I have started a new company in a new country
Fernando Russo

Fernando Russo

Fernando Russo
Nationality/Passport: Brazilian Year of graduation: 2016 Current Role: Founder and GP, Meraki Fund

Why did you decide to do an EMBA and why did you choose the INSEAD EMBA?

After managing and selling the company I founded after nine years, I felt the need to go back to school to boost my business skills, especially in terms of finance and strategy. At INSEAD, I saw an opportunity to be part of a truly international programme that could take my next entrepreneurial project to a global level. 

Consequently, I was interested in building a stronger international network and even possibly meeting my next co-founder at the school. I knew that at INSEAD I would share the class with top business talent from all over the world and this was what attracted me the most to the programme.

How has the INSEAD EMBA changed your life and/or perspectives?

I joined the programme thinking I would become a better business professional, but in reality, I left the programme learning a lot more about myself and my fundamental objectives. I started a new business after the programme that I couldn't have imagined had I not had this experience. And while the finance and strategy classes were excellent, the EMBA at INSEAD gave me a lot more in terms of developing myself as a better leader, communicator, team member and individual.

How has the INSEAD EMBA helped you in your career?

INSEAD was an amazing experience to reflect on my career and examine it with a much broader perspective. I now see career opportunities beyond industries and countries. I have started a new company in a new country where I can rely on a very active community of INSEAD alumni for support.

You and your wife both enrolled in INSEAD’s programmes at the same time. Please share with us what that was like?

My wife Anaisa did her full-time MBA at INSEAD in the same year I did the EMBA. For us, it was an excellent experience. Having sold my company in Brazil, I had a lot of flexibility, which allowed me to follow her from France to Singapore on the full-time MBA schedule and travel whenever I needed for my EMBA programme. We even managed to work together as volunteers for a social enterprise in Cambodia during her summer break. Our experiences of both programmes were very different and we both benefited from building two extensive networks.

What are your thoughts on the Leadership Development Programme?

The Leadership Development Programme was one of the highlights of the EMBA. I was part of a wonderful group of four executives from very different backgrounds, nationalities and personalities. With the support of our coach, we built a strong support group that I feel I'll have for life. My group members were a great help, especially with rethinking my career, as I went through the journey of developing my leadership skills.

How did the multi-campus structure benefit you?

During the EMBA I took full advantage of the multiple campuses to expose myself to different work cultures. I had modules in France, Singapore, UAE and even Vietnam. Changing campus was also a fabulous opportunity to expand your network beyond your session. As you go into electives, the further you go, the more likely you will have new classmates that work in different continents. The main advantage of INSEAD is that the quality of teaching will always be consistent since all campuses are part of the same institution.

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

For me, a memorable moment was when I finally found my ideal career path. I had taken several inspiring entrepreneurial classes, gone through deep reflection over my fundamental objectives and attended an elective on ‘Realising Entrepreneurial Potential’, which essentially teaches you how to buy an established business with the help of investors to become the CEO.

After all this intense learning, I was on a morning jog in Singapore and had an epiphany, which helped me realise my next career path. That same day I started writing the first draft of the business plan for the impact investing fund that I now manage in Amsterdam.

What advice would you give potential participants considering an INSEAD EMBA?

This was the best decision I made in my career. Initially I was very worried about the cost of the programme, especially since I was going to be self-funding my EMBA. In retrospect, I have no doubt this was the best investment I have made.

Secondly, to take full advantage of the experience, it is important to involve your family and job in the process as soon as possible. At work you should try to make arrangements with your bosses so that you can be fully present during the modules. The preparation work before the module is also crucial to get the best out of each class.