For those who have already decided on what career path they are looking to transition to, INSEAD does offer many mechanisms to help.
What made you choose the INSEAD Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) amongst all the other programmes out there?
Like most GEMBA's, I chose INSEAD for its brand and the quality of the professors. The alumni I connected with before joining the programme spoke very highly of the learning experience. The programme's focus on leadership development was also appealing. Being based in Singapore, the campus location was a big factor.
What are the challenges you faced having to manage work, studies and family?
The programme was very demanding of course. It would not be a smooth ride without the support of family. I am super grateful to my wife for supporting me through the programme. It was even more challenging given I was trying to make a career transition. To be completely honest, between work, INSEAD, career change pursuits and family, I consciously chose my work to suffer a little. To me, it was a small price, which allowed me to land a dream role in time for graduation.
What was your career journey and experience during the GEMBA?
I was heading the credit advisory practice at KPMG in Singapore. Prior to the programme, I spent over 12 years in consulting and a brief entrepreneurial stint, co-founding and running a recreational sports start up in India. I chose to do the GEMBA to help with my career change and of course, for personal development. It was certainly a learning experience like no other. While the knowledge and insights gained were highly valuable, the biggest win for me were identifying my leadership and communication weak points.
The programme is well designed and allows many opportunities to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, through which, you learn a lot about your limitations. It is no exaggeration to say INSEAD has some of the best professors in the world.
What is your current role and how did you get there?
Coming into GEMBA, like many of my classmates, I wanted to make a career change. I knew I wanted to get into an early stage start-up (specifically digital lending) and help build a business from scratch. It took about a year and interviewing with over 20 companies for me to clinch my dream role. Finally, I landed an opportunity to join as one of the co-founding members at Lend East, a digital venture debt firm focused on South East Asia and India.
I leveraged all the career support mechanisms INSEAD offered (Career Advisors, Coaches, Corporate Outreach teams, Start-Up career fairs and of course networking with INSEAD Alumni). All these channels were effective in lining up interviews.
In the first six months, I bombed in all interviews as I wasn't effective in articulating my value proposition to these start-ups. It took many interactions with them and failed interviews to figure out the synergies. I also had to be conscious not to beat myself up too much as there are always factors beyond your control that influence outcomes. Eventually, I landed the role a month before my GEMBA graduation... sweet timing!
Any advice to other GEMBA participants?
Take time to explore and decide what kind of career change you want. Chart out a six to 10-month plan to make the transition. Networking is key.
For those who have already decided on what career path they are looking to transition to, INSEAD does offer many mechanisms to help. But, career change for GEMBAs is a lot more time consuming than for MBAs. Most of us have been successful at one game. It takes a lot of time to convince people that you can be a pro at a different game. It did for me.