The INSEAD brand helped me build some initial credibility with shareholders, allowing me to restructure everything from the distribution of my company shares to operations.
Why did you decide to do an EMBA?
I decided to do an EMBA because I wanted to make a move into general management and change industries from telecommunications to media. It was neither about prestige nor compensation. I have always felt that leading all aspects of a business unit, including strategy and execution, is very rewarding.
Why did you choose INSEAD amongst all other EMBA programmes available?
Narrowing down my options based on academic excellence was my first criterion. This filter left me with a handful of options. I then spent some time to assess each option with detail by reviewing the data available and interviewing alumni in some cases. INSEAD was my first choice mainly because of its cultural diversity.
How would you describe your GEMBA experience?
I began the GEMBA with feelings of excitement and doubt. I was anxious about surviving 12 weeks of classes and exams, and wondered what the class dynamics would be like. Fortunately, the professors have mastered the art of engaging students, using a range of techniques from dramatic performances, fascinating content, to passionate class discussions, all of which created a fun classroom atmosphere.
Outside of the classroom, I bonded quickly with my fellow classmates. After timid introductions, very diverse personalities emerged during class discussions and extracurricular activities. Everybody was open and authentic. People were keen to contribute and organise clubs, workshops and events.
Between campus sessions, the fun continued with dinners and trips. It took some persuasion to convince friends and family that the sessions in France, Singapore, Brazil and Abu Dhabi were actually hard work, despite the pictures from our get-togethers that were posted on social media.
Did the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) make an impact on you?
Yes, it did. I knew I would get value out of the LDP right from the start. It took me through a process of self-discovery using powerful feedback tools. The programme enabled me to recognise my strengths and weaknesses and dig deeper into my unconscious. I was able to share my progress with a small group of peers in confidence and gather techniques and routines to monitor myself for the rest of my career. All of this helped me gain a more solid foundation on both personal and professional levels.
What was one module that was exceptionally useful for you?
I believe that I have used my learning from every single module of the GEMBA programme at some point in my career. However, "Entrepreneurial Ventures" by Filipe Santos was the most relevant module for me because I became an entrepreneur after the programme. The module was well-structured and relevant and I especially enjoyed the live chat with a serial entrepreneur where we learnt about preparing one-self for an emotional roller-coaster.
The modular programme allows for real-time application, where students can apply what they have learnt back at work immediately. What is your experience with this real-time application?
Taking the time to reflect on a real-life challenge using recently acquired academic knowledge is a powerful way to learn. As I transitioned from a corporate position to an entrepreneurial role during the programme, I chose to focus my efforts on the latter. The real-time application component of the EMBA allowed me to plan my transition to entrepreneurship in detail and close a funding seed round by the end of the programme.
How has the GEMBA helped you in your career, especially where you are located now – in Latin America?
In September 2015, I joined JOTA (www.jota.info), a media start-up focused on Brazilian institutions, as CEO. The GEMBA helped me see the potential of the venture before I accepted the job. The INSEAD brand also helped me build some initial credibility with shareholders allowing me to restructure everything from the distribution of company shares to operations.
In fact, JOTA became profitable in just one quarter and tripled its revenue during the following year. The company now has 30 collaborators and expects to double its size in the next 12 months. I believe I achieved everything I had planned when I started the GEMBA by making a move to a general management role based in Rio de Janeiro and working in the Media industry.
Finally, the INSEAD network in Brazil is smaller than in France but it is very active. I use it frequently to get advice from highly qualified alumni or to just enjoy a nice chat in a casual setting.
Do you have any advice to potential prospects who are considering the GEMBA at INSEAD?
I have two recommendations. First, align your objectives with your family and with your company to help you determine whether or not to pursue an EMBA. Then, as you select the EMBA programme, don't settle for less than what you deserve. If you bet on yourself, you will encourage others to do the same.