I believe the common thread in GEMBA programme is that everyone is evaluating their career choices and looking to make a more significant impact for the rest of their professional lives.
Interesting fact about yourself?
I have always been the one to choose the "road less traveled." My passion for health and wellbeing, curiosity to explore the world, and desire to learn and grow have been three themes throughout my life.
When I started at J&J almost 16 years ago, I was keen to understand healthcare in a broader sense beyond Latvia and developed European markets.
I took an opportunity to join a programme with Child Family Health International, tailored to professionals interested in volunteering in a healthcare setting in a third world country while advancing their Spanish skills. I spent five weeks in Ecuador working in a maternity government hospital on the outskirts of Quito, serving a low-income population. It was an eye-opening experience as well as a shocking one. I do not think I will ever forget mothers with babies queuing up outside the hospital, sitting/sleeping on the street waiting for admission, as the space and capacity were so limited.
One day, I hope to return and help make healthcare more accessible in these countries.
What led you to pursue an EMBA, and why did you choose INSEAD?
Over the past few years, I had an opportunity to lead a large-scale project in J&J, expanding the market for new technologies on the EMEA level and leading a senior-level project team. I felt I could benefit from broader knowledge across various business topics to complement my substantial commercial (sales & marketing) background. I also believe that advancing my leadership skills would positively contribute to my long-term career goals.
The Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) was an easy choice as it provides flexibility to balance work, family, and studies due to its modular structure.
Finally, INSEAD was the only choice I considered, given my international background and experience. Having lived and worked in Europe, the USA, Russia, and now the Middle East, I felt that INSEAD, with its three campuses across France, UAE, Singapore, and the San Francisco hub, would allow me to connect with like-minded people. Diversity of people, experiences, thoughts, and industries was a key factor for me.
I chose Singapore as my base campus as I had never lived in Asia before and had little exposure to Asian cultures and people. This experience allows me to not only discover a new part of the world and learn about the region and business environment but also benefit from great cultural immersion that I otherwise would not have a chance to experience.
Last but not least INSEAD is known for its robust alumni network, and even within J&J, I know several inspiring leaders who are its alumni. It was a natural choice for me to go for INSEAD when I pursued an MBA.
Could you describe your experience so far? The classes, the curriculum, your fellow participants, the professors?
Starting my GEMBA has been a life-changing experience, and I am not even halfway through the programme.
I am continuously impressed with my cohort and their bright minds. It is a very humbling experience to be among these professionals. During our recent strategy module and group work, I experienced the power of diversity firsthand. Putting together five individuals with different skill sets, experience, styles, and strengths led to fantastic teamwork and results. Working in such a dream team was the highlight of my learning journey so far.
I am also enjoying the entrepreneurial spirit of INSEAD and meeting my cohort participants who have been running their own companies and starting businesses. I admire their risk-taking abilities and creativity of ideas. It provides a different perspective from my corporate career experience and helps expand my viewpoints and approach. The cohort and learnings I gain from others make this programme so worthwhile.
I also love the social aspect of being back to school, enjoying dinner conversations and thought exchanges during our class free time.
Has the EMBA helped you in your career so far?
I believe the common thread in the GEMBA programme is that everyone is evaluating their career choices and looking to make a more significant impact for the rest of their professional lives.
The most effective way to change one's life is to change the environment and people you are surrounded by.
INSEAD's EMBA provides a fantastic opportunity for both personal and professional transformation. The network's force challenges you, opens possibilities to new ways of thinking and looking at problems, and helps to connect the dots.
The school network truly opens doors to connect to anyone anywhere – any industry, area, or function. This helps when I am looking to evaluate/validate my ideas and thought processes, learn something new, or look for best practices outside my industry.
In a daily business setting, I have become more familiar with areas outside my core competency, which enhances my ability to follow business conversations and provide meaningful inputs.
I also see the programme as a great self-confidence booster, further enhancement of self-awareness and interpersonal connections, and a deep source of motivation and inspiration.
What do you hope to gain from your MBA, and how will it support your career?
Healthcare as an industry is undergoing massive change thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was one of the last industries to embrace digital transformation; however, it is advancing rapidly.
Managing and leading change initiatives, staying on top of industry trends, driving growth during challenging economic times, and being agile are essential leadership abilities professionals in this space need. Exposure to top professionals and professors in their fields brings new perspectives that I otherwise would not have.
The leadership development track helps to build the skills needed to lead businesses and teams.
Personally, I am passionate about health and wellbeing and encouraging people around me to be in charge of their health. It starts with regular exercise, rest, and good nutrition. It extends to using digital tools and other available technologies to stay on top of one's health stats and monitor progress.
On a professional level, I am excited about the incredible opportunities in early diagnosis, disease prevention, and personalised medicine due to rapid technological advances in digital health and biotechnology spaces. Prevention efforts require a change of behaviour, which is very challenging to drive.
Working in a healthcare space, I feel it is our responsibility to generate awareness and educate about early screening, diagnostics, and preventative treatments that help eradicate disease and broaden access to these treatments. As we all want to live longer, healthy aging has become an important societal topic.
I want to lead a business focused on this space in the long term. INSEAD's Global Executive MBA is an enabler - giving me knowledge, leadership skills, and a network to achieve this objective.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing an INSEAD Master's programme?
The programme is challenging, so knowing that one's motivation should be strong enough to work through the ups and downs and setbacks that come along the way with such a rigorous and demanding schedule.
At the same time, the number of positive inputs, valuable insights, space to explore, time to reflect, and ability to connect and create a new, valuable network is so worthwhile that my only advice is, "just do it and enjoy every moment of this journey".