My favourite thing about INSEAD so far: there is no centre of gravity. Life at INSEAD is not grounded in a default view, culture, or nation.
Petra Janney

Petra Janney

Nationality/Passport: American Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Co-Founder of Amelia Air and Hatcher

Could you share something unexpected or a fun fact about you? 

I’m one of 6% of licensed pilots worldwide who are women.

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

I grew up in the forests of Maine (the northeast corner of the US), where I developed a deep appreciation for the natural world. I completed my undergraduate degree at Harvard University in Science, Technology, and Society. 

After interning in London at a clean technology consultancy, I joined an innovation firm in Los Angeles for five years. In 2019, I met Dean Heistad, a fellow animal lover and pilot who rescued his family dog in a general aviation plane. Inspired by the idea of leveraging the aviation community to help at-risk animals, we launched Amelia Air to fly pets from overcrowded shelters to places where they get adopted. Since 2019, our NGO has provided rescue flights and vet clinics for over 2,000 pets in the US and Mexico.

As a pilot who cares deeply about the planet, naturally I have massive guilt about the environmental impact of flying. In 2021, I teamed up with Peter Presley to co-found Hatcher, a consulting firm dedicated to proving that sustainability drives innovation for businesses brave enough to put the planet first. 

At Hatcher, it was the privilege of my career to collaborate with companies testing new propulsion systems to decarbonise aerospace. 

I applied to INSEAD to meet other change makers who will be making critical decisions in innovative enterprises around the world.

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 have devoted my career to sustainability and animal welfare: two challenges that cannot be addressed by any one nation. INSEAD was founded in the aftermath of WWII to foster the very kind of international collaboration we need to make progress on the defining issues of our time. 

Underlying all my work is the belief that compassion is the conduit for improving life on this planet, and I chose INSEAD to learn how to scale my impact.

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 tend to leap before I look, so moving from California to France definitely required more admin than I expected! My best advice would be to start all the steps early, especially with housing - I got very lucky with my accommodation but it definitely pays to book in advance. 

If you choose to stay at a shared house, definitely invest in some good noise-cancelling headphones! Another tip would be to bring a scientific calculator so you can type out full equations and double check your work, particularly for P1 statistics and finance.

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

I originally planned to apply to business school in 2020, but I decided to delay until the pandemic lockdowns were fully lifted. Because I was pressed for time between my NGO and my consultancy, I opted to take the GRE so I did not have to study for the GMAT. 

For the application itself, I focused on demonstrating how my unconventional background aligns with INSEAD’s commitment to leveraging business as a force for good, especially with the recent integration of sustainability into the core curriculum. 

I received the call that I got admitted while I was on the roof of the Vatican, which was absolutely surreal.

Regarding financing, I was incredibly honoured to receive the Andy Burgess Endowed Scholarship for Social Entrepreneurship from INSEAD, which made the decision to attend even easier.

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

Professor Felipe Monteiro opened our Introduction to General Management module with a discussion on sustainable aviation, which made it so clear to me that I was in the right place. 

He also mentioned my favourite thing about INSEAD so far: there is no centre of gravity. Life at INSEAD is not grounded in a default view, culture, or nation

As a result, students from every walk of life are free to develop unexpected new perspectives, and it’s a joy to be part of such a unique environment.

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?

I am currently building a new social venture in animal welfare with two co-founders from Ecuador and Spain. We just entered the INSEAD Venture Competition and are thrilled to leverage all of the resources that INSEAD has to offer for entrepreneurs. I am also a member of the Entrepreneurship Club and the Environment & Business Club.

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

In an incredible community like INSEAD, it’s tempting to compare yourself to others, but I think it’s important to measure your life by your own metrics.

For example, dining in Fontainebleau as a vegan is a real challenge, but I think I’ve finally figured it out! I would be happy to be contacted by anyone looking for info, advice, or collaboration.