The whole INSEAD process of learning prepares you for the real business world you will enter.
Manon Barnes

Manon Barnes

Nationality/Passport: French, British Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: SME Intern in Nairobi at Platcorp

Could you share something unexpected about you? 

I have been to North Korea twice (once to visit and the second time to fundraise and participate in the Pyongyang Marathon). 

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

After finishing high school in a small village in Switzerland, I moved to London to study an undergraduate degree focused on humanities and languages at UCL.

After graduating from UCL, I moved to Nairobi to work in microfinance. During my time in Kenya, I worked on the development of microfinance products and realised I was lacking the analytics skills needed to leverage data to price products. This is what initially drove me to turn to the MIM to fix these gaps in my self-taught business knowledge. 
Once I realised the breadth of diversity that exists at INSEAD, picking this MIM was straightforward. Having moved eight times now throughout my life, normally people find it surprising but in a place like INSEAD it’s pretty common and shows me how much I have to learn from other people. Beyond having an international background, students at INSEAD also have very unique experiences and I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t have a uniqueness to them. 
What were your impressions of campus life so far and how did you navigate accommodation, and sorting out all the admin? Any tips for incoming students?

So far, I have been continuously impressed.

From the quality of the professors to the interactive nature of the classes, I have never gone through such a stimulating learning experience.

The whole INSEAD process of learning, such as the breakout rooms you go to, to work hands-on on a problem as a team, or assigning you to work with a team in which everyone is intentionally your complete opposite, prepares you for the real business world you will enter.

Moreover, something I didn’t fully realise before but has been a happy surprise is just how accommodating the campus is. There’s an amazing subsidised cantine, a fully kitted out gym with lunch time sport classes, a dry cleaning service on campus... The list goes on. INSEAD is trying to make your life easier which in turn allows you to maximise your time (an activity you quickly become very adept at doing!).

In terms of housing, I live in a shared house called Maison Victoire with 30 other people - 10 MIMs and 20 MBAs. We are having such a blast - I highly recommend it if you want to get to know other members of the INSEAD community.
Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Fontainebleau?

The application process for me was pretty smooth. INSEAD didn’t overwork me with many application essays and multiple interviews like other business schools. The interview I had with an INSEAD MBA was an engaging experience. She was also working in Nairobi so we had things in common and the conversation flowed immediately.

Getting to Fontainebleau was very easy; I went home to Switzerland before the course started so I only had to take a train over (I know it is not as easy for other students!).
In your first few weeks, what aspects of the INSEAD MIM have stood out to you as unique or particularly appealing?

The most striking aspects of the MIM programme for me so far have been the unique sense of community you feel and the fast-paced nature of the course.

It is absolutely normal to strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone and everyone at INSEAD - it’s a one-of-a-kind community. The fast-paced nature of the course is an attribute which I didn’t fully grasp when I applied. I am not someone who struggles with managing their time. At INSEAD though, there is just so much to do and you have to quickly learn how to make choices as to what you want to focus on, and, I’m warning you, it’s hard. But it’s great practice for the future, so you learn to embrace it.  
Aside from your academic pursuits, what extracurricular interests or activities are you exploring at INSEAD, and how do you see them enhancing your overall MIM experience?

I have joined the Africa Club and the Investment Student Impact Fund. I’m thrilled to have found a community of people at INSEAD with whom I can discuss my interests and with whom I can continue to explore my career path. I’ve also joined the Women in Business club which organises and showcases a whole range of initiatives and networking events from and for women in business.

The clubs are pretty unique here as most of them are mixed with the MBAs so there’s a lot of learn from people with unique and varied perspectives. 
Any parting words of wisdom, and are you willing to be contacted for more information by prospective students? 

Speak to as many alumni as you can and get a taste of the kind of community you’ll be apart of if you join INSEAD. Networking isn’t about the value you gain from others but about understanding and meeting every kind of person. It’s special and can only be properly conveyed by the people who make it so.