When I walked off the plane five months ago in Singapore and headed straight for our launch day at INSEAD, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had been living in South Africa working as a Product Manager for Tencent.
It was two weeks into the 10-month INSEAD MBA programme. Six strangers were dining pasta on a weekday. What we didn't know however, is that this was an evening that would change our lives forever.
Here in Fontainebleau, there is a crossing in front of the INSEAD campus. Every day, it is easy to spot several INSEADers waiting for the streetlight to turn green, ready to rush into school. People are often in a hurry and late for class, and often try to gain a bunch of seconds by crossing on the red light, to the delight of the local drivers.
The environment at INSEAD is more collaborative than competitive.
I am a minority at INSEAD. Coming in, I had never taken a business or quantitative degree – ever! Even though I had already braced myself for a challenge when I decided to apply, I still found myself initially overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks of classes. I was sitting in finance class with CFA-certified colleagues and computing regression models with engineers!
When I came to INSEAD, I had a notion that given the short time span of 10 months and the pace of things here, it would be almost impossible to establish any kind of bonds or friendships here. Four months and two periods later, I am so happy with the fact that how terribly wrong I was.
Before starting your INSEAD journey, everybody is very excited and curious about an awful lot of things. One of these are the study groups: a group of five to six people that will work together during all the courses of P1 and P2. Who will I be grouped with? Where are they from? How much smarter are they than me? How many consultants are in the group? After completing P2, I can share some insights about the reality of study groups and tips on how to make the most of the experience. Let’s focus first on some truths and myths…
It's half past midnight. I have just come home from school after a long walk through a foresty neighborhood. Suddenly I felt this tenderness flying around in the air. As this mystical wind blew, I decided to pause my individual report for Strategy. The MBA suddenly became soft. The past 50 days have been a softening process, of time, of humanity, of everything in my life that I can touch and feel. Seriously? Don't people think of an MBA as stainless steel? Tough, cold, shiny and unbreakable.
One of our first, most salient memories of INSEAD is sitting around a table covered in markers and butcher paper, nervously smiling at group mates that still qualified as strangers. We were in our very first session for the Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLDP), during our first weeks on campus, participating in a form of psychotherapy: utilising art to tap into the subconscious.
Dear All, Time spent at INSEAD is indeed strange. It passes so quickly and yet it feels like eternity. While I’ve only just got settled here, a wintry Europe is a distant memory for me already. Weeks are passing, they are packed with experiences, and we are approaching the end of the first period.