Besides giving me the opportunity to formally recruit at the large consulting firms, the INSEAD MBA equipped me with valuable leadership and interpersonal skills.
Liann Wu

Liann Wu

Nationality/Passport: American Year of graduation: 2021 Current Role: Associate at McKinsey & Company Inc

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

I grew up in the US in a Chinese-American household. In my younger years, I juggled academics, music, sports, but I always had the biggest love for fashion. After completing my undergraduate studies at Duke University, I moved to New York to pursue this dream.

I started my career in merchandising at the American department store, Macy's. It was a great place to learn the ropes of the retail business in a structured environment.

After a year, I pivoted into the luxury sector and joined Chanel. Over five years, I worked across multiple business units and teams, including Strategy for the US fashion and beauty divisions.

In these roles, I helped shape and execute cross-functional projects across retail, merchandising, marketing, operations, and more. I also led market analysis and insights work, analysing and synthesising industry trends for various stakeholder audiences. It was an incredible experience working with such an iconic brand.

Post-MBA, I am back in NY as a consultant in McKinsey's Consumer/Retail practice. In my job, I help large companies and private equity investors with diligence, strategy, and transformation projects.

Looking back, all the dots have connected, and I have found a career that merges my personal and professional interests.

What made you decide you wanted to pursue the INSEAD MBA, and why INSEAD in particular? 

I decided to pursue an MBA to pivot into consulting, and I selected INSEAD for three reasons.

First, INSEAD is one of the world's top consulting schools with the highest placement into MBBs.

Second, I was attracted to the one-year format, which would generate the biggest ROI in both time and money.

And third, truly the biggest differentiator for me, was the global nature of the programme. I sought an experience to step out of my comfort zone, immerse myself in a new country, and make deep friendships with people from all over the world. No other school could offer the same proposition as INSEAD.

Did you have any expectations before you started the MBA, and did you speak to any alumni before joining the programme?

Yes, I spoke to many alumni before joining the programme. I was particularly interested in understanding how the consulting recruitment process worked, and hearing success stories of those who transitioned from an industry background.

Everyone I spoke with was very insightful and gave me confidence in the INSEAD degree as the stepping stone to my next career.

Could you tell us about your experience with the Career Development Centre?

The CDC was immensely helpful in connecting me with the recruiting opportunities most aligned with my interests and reviewing my CV and cover letters. The team there gave tactical feedback on how I could sharpen my application and best present myself as a candidate.

Also, as Co-President of the Retail, Luxury Goods Club, I worked closely with CDC to bring together companies, alumni, and other schools and develop various club initiatives for students, including our annual Global Luxury Forum.

Has the INSEAD MBA helped you in your career?

Besides giving me the opportunity to formally recruit at the large consulting firms, the INSEAD MBA equipped me with valuable leadership and interpersonal skills.

When I worked in the retail industry before business school, I worked primarily with the same people/teams day in and day out. INSEAD was a big shift, where I found myself in a dynamic environment leading across different backgrounds, cultures, and skills.

Additionally, given the pace of programme, teams often operated under time constraints - we learned how to truly leverage each other efficiently and collaboratively to produce the best work. These skills are directly transferable to my current job in consulting.  

Has the experience helped you remain relevant after graduation?

The INSEAD network is very tight-knit. Anytime I meet someone from INSEAD - whether at work, in NY or abroad - it sparks an immediate connection.

For example, I have found many opportunities at work by just chatting with fellow alumni. It feels like I am part of a tribe, and I know that the INSEAD MBA will open many doors for me wherever I am in the world.

What advice will you give to prospects who are still considering whether an INSEAD MBA should be part of their career plan?

Choosing whether to pursue an INSEAD MBA can be an overwhelming decision. For prospective applicants, my #1 recommendation would be to really spend time reflecting on where you are at, where you want to go, and if an MBA can take you there.

Business school is a big investment, so it is wise to think deeply about if it makes the most sense for YOU. Everyone's journey is different.

Secondly, don't be afraid to reach out to others - alumni (including myself), colleagues, and other folks in your network who have gone through this experience. Learning how they approached this decision and how it ultimately shaped their lives and career will equip you with valuable insights for your personal journey.