Among all the other reasons why I chose INSEAD, the biggest reason are the great and truly diverse people that I have had the opportunity to meet.
Mengdong Zheng

Mengdong Zheng

INSEAD GEMBA Mengdong Zheng
Nationality/Passport: Singaporean Year of graduation: 2021 Current Role: Director of Digital, Technology and Innovation in Amgen

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

This is a big topic. Trying to summarise, it really comes down three bullet points, which are:

  • Believing that life is a venture by itself, enjoying the ride
  • Being curious, and not judgemental
  • Keep investing in oneself

I was born and raised in Shanghai. When I first graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, I joined Deloitte Consulting (not my highest offer) because of my curiosity about the business world and the opportunity of getting to know different industries.

Then Deloitte transferred me from Shanghai to the Singapore office. I greatly enjoyed this experience and stayed in Singapore for 10 years. Then, driven by the desire to have a taste of corporate life, rather than being a consulting nomad, I joined Amgen, one of the biggest biopharmaceutical companies. 

With a strong belief in education, I signed myself up for INSEAD’s GEMBA programme, fortunately got accepted, and enjoyed two wonderful years with very special bonding with my friends in the class during the entire COVID period.  

Now after graduation, I moved within my company from Singapore to the headquarters in California, and the life venture goes on.  

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

Among every other reason why I chose INSEAD, including location, ranking, potential financial returns, the career development programme and academic rigour, I would say the biggest reason are the great and truly diverse people that I have had the opportunity to meet in this experience.

Every conversation that I had with my classmates amazed me. The diversity that I experienced in the programme is not simply a statistic, it’s real that every one is a minority, that it encourages (forces) you to get out and talk to everyone because you don’t have your small clan to fall back on. It’s an amazing experience. 

What expectations did you have before you started the GEMBA?

As a strong believer of investing in oneself, my expectation of the programme before I started was obviously to have the return exceed investment, financially.

Did I realise that expectation? With a ballpark estimate, I think it’s probably fulfilled. Are there other ways to get higher return with the same investment? For sure there are, and probably a lot (many of which were taught in the class). 

But after I completed the GEMBA programme, the financial part appears definitely less important to me. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I wouldn’t treat any other way.

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

The Career Development Centre certainly helped me through the journey. 

As a mid-career professional, sometimes I feel limited in my career choices due to personal circumstances. This can easily cause my mind to slip into the dark side of emotions from time to time.

The Career Development Centre provides opportunities where you can candidly share your situation and discuss realistic options, and sometimes just simply having a chat as friends can help to relieve the anxiousness in finding the next thing in your life. Many of such topics can't really be discussed anywhere else. My career coach, Kai, was such a partner who has been standing by my side and offered valuable advice. 

Has the INSEAD GEMBA helped you in your career? 

It certainly did. The confidence that it built during the process, and the continuity of confidence boosted by the strong alumni organisation has helped in my advancement in my career and I believe it will continue pay the dividends in that aspect. 

Has the experience helped you remain relevant even after graduation? 

I want to think of myself as always relevant. But if I interpret this question right, I think the connections that I built during the programme, the access that I gained to continuous education and alumni-organised events, even the habits that I newly acquired through the programme certainly help me to stay relevant in what I do. 

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

My only regret in regards to taking up INSEAD GEMBA programme is that I took up this programme a little too late. So don’t think too much, you won’t regret it!