Where Did It All Begin?

Jakub Kaplan

What are the classes going to be like? What kind of experience will it be to meet and make friends with people from so many different countries all over the world? Am I going to stay on top of everything?

Questions like these are running through my head as the fact that INSEAD is only a couple of days away is sinking in. As that’s going on, I’d like to use this post to introduce myself and what led me to forgo my comfy life in the UK and to turn up instead in a small French town surrounded by forest from almost all sides.

To briefly introduce myself, I come originally from the Czech Republic. Eight years ago I came to the UK to study Computer Science at Cambridge University and stayed on to trade interest rate derivatives at investment banks in London, after which I joined Amazon as a software engineer to work on its automated personalized advertising.

So how did I end up at INSEAD? Well, back in late 2014 I asked myself “what’s next?” And truth be told I didn’t have a strong idea. But I felt as if I was missing a lot of information and perspective to help me decide. I looked at many jobs as well as MBA programmes, but wasn’t really convinced about doing an MBA. Two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for a stamp on my CV? Not for me.

And then I saw it… What if you could do the MBA in one year… with a diverse set of classmates from all over the world… in two radically different locations… while receiving best-in-the-world business education? I was sold on INSEAD. And truth be told, were it not for INSEAD’s unique proposition, I would have likely not done an MBA.

Where am I heading? Right now the most likely targets are either product management or business development in the tech sector given my background, but I am keeping an open mind and expect INSEAD to change and clarify my goal a lot. Location-wise I plan to transition to Singapore for P3-P5 with the ultimate goal of continuing my career in Asia.

Before parting I’d like to share one practical tip for new admits starting in Fonty, and that is to start sorting out accommodation pretty much straight after receiving the offer, especially if you do not drive a car (like myself). I secured a room in Villa Foch, sharing with seven other students, in July and this (unlike hitchhiking at 2am on a highway in Vietnam) proved to be more beneficial than I expected – not only for practical reasons (the good accommodation in a small town like Fontainebleau fills up really fast) but also for general peace of mind whenever I get nervous about what’s coming up at INSEAD.

And with that, I wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am looking forward to all the excitement, learning and new friendships of 2017 at INSEAD.