This journey has strengthened our bond as a family.
What made you decide to do an EMBA? Why the INSEAD EMBA?
I left a successful corporate life in late 2013 to pursue my own company in 2014. After a year of running my own business, I felt that I needed an environment that could challenge my existing knowledge and leadership skills.
I was clear at that time that I would only do it at a top-ranking business school. INSEAD was a perfect match. I had offers from two others Global EMBA programme, but I chose INSEAD for its diversity and the Leadership Development Programme.
On a more personal front, I believe education is critical. I came from a background where both of my parents and family members didn't have any formal education. I came to INSEAD with the vision to inspire my family, especially the younger generation of our family. We can’t change history, but we have a choice to change our current state and make a difference to our future through education.
Do share with us your class experiences.
I was blown away from the first class itself. There are so many talents inside one room! Multiple experts in their fields ranging from marketing specialist, investment banker, health care professional etc. We have 'United Nations' in the class, with many nationalities and years of experience.
I always loved the engagement during class – it is thought-provoking and refreshing to be able to hear a different point of view on the same topic. Personally, I gained invaluable insights from the professors and my classmates.
How has the EMBA helped you in your career?
The exposure I gained at INSEAD has helped me to strengthen my business. I was able to use the frameworks learnt in the class to articulate and formulate business ideas for implementation.
Also, in the last six months of the programme, I looked at some opportunities that I can work on to contribute back to the society and engaged in a project that can diversify the existing business.
How did you juggle studies and your busy work schedule at the same time?
It wasn't easy. Core Courses were challenging as you are expected to do the pre-work before reaching campus, which means you need to juggle these with your family time. Working hours are non-negotiable, with multiple engagements with employees, client and external stakeholders. Hence, I typically managed studies during weekends. My wife is also pursuing her residency to be an eye surgeon. We have three amazing children aged from four months to four years old, and they are our priority as well.
With such intense schedule, we have learned to be more efficient as parents to our children. Collaboration in our relationship and self-discipline is critical to make this work. We slept less for sure, but this journey has strengthened our bond as a family.
How has the INSEAD EMBA changed your life/perspectives?
INSEAD is super rich in diversity. I felt like I have someone to ring wherever I go. Even though I used to work for a big multinational before, I genuinely believe that the INSEAD experience has provided me with the world-view of life and business. It has made me more accepting towards others, open-minded and the overall experience has been humbling at the same time.
What are your thoughts on the multi-campus experience during your electives and Key Management Challenges (KMCs)?
Every location has its unique strength. Abu Dhabi was an eye-opening experience. It provided me exposure to the UAE business environment and the cultural diversity of this booming region. In a way, it has given me an excellent 'orientation' if you are keen to explore further.
The San Fransisco KMC, 'Beyond Entrepreneurship - New Strategy and Leadership Behaviour' has been another highlight of my INSEAD journey. I took away the learning and immediately applied it to my business.
In each of the locations, the faculty had planned activities inside and outside the classroom. It is well-balanced. Talking to people from each region also helped me to understand the local business environment better.
The electives will bring together all GEMBA participants from the three different campuses and sections. Be prepared to be amazed by the line-up of activities organised by the faculty and your class reps!
Tell us more about your Leadership Development Programme (LDP) experience.
The GEMBA programme goes very fast from one module to another. The LDP programme runs in parallel with the academic work. There are many tools to leverage, ranging from the dedicated coach, educative materials, and the peer exchange programme.
In the LDP group, it wasn't comfortable to be working with people who have many differences and yet are similar regarding passion and drive to excel in all aspects of life. Despite this challenge, in the end, it's entirely up to you on how you want to use this experience to be more reflective and better as a leader.
As I was writing the LDP reflective paper at the end of the programme, I can genuinely say that writing that essay was the one of the most rewarding experiences. The changes in me that I see through my lens and others are fulfilling, and I know this growth and the awareness about myself is another stepping stone for many leadership challenges that lie ahead of me.
What is one key takeaway you have gotten from the programme?
Change is imminent and fast-paced in today's business environment. Driving sustainability is key. I know I can leverage on my INSEAD network to get advice on any matter. I have made many good friends along the way. The friendship is priceless.
What advice will you give to potential participants looking to do an INSEAD Executive MBA?
Be clear on what you want to learn and where you want to improve on. Continue to be hungry throughout the course, and you may learn something you never expected. Learning is constant, be it in the classroom or any discussion with your peers.
Diversity is one significant strength of INSEAD programme. So please leverage your peers, be open-minded and stay humble. Leave the programme more well-rounded. For those with family commitments, let your family be involved from the beginning.