INSEAD will equip me with the business education and will provide me with a network of high achievers.
Nancy Mittal

Nancy Mittal

Nationality/Passport: Indian Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Senior Project Engineer

Could you share something unexpected about you? 

I started my GMAT preparation three weeks after giving birth. It was not easy, but not impossible. I would like to emphasise on the importance of determination. If you really want it, then nothing can stop you (be it your personal or professional responsibilities). 

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

I belong to a middle class orthodox Hindu family where until today people pray for a boy child. I was born and brought up in a small city in Northern India. I have an elder brother who is the star of the family (because he will continue on the family name). Hence, I was never a preferred child. I have faced discrimination throughout my childhood in every little thing happening to me: from the choice of food options available to me, my participation in family business, restrictions to wear the clothes of my choice, pursuing my hobbies, and the list is long.

I was a bright student and top of the class in school while my brother had always struggled to get passing grades. Even then, my parents were willing to spend any amount of money on him.

I remember clearly that when business meetings were conducted in my home, I was not allowed to enter the room, not because of age but because of gender. In my family's opinion, business and financial matters is not something that is relevant for women. So, I was always kept out of it.

The discrimination that I faced throughout my childhood has given me somewhat of a rebellious nature.

How I look, and what people think or say about me doesn’t bother me. I have had people criticise me for my work, way of living, thinking, how I dress, but I have learnt not to be intimidated by all of these.

Progress is the thing that matters to me. Keeping my family happy is important to me.

After completing my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering in India, I worked for one year at the Indian Central government organisation. I wasn't satisfied with my job and wanted to pursue a Master's degree. I wanted to study at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and I was fortunate enough to get admitted, though I faced resistance from everyone in my family.

I was 23 years old then, and my father wanted me to get married within the next year which would cost him around 5 million INR. Financing my education with no return on investment (in their opinion) was a difficult decision. I heard my uncles asking my dad ‘Why are you spending so much money on a girl's education. She will find someone there and will not come back and will defame you. Even if she comes back you will have to spend again on her marriage so why waste money on studies?’. 

Money was there but it was just not for me. After a rebellious tussle with my family I convinced them to send me to Singapore. 

While I was studying in NUS, I was struggling to manage my studies and stay on a limited budget. I had to complete the two-year course in one year to cut down on tuition fees. I also worked part-time to manage my finances and to fund my studies in the second semester. This hardship developed me into an individual who knows the value of money, plans for myself, controls my emotions and focuses on things that really matter to me and not to society.

I have worked relentlessly for nine years and have been able to establish myself well and achieve some financial freedom. Now I want to get settled in my life to provide for my family and live the way I want. I now want to achieve something big that has positive influence on the lives of people across the globe and get recognition which my parents can experience too. I am grateful that I am now part of the INSEAD family.

What motivated you to choose the INSEAD MBA, and how do you envision it aligning with your future goals, even at this early stage?

I wanted to change my professional career from engineering to business. INSEAD will equip me with the business education and will provide me with a network of high achievers.

My long-term goal is entrepreneurship and INSEAD will be instrumental in preparing myself as leader and finding a board of directors who can see the problem with a different lens.

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?

I’m a Singy lifer. The campus is very conveniently located in Singapore and is equipped with everything you need (cafeteria / library / gym / sleeping pods etc). In every cohort there are people living in Singapore, they are the best resource to reach out to navigate your way here. I was living in Singapore before starting INSEAD and I had conducted online sessions to share information about Singapore with my cohort. (Work is still in progress 😊)

Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Singapore/Fontainebleau?

INSEAD's application process requires significant effort and dedication but trust me it’s worth it.

The essays that I wrote really helped in self-reflection and helped to get to know myself better. It took me two weeks to complete the application essays (alongside my two full-time jobs being a mother and engineer).

INSEAD offers numerous scholarship options; I received a scholarship which was super helpful in managing my finances. Moreover, getting a loan from INSEAD's recommended channels is easy but I preferred to take a personal loan from a bank in Singapore. 

In your first few weeks, what aspects of the INSEAD MBA have stood out to you as unique or particularly appealing?

I’m really impressed by the Leadership in Action programme during the Launch Week. It helped to understand elements of myself, and most importantly identify what I’m lacking to be a leader. (What are my strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes.)

Aside from your academic pursuits, what extracurricular interests or activities are you exploring at INSEAD, and how do you see them enhancing your overall MBA experience?

In my life, I’ve never read anything besides textbooks, even though I believe that every leader is a reader. I could not discipline myself to read. Since my association with INSEAD, I’ve met people who have motivated me to read and shared tips on how a non-reader can get into reading. I think that was a starting point of my transformational journey with INSEAD.

I’ve now started reading non-fiction books, and my peers and I are now working with the Student Life team to launch an official book club at INSEAD. I want to help people who want to read but can not find enough motivation. I also aim to motivate people back in my home town to start reading (I hope this will pave the path to open-mindedness which is less common).

Any parting words of wisdom, and are you willing to be contacted for more information by prospective students? 

Believe in yourself is the only advice I want to give.

I think I have rejected myself many times before others which prevented me from acting. Believing in yourself and making consistent efforts is the key to success. I'm definitely willing to help prospective students, especially mothers who disallow themselves to dream big because they think they don’t have the time / energy / money to do an MBA with their kid. I believe one's children are the biggest motivation to pursue your dreams and succeed.