The experience of engaging with such a diverse array of individuals has been truly enriching. Conversations span countless topics, offering insights into different cultures, perspectives and worldviews.
Arnold Emande

Arnold Emande

Nationality/Passport: Cameroonian Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Continuous Improvement Manager – DIAGEO Guinness Cameroun S.A.

Tell us about yourself, and how you got to where you are today both on a professional and personal level?

I am the youngest of six siblings, raised in the charming town of Edea, Cameroon. My father's career at an aluminium plant, particularly in the quality systems department with a lot of continuous improvement initiatives, significantly influenced my upbringing. He instilled in me the ethos of continuous improvement, emphasising the value of incremental progress over seeking grand breakthroughs—a principle I carry with me to this day.

My fascination with industry led me to pursue engineering, initially aspiring to study mechatronics. However, circumstances led me to specialise in automation, which closely aligned with my interests. 

Joining DIAGEO at the Douala Plant marked the beginning of my professional journey, where my passion for continuous improvement became evident. Throughout my tenure, I actively championed various continuous improvement projects and initiatives, eventually ascending to the role of Continuous Improvement Manager.

What motivated you to choose the INSEAD MBA, and how do you envision it aligning with your future goals, even at this early stage?

As I delved deeper into my career, I recognised the symbiotic relationship between continuous improvement and corporate strategy—the former laying the groundwork for the latter. 

Aspiring to senior and executive roles necessitated broadening my skill set, particularly in areas like finance and commercial operations. 

It became apparent that pursuing an MBA was the logical next step to equip myself with the necessary capabilities, gain a nuanced understanding of the global landscape, and build a robust network.

Hence, I find myself currently pursuing an MBA at INSEAD, driven by a fervent desire to further my career ambitions and contribute meaningfully to the corporate world.

What were your impressions of campus life so far and how did you navigate accommodation, and sorting out all the admin? Any tips for incoming students?

At first I found the campus really “cold”… maybe because I arrived around the coldest time of the year, and coming from a very hot place. 😉

Luckily I had already arranged formalities around my apartment, but I forgot activating the electricity subscription - so I spent the first night without electricity and HEATING! Any incoming student should ensure they activate the electricity subscription before coming, especially if arriving in January. 😉

The administrative processes were fine enough. Plan a VISA card for your VISA validation! And think about Revolut to be able to get a phone line and bank details to activate your electricity subscription ahead of time!

Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Singapore/Fontainebleau?

I had to work hard for the GMAT but the second try was the right one – I am lucky because for some, they had to take the test several other times – so that’s clearly something to plan ahead..

I spent a lot of time on my essays, especially the one about giving a candid description of myself. But with such preparation, thinking a lot about myself, I was getting some gains even pre-MBA! I developed as a better leader at work, and the interviews were much easier in the second part of the application process. 

Remaining candid and honest in my essays really helped me even personally – so on this aspect I would advise to avoid being helped (even by Mr GPT!).

Once I was admitted, getting a Prodigy Loan was not that difficult. Many options were even possible. But I would advise to put real efforts on the scholarship essays too, as INSEAD makes it possible for the financers to somehow convert your scholarship into living costs which is extremely useful, especially if one is financially limited as I personally was!

In your first few weeks, what aspects of the INSEAD MBA have stood out to you as unique or particularly appealing?

Three things: 

  1. Diversity
  2. The Force for Good ethos with the particular emphasis on sustainability
  3. International View

Aside from your academic pursuits, what extracurricular interests or activities are you exploring at INSEAD, and how do you see them enhancing your overall MBA experience?

I am currently involved in initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the benefits of pursuing MBAs among young Africans. 

My goal is to encourage more Africans to pursue higher education and eventually ascend to positions of influence, whether in the economic or ideological spheres. 

However, my approach is rooted in a globalised perspective rather than a closed one.

As I continue to engage in these initiatives, I find that my leadership skills are evolving, and I am increasingly drawn to the idea that true leadership involves giving more than one receives. 

This principle, I believe, is fundamental to effective leadership. It underscores the importance of selflessness, empathy and a commitment to serving others.

By promoting education and leadership opportunities for young Africans, I hope to cultivate a new generation of leaders who embody these values and are equipped to address the complex challenges facing our world today. 

My vision is not just to see more Africans in top positions of power, but to see leaders who prioritise the greater good and are driven by a sense of responsibility to their communities and the world at large.

Any parting words of wisdom, and are you willing to be contacted for more information by prospective students?

When I first arrived on campus, the sheer diversity and multitude of individuals was somewhat overwhelming, and I gravitated towards connecting mostly with fellow Africans. 

However, as time passed, I came to realise the immense value of interacting with people from all walks of life.

The experience of engaging with such a diverse array of individuals has been truly enriching. Conversations span countless topics, offering insights into different cultures, perspectives and worldviews. 

From participating in various events like PLDP sessions, group projects, to more relaxed gatherings like parties, each interaction has fostered meaningful connections.

Viewing current global issues from afar, they can seem distant and abstract. Yet, it's moments like when a respected professor shares their personal struggles stemming from conflicts in their homeland, that these issues suddenly hit closer to home. It's through these encounters that we gain a deeper understanding and empathy for others' experiences.

Despite the myriad pressures of MBA life—FOMO, exams, job hunting—these challenges are temporary and will eventually pass. However, the opportunity to immerse oneself in such a diverse and vibrant community is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

My advice to fellow students is to embrace the human aspect of the MBA journey wholeheartedly. This period of growth and exploration will shape us in profound ways, making us more empathetic, compassionate, and ultimately better equipped to make a positive impact in the world, and maybe be a force for good? (I think I’m beginning to get the real understanding behind this!)

YES – prospective students can contact me.