I was impressed by the entrepreneurial focus, which also reflects itself in the career paths of the school’s alumni.
Andrea van Scheltinga
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.
For two years, I worked as a product manager at Google on a new category of the home device called Smart Displays. It was launched with multiple hardware partners (e.g. JBL, Lenovo) and with Google’s own hardware team as the Google Home Hub. After launch, I was walking through New York and saw a big poster of the device in its home screen state and I felt really proud of bringing the product to market.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?
Following three years as a product manager in Zürich, I moved to California to work directly with Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud, and her executive team. The opportunity to work with such an accomplished entrepreneur whose leadership I admired brought me towards the enterprise side of Google. It was an incredible chance for me to see how she ran the cloud business within Google. I realised that an MBA would be a valuable complement to my engineering and product management background. When Diane left Google earlier this year, I decided to apply to INSEAD.
What other MBA programmes did you apply to?
I applied only to INSEAD.
How did you determine your fit at various schools?
I spoke to colleagues at Google who had attended INSEAD as well as other alumni I was put in touch with. Meeting them, as well as visiting the Fontainebleau campus, convinced me that I would feel at home in the INSEAD mentality. As I studied the curriculum in more detail, I was impressed by the entrepreneurial focus, which also reflects itself in the career paths of the school’s alumni. I hope to work at a smaller, earlier-stage company and so INSEAD’s programme fits my career goals.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose INSEAD MBA and why was it so important to you?
I completed my undergraduate studies in the US and so I was excited to pursue a graduate degree abroad.
With multiple campuses around the world, I think INSEAD is even more international than many people realise. I am excited to explore both the Fontainebleau and Singapore campuses. In my last team, almost no two people had the same nationality and I realised how much I enjoyed working in that kind of environment and how much I learned from it. I look forward to being challenged in similar ways at INSEAD.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?
The TMT group (Technology, Media & Telecom). I’m curious to hear about the experiences of other students in tech and it looks like they have some exciting industry treks planned every year.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process?
INSEAD has a strict language policy which requires applicants to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in a second language besides English. I learned Dutch as my first language from my parents but had never studied it formally in school. While I speak the language fluently, my reading and writing skills are a little more improvised. I would say I was most apprehensive about passing an hour-long Dutch writing exam.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?
A defining moment in my life was moving to Zürich, Switzerland. I moved for a semester abroad at ETH during my undergraduate studies and ended up living there for almost four years. Building a life somewhere new and finding a great set of friends and mentors gave me a lot of confidence. I learned I was scrappier and more adaptable than I had known and this mentality benefited me in other areas of life. Switzerland also has a talent for creating warm and livable spaces (even above 2000 meters of altitude) and I began to spend time exploring the mountains, something I still love to do.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
At my ten-year INSEAD reunion of course!
This interview was originally published on Poets&Quants Meet INSEAD's MBA Class of 2020.