Is an MBA only for high academic achievers with successful business backgrounds? What if your previous life or work experience doesn’t seem to fit into any of the more traditional pre-MBA profiles you've come across? This collection of blogs showcases the inspiring stories of five INSEAD MBA students who came from non-traditional backgrounds and succeeded not only in getting admitted, but also in demonstrating that an MBA can be a transformative and enriching endeavour for anyone willing to embrace the challenge.
I joined the INSEAD MBA to expand my knowledge of and opportunities within a variety of business sectors. Coming from advertising, I knew a lot about marketing, had heard of finance, accounting, and strategic consulting, but did not know many other sectors. Additionally, being a more creative and qualitative person, I knew that I did not want a career based in spreadsheets and hard numbers. So, I entered INSEAD with an open mind, determined to understand other areas of business.
Being a lawyer didn’t make the MBA a logical move. I had left the law firm industry quite early in my career, spending the six years before INSEAD in asset management. However, the assets I was working on were still legal by nature: my fund provided the financial means necessary to companies taking part in lawsuits to cover all related expenses in exchange for a share of the proceeds in case of success.
I came into the MBA unsure completely of what I was getting myself into but confident it was the right move in my career. I felt frustrated working in a company where I felt I was creating “strategies” without any real idea of what I was doing and how the “higher-up” decisions in the company hardly mattered compared to the “fires” I was constantly putting out in my day-to-day work. Instead I arrived at INSEAD and was immediately introduced to a world I hadn’t known existed, where everyone talked about the “MBBs” and inside jokes in class involved a guy named Porter.
I am not your typical MBA candidate. For nearly seven years, I was a staff writer with TIME Magazine in New York City, where I covered music, culture, and entertainment. (I also worked remotely during the pandemic from a small town in the western U.S., writing about the economy and generational politics.) Journalism kept me busy, but as I watched the media industry crumble around me, I wanted to understand the business context more fully. As the type of person who loves school, I decided it was time to go back.
I aspire to drive positive societal impact through sustainable investing, so what first drew me to INSEAD was being one of the first top business schools offering sustainable finance electives, and the Hoffmann Institute’s Sustainable Development Goals expertise.
INSEAD was my first choice because of its incredibly diverse student body, the one-year length of its MBA programme, the ability to study in both Singapore and in France, and of course its reputation for providing an outstanding, globally-focused education.
The diversity of cultures and knowledge is what can help you reshape your mindset and become a better leader tomorrow.
INSEAD’s strong focus in entrepreneurship and technology was a perfect fit for my passion in healthtech and medtech innovation.