The EMFin empowered me with a much broader perspective regarding how other verticals within our industry, and indeed, other industries operate.
What made you decide to do an Executive Master in Finance (EMFin) at INSEAD?
INSEAD was the obvious choice given the strong global presence and brand, as well the long-term association Macquarie has had over the last ten years. It came very well recommended internally as the modules are relevant to the culture and nuances of our firm. I was given the opportunity to participate given the increasing scope of my role (having been at Macquarie for 13 years at the time), and the new challenges that we were facing internally (restructure), and externally (disrupting forces of technology and customer behaviour).
Did the programme meet your expectations?
It surpassed them. I was expecting the content to be relevant, challenging and stimulating. Beyond that, the positive surprise was the topical way in which the content was delivered. Specifically, each topic was applied to real and current situations. We referred to the Financial Times each morning before class, and many a time, a lengthy debate/discussion around the application of what we were looking at ensued.
Another point was the diversity of the class, in terms of background, culture, experience etc. This diversity often results in interesting conversations down pathways that could be uncomfortable (in an expansive way), given the myopic nature of each individual’s skillset. The realisation that there was often more than one perspective or right answer was liberating!
Finally, the professors were similarly diverse, approachable and engaging. We regularly skewed off-piste during discussions, which often added new dimensions or perspectives to a module. But that flexibility was critical to defining what actually mattered (and was applicable) to each individual in the room.
How did you approach your employer about pursuing the EMFin?
Macquarie might be slightly unique here, given our partnership with INSEAD over the years. In my case, the course was suggested to me by my manager, as an opportunity to broaden my skillset, and challenge the way I engaged my team, and approached my role. Ultimately, as the firm grows, we need to grow with it, and in many ways, that means anticipating where we are going, and importantly, where we are not.
What are some preparation work you did before the discussion with your employer?
I managed to speak with several alumni at Macquarie, that had already completed the EMFin to better understand what they derived from the experience, and how that might apply to my specific role within the firm.
What are the challenges you faced having to manage work and school?
Macquarie has been incredibly supportive throughout, and allows each student to fully immerse themselves in the content of the course while on campus. Of course, there are some exceptions where you might be required for an urgent work-related matter, but these were not difficult to navigate, given the flexibility within the INSEAD programme.
One challenge that was more noteworthy was balancing the demands of family and school! The first two modules in particular, are extremely intense periods, often requiring over 15 hours a day over a two weeks. I know some of my colleagues who are residing here in Singapore actually checked into the INSEAD accommodation for the more intense two-week modules. In retrospect, it is not such a bad idea!
Any tips for others out there who are interested in getting their employer’s support for the programme?
Highlight how applicable the content is to your role. More importantly, how critical the content is to understand what you are not currently exposed to. The rate, and unexpected ways, in which the world is changing, particularly in the context of COVID-19, dictate that doing things the same way we have been doing them previously, may not be the most viable strategy going forward. Understanding the opportunities, and the threats, associated with rapid structural change, is going to benefit the individual, and the firm.
How has the EMFin helped you in your career?
The EMFin empowered me with a much broader perspective regarding how other verticals within our industry, and indeed, other industries operate. This peripheral mindset enables us as managers to not only enact behavioural change and optimise process, but also to better understand what the likely disruptions to your business may be, and how to best prepare for those threats.
Could you share with us the topic you did for your Capstone Project?
The Capstone opportunity is another great example of how important the diversity of the class is regarding exposure. My first instinct was to look at something related to my industry, or even specific to my role. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, in the end, I elected to join another student, who was running a logistics company and wanted to look at a more synergistic and economic way of restructuring the businesses finance, to account for a regulatory change where the business was based. I won’t give any trade secrets away, but needless to say, it was an incredibly challenging and rewarding process.