and experiment with it throughout my experience at INSEAD. We even have a leadership development coach ready to help us along the way! Finding the right framework while still bringing my authenticity is what I aim to achieve in the next few months left here.

Finally, trust the system. Trust that you’ll be uncomfortable in a good way, that you'll be intellectually stimulated and not judged. INSEAD will provide all the necessary tools and it’s up to us to take advantage of them. As one professor taught us in class, “Trust the process, not the results!”

I do hope that this paints a more vivid picture of what an aspiring student can look forward to at INSEAD. I’ll leave you with a reflection from an INSEAD professor, “If you don’t flip the coin, you’ll never know the outcome.”