Our professors are phenomenal, and bring a true mix of perspectives, real-world experiences and dare I say humour and entertainment to the classroom.
Lesley Downes

Lesley Downes

Lesley Downes
Nationality/Passport: Trinidadian/Tobagonian Year of graduation: 2017 Current Role: Corporate Strategy Manager

What are your professional and educational backgrounds prior to joining INSEAD?  

I was born and raised in the beautiful twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. After completing my secondary education, I pursued an undergraduate degree in International Business at Howard University in Washington DC. 

I then moved to London where I worked at UBS for nearly eight years in corporate finance (IBD) and strategy and client development for the EMEA region. In the year before joining INSEAD I started exploring the start-up scene both in the UK and back home in the Caribbean.   

Why did you choose the INSEAD MBA?

INSEAD just felt right. Some of my most remarkable former colleagues were INSEAD alumni, the programme’s reputation (#1 MBA programme in the world ranked by the Financial Times) has grown stronger every year; I knew the one-year format was right for me at this stage in my career. The more I read about the school and reached out to alumni, the recruitment team and career services, the more I knew I wanted INSEAD to be part of my journey.   

Has the programme met your expectations so far?

It’s safe to say that the programme has exceeded my expectations in every way. I am so thrilled to be part of this engaged and supportive community. And beyond our amazing classroom experience, there are so many little extras along the way which continue to make a mark in me. For example, the administration's constant interest in our feedback and adjusting experiences to suit our needs, the culture-sharing national weeks, and not to mention the free professional massages during finals week!        

What are your thoughts on the MBA curriculum and the faculty?

The curriculum is intense. You’re told this beforehand but I don’t think you can truly appreciate it until you’re thrown into the full load of courses, case readings, group projects, individual assignments, social and career clubs, recruitment events and the list goes on. Nonetheless, it’s a challenging but rewarding experience.

Our professors are phenomenal, and bring a true mix of perspectives, real world experiences and dare I say humour and entertainment to the classroom. They are also down to earth and make themselves available despite their equally exhausting schedules. It’s not unusual to grab lunch or a drink with a professor after hours to delve deeper into a session topic, chat about career goals or simply discuss current world events. 

Moreover, in class, we are actively encouraged to participate in the discussion, and with classmates sharing stories from all over the globe and a multitude of industries, the conversations are always rich and eye opening.

What is one of your favourite modules so far, and why?

This is a tough choice – from placing bets (actual money!) against our professor in Uncertainty, Data and Judgement to cartel role play in Prices and Markets, there have been many unforgettable classroom experiences. Overall I would say Organisational Behaviour has been my favourite module as each session was different from the last.

Classes consisted of a mix of activities and messages, delivered in a multitude of ways – from personality assessments and 360º feedback, and movies depicting the best negotiation and influence tactics, to challenging simulations and team building activities.   

What advice would you give potential prospects who are interested in the INSEAD MBA?

I would recommend that they reach out to current students and alumni, attend an information session in your city and better yet go to a campus open day and get a feel for the spirit of the programme. If it “clicks” for you like it did for me, then you’re in for an exciting experience.