Every INSEAD graduate I’ve contacted has immediately taken the time to help me get the information I’m seeking.
Isabel Weiner

Isabel Weiner

Nationality/Passport: American Year of graduation: 2020 Current Role: INSEAD MBA '20J Student

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.

Designing and overseeing the monitoring framework for the second largest philanthropic investment at my organisation (nearly $200 million) and using it as a basis to establish guiding principles for structuring complex, incentive-based grants.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?

Like many, I chose to pursue an MBA in order to pivot my career from philanthropy to investing with impact. I believe business school will help me hone the hard skills I need to transition into an investing role, where I can utilise financial instruments traditionally found in the private sector to address issues of economic advancement.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? 

As someone coming from a human rights and social justice non-profit background, I was hugely hesitant about the stereotyped business school culture when I began my application process. For me, I was looking for schools that didn’t just have a handful of socially-minded clubs, but instead had social good embedded in their ethos. I explored this through having conversations with current students and professors, attending campus visits, researching the diversity profile of past classes, and reading up on the school’s reputation for impact. I also applied to three schools through The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which immediately connected me to a network of MBA candidates who are deeply passionate about issues of diversity and inclusion in business.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?

Dedicated. I’ve consistently witnessed how driven my classmates are to accomplish their goals and make an impact. The same goes for alumni I’ve connected with throughout the application process. Beyond being dedicated to their own careers, they’ve also been dedicated to helping me navigate critical decisions as I take my next step. Without fail, every INSEAD graduate I’ve contacted has immediately taken the time to speak with me and help me get the information I’m seeking. I’ve been overwhelmingly impressed by that, and I owe much of my progress to those conversations.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this programme for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?

Having a global mindset is really important to me, so I was immediately drawn to INSEAD’s multi-campus model and deep attention to diversity. Working in multiple countries and in globally diverse organisations has shaped my perspective in a unique way. I felt that studying at INSEAD would continue that. By immersing myself in diverse markets, I’ll be prepared to bring a new way of thinking to my next role, ideally in investing.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?

So far, I’m really excited to get involved with INSEAD Women in Business, the Investment Management Club, INDEVOR, the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, and Wine Club of course!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? 

It was to describe who I am as a person. While this may seem like a straightforward question, when I sat down to put it to paper, I was surprised by how much I struggled to articulate an answer. Through honest conversations with family members and close friends, I ended up identifying the key qualities that define who I am, and that I care about most.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? 

When I was working for a human rights organisation in Cairo in the summer of 2013, I was there during the unexpected military overthrow of Egypt’s then-president, Mohamed Morsi. Witnessing a nation-wide uprising fueled by economic instability led me to shift my career focus from the right to health for women and refugees to economic justice. By working to create economic opportunities through investing and other channels, I hope to address some of the root causes fueling issues of global health.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

I see myself as an experienced investor, who either holds a senior role at a mission-driven investment vehicle or in a social impact consulting team advising on cross-sector solutions.


This interview was originally published on Poets&Quants Meet INSEAD's MBA Class of 2020