At INSEAD you should not to overthink every step but immerse yourself in the diversity and myriad of opportunities it presents.
Benedikt Kirchgaessler

Benedikt Kirchgaessler

Nationality/Passport: German, Swiss Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: CEO / Founder at CyanoGuard AG

Could you share something unexpected or a fun fact about you? 

I have been always passionate about flying and have received my private pilot's license in 2021. Before coming to INSEAD I just passed my theoretical Airline Transport Pilot Licence Exams. So technically, once I finish my practical exams, I could apply to work for an airline.

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

After high school, I went into finance initially, intrigued by the energy of the trading floor during an internship at Natixis in Paris. This led me to join and complete a banking trainee programme at Unicredit in Munich, while studying Business Administration in Munich and Paris. 

Yet, my curiosity didn't stop there. Inspired by entrepreneurs I met while at university, I felt a pull towards something different, something of my own.

My passion for chemistry, a constant since childhood, guided me next. I took a significant step away from finance. I sailed across the Atlantic, which was a journey I always wanted to take, and landed in Zurich to study chemistry. This shift paved the way for CyanoGuard, a venture born out of my university project with the goal to make a real-world impact with our science.

As CEO of CyanoGuard, I've focused on building a strong team, fostering an inclusive culture, and expanding our work into significant areas of chemical monitoring. 

The journey from finance to science and entrepreneurship wasn't straightforward, but it was driven by a deep desire to learn and create meaningful change.

Leading CyanoGuard has been about more than just business; it's been about pushing boundaries, embracing new challenges, and making an impact through our work. This path has shown me the importance of following your curiosity and being open to where it might lead you.

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

I chose the INSEAD MBA because of its strong international outlook, which aligns perfectly with my desire to work and make an impact on a global scale. 

The programme's emphasis on pushing students out of their comfort zones resonates with my personal belief in the importance of continuous growth and adaptation.  

The INSEAD MBA equips me with the diverse perspectives and innovative strategies needed to navigate and lead in an increasingly complex global market. It's a step towards enhancing my ability to effect change and contribute meaningfully across borders.

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?

My experience with campus life has been incredibly positive, largely because I leaned heavily on the advice from the INSEAD student life team. They were a fantastic resource, and their guidance made a huge difference. 

However, I also took a very proactive approach to everything, especially when it came to sorting out accommodation and administrative tasks. I wanted to avoid any last-minute stress, so I made sure to get these things out of the way early on. For those heading to Singapore, keep in mind that accommodation tends to come together quite late due to the short-term market there. 

My tip for incoming students is to definitely take advantage of the resources available through the student life team, but also don't wait on important tasks. Being proactive is key.

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

During my MBA application process, I prioritised tackling the objective requirements - such as the GMAT & TOEFL exams as well as the recommendations - early on. This strategy not only allowed me to dedicate the necessary time and effort to achieve the scores I aimed for but also cleared the way for a deeper focus on the application essays and interviews. 

Understanding why I really wanted to pursue an MBA, particularly at INSEAD, was crucial in shaping my story and motivations in a compelling way.

Securing financing required diligent planning and research into available scholarships, loans, and other financial resources. 

Early preparation was key to ensuring this step didn't become a bottleneck in the application process.

As for relocating to Singapore/Fontainebleau, I found the process well-documented and surprisingly stress-free, thanks to the comprehensive guides and resources provided. 

The only somewhat challenging part was securing an apartment, as this can be time-consuming and requires patience and flexibility. My advice to future students is to start the apartment search early and to be as proactive as possible in all logistics and administrative tasks. This approach not only minimises stress but also allows you to fully engage with the MBA experience from day one.

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

In the initial weeks of the INSEAD MBA, what truly stood out for me was the programme's incredible ability to push you out of your comfort zone. This isn't just about the academic rigour, which is a given, but more so about the diversity of people you get to interact with—individuals from cultures, backgrounds, and industries I had never been exposed to before. 

This melting pot of perspectives not only enriches the learning experience but also challenges and broadens your worldview in unexpected ways.

Another appealing aspect is the ethos of 'trusting the process.' 

At INSEAD you should not to overthink every step but immerse yourself in the diversity and myriad of opportunities it presents. 

The programme seems designed to help you grow by leaps, both professionally and personally, if you're open to it. 

So, my advice to new students would be to leave room for spontaneity and the unforeseen lessons that come from such a richly diverse environment. It's this unique blend of challenge and trust in the journey that makes the INSEAD MBA stand out to me.

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?

At INSEAD, the breadth and variety of interest-based student clubs immediately caught my attention. What truly stands out is the ease with which you can forge relationships with virtually complete strangers, united by a common passion. This aspect of the INSEAD experience underscores the collaborative and open-minded spirit that permeates the campus.

A concrete example of this in action is my interest in aviation. Upon realising there wasn't an existing club for aviation enthusiasts, I simply started conversations with a few people about it. The result was astounding: within days, I found like-minded individuals, and together, we organised a sponsored visit to the Singapore Airshow. 

This experience was not only a testament to the shared enthusiasm and proactive nature of the INSEAD community but also highlighted the unparalleled opportunities for personal and professional growth available here.

Being able to spontaneously create and lead such an initiative has enriched my MBA experience in ways I hadn't anticipated. It's taught me the value of initiative, the power of a shared interest in bringing people together, and the incredible support system that exists within the INSEAD community. 

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

Embarking on the MBA journey, especially at INSEAD, is both exhilarating and daunting. 

The application phase and the initial weeks can indeed feel overwhelming, with a whirlwind of activities, introductions, and information. My key piece of advice would be to trust the process. Remember, every aspect of this journey is designed to challenge you, push you, and ultimately, help you grow.

Importantly, don't let the fear of missing out dictate your experience. It's natural to want to seize every opportunity, but it's also crucial to stay true to what genuinely interests you. Equally, keep an open mind. The person you are when you arrive will evolve, influenced by new insights, perspectives, and experiences. Allow yourself the flexibility to explore, make mistakes, and learn from them. This openness to trying and erring is where true growth happens.

For anyone considering this path or in the midst of navigating it, I am more than willing to share my experiences and insights. Feel free to reach out for a chat or ask questions. 

This journey is challenging, but with the right mindset and support, it's incredibly rewarding. Trust in yourself, trust the process, and embrace the journey with an open heart and mind.