My decision to pursue an INSEAD MBA was driven by my desire to explore Europe, minimise opportunity costs, be a part of a top business school, and build a diverse network.
Praveg Maheshwari

Praveg Maheshwari

Nationality/Passport: Indian Year of graduation: 2021 Current Role: Innovation Lead, Bain & Company, London

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

I am originally from Jaipur, India, and ever since I was young, I always had a strong desire to explore new things and step out of my comfort zone. This led me to move to Hong Kong for my undergraduate studies in computer science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). This decision marked the beginning of my journey, both on a professional and personal level.

After completing my degree, I started working at JP Morgan Chase, where I spent four and a half years in technology and learning & development roles. During this time, I realised the importance of understanding different functions within an organisation and decided to transition from technology to human resources.

This not only helped me gain insights into various aspects of the business but also fuelled my passion for making a difference in people's lives through innovation.

In 2021, I decided to pursue an MBA at INSEAD to further broaden my horizons and explore new opportunities.

I wanted to change my geography, function, and industry to challenge myself and take my career to the next level.

This decision took me to London, where I am currently working as an Innovation Lead at Bain and Company.

Throughout my journey, I have always been open to taking risks and exploring new territories, as I believe that at this stage of my life, I am well-equipped to do so. This approach has consistently opened new doors for me and allowed me to grow both personally and professionally.

I am grateful for the experiences I have had and the lessons I have learned along the way, as they have shaped me into the person I am today.

In summary, my journey from Jaipur to London, through various roles and industries, has been an exciting and fulfilling one. I have always been eager to try new things and push my boundaries, which has helped me grow and adapt in various professional and personal situations.

I am excited to continue exploring new opportunities and making a difference in the lives of others through my work in innovation at Bain and Company.

What made you decide you wanted to pursue the INSEAD MBA, and why INSEAD in particular?

I decided to pursue the INSEAD MBA for several reasons. Firstly, having spent 26 years in Asia, I was eager to explore Europe and broaden my horizons.

INSEAD's location in France provided the perfect opportunity to access both European and UK job markets, which aligned with my aspirations to live and work in London.

Secondly, I was looking for a one-year MBA programme to minimise the opportunity cost of foregone salary. INSEAD's accelerated curriculum fit the bill perfectly, allowing me to gain the knowledge and skills I sought in a shorter time frame.

Thirdly, I wanted to be a part of a top business school and study among the brightest minds from around the world. INSEAD's reputation for excellence attracted me as it would enable me to learn from a diverse group of peers and build a global network. In fact, INSEAD is often referred to as the business school for the world due to its incredibly diverse cohorts.

I chose to start in the January cohort (21'D batch) and applied in the third round of applications. This decision allowed me to explore summer internship opportunities during the summer months and further expand my professional experience.

Additionally, I was interested in the possibility of doing an exchange in the US to assess if I would want to consider living and working there in the future. INSEAD facilitated this by offering a one-period exchange at Kellogg, which provided valuable exposure to the American business ecosystem.

In summary, my decision to pursue an INSEAD MBA was driven by my desire to explore Europe, minimise opportunity costs, be a part of a top business school, and build a diverse network. INSEAD's unique offerings, such as the January cohort, exchange opportunities, and its reputation for diversity, made it the ideal choice for me to achieve my personal and professional goals.

Which campus(es) have you experienced, and can you tell us more about any similarities or differences? 

During my time at INSEAD, I spent four periods at the Fontainebleau campus and one period on exchange at Kellogg. 

Comparing my experiences at INSEAD and Kellogg, there were some notable similarities and differences.

In terms of similarities, both institutions provided a high level of career support through dedicated consulting, tech, and finance streams in their respective career centres. Additionally, the classroom experience at both schools was largely case-based, enabling students to gain practical insights into real-world business scenarios.

However, there were also some key differences between the two campuses. At Kellogg, there was a very strong sense of belonging and community within the Northwestern University ecosystem. The environment fostered close-knit relationships and a supportive atmosphere among students.

On the other hand, INSEAD placed a greater emphasis on cohort diversity, which was one of the main reasons I chose the school in the first place. This focus on diversity allowed me to learn from and interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, which was incredibly enriching.

Furthermore, Kellogg had a more US-centric approach, while INSEAD offered a truly global perspective. This distinction was important to me, as I wanted to broaden my understanding of the global business landscape beyond the confines of a single region.

Did you have any expectations before you started the MBA, and did you speak to any alumni before joining the programme?

Before starting my MBA at INSEAD, I had certain expectations and goals in mind. I wanted to change my geography, industry, and function, and I believed that pursuing an MBA in Europe, particularly at INSEAD, would be the best way to achieve this.

My expectations included expanding my personal and professional network, gaining exposure to new industries and opportunities, acquiring business understanding to complement my technical background, and ultimately finding a job that would allow me to combine my technical knowledge with business acumen.

In terms of connecting with alumni, I did not speak to many of them before joining the programme. This was primarily because I wanted to enter INSEAD without any biases and view it as a fresh start for my career.

In hindsight, having these conversations might have made the settling-in process in Fontainebleau simpler and easier. The only interactions I had with alumni were during my INSEAD interview process, which helped me understand the school's culture and balance between academics and recruitment.

