The case-based curriculum and international classrooms provide the perfect setting for growth and learning, regardless of one’s previous and future careers.
Pietro Zileri

Pietro Zileri

Nationality/Passport: Italian Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Account Executive at Twilio, Inc.

Could you share something unexpected about you?

I represented the Italian Rowing National Team at various World and European competitions throughout my high-school and university days.

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

I was born and raised in Florence, Italy and moved to the US for my bachelor’s degree on a full athletic scholarship at the University of Washington, where I was part of the rowing team. My time there shaped much of the man I am today, as I learnt how to discipline myself as a student-athlete and experienced the process of immersing oneself into a completely new culture.

Though my rowing career ended once I left university, my practice of the sport has had a permanent impact on the way I approach any challenge or decision I come across, in both my personal and professional lives.

Upon graduating I started off at Amazon Web Services in Madrid, where I had the chance to learn about life in a large corporation and developed a keen interest in corporate strategy. My career then brought me to London, where I covered different sales roles and changed companies to further diversify my experience. It was at this time that I began thinking about my life and career beyond the realm of tech sales.

I have always wanted to work as a strategist and appreciate the value of working across different industries and diverse corporations, which is why I am pursuing an MBA at INSEAD.

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 always considered INSEAD as my top choice for my MBA. Beyond the practical aspect of having to take only one year out of the job market, I always had the impression that the course’s case-based curriculum and international classrooms provided the perfect setting for growth and learning, regardless of one’s previous and future careers.

I am glad to see that even at such an early stage this impression has been confirmed. Being here has already helped in clarifying what future pursuits I would like to undertake and has given me practical insight into my own aspirations as well as how to achieve these.

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?

The first people I approached for campus accommodations were INSEAD alumni, both first and second degree connections. They were tremendously helpful in sharing their experiences and managing my expectations. Then, in a happy coincidence, someone in my network was accepted for the same intake, so we moved in together. Although that may not be the case for most people, I know that many of my classmates started reaching out to others prior to starting the academic year.

Therefore, the best tip I can share is to not be shy and get in touch with current students or incoming ones right away! It will help get a leg up on accommodation and these connections will be really useful in the starting weeks of the MBA for all things admin, aid and social too!

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

My application process was quite unique in the sense that, though I was certain about wanting to pursue an MBA, I didn’t have much time to prepare my application. I found myself in direct contact with the admissions office, who luckily believed in my profile and advised me on what steps to take to make sure my application could be considered.

I was extremely grateful for the good faith shown to me, and realised that INSEAD’s admissions process looks beyond scores and numbers, to the diversity and singularity of the profiles they are presented, which they evaluate fairly and with a full-picture view.

I am extremely fortunate in that I have been able to secure financing on my own to pursue this MBA, however in my research throughout the process I saw how many different ways the school provides support for financing.

When looking for accommodations in Singapore, I then found out by chance that a person I knew was also admitted in my same intake, so we got in touch and figured out our living situation with two other classmates we had friends in common with.

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

I really enjoyed settling into the INSEAD routine in general. Most of my days are spent in classrooms, something I actually thoroughly enjoy as the classes themselves are very interesting. They aren't just about theories and principles, they challenge us with genuine scenarios that professionals face in the global market, making the learning deeply relevant and immediately applicable.

What’s been particularly appealing, perhaps more practical, is the onsite fitness centre, a great space to get moving and clear my head, and the canteen. As an Italian, food is a huge part of my culture, and I must admit that I’m really enjoying the healthy options we’re being provided daily, and at affordable prices.

Overall, I have been challenged a lot, but I have also been inspired.

In thinking of this journey, I will refer to one of my wonderful professors who enunciated a sentiment that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of INSEAD: "Take this year at INSEAD seriously, but not yourselves." It's a reminder that while our academic pursuit is important, the real magic happens when we stay grounded, soak in the experiences, and enjoy the ride.

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?

During my first couple months at INSEAD, the pace has been quite hectic to say the least. While each student has a somewhat clear reason as per why they joined this programme, there’s never a one-path-fits-all.

On one hand it is important to put the necessary effort into the academics, but on the other we all realise this one-year programme will fly by and we all want to get the most out of it – whether it be traveling, networking, socialising, experimenting… you name it!

In my case, being based in Singapore means I get to explore Southeast Asia over the weekends. These trips aren't just about sightseeing; they're also about bonding with classmates and forging deeper connections. On campus, INSEAD boasts a variety of clubs catering to both professional and leisure interests. I've hopped on board with the football club, enjoying our weekly matches; and I’m also looking to join VINSEAD as I am an avid wine enthusiast. These extracurriculars not only provide a break from academics but also enrich the entire MBA experience.

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

Ask for help! Be it from friends who have gone to INSEAD, or the admissions office or even your professors and peers once you’ve started. There is always something to learn and to be gained by talking openly and discussing the things you aren’t sure of or don’t understand.

At the end of the day, your growth journey is a personal one, but it’s shaped and moulded by all those you learn from and work with along the way.

I would be more than happy to help anyone who needs guidance or is just interested in the MBA programme. So far at INSEAD I have received nothing but the utmost support from the alumni network, and I am happy to do the same!