INSEAD has exceeded my expectations. It’s a really intense way to learn.
Why did you decide to apply to INSEAD?
My long-term ambition is to go back to Africa. After school I first want to work in consulting, and later I plan to start my own business. I was interested in Asia, because of the way the region is investing in Africa; and in Europe because of its stronger historical connections to Africa. INSEAD is the only top business school that ticked those boxes. Having started in Singapore, I plan to finish the programme in Europe.
How are you finding the programme so far?
INSEAD has exceeded my expectations. Each faculty member is an expert in his or her field, that’s for sure. They also know how to engage the class in a fun way; and sometimes when they run out of time in class, we continue the discussion over coffee. The programme is intense; in fact, I didn’t grasp the meaning of intensity before!!
What is your favourite class to date?
Surprisingly, it’s Management Accounting, which doesn’t sound much fun, I know. That’s because there’s a great teacher and because we get to apply what we learn in other classes, like Strategy, Marketing and Operations Management. It really feels like an integrated way of thinking.
What are your fellow students like?
They’re smart and ambitious – and I feel privileged to be part of such a diverse, energetic student body. I had experienced diversity to some extent when I lived in Canada and Namibia. But in both places we were complying with the local culture. Here at INSEAD, we’re free to be ourselves. I see that particularly when I’m working with my group.
Can you try to describe the famous INSEAD group experience?
In my group there are six of us: American, Dutch, Spanish, Ukrainian, Israeli… and me. It’s a humbling and informative experience, as I see the diversity in the way they think and appreciate their different strengths. I’ve been challenged to have an open mind. Gradually, I’ve learned when to lead and when to follow. It’s also made me realise that I have been making decisions all my life based on assumptions I didn’t even know existed!
Can you tell us a bit more about your long-term career plans?
I have a passion for education and technology, so that’s where I want to build my business. I plan to use technology to reach rural areas and provide quality education. The trouble is that a lot of Africa is still using education materials from the 1960s. I just need to gain more years of experience, find the right self-sustaining business model… and use the INSEAD network to get started.
How has INSEAD’s Career Development Centre helped?
I knew I wanted to shift from IT to consulting and the career development team has been very helpful. They brought in an external career counsellor to help me formulate my plan. I also had a job-hunt coach, as I realised I didn’t have those skills either. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the INSEAD career development team has a lot of Africa connections too. And all the consulting firms come to recruit on campus.
Has it helped to have a scholarship?
It’s made a huge difference, as I did not have enough funds to attend the programme. It also makes life a lot easier, knowing that I don’t have to pay it back.
What is it like being a parent on the programme?
My wife and baby are on campus every day. We’ve found a good rhythm to cope with the busy schedule. We have lunch together and I find time to play with my baby in the family room. Singapore is very family friendly with very easy transport links and my wife loves it.