As a restless entrepreneur at heart, a 10-month programme was particularly appealing to me.
Zachary Gidwitz

Zachary Gidwitz

Zachary Gidwitz
Nationality: American Year Graduated: 2018 Current Role: Business Development & Strategy, International Logistics, JD

Tell us more about yourself!

My background is a mix of economic development and entrepreneurship. My initial mission was to promote entrepreneurship through business after getting a foundation in economic development theory from my university and my time at the UNDP. After moving to China to learn the language, I spent most of my professional career pre-INSEAD doing startups in China, Brazil, and the US.

What made you decide to do an MBA?

There were three reasons. First, I wasn’t sure how my past experience would be viewed by future employers, given that my previous companies were definitely not household names. Doing an MBA would effectively give me a credible experience for future jobs. Second, as a founding member of my previous startups, I found myself doing aspects of all types of business, including sales, marketing, finance, accounting, technology, and general management. That said, this was all self-taught, and it was not necessarily done well. I wanted to learn these areas of business properly. Finally, I wanted to cast a wide net when looking for my next direction. Doing an MBA was described to me as a perfect opportunity to explore many different industries while honing your skills and expanding your networks.

Why INSEAD?

After such an international start to my career, it was hard to imagine going back to US business schools where even the most international are around 70% US Citizens. My ‘brand’ was quickly becoming that of an international business person, and I wanted to strengthen that rather than letting it plateau. Additionally, as a restless entrepreneur at heart, a 10-month programme was particularly appealing to me.

How is your INSEAD experience so far?

INSEAD is exactly what I had expected. I did my research. I spoke with alumni. INSEAD is a seamless mix of brilliant international professionals. But beyond that, INSEADers are some of the most positive people I’ve come across in my professional life. No one doubts each others’ ability to effect change in the world, and we all exhibit a sense of ambition not just for ourselves but for each other. The cut-throat nature of the ‘business world’ is the one thing I feared might be on display at INSEAD. Instead, it’s a group of good, fun, and interested people looking to expand their horizons and better the world.

What are your immediate plans after the MBA; do you intend to stay in the same industry or do a career switch etc?

I’ve actually recently received an offer from JD.com, an e-commerce company in China. I plan to move to Beijing and attend their IMT leadership programme. As my last company was technically e-commerce, I’m not sure that this counts as switching industry, but in terms of the type of work I’ll be doing, it’s a major shift and one about which I am thoroughly excited!

Do share with us your Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLDP) experience.

PLDP is one of the most daring and potentially important programmes I’ve heard for an MBA programme. I had recently gone through a similar coaching programme immediately before beginning INSEAD, so I was already primed for something like PLDP. This type of work, both through my own experience and through PLDP, is so important for people to better understand themselves – what they want, why they want it, and how they can and should go about their professional careers.

Where do you see yourself 10 years down the road?

In ten years, I see myself leading major division of an e-commerce company likely involved in internationalisation and the promotion of business development in regions of the world that need it the most.

What is one important takeaway you have gotten from your INSEAD experience so far?

Focus both on what you’re good at and what you love. You will be overwhelmed by the opportunities that arise and the people who want to work with you. I’ve gained so much confidence in my understanding of who I am and where both my skills and passions lie, and this has been reinforced by the overwhelmingly positive responses of my peers here at INSEAD.

What advice will you give to potential prospects who are interested in taking the INSEAD MBA?

Take advantage of every opportunity that INSEAD provides, but don’t stop there. If you’re not having coffees with INSEAD alumni by P2, you are missing a crucial opportunity to expand your career scope. INSEAD will directly provide a lot, but it is nothing compared to what you can provide for yourself using the platform INSEAD gives you.