The GEMBA was enlightening and liberating. It gave me inspiration and energy as well as knowledge.
How did your career path lead up to an EMBA?
When I started working for a French product, architectural and graphic design company in China, I had no idea what I was heading into. But I believe in following my heart in life. And it turns out that architecture and urban planning is one of the strongest market needs in China. I followed my heart again, when I turned down a place on a full-time MBA in the US in 2007. But I held on to the idea of doing an EMBA later.
Why did you choose the GEMBA in particular?
I’d wanted to go to INSEAD since before I even knew about the GEMBA. And then I discovered it had the perfect mix of academic content, soft skills and networking, so no other option was possible. Before that, I’d researched programmes in China, but I was looking for a new cultural experience, which I definitely found in Fontainebleau with its forest campus and château.
Now that it’s over how would you sum up the GEMBA experience?
The INSEAD GEMBA has the same intensity as the full-time MBA. But you have the added benefit of being able to find lots of real-world solutions at the same time. The programme also makes you feel as if your career is beginning all over again. Before I started it, I felt I’d achieved a lot but reached my limit each time. The GEMBA was enlightening and liberating. It gave me inspiration and energy as well as knowledge.
More specifically, how would you sum up the classroom experience?
The professors are so good that they can get across the most complex knowledge with simple examples and stories. I thought I was no good at finance or statistics, but they didn’t seem at all difficult at INSEAD. I found myself smiling out of sheer joyfulness in a lot of classes! I just loved to be in that environment. Whether it was Kevin Kaiser teaching about value creation or Neil Bearden talking about decision sciences, I felt I was discovering a philosophy that has since influenced all my work.
Do you still use what you learned?
I graduated in 2011, but I’m always relating my work back to the GEMBA. It’s a lifelong journey of learning. I’ve dug further and read more since leaving INSEAD. I reread my 360-degree evaluation from the Leadership Development Programme the other day. It made me realise how much I thought I knew myself at the time. But in reality, I was just beginning to stand on my own balcony. Since then I’ve come to see the potential in myself – and discovered my own introvert!
Are you still connected to the INSEAD network?
I’m still the China correspondent for my class! And I’m plugged into the broader INSEAD network too, including the TIEMBA people. The president of the Italian Alumni Association came to visit me recently. Even though I chose to stay in the same company and apply my GEMBA learning to expand it,
it feels as if I’ve travelled a long way simply by connecting to all these people all over the world.