The professors were extremely accomplished and worked hard to ensure that the students remained as engaged as possible through active group discussions and integrated activities.
Leona Dogra

Leona Dogra

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

Could you share something unexpected about you?

Despite being only 20 years old, I have lived in five different countries and can speak four languages.

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

I was born in India, and at three months old moved to Singapore during which time my father was completing his MBA at INSEAD. 

Over the course of my childhood, I have lived in both Singapore and Switzerland for almost equal parts of my life and attended international schools which has shaped me to be a culturally sensitive individual who has a deep appreciation for both Asia and Europe. I consider both of these places to be home, and it is this which motivated me to pursue an interdisciplinary degree studying Economics and Politics at university. 

I am particularly interested in analysing economic policies undertaken by the East and the West, respectively, and their impact in aiding the most disadvantaged within a population. Currently, I am studying at UCL based in London, a rich metropolitan city, which has further driven my interest in understanding how society can use business as a force for good in a globalised and interconnected world.

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 extremely fortunate to have completed the Summer@INSEAD programme designed for high school students in 2019 when I was 15 years old. This programme enriched my learnings regarding the depth of possibilities that exist within business while also giving me the opportunity to interact with fascinating like-minded individuals. 

Thus, when I heard about the newly launched programme for university students, I was eager to return back to Fontainebleau with five years of additional professional and personal experience with me.

I believe that by completing this summer school at 20 years old, I was able to truly benefit from this programme and its takeaways in even more ways than I did when I was slightly younger. I will have completed my undergraduate degree by June 2024, after which point I hope to undertake the Master in Management at INSEAD. 

My summers at INSEAD have solidified my belief that this is an institution that truly reflects the values I hold while also providing academic rigour. 

It is for this reason that pursuing the Masters in Management here would help further my career goals in breaking into the field of sustainable finance and impact investing. I hope to initially gain corporate professional experience through a graduate role at a bulge bracket firm. This would prepare me for my long-term objective of founding my own venture capital fund which focuses on impact investing. 

I am driven to use business as a force for good, and hence my enterprise would have a particular aim of funding companies that follow sustainable practices and prioritise women empowerment in the workforce.

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

As I am writing this testimonial, I am looking back on my time during the ISS with great fondness and dream of going back to this summer to do it all again. 

A typical day would start with me messaging the friends I made, who lived on the same floor as me in the Ermitage hotel, asking if they were awake and ready to head to the restaurant for breakfast. Bleary eyed and yawning, we would make our way towards the main building and get our fill of caffeine to revive us. 

From day one, the strict "Swiss train" policy was adamantly ingrained into us, and so we made sure to be in the lecture hall by 9am sharp. Up until lunchtime we typically had lectures covering a range of topics from new venture creation to successful cross-cultural working.

The professors who convened these classes were extremely well accomplished, and worked hard to ensure that the students remained as engaged as possible through active group discussions and integrated activities.

We would then break for lunch which gave us an opportunity to really get to know the professors in a more informal setting, something I truly valued as not all institutions have this dynamic between the lecturers and their students. 

The friends I made during this programme are lifelong, and I value all the time we spent together, even our seemingly inconsequential lunch breaks. In the afternoon, we would continue on with lectures with breaks and group exercises in between. 

Then we would typically have an hour of “free time” before dinner where my friends and I would either go to the on-campus gym, explore Fontainebleau town or just socialise and catch up at Freddy’s bar. After dinner, there would typically be a social event organised by the mentors which would range from things such as a movie night to a talent show. The group favourite was definitely going into town and hitting up the Glasgow pub to experience true Fontainebleau nightlife, and still making sure to wake up in time for class the next day.

Any memorable moments that you will take back with you?

One of the highlights of my time at ISS was definitely our day trip to Paris during the weekend. We were free to explore the beautiful capital city, only an hour away from campus, and all the things it has to offer. 

My friends and I really bonded as a group as we ran around Paris trying beautiful restaurants, visiting heritage sites and shopping in cute boutiques. That day I created memories that I will forever treasure when I think of summer ‘23. 

I also fondly remember the infamous talent show that made us realise, outside of our academic accomplishments, what a talented group of individuals my classmates were. There were people that played the piano, performed stand-up comedy and more. 

My personal favourite had to be the orchestration of the song “The wheels on the bus” in every language spoken in our group. We had people sing this song in languages from French to Hindi to Dutch, reflecting the celebration of diversity that exists at INSEAD as an institution.

What were your impressions of campus life?

Campus life functioned as a perfect ecosystem that allowed us to work, socialise and grow all together.

I believe that we all came into this programme with little inclination regarding what to expect from our peers, and left feeling as if we had known each other our whole lives. 

Coming from a university based in the city, the phenomenon of campus life is very foreign to me, and yet it was something I gratefully welcomed. In just the two weeks I was there, I truly felt like I was part of a tight-knit community and valued the care that was given to each of us. It was extremely convenient having breakfast so close by given our early mornings, as well having a gym on campus that we could go to right after class.

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

I found the application process to be quite straightforward and hence did not take very long to complete. It required me to complete a form with my personal details and then write a letter regarding my motivations for applying and what I hoped to gain out of the programme. 

Upon submitting this form, I was then asked to complete an online interview which gave me an opportunity to present a more authentic impression of myself outside of a standardised personal statement. 

When university is closed I live in Lausanne, Switzerland, and was therefore able to take the train from Lausanne to Paris. This took about three hours. From Paris, I then took the regional train to Fontainebleau station, from where I booked a ten-minute Uber to the Ermitage.

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

I would truly say that the ISS was an unforgettable experience that will always have a very special place in my heart.

I met some of the most amazing like-minded individuals this summer, and will forever be grateful to INSEAD for bringing us together.

It is for this reason that I would encourage anyone else considering INSEAD to not think twice when applying. I would be more than happy to be contacted for more information by prospective students.