The learning environment is eclectic and dynamic, with top-notch professors, the latest research findings, the most relevant debate, and invaluable pedagogical material.
Sherene Abdul-Hadi

Sherene Abdul-Hadi

Sherene Abdul-Hadi
Nationality: American Year Graduated: 2013 Current Role: Consultant at ZonesCorp

How did your career lead up to the GEMBA? And how will it progress afterward?

I’d been in management consulting for some time and never had the chance to do an MBA because of my travel and work schedule. When I came back from a two-year posting in Russia, I wanted to hone skills to develop something on my own. I chose INSEAD, was awarded a women’s scholarship and dedicated myself for the next 15 months. Then I discovered I was pregnant! But that didn’t stop me and I attended the first module with my two-month-old baby Ninar.  Now that the programme is over – I plan to go back to working full-time. I’m not going back to consulting, though. My plans are more entrepreneurial.

Why did you choose INSEAD?

I liked the people I met – not just students and alumni but also the charismatic marketing team and even the accounting staff! Also, there was a rich selection of entrepreneurship courses within a truly global programme.

Was the programme what you expected?

Yes and more. You don’t feel like a student. You feel you own the programme and you’re coming together with family for each module.

Can you describe the GEMBA classroom experience?

 The classes are very intense and fast paced. The learning environment is eclectic and dynamic, with top-notch professors, the latest research findings, the most relevant debate, and invaluable pedagogical material.

What was your favourite course?

Hmm, that’s a tough one! From the core courses, I enjoyed Managerial Accounting. It was all new to me and very challenging, but the professor was brilliant – every class began with a joke. And I just got it! From the electives, my favourite was Management Decision-Making and from Key Management Challenges, I loved Entrepreneurial Ventures, which is where my passion lies.

And the social life around the programme?

It’s fantastic because it extends beyond the programme. For those of us who are based in the UAE, we get together often and with our families. We also planned trips abroad to discover the cultures of our classmates. A group from the GEMBA Europe and Middle East sections went to Lebanon for a few days before the start of the October module. Another went to Srilanka and another group stayed on in Europe after the Fontainebleau module in the summer. The best part is that the activities were varied and catered to many different tastes.  Moreover, by graduation, our class chose a cause and raised $30K and leveraged it to double to build a school in the Bale Zone in Ethiopia.

What is your favourite memory?

The first day of the Leadership Development Programme was amazing. We had a day of outdoor team-building activities that revealed our communication, decision-making and leadership styles. We created a human box with our bodies, built a web between poles then lifted each other through it and finally climbed a high pole tied together – and then jumped off. It was both challenging and liberating at the same time. We laughed, cried and clashed! The five members of our group are still very close.

Did you use the INSEAD career support? If so how?

I’ve used the CV writing support and the web tools, but the one-to-one careers coaching sessions were perhaps the most helpful for me. I was focusing on my strengths, when the coach brought to my attention the importance of looking at interest which puts heart and energy in everything we do. He was also very helpful with several references of interesting reading material.

What advice would you give new GEMBA participants?

Enjoy it, because it goes by so fast!