The INSEAD MBA has helped me to diversify the way I see the world.
Tell us about yourself, and how you go to where you are today both on a professional and personal level?
I describe myself as a resilient go-getter.
I came from a poor family who used to live in the slums of Metro Manila with a father who is a taxi driver earning EUR 10 per day, every other day on average, and a stay-at-home mother who does her best to maximise what little resources we have so that her family gets to survive each day.
Since I was six years old, being the eldest of three children, I was aware of the fact that I needed to help my parents and from then on, it became my personal goal to graduate from a reputable university so I can get a high-paying job and provide for my family.
At that time, it seemed like an impossible dream, but with my stubbornness to work towards my goals and with the resilience I have built, I have reached the point where I am at now.
There are two key turning points in my life that have influenced the path that I eventually took.
One is my decision to pursue secondary education in Philippine Science High School, despite not knowing anyone in the community and despite living away from my family. The decision to study in Philippine Science High School was a decision I made for the better, in order to open myself up to opportunities that would allow me to rescue my family out of poverty.
Studying in Philippine Science was very challenging as it was not only outside my comfort zone, I was also immediately faced me with a lot challenges like discrimination during my freshman year having come from public school, as well as financial struggle as I tried to survive living in the dormitory.
These challenges may have been tough, but the opportunities I got later on and the growth that I had experienced as an individual were worth a lot more. The quality of education and the myriad of life learnings that came with the experience were privileges and I can now help other students who come from the same background to get access to that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Another turning point in my life was the decision to pursue a business course in Ateneo instead of an Intarmed Programme in UP Manila, which basically was a decision between pursuing a practical route to provide for my family, or pursuing a route that I really loved.
Being a doctor meant that I still had to study for at least 10 years, which at that point was not practical since my sisters were already about to enter college. So, I decided to pursue a business course in Ateneo. Little did I know, later on, that I would really fall in love with the corporate world, particularly the field of marketing, and how I could deliver value to the society despite working in the private sector.
Now that I am 32 years old, I believe that I am already at a point in my life where I am progressing upward Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I definitely took my time from my college graduation to pursue an MBA degree, but the 10-year gap made me a better individual who is more prepared to pursue other interests outside of his family.
Pursuing the MBA at INSEAD will allow me to gain the necessary credentials and experiences that will be very valuable to pursue my other personal aspirations that will make me a more equipped person when I return and give back to the Philippines in the future.
What made you decide you wanted to pursue the INSEAD MBA, and why INSEAD in particular?
I decided to pursue an INSEAD MBA because of three main factors:
- I want to work in Europe after my education and pursue a strategy consulting career and INSEAD is the number 1 business school who is a very well-known talent supplier to MBB and other consulting companies.
INSEAD is very much known for its diverse cohort and coming from the Philippines with the ambition to pursue a global career, I felt that it was the right environment that I should expose myself to in order to discover more things about how I work with people and teams and learn skills necessary for me to thrive in a global setting.
- The programme was very short compared to other top MBA programmes yet very intense so it felt like a practical choice in the context of being temporarily unemployed, since I am still supporting my family while studying in INSEAD.
Because of these three factors, I finally decided to apply in INSEAD during round 4 as I was relatively late in making a decision whether I would pursue an MBA or not once the pandemic had ended.
Eventually, since I felt that I had reached my goals for my family and it is time to pursue my other personal goals, I decided to give the MBA a try and made it to the final round deadlines of the school.
Which campus(es) have you experienced, and can you tell us more about any similarities or differences? Any helpful tips/anecdotes on living in Fonty/living in Singapore?
I am a 100% Fonty lifer and what I like about this campus is that it is located in a small town which means that everyone in the cohort will be forced to interact with each other.
I imagine it as a big dormitory where you will see anyone anywhere and each meet-up will be a chance to get to know another person. Because of this, I felt it was easy to find your own support group in the community which I believe is critical for a person's adjustment in the very fast-paced FOMO-filled INSEAD journey.
Are you a scholarship recipient? If so, could you tell us which scholarship you received and how you prepared for the application?
I am a recipient of the INSEAD Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund and I prepared for my application by telling an authentic story about myself, my motivations about pursuing an INSEAD MBA education and my desires of how I will bring the learnings I get post-INSEAD to be a "force for good".
This is especially true and relevant when I eventually return to the Philippines 10-15 years down the road.
Did you have any expectations before you started the MBA, and did you speak to any alumni before joining the programme?
I had three expectations about the MBA programme:
- Intense programme that will push me to my limits academically, socially and even in terms of my career, which fortunately is what I have experienced satisfactorily even though I am just four months into my programme. Most of the core subjects are really useful courses that I think will help me in my post-INSEAD career. The diversity that I have experienced so far from my study groups and other extra curricular activities have allowed me to discover aspects of my leadership style that I didn't know existed, which I can use to my advantage.
- I will be equipped with the necessary skills I need to do well in my applications for my strategy consulting aspiration -
INSEAD has all the resources a student needs to prepare really well for a consulting position(i.e. opportunities like CV workshop and mock interviews, case prep resources from the Consulting Club and sponsored students who can give you helpful feedback when practicing for case interviews)
- Build a network that I can leverage when I work in Europe after INSEAD. With its diverse cohort and large alumni population, one can easily find valuable connections that can help you reach your goals. Plus, a bonus I got was I found some genuine people along the way who I think will be my lifelong friends even after INSEAD.
Could you tell us about your experience with the Career Development Centre?
The Career Development Centre has been very helpful for me in three ways:
- They have provided me with a career coach who has helped me to solidify my career ambitions post-INSEAD by pushing me to come up with a detailed game plan which has allowed me to prepare really well prior to the arrival of the recruitment season.
- They provided very useful workshops such as the CV session and mock interview sessions which gave me insights on how I could more effectively sell my story to my target companies.
- Paved the way for me to get connected with top consulting firms and have the opportunity to apply to their summer internship programmes.
Has the INSEAD MBA helped you in your career so far?
Definitely, INSEAD MBA helped me through the following:
- CDC and Consulting Resources: I have had full access to different kinds of resources to help me prepare for cases and fit interviews which are necessary for me to secure the job that I want. In addition, the proximity I had with sponsored consultants who are part of my cohort allowed me to get quick and actionable feedback to continuously improve my skills. Before coming to INSEAD, I was really not quite confident about the path that I needed to take to land a consulting job.
- Pushed me to diversify the way I see the world: Because of its diverse environment, my perspective was expanded in terms of the opportunities that I can pursue post INSEAD and at the same time it has pushed me to be more open in terms of entertaining different perspectives and be more emphatic with different kinds of people that I meet.
- Intense environment: With all things happening in the INSEAD MBA journey, you are constantly challenged to know your priorities and act on them in a focused and efficient way. Skills such as time management, 80/20 rule and networking are repeatedly honed which I believe will be valuable skills when I eventually work for a strategy consulting career.
What advice will you give to prospects who are still considering whether an INSEAD MBA should be part of their career plan?
My advice to future INSEAD MBA applicants would be to be clear with your long-term goals and how INSEAD fits into the picture.
Know fully what value INSEAD can bring to help you progress closer to the goals that you have identified for yourself. Research how the INSEAD MBA is different versus other MBAs and assess if the programme is a right fit for you
Do not hesitate to reach out to any INSEAD alumni because most of the time, they will be willing to give you valuable insights about their INSEAD journey.