It's such a pleasure to know that every single day, I am learning not just from the esteemed professors, but also from classmates and from my environment.
Could you share something unexpected about yourself?
My grandfather named me Muskaan, which means “smile” in Hindi. He passed away, but my name has, in many ways, become a way for me to carry on his legacy.
Tell us a little about yourself, and your personal and professional journey so far?
I've been in the workforce for close to eight years (six years post-college experience), primarily within marketing and sales roles at various startups including a family business and a founding role at two of my own startups, all experiences which have given me tremendous opportunities to learn and grow very quickly.
Can you share a little about why you decided to pursue the MBA, and in particular, the INSEAD MBA?
My motivation for an MBA stems from my desire to work with a VC fund in an emerging market, which seems like the logical next step for me in my career journey. I didn't know much about INSEAD before I started looking into MBA programmes, but I was very keen to do a one-year MBA as opposed to the traditional two-year MBA.
After some due diligence, I truly found INSEAD to have everything I was looking for - a global perspective, diversity of thought and culture, and a very progressive and challenging learning environment.
I mean, which other school offers VR explorations in a classroom setting?
What are your thoughts about the class experience, professors, and curriculum so far?
The class sizes vary, but typically there are 60-80 students in each class (this is your section cohort) and then there are two to four section cohorts based on whether you are in the Singy or Fonty campus. My section cohort, in particular, asked really great questions and made the discussions in class valuable and further increased my learning within the class.
I truly felt the professors have a wealth of knowledge in their particular field of study and I really wish I talked more with professors outside of class.
The analytical and finance subjects went into significant detail, but in very accessible ways so that non-finance or analytical people can really approach the subject matter and come out with a decent understanding of the subject, and potentially apply it in their work upon returning. Similarly, in the OB and Strategy classes, I was provided with more frameworks and approaches to management decisions than I was previously familiar with, and it really helped to shape my understanding of decision-making and strategy.
What is student life like at INSEAD?
I still feel the entire experience is very new, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming because there is so much to do and so many people to meet in a very small time period, but at the same time, the experience of moving to France after having lived in the US most of my life is so exciting and there is something magical about taking part in the INSEAD experience.
With so many different cultures represented at INSEAD, I'm realising how little I know and how ignorant I can be at times, which can be an uncomfortable feeling to sit with for several months on end, but it's also such a pleasure to know that every single day, I am learning not just from the esteemed professors, but also from classmates and from being in this environment.
Are you looking forward to anything in particular during your time on the programme?
I started out really looking forward to traveling a LOT across Europe and Asia before classes started and now that's slowly shifting to this desire to really get to know my classmates on a deeper level because I really value my time with them and the programme goes by very quickly. I still can't believe I'm two months in!
Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Singapore/Fontainebleau?
The application process is quite extensive, which proves to be a great barrier to entry for a lot of students, but if you're able to push through, the INSEAD MBA experience is 100% worth the initial struggles. I had a lot of chats with alumni and current students after I got accepted to understand the bidding system, the programme, and the visa situation.
If you could share admission or application tips with someone who is considering the programme, what would you say?
I'd definitely tell future students to start early. I applied in R4, and that put me at a disadvantage to other students, who had a lot more time than two months to figure out finances, visa, housing, and how to network with a class of 600+ students from all over the world.
I also struggled to get a visa in time because there are so few time slots in Los Angeles with the VFS office (and the time slot I did get coincided with a COVID scare), so definitely plan that earlier rather than later.
Parting words of wisdom?
Join the Telegram groups early, and get used to the platform. It can get overwhelming, but it's a great resource for getting to know the class and gaining valuable insights into nearly every possible question you might have about what's to come in the next 10 months.