Looking back, I would advise prospective students to connect with alumni to ease their transition into the programme and make the most of their MBA experience.

Could you tell us about your experience with the Career Development Centre?

My experience with the Career Development Centre (CDC) at INSEAD has been very positive. Throughout my time in the programme, I had frequent discussions with my career coach about job opportunities, recruitment strategies, and determining the best pathway based on my personal goals and aspirations.

My career coach was instrumental in guiding me, connecting me with alumni and professionals within her network who could provide valuable insights and assistance. She would actively suggest plans of action to help me make the most of my MBA experience and achieve my career objectives.

Moreover, the CDC played a crucial role in helping me draft and refine my CV and cover letters, ensuring that my application materials were tailored to the opportunities I was pursuing. My career coach was always available for a conversation and had an open ear to any issues I was facing, be it personal or professional.

One of the most valuable aspects of my experience with the CDC was the psychologically safe environment they provided.

I felt comfortable being vocal about personal and professional topics, knowing that my career coach genuinely cared for my success and well-being.

Has the INSEAD MBA helped you in your career? 

The INSEAD MBA has been instrumental in helping me advance my career. It has enabled me to achieve my goals of changing all three aspects - geography, function, and industry - and has significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth.

One of the key benefits of the INSEAD MBA was the exposure it provided to different industries, allowing me to understand the requirements and challenges associated with each sector. This knowledge proved invaluable as I navigated my career transition.

Furthermore, the programme helped me gain a comprehensive understanding of business at a grassroots level. The opportunity to dive deeper into specific topics through electives enriched my learning experience and equipped me with the skills needed to excel in my chosen field.

The INSEAD MBA also opened doors to better career opportunities, giving me access to roles and organisations that may have been out of reach before.

The programme's strong reputation and network played a crucial role in facilitating these opportunities.

In addition to expanding my professional network, the INSEAD MBA also helped me grow my personal network. I was able to build lasting relationships with peers from diverse backgrounds, creating a strong support system that continues to be valuable even after graduation.

Has the experience helped you remain relevant after graduation? 

The INSEAD MBA experience has indeed helped me remain relevant after graduation. By equipping me with a comprehensive understanding of various businesses and industries, the programme has increased my relevance as an employee and contributor across multiple sectors.

One of the key ways the INSEAD MBA has contributed to my continued relevance is by broadening my understanding of businesses and industries, allowing me to better navigate the complexities of diverse sectors. This has enhanced the potential impact I can make on businesses, as I can now approach problems and opportunities with a well-rounded perspective.

Additionally, the INSEAD MBA has helped me create a personal brand that businesses can rely on for making critical decisions and driving success.

The programme's reputation, combined with the skills and insights gained during my time at INSEAD, has positioned me as a valuable asset to any organisation. This personal brand allows me to stand out in the job market, ensuring that I remain relevant and sought-after by employers.

Furthermore, the programme's emphasis on global perspectives and its diverse cohort have enriched my worldview, enabling me to work effectively with people from various backgrounds and cultures. This cultural fluency is increasingly important in today's interconnected business world and has helped me maintain my relevance in a constantly evolving landscape.

What advice will you give to prospects who are still considering whether an INSEAD MBA should be part of their career plan?

For prospects who are considering whether an INSEAD MBA should be part of their career plan, I would recommend taking the time to reflect on a few key aspects:

1. Assess the potential impact of an MBA on your professional and personal life. Consider what skills, knowledge, and experiences you hope to gain from the programme and how they will contribute to your overall growth. Think about how an MBA can improve your leadership abilities, expand your industry knowledge, and provide valuable networking opportunities.

2. Envision where you want to see yourself after completing the MBA and evaluate whether not pursuing the degree would adversely affect your trajectory towards that goal. Consider factors such as potential career advancement, salary growth, and the opportunity to transition into new industries or functions. An MBA can be a significant investment, so it's essential to ensure that it aligns with your long-term objectives and will provide a meaningful return on investment.

3. Consider the importance of having a diverse cohort during your MBA experience. INSEAD is renowned for its diverse student body, which can provide valuable insights and perspectives. Reflect on how interacting with classmates from various cultural, professional, and educational backgrounds will enrich your learning experience and contribute to your personal and professional development.

4. Be aware that the INSEAD MBA is an intense one-year programme, as opposed to the more traditional two-year format.

Reflect on whether you are prepared to take on the challenge of an accelerated curriculum, balancing academics with networking, recruitment, and extracurricular activities.

Assess your ability to manage the fast-paced nature of the programme and the potential trade-offs in terms of depth of learning or internship opportunities compared to a two-year programme.

5. Research the unique offerings and culture of the INSEAD MBA, such as the multiple campus locations, exchange programmes, and the emphasis on global perspectives. Determine if these aspects align with your personal preferences and career goals, and consider how they might enhance your overall MBA experience.

Lastly, I am open to being contacted and would be happy to guide prospective students on their career path and provide more information about my INSEAD MBA experience.

Engaging in conversations with current students and alumni can be invaluable in helping you make an informed decision about whether an INSEAD MBA is the right choice for you. Hearing first-hand about their experiences, challenges, and successes can provide a more accurate picture of what to expect from the programme and how it can contribute to your career journey.