What I gained from the experience is the realisation that a global orientation and a cultural openness is nowadays essential and that both open up many new opportunities.
Johanna Schmucker

Johanna Schmucker

Nationality/Passport: German Year of graduation: 2023 Current Role: ISS 2023 Participant

Tell us about yourself, and how you got to where you are today both on a professional and personal level?

Well, I would say that that my definition of a “healthy mindset” has led me to the person I am today professionally and personally. In my opinion, a healthy mindset is constructed of unbridled optimism, necessary realism, global competitiveness, curiosity about everything that one encounters, courage for new challenges and of course fun and sheer happiness, because what would the world be without fun and contentment? 

In my opinion, the most important aspect in life is to be satisfied with the way things are and to always look for a new, more ambitious goal for the next day. I also share the opinion that making mistakes is okay and definitely necessary, as well as general changes of direction. Proposals that do not no perfectly solve an issue are even more impactful since one always learns from previous mistakes and lack of knowledge. 

For me, the most important point is that the direction you are moving in is right. Yet I'm still quite young, so maybe there's one or two more things to come.

What motivated you to choose the INSEAD Summer School, and how do you envision it aligning with your future goals, even at this early stage?

I was attracted by INSEAD’s straight-forward promise and teaching goal, namely: “to bring together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society” as well as its catchy promotional promise in the ISS brochure: “Transform your future in one summer”. 

I found both statements exciting and quite aspirational. I was curious and decided to apply rather spontaneously and at short notice. 

In addition, to me it seemed like the programme focuses on the "what" question (learning content) as well as on the "how" question (learning experience), which appealed to me.

Tell us about your experience on the ISS – what was a typical day like? 

Normally one has almost around nine hours of daily lecture time but most of the time you will spend in groups, working with your teams and applying the learned concepts in case studies. 

Nevertheless, there are as well many social activities planned to spend your time on. It varies from sporting events, to nice cultural events to just normal grabbing drinks at night in nearby Fontainebleau. 

Any memorable moments that you will take back with you? 

I think one of the most memorable moments of this programme was at the closing ceremony where the management team organised a sort of “flashback video” of our first day, showing our teambuilding activities and a short clip of some aspects of our final team project. 

In that moment I realised how many things we learned in these two intensive weeks - not only academically but also about ourselves. 

What were your impressions of campus life? 

The campus in Fontainebleau offers everything you need to enhance an interactive, teamwork-based learning methodology. I had the impression that every student and programme facilitator at INSEAD really shares an open-minded and eager-to-learn mindset and everyone seemed to be approachable and interested in their counterparts. To conclude: I always felt very comfortable.

Could you share a little about your application process, and making your way to Fontainebleau?

The application process was also very structured and took place completely online. There was an online application form where you had to give details about yourself, your academic and non-academic achievements and tell something about yourself and your motivation to apply for this programme. To get a unique and most accurate picture of each applicant, there was also a video interview.

Any parting words of wisdom, and are you willing to be contacted for more information by prospective students?

First of all, I have to admit that all of my expectations of the programme were fulfilled. 

I really enjoyed the very international learning environment and the fact that the participants were not only business or management students, but also students who want to pursue a career path completely different from this work field. 

What I gained from the experience is the realisation that a global orientation and a cultural openness is nowadays essential and that both open up many new opportunities. For me, this can be summed up in the following sentence: Understanding the challenge through cultural differences and different social rules, but using globally accepted and agreed-on values and norms for the problem solving process.

I am very happy to answer any questions or doubts!