Apart from the academic rigour, my journey at INSEAD is punctuated by various extracurricular activities, each contributing uniquely to my holistic growth.
Varun Sharma

Varun Sharma

varun sharma
Nationality/Passport: Indian Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: Co-founder & CMO of Laumière Gourmet Fruits

Could you share something unexpected about you? 

An unexpected chapter in my life unfolded on an island with an erupting volcano. What began as a tropical vacation quickly evolved into a challenging escape. This experience was a powerful reminder about life's unpredictability, teaching me the importance of adaptability, resilience, and solidarity. 
Tell us about yourself, and how you got to where you are today both on a professional and personal level? 

The prospect of pursuing an MBA had always lingered in my mind; it was never a question of 'if', but rather 'when'. I envisioned it as an inevitable milestone on my journey. 

From my early years, I found myself irresistibly drawn to new ventures and the exhilarating startup ecosystem. This pull nudged me into an engineering pathway, laying a foundation that eventually transitioned into the domain of tech consulting. 

As the sands of time slipped away, the siren calls of entrepreneurship grew louder, guiding me toward building Laumière Gourmet Fruits.  

Parallelly, every stroke painted a lesson on the personal canvas of life. Each phase was a learning curve, but this year, particularly during the MBA programme, undeniably holds special significance. 

With the INSEAD MBA, I am at the cusp of amplifying my professional acumen and sculpting a more refined personal identity.

While academic enrichment remains a priority, my ambition extends beyond textbooks. Post-MBA, I'm keen on diving into the corporate world to gather tangible, real-world experiences. This hands-on work exposure is crucial as it will lay a solid foundation and provide invaluable insights when I eventually circle back to my long-term entrepreneurial aspirations. 

Reflecting introspectively, I perceive this MBA as a quest. It's a journey to uncover and connect the scattered puzzle pieces of my persona. INSEAD, for me, is the crucible where I intend to identify these fragments, crafting a coherent picture that exemplifies my professional aspirations and personal evolution. 
What motivated you to choose the INSEAD MBA, and how do you envision it aligning with your future goals? 

The INSEAD MBA appealed to me primarily because of its rich international flavour. 

With a cohort representing over 60 distinct nationalities, it's a true microcosm of the global business landscape. A profound sense of shared pride emanates whenever I mention "INSEAD" to an alum; invariably, the ensuing dialogue is filled with a camaraderie that seems intrinsic to this esteemed institution. 

Its one-year programme structure, while intensive, also promises an efficient return on investment. This efficiency doesn't just pertain to financial resources but also the invaluable currency of time. Furthermore, its European location offers a unique vantage point. 

Having had limited exposure to Europe, with its rich cultural tapestry and diverse business dynamics, it has always intrigued me. INSEAD serves as the perfect conduit for immersing myself in this fascinating location. 

Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, is INSEAD's pronounced focus on entrepreneurship and its holistic general management curriculum. My penchant has always been towards an education that's not merely academic but vibrant, rigorous, and relevant. INSEAD's ethos mirrors my personal and professional inclinations — fostering a mindset of continuous evolution, adaptability, and innovation. 
What were your impressions of campus life so far and how did you navigate accommodation, and sorting out all the admin? Any tips for incoming students?  

The vibrancy of campus life at INSEAD has been nothing short of exceptional. 

On average, I am mostly immersed on campus, oscillating between lectures, group assignments, gym sessions, coffee chats, and squash games. Every moment spent here reinforces my love for this institution. 
Finding suitable accommodation can be challenging, but INSEAD offers a range of options to suit individual preferences. There's a choice between shared community housing or more private individual homes. I opted for the latter, sharing a charming apartment in the town centre with a friend I met earlier. 
Navigating the administrative aspects might seem daunting at first glance. Still, the warmth and camaraderie of the INSEAD community will swiftly assuage any concerns. The support system is phenomenal; be it the preceding batch or your current peers, everyone is more than willing to guide you through the initial settling-in phase. 
To prospective students, here's a word of advice: The plethora of activities and opportunities at INSEAD can be overwhelming. You must hone your skills in gracefully declining specific plans as prioritisation becomes paramount. 

Stay anchored to your purpose for joining INSEAD, and you'll witness a year marked by transformative growth.  

Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Singapore/Fontainebleau? 
The decision to embark on the INSEAD MBA journey requires careful consideration. My application process began earnestly as I chose to submit during the early stages of Round 1. I advocate for those who hold INSEAD in high regard and are in the advanced stages of preparing their application documents. Being early personally is an undeniable advantage, especially when preparing for the intense year ahead. 
My choice of Fontainebleau as the main campus drew heavily from my geographical experiences. Having spent significant time in the Asia-Middle East axis and, more recently, in California, Europe felt like the next frontier to explore. I viewed INSEAD as a bridge to this new chapter. 

