There is so much more to the INSEAD experience than just getting the certificate.
What made you decide to do a Master in Finance?
The overarching objective was to further my career in the financial industry and to achieve that, I felt that I needed to obtain some form of finance-related qualification considering that I had minimal prior academic background in finance. The option of a Master in Finance over a CFA was chosen as I felt that I would learn better under a more structured approach under the tutelage of professors.
Why the INSEAD EMFin amongst all other available Master programmes worldwide?
First and foremost, it had to be a part-time programme and be primarily based in Singapore as I had to continue working. Second, the reputation of the institution swayed my decision to choose INSEAD over more affordable options in Singapore.
Did the programme meet or exceed your expectations?
It certainly exceeded my expectations. I went in with the initial expectation of developing financial knowledge and skills meticulously from the ground up, but the programme got me hitting the ground running right from the beginning. The assumption is that an EMFin candidate is expected to have some basic working knowledge of finance (or is expected to pick up the basics quickly) as the programme emphasises more on the application of the theories in the financial industry via case studies and simulations. Combining the rigour of the programme pedagogy and the hyper-compressed schedule especially during the core modules, the INSEAD EMFin was certainly an intense experience. The other aspect was getting to meet other like-minded professionals in different corporate and financial fields across the globe. That was immensely helpful for someone relatively junior to obtain access to a broad array of experiences and know-how in a short space of time.
How did the EMFin help you in your career?
I have my professors and peers to thank for re-routing the direction of my career within the broader financial industry. Interacting with them helped me focus on where my interest and priorities lie. I would also like to think that the INSEAD EMFin qualification had been instrumental in successfully engineering the career switch to investment management that I was striving towards.
Do share with us your thoughts on the quality of the professors and your classroom experience.
The INSEAD professors come with distinguished academic backgrounds, illustrious professional careers or both. Their in-depth knowledge and experiences shared in class made the lessons richer and relatable, and those anecdotes were certainly more tangible that I could take back with me besides mere financial formulas and theories.
The highly interactive and applied nature of the class makes learning relatable and fruitful. The group case studies and inter-group simulations stoke the competitive streak in everyone and made the relevant modules interesting. Last but not least, the administrators and course coordinators were extremely helpful and obliging in making the programme an enjoyable and memorable one.
What is one module that you enjoyed most, and why?
While I suspect many in my class would have selected module three that was conducted in Fontainebleau, and reasonably so, I personally think module five had a slight edge as the courses were unique compared to the earlier modules. We had the ALCO Simulation Challenge by Professor Jean Dermine and his team, which pitted the different groups in class against each other to generate the highest returns as a commercial bank. It is an understatement that the competition unleashed unbridled animal spirits within the class, all in good fun.
The non-financial and atypical Leadership in Finance module by Professor Ian Woodward was a real eye-opener. We learnt how different approaches in messaging can have vastly differing outcomes. The class also raised my self-awareness of my innate traits and communication preferences, several of which were unknown and surprising to me. At the end, each individual in class was given a critique on his/her communication style with the professor highlighting the strengths while offering practical (and amusing) measures to remedy the weaknesses.
Can you share the multi-campus experience?
For someone who has not studied abroad, the experience in Fontainebleau was fresh air to me as the environment contrasted with the bustling city environment in Singapore. The relatively laid-back atmosphere and the opportunity to unwind and bond with my peers after hours were certainly memorable.
What advice will you give to potential participants?
Go in with a purpose, but keep an open mind. While striving for academic excellence is expected, do not lose sight of the big picture. Take the opportunity to meet and interact with others from different backgrounds. There is more to the INSEAD experience than just getting the certificate.