Facing the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, alumni of the INSEAD MBA, Global Executive MBA and Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) brought together a global network to raise funds and support frontline medics in need. These actions were initiated by a few MBA alumni and endorsed by the INSEAD National Alumni Associations and TIEMBA chapters.
The year 1775 in pre-revolution France was the best of times, and it was also the worst of times - at least according to Charles Dickens. “[…] It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us […]”
I recently had a session with my career coach. Our meetings often have a straight-forward agenda. This one in particular was to talk about how to highlight my leadership abilities in my upcoming interviews. But, as usual, this session would be one where we choose to meander our way around this agenda and take the scenic, reflective route instead. She’d let me give an account of how I was feeling, what I’d been up to since we last spoke, and would then proceed to respond with a series of questions that would kick-off our hour-long session.
This week marks the third week I’ve been following INSEAD’s classes online less than a kilometre away from INSEAD’s Europe campus, and so far the experience has been better than I thought it would be. What I miss the most in online classes are mini interactions that happen in hallways, in the bar, in the restaurant, or anywhere in the city. Last month, a trip to the supermarket or a restaurant would involve me bumping into 3-4 INSEADers along the way. Now, a trip to the restaurant is around eight steps and surprise! I’m the chef, waiter, and guest. “Bienvenue Monsieur!”
June 2018: 44 students from 18 countries forming the TIEMBA class of 2020 got together at the School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, to start a two-year study journey. Though we all have different backgrounds, speak different languages, and have a different set of expertise, we embrace our differences, and we learn to grow together. Our hearts are connected. 2018年6月，来自18个国家/地区的44位EMBA国际班2018级（TIEMBA2020）学生相聚在清华大学经济管理学院并开始了2年的学习之旅。虽然我们在不同的环境长大，说着不同的语言，有不同的专业背景，但是我们拥抱差异，心灵相连，共同成长。
How the world has changed over the last two months. In early February, my classmates and I were still planning to go on the China trek over the P3-4 break and now, even those in Fontainebleau, who are 9,000 miles away from Wuhan, are quarantined indoors.
The journey of the MBA class of December 2020 is probably not what we were expecting, when we started it. And yet, this year might turn out to be one of the most consequential times in our life. As the class of December 2020 gathered in January, in steamy Singapore, I was first struck by the diversity, open and well-meaning of the class.
As a former EMC participant I was asked if I’d like to contribute a testimonial of my experience. And I did it the “classical” way by sharing my own story and by listing some of the benefits so that you can better evaluate if this programme would be right for you. But I would not be an EMC alumna if I did not share with you THE main takeaway from this programme for critical times like these.
How times have changed! Just a month ago, the biggest challenge for me was exams. I was on the INSEAD campus for most of the weekend, wearing slippers and frantically studying in a discussion room on-campus. Look at us now! The INSEAD Fontainebleau campus has been closed since 16 March 2020, and we have started our classes using Zoom. It is non-debatable that this is a crisis that no one had expected before. Thus, we need to understand that everyone is trying their best with whatever resources they have.
We will go through this. The world will re-emerge from this crisis much stronger and much more resilient than before. Things need to change though, and we need to start from politics and from entrepreneurship. COVID-19 is a wake-up call for everyone. We all have a role to play in this.