True to my expectations, I've been soaking in the rich tapestry of European cultures, making it a point to traverse a new country every few weeks. These experiences have provided invaluable context and depth to my learning. However, my Asian roots call me back, and I eagerly await my upcoming exchange at the Singapore campus during P3.  
The financial aspect of this MBA journey required meticulous foresight. Over the years, I cultivated a financial strategy, diligently accumulating reserves dedicated to this pursuit. A considerable part of my expenses is a self-investment, underscoring my unwavering dedication to this educational milestone. 

Along with it, I feel deeply honoured to have been awarded the Diversity Scholarship by INSEAD. More than the financial assistance, this accolade signifies the faith and belief the alumni and institution have in my narrative and potential. It serves as a poignant reminder of the community I'm now part of and the legacy I aim to uphold. 
What aspects of the INSEAD MBA have stood out to you as unique or particularly appealing? 

The INSEAD MBA distinguishes itself not merely by its curriculum but through its profound emphasis on community. 

Foremost among its distinctive features is the deep-rooted camaraderie I've observed with the alumni, especially evident during various events. Over half a decade, a pattern emerged as I engaged with numerous INSEAD events in Dubai, my hometown. It became transparent that INSEAD's ethos revolves around its people. 

The INSEAD alumni's welcoming demeanour and readiness to engage, share, and guide was more than just professional courtesy; it was a genuine display of kinship. This camaraderie extended beyond professional confines, giving me a sense of belonging even before my formal journey began. Such immediate acceptance was an unequivocal affirmation of my choice. 

Furthermore, my early acceptance in Round 1 became a conduit for early connections. What started as introductory interactions with prospective batchmates soon evolved into bonds of trust and collaboration. Many of these initial acquaintances have morphed into friendships I cherish. 

But what truly sets the INSEAD community apart is its composition. Be it my contemporaneous peers or the esteemed alumni, there's a unifying thread — a blend of brilliance, unparalleled talent, humility, and an indomitable spirit of collaboration. 

Beyond academic pursuits, the community consistently exemplifies the values of support, unity, and mutual growth. It's a milieu where excellence is pursued and celebrated collectively. The attributes displayed by this community, the values they uphold, and the mutual respect they extend are facets I deeply respect and earnestly seek to embody throughout my journey. 
Aside from your academic pursuits, what extracurricular interests or activities are you exploring at INSEAD, and how do you see them enhancing your overall MBA experience? 
Apart from the academic rigour, my journey at INSEAD is punctuated by various extracurricular activities, each contributing uniquely to my holistic growth. To begin with, my commitment to Laumière Gourmet Fruits remains steadfast. Even though my involvement has shifted to a more strategic dimension, it still demands a considerable share of my attention.  

A cornerstone of my INSEAD experience has been my dedicated pursuit of refining my entrepreneurial instincts.

I've actively engaged in initiatives to nurture these skills, including participation in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. This intensive training provided a hands-on approach to launching ventures and enhanced my toolkit. 

Additionally, the Product Bootcamp gave me insights into the intricacies of product development and market fit, knowledge that I find invaluable. 

My zeal for entrepreneurship also led me to travel specifically for an INSEAD alumni entrepreneurship forum in Lisbon, further broadening my network and understanding of startup ecosystems. Europe's bustling entrepreneurial and VC landscape has intrigued me. I've dedicated significant time to immerse myself in this ecosystem, learning about the nuances, challenges, and opportunities unique to the European market. 
Travel remains a genuine passion, and my time at INSEAD has facilitated journeys across Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, France, and Mexico. The rich tapestries of cultures, business environments, and histories in each place have augmented my global perspective, perfectly complementing the core MBA curriculum. 
Lastly, music, particularly my passion for DJing, which began in high school, continues to be a soulful escape. Given the programme's demands, I've had to sideline it slightly. However, I eagerly anticipate opportunities to revive and showcase this talent during my MBA journey. 

In blending academics with these diverse pursuits, I'm ensuring my INSEAD experience is as enriching as it is transformative. 
Any parting words of wisdom, and are you willing to be contacted for more information by prospective students? 
A recurring piece of advice you'll hear about the INSEAD MBA programme is its intensity. I cannot emphasise that enough. Honestly, the programme's rigour is unparalleled. INSEAD activities will consume your time and attention, so it's crucial to be mentally and emotionally prepared for this immersive experience. 

However, amidst the challenges, know that you're not alone. If you ever need guidance or a chat, don't hesitate to contact me. Embrace the journey, and you'll emerge academically enriched and personally transformed.