I couldn’t have moved from telecoms to high finance without the GEMBA.
Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith
Nationality: American Year Graduated: 2013 Current Role: Principal at Community Capital Technology

What were you doing when you started your EMBA?

I was working in Indonesia for a company I had helped set up as an undergraduate. We were seven years in and my role was to expand our mobile-networks servicing into emerging markets. While doing that, I also began thinking about my next step.

Why did you choose to go to INSEAD?

I’d always wanted to go back to school, but it was difficult for me to take a lot of time off. First, I considered an online programme, but when I heard that there was a programme with a convenient schedule at a top business school in Singapore, the decision was made. The other main deciding factor was the school’s entrepreneurial focus.

Was INSEAD’s famous diversity important to you? And was the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) a deciding factor as well?

The idea of being in a classroom with people from around the globe and studying on three campuses was very valuable. It’s just more interesting and refreshing – and so you learn a lot more. Until that point, I’d never done anything like it. You’re in a small group – with someone to mediate the dialogue. It was a whole new experience, but it enabled me to identify things about myself that I’d never have seen otherwise. The LDP is also an ever-evolving process. I use the frameworks all the time, and our group members still engage with each other and our coach.

Was it difficult to juggle work, study and travel across the world?

Balancing work, life and study are challenging, but you get out of the EMBA what you put in. The hardest part was attending the modules in Fontainebleau and Abu Dhabi, which meant being away for longer periods of time. I had to be very careful to speak with my business partners and set expectations within the organisation. Between modules, I did most of my studying at weekends, and found that it helped to fly to Singapore to get the work done. Sometimes, I would fly there on a Friday evening, stay in the Campus Residences, spend the weekend in the library and then fly back on Sunday night. It was great that INSEAD was able to accommodate me in this way, even when I didn’t have to be on campus.

How has your career changed since graduating?

By the time I finished the EMBA, we had an offer on the table for our company. So, it was the perfect chance for a change – and we sold it. I stayed in Singapore to do some consulting projects, but realised that my true calling was for building companies, not advising them. Then, about a year ago, opportunity struck. I started a new business: an online platform for international mergers and acquisitions.

How did the programme help you to move from tech to finance?

I couldn’t have moved from telecoms to high finance without the GEMBA. It exposed me to people from that industry, gave me international contacts and somehow added extra refinement. All the learning in all of the INSEAD classes has become very applicable.