Most importantly, the EMBA gave me the tools to redefine my career goals.
What made you decide to do an EMBA? Why the INSEAD EMBA?
Since I started working, I had a fulfilling career where I was learning something new every day and being rewarded for my achievements. I worked in big corporations and grew from managing in-house IT projects to business transformation and more strategic advisory roles, which was everything I dreamt about.
However, in the last year, I started losing that excitement to go to work and had the impression that I had stopped learning and being challenged. It was time for me to invest time and reflect on my career path for the next 20 years. The INSEAD Executive MBA was the perfect programme for that, as it adopts a holistic view of business combined with a more personal dimension through leadership development.
I chose INSEAD because of its reputation, obviously, but most importantly because I had attended an executive education course in 2014 and loved the experience: the content of the course, the organisation, and also the diversity of the attendees. Once I have decided to go for an EMBA, INSEAD was the natural choice.
How has the EMBA helped you in your career – pre and post EMBA?
Along with the programme, I changed jobs within my company to join the Chairman’s office and oversee the company’s transformation. My team’s first assignment was to lead the strategic review of the company. The timing was perfect as I could apply at work the frameworks I had seen the previous week in class and immediately came up with new ways of doing work.
Most importantly, the EMBA gave me the tools to redefine my career goals. While I was projecting myself going up the corporate ladder, I realised during the programme that it was not aligned with my values and needs at that point of time. I used the career coaching frameworks, the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) group support and discussions with my peers outside of the LDP.
A year after graduation, I decided to leave an excellent corporate position to give life to my EMBA final project and I started my own company with a fellow INSEADer. Despite COVID, which adds a layer of challenges to a very young venture, I am definitely convinced that I made the right decision.
How did you juggle studies and your busy work schedule at the same time?
The programme is very demanding both in terms of workload and time away from home and work. Going through an Executive MBA is a real commitment and those months were not easy to manage. Adding a layer of studying, travelling, attending courses and networking with INSEAD to an already busy schedule required planning and prioritising.
At work, we organised responsibility within the team: I focused on longer term projects, leaving more operational and short-term assignments to other members of the team. However, it happened more than once, that I used the class break time to have a call with my team or answer emails after class.
On a personal level, it was essential to onboard my loved ones in this journey, as they were also impacted. More than a busy schedule, the time away from home was the real challenge, logistically but even more at the emotional level. My youngest child still remember that she turned eight while I was “with INSEAD”.
I had to make choices and sometimes be creative to make the most of time. For instance, I didn’t take any vacations as I used all my leave (and more) to attend INSEAD courses. Instead, my family joined me twice at the end of INSEAD modules as a family gateway.
As I couldn’t fly back home to see my parents, I invited them to the graduation ceremony. And I moved my regular running sessions to early morning or after kids‘ bedtime: I ended up running my first marathon in Singapore, during the last INSEAD module!
How has the INSEAD EMBA helped you changed your life/perspectives?
I entered the EMBA with a clear plan in mind that was taken apart during the programme! As the time passed, attending the next EMBA module felt like entering a “bubble” as I was taken away from usual life constraints to go through stimulating courses surrounded by diverse yet like-minded people.
The trust and the safe environment helped me to go through a transformative journey.
I gained many tools that I have been using since then, both for work and in my personal interactions.
The most obvious impact is to make a drastic career change a year after graduation – to start my venture. But I also implemented new habits and improved my way to communicate or to behave at home. Most importantly I learned that “we don’t have a professional life and a personal life. We only have one life” (quoting Daniel Porot).
How did you balance personal life, studies and work?
Having clarity of the priorities and planning are key! Having a balanced life is important for me as a person and as a mother. I have always enjoyed managing diverse projects at the personal and professional level and being part of fun activities as well.
Being a natural “chief planner” helps. I define what is important and allocate my time accordingly. Spending quality time daily with my husband and kids is a must. I also make sure to be present (even remotely) for the larger family and friends and keep a place in my schedule for some “me” time to reflect and exercise. Therefore, I go for a long run instead of spending an evening watching a Netflix series. Very often days are too short to fit in all what I am interested in, so I rather define weekly objectives.
Did the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) make an impact on you?
The LDP was much more impactful than I have anticipated, to be honest. It’s a journey using simple yet powerful tools to question our behaviour, reflect on our values, understand your drivers and implement new habits.
The LDP doesn’t give the answers but pushes you to raise the right questions and guides you to the path to build your own answer.
Thanks to LDP, I discovered peer coaching. Even though my LDP group was not that close, the experience was intense. So I decided to continue the practice, outside of the LDP group frame. INSEAD allowed me to build strong and trusting relationships with a group of people – outside of my LDP group - from whom I still seek for open feedback or guidance on a regular basis, years after graduation.
What is one key takeaway you have gotten from the programme?
“Small changes lead to successful transformations”. This keeps resonating in me as the safest and most effective way to implement a real long-lasting change. And it works!
What advice will you give to potential participants looking to do an INSEAD EMBA?
I would advise potential participants to be open to others. The faculty are amazing but you learn most from the cohort – both during class and out of the class. Everyone in the INSEAD EMBA is brilliant, has great career achievements and brings something unique to the class.
By being open and true, you can grow and benefit from their experience, see yourself and the world through their eyes. Most importantly, you will establish life-long relationships. After all, the network is also a great benefit of attending INSEAD.