The Year of Fortitude with INSEAD

Nga Vu

The three months since Launch Week for the INSEAD MBA July’21 class have passed in a blink of an eye: 77 people across two sections in the Singapore campus - the smallest INSEAD cohort ever. It’s incredible to reflect on this amazing experience we’ve been on together since day one.

As pioneers in the new hybrid learning environment, we’ve learned to be adaptive and flexible. 

The act of studying and socialising has a new and different rhythm. Social connections and health are not mutually exclusive. And through thick and thin, through all the unpredictabilities of life, of one thing I’m certain though: INSEAD will become one of the biggest catalysts for change, at least in the next 20 years of my life.

Attending an MBA programme is often an opportunity to reflect upon, reorient, or reimagine one’s career and life trajectory as a whole. Business schools, in general, allow you to constantly explore new avenues, see beyond your experience, and push yourself outside the comfort zone.

INSEAD in particular further enriches this by bringing in diversity and inclusion as the key element of learning. No matter how often you might hear INSEADers mention this, only when you get to the campus and truly immerse yourself in the environment will you be able to fathom the variance in backgrounds, perspectives, talents, and personalities of the people here.

In the face of adversity amidst the pandemic, there’s no place I’d rather be than here. It felt like traveling every day being with peers hailing from more than 60 nationalities. And there’s no better opportunity than now to celebrate every single special occasion in different cultures, be it Diwali, Hanukka, Christmas, or Lunar New Year.

Quoting one of my closest friends during Hanukka week: “I’ve realised how lucky we all are that coming from so many different parts of the world, we’ve got to be friends, shared a bit about our lives, and talked to each other like this.”

At the same time, INSEAD has taught me how important it is, and how difficult it can be, to be clear about your own goals in life and to focus on them.

Oftentimes, INSEAD can feel like a bubble: once you are inside, it is very easy to get distracted by the influence of inspiring people, the appeal of great opportunities, and the fear of missing great experiences, the so-called FOMO. You can’t help feeling both excited and overwhelmed about what will happen next. At the end of the day, whatever reality we had before INSEAD will never be the same once we get out.

The deeper question we need to ask is “what truly defines us”, so that we stay authentic in the process of growth and development. I think INSEAD purposefully and cleverly integrates components such as the Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLDP) and experiential learning with group work every day to challenge us with our judgments.

Time flies so fast at INSEAD, and at the same time, so slowly. Two periods down, three more to go for me. With the new year arriving, some of my classmates might have probably decided in the days ahead what they want to focus on in 2021. Some might be building the capacity for whatever is in store for them, no matter how unimaginable it might turn out.

Without a doubt, the rest of INSEAD is going to be transformative for all of us.