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.
COVID-19 closed business school campuses and forced thousands of MBA students into studying online. But it has also been a trigger for innovation. Some of the world’s most exciting startups have come out of the pandemic, and many of them have been started by MBAs. Edward Tsim from INSEAD's MBA Class of 2020 shares how the pandemic has sparked a business idea and launched the next step of his career as a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur.
“While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.” —Albus Dumbledore The obvious question many prospective candidates ask me is the impact of COVID-19, or more specifically online classes (for one month) during the MBA. The honest answer from my point of view is that it's not ideal but it is much better than I had initially expected. Faculty have adopted quickly to provide extremely engaging classes and non-traditional assignments such as games and simulation exercises.
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.
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.
INSEAD campuses in Singapore and Fontainebleau bustled with euphoria and excitement as we welcomed our new MBA'21Js! Hailing from 64 different countries, our students kickstarted the next chapter of their life at INSEAD, with women making up 32% of the class. It has been a few intense months prior, as our Admissions Team worked closely with admits to seek their sentiments on starting the programme amidst the COVID-19 situation. Webinars and surveys were conducted to understand concerns and preferences.
This year will probably be remembered by the uncertainty we all faced. Back in January, we all no doubt made plans to travel abroad, start a new business, pursue an MBA, or seek many other projects that would have made the year 2020 an amazing one. However, things turned out to be completely different.
Starting an MBA amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is a decision that requires some courage. I still remember the feeling of my heart sinking six months ago, when I first learned the reality of how the COVID outbreak had impacted campus life all around the world.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then” – Lewis Caroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland It was 2AM, and I was lying in my bed in Dubai, perfectly content with life but hungry for change. Hungry for more. Contentment is a fickle friend and can lead to complacency.
"Nomadic professionalism is an experience of our working life that is becoming ever more common, and more culturally influential. It is a combination of feeling deeply attached to your work, while at the same time loosely attached to organisations. A sense that your work defines you more than your company does, your productivity more than your title. That you can take your work with you, if you need to, across different places. It’s a psychological experience as much as a social trend.