I started my Executive MBA (EMBA) in a pre-COVID-19 world. During the months leading to our first day on campus, we created a WhatsApp group and we exchanged many messages before we met in person. But the communication was a pre-COVID-19 communication. We mingled and we joked, but it was a virtual 'icebreaker' in view of our first day on campus. You might ask yourself how this can be, in any way, different from the post-COVID-19 communication. Well, it is radically different.
In spring of 2016, I created a folder in my personal files called “Project INSEAD” – which holds all what I need to know and do to apply for an MBA at INSEAD. With the momentum starting on building my application, it had to be halted mid-way for personal reasons, yet the idea of attaining my MBA never went away, in fact, it remained strong and engraved in my mind – as a component in a plan to achieve my career and personal aspirations.
Why would I pursue an Executive MBA during the COVID-19 crisis? Well, not only was I convinced that this is the best time for me to follow such a life-changing experience, but actually the pandemic was the catalyst of my decision.
A month into my MBA programme as a new '21J student, I sit here during a rare moment to reflect. What a weird year it has been. The world has been reshaped by the events that have transpired in 2020. Despite all the uncertainty that has been thrown our way with the COVID-19 pandemic, INSEAD has emerged as a role model in dealing with current circumstances and I want to commend the school for its efforts thus far.
My INSEAD dream was a like a seed planted two years ago in 2018 by one of my former managers who was himself part of the Executive MBA (EMBA) Class of 2018. The seed he planted was watered by a personal desire to acquire knowledge to fix complex situations in life; nurtured by a passion to make an impact in a world full of challenges. It was later fertilised by an unusual COVID-19 pandemic and now turned into a fruit of admission and I am thoroughly excited about it. How did the INSEAD dream start?
As a 21J, having recently started my core courses at INSEAD, there is no question that we are learning how digital has had a profound impact on business. You only have to look at the companies that are surviving and thriving in the COVID pandemic to understand the power of digital strength on a company’s fortunes.
“Never again,” I told myself after the lockdown restrictions were lifted in Antwerp, Belgium, where I had been residing for the last three years. Never again did I want to live all alone in an apartment for weeks on end (felt like years) in isolation. I could practically see the wrinkles forming under my eyes each day as I woke up at 6:30am, worked out in my living room, showered and was on video calls starting at 8:30am for the rest of the day.
When I first talked to my husband about pursuing an Executive MBA, it was Autumn 2019. It was not a project; it was an idea thrown in a discussion, an unattainable dream. My husband did some research and sent me tons of information to investigate the possibilities of an EMBA. Without him having taken this initiative, I would still have been at the “dream stage”.
INSEAD’s Executive Master in Finance first module for the Class of February 2022 finished on the last Saturday in September. Looking at how the previous two weeks before exams went, I cannot but only reinforce the idea that I made the right decision when decided to apply for the programme.
It had already been a couple of years that I was thinking about pursuing another degree before I applied to INSEAD. I was actually hesitating between a pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration with a Finance concentration, or a Master in Finance. I was looking for something that would be engaging, respectfully demanding and with an application-based learning style, especially since I had already completed a few financial designations and an MBA. I also wanted to go to a place that was innovative with its material.