I chose INSEAD partly because the school has such a good reputation for entrepreneurship!
Gian Saratz

Gian Saratz

Gian Saratz
Nationality: Swiss Year Graduated: 2013 Current Role: Ventures Builder, Sparrow Ventures

Why did you decide to leave your business and do an MBA at INSEAD?

Partly because INSEAD has such a good reputation for entrepreneurship! And I haven’t totally left my own venture, Nosh Delivery, which delivers healthy Western-style food to offices and homes in Shanghai. My business partner is overseeing the production kitchens and our 40 employees, while I do the books and strategy from Singapore. Additionally, I’m also travelling to Shanghai every couple of months for a few days. We’re just opening our third outlet in Shanghai and are looking into different strategies on how to further grow the business… which is one of reasons I’m here at INSEAD. We began with mainly expat customers, but now already 35% of our customers are Chinese.

How do you think INSEAD will help you scale up your company?

I’m gaining valuable frameworks and greatly appreciate being able to talk with the entrepreneurs in residence. When I get to the electives, I’ll choose lots of entrepreneurship classes.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

The organisational behaviour classes were a huge eye-opener. They made me realise that the critical success factors are usually human. Soft skills and team dynamics can either kill a project – or turn it into a winner. And the INSEAD group structure enables you to apply the organisational behaviour learning directly. The group work also teaches you not to take yourself too seriously – it brings you down to earth in a good way.

How would you sum up INSEAD people?

The students are smart – much more so than when I was at a top engineering school in Switzerland. And most of the faculty are at the top of their game. So far, I’ve met amazing people and made many close friends. It’s been an incredible personal and professional development.

What is the highlight of your INSEAD experience so far?

It was probably competing as a team member in an international competition against other business schools. It wasn’t a typical business plan competition but a venture capital investing competition – we had to choose which early stage businesses to invest in. It was particularly interesting to me as an entrepreneur, because it put me on the other side of the table, the investing side (and showed me an additional career option). We won the European finals and came third in the final global competition. I’d definitely recommend doing as many extra-curricular activities as you can at INSEAD.

How do you find the time for extra-curricular activities?

It’s very, very intense. I’m not sure I’ve found the balance yet – between the academic, personal, social, extra-curricular and business aspects of my life! But that’s the nature of a one-year programme. I knew it would be like this. And I haven’t regretted a single minute of it so far.

What advice would you give next year’s applicants?

Talk to as many alumni as you can in order to make sure you’ve found the right match. And when you get here, don’t lose your focus or follow the crowd. Choose your direction and keep sight of your objectives.