INSEAD is the ideal place for me to pressure test my ideas with pioneers of relevant fields and future leaders.
Coming from a background in science and start-ups, many of my MBA programme options felt like a strong departure from the unfamiliar mind-expanding experiences, on-the-job learning, and team-building challenges of start-ups into a world of conservatism, risk management, and generally-accepted best practices—except for INSEAD.
At the end of August, I had the opportunity to attend an elective in Silicon Valley, as part of my MBA. INSEAD has been a wonderful opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and explore different career paths, and I signed up for the Building Business in Silicon Valley (BBSV) trek to do just that: explore the epicentre of tech startups, and what makes it so unique and successful.
It’s true that time flies when you’re having fun. Within the blink of an eye, I spent six weeks in Nairobi, Kenya, working at ALX, an education and talent development platform. I first came across this opportunity from an INSEAD classmate, Sue Xu, who like me, is keen on exploring a career in social impact. She had previously spoken to Victoria Peil, the head of ALX, and who happens to be the elder sister of another classmate, Christina. Sue then put me in touch with Victoria, and not long after, I was having a video interview with her.
Before I talk about my experience, I want to tell you about Ahmed (name changed). Ahmed graduated with a degree in hydraulic engineering from the UAE, before completing a traineeship with the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza. Unsure about his career goals, he decided to open a supermarket with his brother, where he was the general manager in charge of inventory management, customer service and financial record keeping.
Having regarded my past few months at INSEAD as experimental grounds, the MBA’s 2-month break felt like an exciting new experimentation window. And with a “single” professional 4-year experience in management consulting, an internship seemed like the perfect opportunity to test new professional variables around sector and work setup.
This summer I had the wonderful and kind-of-unexpected opportunity to work in an impact investing company called Creas S.A. I say “unexpected” because to be honest, three months ago I wouldn’t have believed that I was going to be writing this post: one week before the summer break I still didn’t have any internship lined up!
Most Executive MBA (EMBA) participants are looking for some kind of career change, either during the programme or after graduation. However, individual professional development needs and goals tend to differ widely amongst participants, and the INSEAD Career Development Centre for Working Professionals (CDWP) is in place to support you in the process of self-assessment and discovery, as well as execution of your individual career plan.
It’s been almost three weeks since we kicked off our startup tour and we’ve been to Berlin, Amsterdam, and now London before heading to our last stop in Paris. We were lucky enough to have met a lot of cool companies and entrepreneurs on the way.
It is not just because we coincidentally went on a startup tour this summer. Entrepreneurship is more tempting than ever thanks to the infrastructure and systems in place today. Whether you have a brilliant idea or not, it doesn’t matter anymore. There is support available for any and every kind of profile that was not possible just a few years ago. Here, we try and jot down reasons (and super cool start-ups) that got us excited about being an entrepreneur and hopefully this excites you too.