I see myself in an environment where I have the opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
John Alexander Lindman Anderson
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.
It would be my tours to Afghanistan and the work I did there as an advisor to the Afghan National Security Forces. My contribution towards developing and securing a semi-functional supply chain for the Afghan Special Police is the accomplishment I feel has had the most real-world impact so far.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?
I was at a crossroads in my military career. I felt like I either had to fully commit to a life-long career as an officer or transition into the civilian world. Being an officer is a profession where duty and loyalty are some of the central pillars. To quit, in some ways, felt like giving up. When I decided to pursue a civilian path, I decided that I wanted to do it in a manner where I made the most of it. An MBA from INSEAD was the course of action that, to me, made the most sense. It will give me the foundation I need to compete with a large number of highly-qualified people and also open up a world of future opportunity when it comes to learning, business, and friendships.
What other MBA programmes did you apply to?
Although I considered several other programmes, I only applied for INSEAD. For me, INSEAD was the one, so I decided to devote all my time and effort on one admission process and one application.
How did you determine your fit at various schools?
Besides diversity and maximum exposure, the criteria for assessing which MBA programme would be the right fit for me were the following:
- Solid academic reputation; 2. Brand recognition; 3. ROI; 4. Length of programme.
I used a wide array of sources to evaluate all the different options, including well-known MBA rankings, blogs, P&Q, online discussion forums, and discussions with my friends. The hard part is that there are so many great programmes out there and a lot of them will probably get you to where you want to go. I tried to use the pros and cons approach and developed an intricate spreadsheet and other less effective tools. None of these tools gave me a definitive answer.
When I finally decided to pursue an INSEAD MBA, I did so because I felt that INSEAD aligned the most with my criteria and specifically when it came to diversity. I guess it’s a process where you get to a point where you know that one or two programmes are the right fit, without being able to explain why the other programmes aren’t.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?
I can tell you that the INSEAD class of July 2020 seems to be a highly-motivated, diverse and enthusiastic group of people.
After a self-imposed social media ban during the summer holidays, I had 12,357 unread posts on our telegram group! So, if I were to pick one quality that best describes them so far, it would be: highly engaged!
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose INSEAD MBA and why was it so important to you?
Among several factors, I ranked diversity at the top of my list. Coming from a military background, I looked for an MBA that would give me a solid foundation for a career transition into the civilian business world. In my mind, I needed an MBA that would give me a broader perspective and maximise my exposure, not only to academics but also to different business sectors, geographies, and cultures. INSEAD, as the business school for the world, with its highly diverse student body and truly international alumni checked all the boxes I had when it came to this specific factor.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?
First, I’m looking forward to meeting all my classmates and Welcome Week is the activity I currently look forward to the most. When it comes to clubs, I’m probably going to try out for the rugby team, as an old ice-hockey player I know the therapeutic effects of team sports and a good tackle after a long day of academics.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process?
The question I always use a disproportionate amount of time on is “Describe yourself / Who are you.” I am the most biased and incentivised person in the world in regard to that question! Finding the balance in highlighting your strengths and being honest and true when it comes to your weaknesses is often difficult.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?
The turning point that probably had the most formative impact was the day I got drafted to the Armed Forces. I can’t remember the exact moment it happened, but at some point, during the first couple of days in basic training, I found myself within a structured framework that made perfect sense to me at the time. In the military, you are presented with a basic incentive structure. Although I probably had the capacity to do something productive with my life before I got drafted, the military gave me the push I needed to start tapping into my potential. It changed me from a lazy 19-year-old looking for instant recognition and gratification to a goal-setting individual who quickly figured out that if you want to reach your goals you need to put some skin in the game.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself in an environment where I have the opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives, preferably solving challenging and important problems. One of the main reasons for pursuing an INSEAD MBA is to figure out how I can utilise my skills most effectively to be in the position to do just that. So, if you check in with me in July 2020, I am confident that I have a plan laid out.
This interview was originally published on Poets&Quants Meet INSEAD's MBA Class of 2020.