The INSEAD network provides immediate benefits.
Sommer Sawchuk

Sommer Sawchuk

Sommer Sawchuk
Nationality/Passport: Canadian Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Director, Customer Experience

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional and personal background?

Prior to university, I worked in various industries such as, government, travel & hospitality, mining, construction, and ecotourism. The experience was fantastic. I liked learning about different businesses and realised that I wanted a career that is industry-agnostic. So, I started university without a particular discipline in mind, hence the Arts degree!

Within a year of finishing my undergrad, I launched a business. The skills I developed during my undergrad were extremely valuable when I was building my business plan, but it wasn't enough to grow the business. After two years I sold my business and decided to go into corporate.

I had so many other business ideas; however, before starting my next venture I wanted to gain more business experience and the right academic foundation. My goal was to do my Executive MBA after ten years of corporate experience.

I started with an incredible opportunity in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways at the advent of their brand re-launch and business transformation. There, I led large cross-functional programmes and established the customer experience function.

After seven years, I moved to Amazon to gain operational experience. I had the pleasure of leading a diverse and creative team of experts and I gained a deep understanding of the inner working of one of the most successful companies in the world.

I recently left Amazon to move into a leadership role in the public sector to focus on enabling business development through seamless B2B experience. As for my plan, I'm still an entrepreneur at heart and I will start another business but not just yet, I'm having too much fun and still have a lot to learn.

What is a fun fact or something unexpected about you?

To save up for university, I took a job driving a large mining truck where I hauled kimberlite ore between mine sites. It was -45C in the winter but the money was great!

What led you to decide to pursue an EMBA, and why did you choose INSEAD in particular?

I started my professional career as an entrepreneur and will enter this space again. When I make this move, I want to have the right capabilities.

Also, I'm passionate about leadership development. I was looking for best practice frameworks that would support lifelong learning. The INSEAD GEMBA connects these elements together beautifully into a comprehensive global programme that meets the highest academic standards. 

How would you describe your experience so far? The classes, the curriculum, your fellow participants, the professors?

Expectations exceeded.

The INSEAD network provides immediate benefits.

It's a diverse community of the best and the brightest who truly care about one another. Also, the programme structure weaves together core business concepts and balances theory with application.

The challenges are brilliant. The emphasis on group work is not a suggestion, it's a culture. It adds intensity to the learning experience and provides extraordinary value to the personal development journey.

Could you tell us more about your experience with the Leadership Development Programme (LDP)?

The LDP is unique to INSEAD and was the key differentiator when I selected INSEAD. The LDP is designed to develop great leaders. The programme brings together people into small groups where the members learn to listen, to coach each other, to discover and challenge biases, and anything that is holding the members back from their own success.

It teaches leadership as an accountability that is developed over a lifetime.  

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who might be interested in pursuing the INSEAD Global Executive MBA programme?

Many of my colleagues and I have discussed how important timing is for starting GEMBA. In fact, it's critical. Life is busy and there's rarely a convenient time to add more work to your life.

GEMBA is, no doubt, a commitment and a lot of work. Knowing the right time to start isn't about your calendar. The right time is based on your own signals and intuition that it's time for a leap forward in your professional and personal life.