The EMFIN brought me new perspectives and made me realise that I have a greater capacity to go beyond my comfort zone.
Veronica Mao

Veronica Mao

Veronia Mao
Nationality: Chinese Year Graduated: 2018 Current Role: Chartering Specialist at Anglo America

What made you decide to do an Executive Master in Finance? Why INSEAD?

The commodities and shipping industry was undergoing a very tough time in 2015 and 2016. Chapter 11 filings, downsizing and restructuring were ongoing and this left people lost and frustrated – I was among them. I was looking for a change - to equip and upgrade myself with solid finance knowledge for further career development.

INSEAD was an obvious choice. The modular structure enabled me to continue working without losing income and the dual-campus structure suited perfectly. The curriculum is very well-structured and it covers holistic and in-depth finance topics such as accounting, corporation finance and capital markets.

Did the programme meet or exceed your expectations?

The programme definitely exceeded my expectations. Unlike other classmates with pre-finance experience, I had to start from scratch. By the end of the fifth module, I was able to “speak their language” – looking at balance sheets with a critical view and “running” a bank in a simulation with various financial tools.

Apart from academic achievement, the EMFIN emphasises on soft skills – effective communication and leadership. They engaged us with professional career coaches who helped polish our CV and strengthen our networking skills. I felt refreshed and uplifted after each module.

How did the EMFIN help you in your career?

The programme gave the confidence to explore a whole new area beyond shipping. It brought new perspectives and made me realise that I have a greater capacity to go beyond my comfort zone. And indeed, I joined Anglo American in December 2016 after the completion of module one and was promoted to the front office as freight trader in January 2018. It is a very successful career transition and I enjoy every moment of my time with Anglo American. 

Do share with us your thoughts on:

  • The quality of the professors

One word – superb!

I enjoyed the insights and thoughtful notes they bring to the class. Even after graduation, Prof. Massimo Massa was still there for me to help on a valuation dilemma I had at work. He quickly responded with step-by-step solutions, just like how he was there for us during and after classes.

  • Your classroom experience

In the EMFIN programme, we didn't just learn from the professors; we learned a great deal from our peers too. The class was very diverse with experts from investment banking, private banking, asset management, private equity, corporation finance, as well as from non-finance background including re-insurance and shipping.

My wonderful classmates were very patient with me from the beginning. They’d stay late in the library to run me through slides, again and again, to make sure I’m up-to-date with the progress. Our relations didn’t end after graduation, some of them have become my very close friends.

Can you share more about the Leadership Capstone? How has it benefited you?

I had my doubt about this at the beginning and did not know what to expect, I thought it’s “fluffy” and I’d rather spend my time on hardcore finance classes. However, Prof. Ian completely changed my perception and got me on track during his first class. He asked us to give a 30-second short speech, videoed us and followed up with a detailed debrief on the way we speak, our body language and gave us very helpful tips to improve our public speaking skills.

Can you share the multi-campus experience?

I’m based in Singapore for the past seven years and this made attending modules in Singapore very easy and convenient. We enjoyed ourselves a lot during the Fontainebleau module. The town was quiet and safe, with a stunning chateau, nice food and decent wines. We even did a road trip to Brussels with a couple of classmates over the weekend. The multi-campus structure enabled us to have exposure and access to resources in both Asia and Europe.

What advice will you give to potential EMFIN participants?

It is going to be very challenging having to balance life, work and an intense curriculum throughout two years of the studies. You will need a lot of support and understanding from your family, peers and management at work. I would recommend to fully read all cases, books and materials to prepare yourself before the module commences, and enjoy the learning journey as much as you can.