The programme serves as a personal development programme that stimulates our growth on various personal levels.
Bobby Leu

Bobby Leu

Nationality/Passport: Swiss Year of graduation: 2015 Current Role: Partner and Chief Operating Officer, SELISE

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the Swiss mountains, in a pretty little village called St. Moritz. My mom is Thai and my dad is Swiss. At the age of 16 I moved away and co-founded a non-profit organisation focusing on engaging youth in political discussions.

During my studies I worked part-time in consulting and corporate development, after which I joined my first full-time position as strategic assistant to the CEO of a telecom company.

At the age of 28 I took part in the GEMBA journey in Singapore. I continued to grow my business responsibility to a P&L of CHF 100 million, after which I sought a new challenge in entrepreneurship.

One year after graduation I left the corporate world to join the tech and innovation start-up of my former school friend as a Partner and Chief Operating Officer. My focus lies in customer acquisition, growth and expansion. Today we are 300 colleagues across the world, conceptualising and implementing digital transformation projects and platforms within insurtech, telecom, retail, logistics and health.

What made you decide to do an EMBA, and what is your opinion on the value of an EMBA in your country?

I believe in lifelong growth and learning. The idea of exposing myself to new ideas and experiences of like-minded people, to broaden my horizon and expand my network in a programme with international scope - all of this seemed very appealing to me.

Furthermore, the possibility to study (part-time) in Singapore opened up a new world of understanding to me. From immersing in different cultures, customs and traditions to understanding business processes and ways in which the different market functions - all of these proved to be worth more than any formal education.

INSEAD taught me about life and how we are all united in one cause - constant learning. An EMBA with an international scope such as INSEAD is a huge enrichment to anyone back home willing to explore the wide world and its endless possibilities.

How has the GEMBA helped you in your career so far? 

I consider expanding one's knowledge base and skills as the quintessence of leadership. Especially when it comes to self-reflection and coaching skills.

INSEAD offers an amazing array of tools to sharpen your senses such as the LDP group coaching. I continue to transfer these enriched reflection skills into my leadership style up to this day. The expanded reach and access to a truly global network is amazing, too. It helps me a lot in my current business development and expansion role.

Tell us more about your Leadership Development Programme (LDP) experience.

I was familiar with personal leadership coaching as I took on leadership roles from an early stage, but peer-to-peer coaching was a novelty to me. The LDP experience helped me open up myself to my peers on a deep emotional level, and helped me to share personal issues without resentment.

In a business context it helped me to become more natural, to express my most authentic self without feeling the need to mask personal traits.

What was the class experience like, how did you interact with your classmates during the programme, and have you kept in touch since?

The class experience, for me, was by far the best experience within the GEMBA programme. I think it is amazing how people from different cultural backgrounds, professions and age ranges can interact so smoothly and efficiently.

I have made many wonderful new friendships, some of which I consider to be part of my close circle. Most of us are frequently in touch and also make extensive travel efforts to stay in touch. We have grown to become a little family.

What were your thoughts on the faculty?

The majority of the faculty was outstanding. The moderation, interaction and dialogue enriched the whole learning experience in a way that nothing else could have.

Is there a particular module that you enjoyed the most, and why?

The electives belong definitely among the highlights. It offered an additional opportunity for interpersonal exchange and networking, but most importantly it offered a way to significantly deepen existing relationships and open the path for new ones.

What are your thoughts on the multi-campus experience during your electives and Key Management Challenges (KMCs)?

The ability to visit multiple campuses was another highlight of the programme. Especially the joint KMC with Penn Wharton on "Doing business in China“. It was an incredible opportunity to get insights into China's way of doing business and to gain a peek into the Chinese business community.

The multi-campus experience was actually the main reason why I chose the INSEAD GEMBA. Being based in Zurich and having the possibility to attend classes in Singapore and truly connect locally makes INSEAD truly unique, especially when it comes to exploring Asia. While many renowned business schools offer multi-campus visits, INSEAD paves the way to a truly global multi-campus class experience.

How did you juggle studies and your busy work schedule at the same time?

It’s important to be aware of the expectations of your key stakeholders and their management style. It is as achievable to juggle work and studies just as it is to manage a strategic project next to your actual line of work. The key lies in obtaining the acknowledgement and cooperation of your key stakeholders. If they won’t let you leave for two weeks straight without interfering with your class participation you will risk to miss out on an integral part of the GEMBA experience. In contrast, managing your homework and working on your thesis should prove to be quite feasible.

If you could relive a memory during your EMBA, which one will it be and why?

I still remember the facial expression of Professor Michael Witt when I confused the Dutch Tripartite System with the Apartheid System in South Africa.

What advice will you give to potential applicants?

Be clear on your expectations. Go for the right reasons. I feel like many peers expected the GEMBA to be a simple medium to raise their salaries and/or act as a fast-track ticket to their career advancement.

From my point of view though, the programme serves as a personal development programme that stimulates our growth on various personal levels. By gaining access to new methods in the fields of self-reflection, problem-solving and synergistic working, each and every one of us is challenged to leave their comfort zone and forced to tackle issues and ideas from unusual perspectives.

It is exactly this kind of inner change in demeanour that is going to act as a catalyst or a launching pad, rather than a straight forward upgrade, to our career advancement.