I chose the INSEAD MBA because it runs, without a doubt, the premier MBA programme in Southeast Asia, the region in which I had decided to establish myself.
Tim Sariaatmadja

Tim Sariaatmadja

tim
Nationality/Passport: Indonesian Year of graduation: 2023 Current Role: Investment Director, Eighteen Blue Investments

Could you share something unexpected about you? 
 
I love to play music! I play the keys and violin regularly at my local church in Perth (and previously Sydney). One of my fondest memories is playing a violin piece at my younger brother’s wedding in Jakarta in 2019, prior to him and my sister-in-law walking down the aisle for the first time. 
 
Tell us a little about yourself, your personal and professional journey so far?

I’ve spent a considerable part of my life in Australia, where I attended school and university. I began my career in investment banking, where I spent three years as an analyst across boutique investment banks in Perth and Sydney. 
 
I was then given the amazing opportunity to found our family office firm, Eighteen Blue Investments, as Investment Director – and it was an opportunity that was too good to pass on. Over the next five years, we would invest over $25m across a variety of sectors, including technology, resources, agriculture, and real estate. In my role as Director, my responsibilities encompassed all aspects of investing, including deal origination, transaction negotiation and execution, and portfolio management. 
 
It has been a privilege to have held this position given the incredible amount of responsibility and steep learning curve that it provides. 
 
Can you share a little about why you decided to pursue the MBA, and in particular, the INSEAD MBA? 
 
Since starting my role at Eighteen Blue Investments, I’ve always felt that there was a missing piece in my education, specifically to do with the frameworks that I could apply in certain professional situations.

In addition, having spent most of my time in Australia, I felt that I needed to broaden my horizons by exposing myself to new people and ideas.

With international borders beginning to reopen towards the end of 2021, it seemed like the perfect time for me to pursue an MBA. 
 
I chose the INSEAD MBA because it runs, without a doubt, the premier MBA programme in Southeast Asia, the region in which I had decided to establish myself. INSEAD is widely known to offer one of the most international MBA programmes in the world, which was particularly attractive for me given what I sought for in an MBA. I was also very excited by the prospect of spending up to six months in their Fontainebleau campus in France. 
 
What are your thoughts about the class experience, professors, the curriculum so far? 

 
The first two periods of the INSEAD MBA focus on three aspects – foundational knowledge (which covers key business concepts such as corporate finance, strategy, and microeconomics), organisational behaviour, and leadership development. 
 
The foundational knowledge classes are led by experienced teachers who often consult for major companies in areas within their respective fields. This leads to a very “real-world application” style of education which allows me as a student to connect my learnings to my own work.

The organisational behaviour classes focus on developing soft skills such as negotiation and influence in P1, shifting to organisational structure in P2. These classes are highly interactive, involving many one-on-one and group-on-group engagements. 
 
However, I’ve found the leadership development aspect of the MBA to be the most engaging, as it includes both group coaching (where you are invited to consider leadership within your study group and your role in it) and individual coaching. I’ve found both the group and individual coaching sessions to be insightful and valuable, inviting plenty of self-reflection and revealing opportunities for self-improvement. 
 
What is the student life like at INSEAD? 
 

The INSEAD MBA has provided me with significant freedom to design my experience in the way that I prefer.

The class schedule is intense (at least for the first two periods) and the assignment list is lengthy, which means it’s entirely possible to focus your time and attention purely on academics. 
 
While doing well in each of my classes is a priority, it’s not my only one. I’ve also set aside some time to broaden my horizons by participating in a variety of different events. There are social events held by classmates almost every day (and an overseas trip to join almost every weekend), and you are invited to participate in countless events held by the large variety of INSEAD clubs.

In addition, there are INSEAD-held events such as the Start-up Bootcamp and INSEAD Venture Competition, as well as company-led events which include workshops and panel sessions. 
 
I’ve found the INSEAD student life experience to be extremely engaging and diverse to date. However, it’s a constant balancing act, and I’m trying my best to make sure that I can come out of the MBA programme confident that I’ve made the most of my time at INSEAD! 
 
Are you looking forward to anything in particular during your time on the programme? 
 
Together with four of my classmates, I’m so excited to have launched the INSEAD Do Good Initiative – a platform for the '23J MBA cohort to participate in community outreach programmes both locally in Singapore and overseas within Southeast Asia. We’re looking forward to elevating the student experience and sense of community across the institution and to leaving a legacy of positive and sustainable impact beyond the 10-month MBA. 
 
One of my passions is to debate and negotiate, and I was chosen to be one of INSEAD’s representatives to the Global Trade Negotiation Simulation held by the Hinrich Foundation. There, we acted as trade negotiators with representatives from Singapore’s other top institutions to reach a consensus on four contentious subjects. It was an event that I looked forward to, and it turned out to be one of the most challenging but satisfying events I’ve participated in throughout the MBA. 
 
I’m also very much looking forward to live and study in Fontainebleau next year – an opportunity that I don’t expect to present itself again. 

Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Singapore/Fontainebleau? 
 
I decided to apply for the INSEAD MBA programme quite late into the admissions process during round 4. I initially focused purely on completing my GMAT exam, and then spent the next two-three weeks drafting and refining my application.

I received some valuable guidance from INSEAD alumni and the INSEAD admissions team on what the admissions officers typically look for in an application – don’t hesitate to reach out to either if you have any questions. 

The next step in the admissions process is to go through two interviews with INSEAD alumni. In both interviews, I was asked questions relating to my motivation to participate in an MBA programme, why I decided to choose INSEAD, and about my personal and professional experiences and my learnings from them. I found both interviews to be pleasant two-way conversations, with both alumni being very happy to share about their own experiences at INSEAD. 
 
One of the most memorable moments in my life is receiving the call from France that I had been admitted to the INSEAD MBA programme. Once you are successful, celebrate! However, there’s no time to waste – join the official Telegram groups and try to secure accommodation at your home campus as soon as possible (if you need to). Options close to campus can be scarce, especially if you are a later round admit. 
 
If you could share an admissions or application tip to someone who is considering the programme, what would you say? 
 
When drafting the answer to each question on your application, be sure to highlight what makes you valuable and unique. Why should INSEAD choose you over another applicant? If you feel that your application is not yet ready, take your time to refine it. Make sure to have others review it.

As you draft your application, if you feel that you are not ready and that you have certain gaps in your experience, find ways to bridge them prior to submitting your application. I would suggest applying in a later round or even a later intake if you feel like you need the extra time. 
 
Parting words of wisdom? 
 
The INSEAD MBA programme is quick and intense, so to make the most of your experience, be very intentional about what value-add you can contribute to the cohort, what your priorities are for the MBA, and what you are aiming to achieve over the 10-month programme. Good luck!