INSEAD has a unique way of nurturing both the hard and soft skills that are essential for success in today's world.
Rola Awad

Rola Awad

Nationality/Passport: Lebanese Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Managing Partner

Can you introduce yourself to us - where you are from, what is your professional journey so far?

I was born in the North of Lebanon, in the city of Tripoli, to a hard-working Lebanese mother and a Palestinian refugee father, both healthcare professionals. They not only shaped my strong and determined character as a woman, but also instilled in me my love for healthcare and helping others.

Prior to joining INSEAD, I was a partner at a community pharmacy in Lebanon, and a pharmacy officer at a pharmacy IT service provider, having risen to those positions from an entry level pharmacist. 

In addition to helping patients directly, pharmacy work allowed me to continue my love for social responsibility; something I have been innately drawn to since childhood. For example, I partnered through the pharmacy with women-led initiatives aimed at ending period poverty in Lebanon and NGOs that encourage recycling. The pharmacy also allowed me to positively impact people’s lives beyond dispensing medicine; something that gives me immense joy.

I had always thought of myself as a clinically-oriented person and that I would always stay on the patient-facing side of healthcare. To my surprise, I fell in love with the business and management side of the business. 

Why did you decide to come to INSEAD at this point of your professional journey?

I chose to pursue my MBA at INSEAD because I felt my career needed a new direction. 

While I enjoyed my previous job, I sensed my growth was plateauing. I craved the opportunity to work in a larger organisation where I could make a more significant impact. 

This desire led me to consider a career shift, for which an MBA was essential. Having interacted with several INSEAD alumni and worked alongside some, I held them in high regard.

The more I learned about INSEAD, the more convinced I became that it was the perfect fit for me. I didn't apply to any other schools; for me, it was INSEAD or nothing.

What is the most challenging aspect about being a mum and a professional in a fast-moving business environment?

I'd say the biggest challenge for me is managing my time. 

I've always prided myself on being organised, but juggling being a new mom and pursuing my MBA at INSEAD takes organisation to a whole new level. 

Honestly, it's a constant struggle to find the right balance. When I'm studying late into the night for exams , it means I'm missing out on precious moments with my baby, like bath and bedtime stories. 

And vice versa, when I'm spending time with my little one, it inevitably means sacrificing some focus on my academics, job search, or social engagements. 

It took me a while to accept that there's no perfect equilibrium. One way I've learned to cope is by being fully present in whatever I'm doing. When I'm with my baby, I make sure my phone is out of sight and my mind is solely focused on enjoying those special moments together.

How has it been to juggle the many MBA demands (academics, social life, recruitment) as well as a family?


Rola's support system


Incredibly tiring, yet deeply rewarding. You set your priorities and then manage your schedule based on them. Social life suffers the most of course; I am selective about the gatherings I attend. 

I am only able to do this because of an amazing support system. My husband, my mother and my baby’s nanny give me an unwavering support and comfort, giving me the strength to persevere. I genuinely believe I wouldn't have been able to navigate this journey without these three amazing individuals by my side.


How has INSEAD helped you in your personal and professional journey so far?

INSEAD has truly been a game-changer for me on both a personal and professional level. The encounters with fellow students have opened my eyes to the endless possibilities out there, sparking a newfound sense of excitement and ambition within me.

What's been particularly impactful is the support I've received from my PLDP coach, Eva. She helped me dig deep into understanding why I respond to situations the way I do and has guided me through overcoming obstacles. It's not just about sharpening technical skills here; INSEAD has a unique way of nurturing both the hard and soft skills that are essential for success in today's world. 

It's been a transformative journey that not only broadened my horizons, but also enriched my understanding of myself and others.

What is one piece of advice you would share with parents looking to pursue their MBA at INSEAD?

Aside from the value of managing time wisely and relying on a strong support system, I'd stress the importance of carving out time for yourself. It's not just okay—it's vital. Find something you love doing just for you, not tied to family or academic responsibilities. Taking these breaks has given me the energy boost I need to keep pushing forward. Trust me, it's worth it.