At INSEAD, the classroom dynamic and the level of teaching were my biggest joy!
Why did you decide to invest in doing an EMBA?
I just felt it was time to invest in myself. I was like one of those Hindu gods with ten pairs of hands. I had a demanding international career for 15 years, and did 120% of the domestic logistics. I gave birth to one child in Switzerland, another in London and the third back home in Paris.
I realised that ‘having it all’ was probably a myth, and I decided to take a career break, to take time and reflect on what I wanted from the next 15 years, rather than leaving it to chance.
And why choose INSEAD in particular?
Even though I had a very good position as Marketing director for P&G in France, INSEAD has such an elite reputation in France that it seemed inaccessible. I happened to meet the friend of a friend who was going through the GEMBA at INSEAD at the time. She looked so “normal” that she made me think I could do it too. I still thought my chances of being accepted were small. Women are great candidates for imposter syndrome!
Then, when I arrived on the programme, I realised that everyone was fairly humble, and had something to learn.
Arrogant people don’t do a demanding degree at the age of 40!
How did you cope with the logistics as a single parent?
My children are still young (four, nine and 11 years old), therefore I could not have done the programme without the support of my parents, who were in the process of retiring.
What were your favourite courses?
The Economics course taught by Ilian Mihov (who is now the INSEAD Dean) was great. And, even though I struggled, Prof. Pascal Maenhout’s Finance course opened doors for me. Then there were the “touchy-feely” topics that I particularly related to: Psychology of Leadership, Management Decision-Making and Resilience.
Even the marketing course was intriguing, because it was a completely different approach from what I was used to!
Did you have any other surprises?
The learning journey was totally different from what I was used to as well. In my undergraduate degree in France, I’d spent all my time looking at the teachers’ backs while they wrote on the board. At INSEAD, the classroom dynamic and the level of teaching were my biggest joy! And I hadn’t realised how much of an edge the Learning Development Programme (LDP) gives the programme.
Why do think there are fewer women on the GEMBA than men?
Have confidence in yourself. I was in a strong “L’Oréal” mood when I applied, that is I kept telling myself: “Because I’m worth it!”
Has the investment paid off?
It’s only a few weeks since the programme ended and I’m making good progress towards finding the right job. I didn’t invest in the GEMBA to go in a new direction, but rather to push myself to a new level. This definitely comes through in the way that I present myself today. I’m going forward into the future as a stronger version of me.
Isabelle is also featured in our article "Dare to be bold" showcasing a variety of GEMBA Alumnae.