The programme offers whole new perspectives on an industry I’ve been in for ten years.
Marnie Smith

Marnie Smith

Marnie Smith
Nationality: Canadian Year Graduated: 2014 Current Role: Senior Client Partner, Korn Ferry

Isn’t Singapore a long way to come for the programme?

I flew a total of 120,000 km from Calgary and back again to attend classes on INSEAD’s campuses in Singapore and Fontainebleau, but the INSEAD Executive Master in Finance takes you even further than that – right out of your comfort zone.

What were your goals in undertaking the programme?

The programme really offered whole new perspectives on an industry that I’d been in for ten years. The alternative was for me to either complete my CFA designation in Canada or pursue a part-time MBA. However, neither aligned with the time demands I face at work nor the personal and professional goals I wanted to achieve. In addition, I wanted something much more distinctive and broader in scope… but still focused on finance. The EMFin’s emphasis on valuation – and the different ways to approach valuation and strategic financial decisions facing companies gave me exactly what I need for my current job.

Can you describe the learning experience?

The quality of the professors is far beyond anything I’ve experienced in academia before.

Every course is a wealth of knowledge, combined with real-world experience.

It’s fabulous! After each class I thought to myself, surely this run of outstanding teaching will end with the next professor, and yet each brought to the classroom a new form of wit, an equally impressive biography, and new challenges to our conventional ways of thinking about finance.

How would you describe your classmates?

They are people with exceptional intellectual curiosity and analytical ability, along with the potential to succeed as leaders in a competitive, global business environment. I’m grateful to each of them for the way in which they touched my life throughout the programme. I come from Canada, a country that considers itself multi-cultural and I work for a multi-national company. However, I’ve never sat in a classroom with such a diverse group of individuals: a true reflection of the globalisation that is taking place in business today.

How did you find the structure? Was the final module different from the previous ones?

The way the EMFin is structured makes it feasible, wherever in the world you live. It’s a lot less intense in terms of number crunching and far more strategic. It takes in the whole breadth of the industry and draws the rest of the programme together. The module definitely made us think at a higher level.

What was it like graduating in the pioneer class?

I gave a speech at the graduation ceremony, so that was more nerve-wracking for me than most people. It was nice to meet everyone’s families as well and it was the first time that I’d seen my classmates in suits!

How would you sum up the INSEAD Executive Master in Finance experience and what were the highlights?

Our class went through all these months of studies while working in demanding careers. We travelled many miles to be together on two different continents. There were countless dinners out, we watched an F1 race and enjoyed a Killers concert. There were excursions to Bintan and Antwerp, and a wine tasting in France. In other words, the programme is much more than a Master in Finance. It’s an international experience at an incredible school with fantastic teachers. The biggest plus is, you get to make amazing relationships along the way.

How has your life and career developed since starting the programme?

Well, I’ve been promoted… and had a baby. I wrote my entire thesis during my last week of pregnancy and the first month of my daughter’s life. My husband came to Singapore too, so we could all be together.

What next for you?

Finance is becoming more interwoven into the foundation of the global economy. I feel that the concepts and practices I learnt on the programme will help me make a positive impact in my part of the industry and that the vast INSEAD network will enable me to reach out to others across the world with questions and answers. In the end, this network is as important as the degree. The relationships we have built at INSEAD will last and nourish us for a lifetime.