A handshake. Sitting in a classroom. Going to ‘Freddy’s’ bar. So many things we have taken for granted have now changed.
The INSEAD MBA is an intense 10-month rollercoaster and the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to put a sudden brake at the very summit, jolting us back to an unfamiliar new reality. But despite our self-administered physical fences, the unwavering support of our INSEAD friends shone through, reminding us that we were in this together.
If long run averages are anything to go by, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a Fontainebleau to Paris car ride to last 45 minutes. But the moment you throw a national public transport strike into the mix, the travel time increases to an astronomical 2.5 hours. To many a bystander, this would qualify as a high barrier to entry. Hence, if said bystanders chose to cozy up in bed with a warm mug of cocoa, rather than brave the vagaries of Paris’ traffic network, they would probably not be judged too harshly by society.
When you hear “INSEAD”, “fashion” isn’t necessarily a word that comes to mind. After writing a blog post about my intention to switch to a job focused on luxury fashion, people asked, “So why didn’t you choose a Master’s programme specialising in that industry?” After all, the post-graduation placement in luxury from schools like IFM, SDA Bocconi, and HEC is incredibly impressive.
I’m no stranger to live music nights. When I lived in Hong Kong (where I grew up and also worked before INSEAD), I used to volunteer for Sofar Sounds Hong Kong, a global movement based on secret gigs built to promote live music in intimate settings.
“Humor doesn’t translate well in an international setting,” it has often been said. But with 12 brave volunteer comics, 60 innocent bystanders, and 30+ nationalities from INSEAD’s Class of July 2020 in attendance, the debut standup comedy night methodically debunked this myth – one chuckle at a time!
One of my most rewarding experiences at INSEAD has been my involvement with the Storytelling Club, where students share personal stories, usually completely unrelated to their professional personas. You don’t hear many stories at business school. You’ll quickly find that most of your conversations center on your last job, your classes, your future job, or an upcoming trip.
Find your own balance between being exploratory and focused.
Three periods have passed already, half the program duration! I still remember the first week with all the welcoming activities as if it happened last month, and all the fun we had in the sun during breaks in the first few months. When P1 ended, we thought it had gone by fast; we had spoken too soon: P2 was even faster. But both pale in comparison with P3, which literally flew by.
Four months, 12 core courses, a new club (I+D club)* and 16 social events have happened since my last post. The experience at INSEAD has been truly amazing, and the learning immense. Amidst all the activities and 200 alpha peers, I felt like the odd one out in the beginning - a designer with little experience in finance and accounts. I asked myself - “How do I chart my way in one of the best business schools in the world?”