Now I understand why the alumni told me: “INSEAD will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”
Petra Haddad

Petra Haddad

Nationality/Passport: German Year of graduation: 2023 Current Role: Senior Strategy Manager at Orange SA

Fun fact about yourself: 

One of my dreams was always to skydive – alone! One day, I finally got to realise this dream. During the training session, many participants were joking and feeling sure of themselves, while I stayed calm and concentrated. When eventually came the moment that our plane took off for our first jump, they stopped laughing and became quite serious, with concern in their eyes. Whereas I… lighted up and smiled so much during the take-off, as I could not wait for my first jump! During the video debrief, you could see everybody’s reactions on the screen: I had a great smile while jumping, sure of myself, thrilled by this new challenge and adventure!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

One of the reasons I wanted to join INSEAD was for its LDP (Leadership Development Programme) and Career Development Programmes. The LDP really gave me the triggers to capitalise on my strengths. I have always thought I had to work on my areas of development and improve myself in this regard, which is still true today.

But I also realised that I was not capitalising enough on my strengths and that I was not confident enough to propel myself forward.

The LDP gave me tools to discover how colleagues and close friends perceived me and it really gave me confidence to move forward and to be more confident in myself.

I was also honoured to be elected one of INSEAD GEMBA’23 Class Reps. It is a real pleasure and a great honour for me that my fellow classmates and new friends trust me to represent them and defend their interests and requests.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? 

In 2020, I was given the great opportunity to pilot Orange’s programme aiming to prioritise strategic innovation projects (BigBets) for the next five years (EUR 350 million). This covered topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Cloud, AR/VR, Blockchain, and many others.

The programme gathered around 300 people within the group. This led to the hearing of 40 candidate projects and to the selection of Five Big Bets, whose budgets and governance are prioritised to increase our revenues and improve our operational efficiency.

This programme included a financial aspect that challenged the projects’ business case and ROI, providing me and seven executive directors with the tools to select the Big Bets. The selection results were presented to Orange CEO and ExCom and I was congratulated by many of my peers for this group-transversal project.

Who was your favourite MBA professor? 

Charlie Galunic (Chaired Professor of Leadership and Responsibility) taught us how to analyse the performance of companies by doing a thorough 360-analysis (Strategy, Leadership, Group Culture, Organisation and Politics).

The key successful organisational behaviours within a company were also investigated, especially highlighting the fact that better performance does not only rely on a good incentive, but more particularly on people’s passion for their job, inspiration, motivation to feel useful, and have an impact for a larger goal, aspiration for recognition and autonomy.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA programme? 

Congratulated for my work on the Big Bets programme, especially by the CTO and programme’s sponsor, I was confirmed in my ambition to become myself a multinational Chief Strategy Director or CTO helping my company drive its digital transformation.

Therefore, the INSEAD Executive MBA could help me reach this goal by improving my finance and management expertise.

Given my technological and international background, I consider INSEAD’s footprint as a strong asset since it provides a global educational experience covering Europe, Asia, and Middle East campuses and San Francisco hub as well, not to mention an amazing opportunity to visit the CERN in Geneva.

France is an algorithmic research talents pool, Singapore is an Asian frontrunner example of disrupting tech development and UAE, investing a lot in tech, is the first country to have appointed a Minister of Artificial Intelligence.

Needless to say, the Silicon Valley hub or the Research Deep Tech Center of the CERN in Geneva would also be of utmost interest for me.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work?

One of the reasons I wanted to join INSEAD was its LDP (Leadership Development Programme) and Career Development Programmes, which gave me tools to discover how colleagues and close friends perceived me and to feel more confident in myself to move forward.

I applied this specifically at my job when I launched, in March 2022, a new Blockchain association for France, Alliance Blockchain France, together with around 20 other French leaders (ow Atos, IN Group, French institutions and startups).

In a global context where national Blockchain networks start to emerge (Alastria in Spain, ID Union in Germany), France has the means to be one of the leaders of the European Blockchain ecosystem. The objective is to build a common Blockchain infrastructure that could allow its members to develop Blockchain use cases. We hope to grow and extend to hundreds of companies, while working with the French government to receive its support as part of the French Blockchain strategy.

The INSEAD EMBA programme and notably the LDP allowed me to gain trust in myself and to improve my leadership skills to better address the many political challenges induced by the creation of this new national association.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education?

In order to pursue the Executive MBA, I had to take many holidays (paid leaves). This left almost no time to rest, as it was very time-consuming to juggle between education, work, and private life (as previously said, I’m keen on organising and leading social activities).

The new rhythm imposed by the INSEAD GEMBA programme required a lot of preparation between every two modules, covering pre-readings, teamwork, assignments, or essays to prepare.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA programme? 

Just do it!

Truly, the preparation seems overwhelming at first. With a little bit of structure and preparation, the entire process can be done within 2-3 months covering a very good preparation for the GMAT and a thorough concentration for the essays.

But the real crucial element to first identify is what you want to do AFTER the MBA programme. What end will it serve you? This is really a major issue, because you can afterwards dedicate every programme assignment to the professional project you have in mind, whether it’s already started or planned to be developed in the long run.

What was your biggest regret in business school? 

Not doing it sooner!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? 

I admire many classmates within my class:

The entrepreneurs who want to launch a new company with a bold new idea. I admire them a lot, because given the startups success rates, I find this path really courageous!

The parents who already have a family and who juggle between work, family and now business school!

And so many more, I feel I have so much to learn from each and every one!

What was the main reason you chose an Executive MBA programme over part-time or online alternatives? 

I feel a full-time Executive MBA allows me to be fully immersed during the modules and to better benefit not only from the learning experience, but also from the networking, campus possibilities and making new friends!

The time spent on the campus passes so quickly, and at the same time, you can feel how much more you can do in one single day once you are on campus. Now I understand why the alumni told me: “INSEAD will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? 

My long-term objective is to build a more sovereign, sustainable, and secure technological offer supporting companies in their digital transformation, either by launching my own company or by joining a multinational that shares my philosophy.

I am personally convinced that this transformation IS possible and can foster the thriving technology market.