“Don't let social constructs or stereotypes decide what you can achieve.”

Muriel Jacques
Junior Strategy Consultant, Paris
Master in Management 2021
French

LinkedIn

On the perception of women in the business world

I am still at the beginning of my career so I have been quite fortunate to not have met any major hurdles due to being a woman. I also come from a very supportive family that values my happiness whether it fits within gender norms or not.

There have been some instances however where I felt that being a young woman, in particular a woman belonging to a minority, made me less credible in the eyes of some of my coworkers. While I am not naïve and know these factors affect the way I am perceived, I do feel like the best way to deal with it at such an early stage in my career is to focus on proving those people wrong.

 

On finding your identity

I feel like we live in an interesting era. In the last few years, there have been a lot of discussions happening at a global level around racism, feminism and more. Those discussions have allowed us, as a society, to understand and address the challenges communities face and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and the past decades of activism. But I do feel that at an individual level, we need to be better at accepting the intersectionality of identities.

For a long, time, as someone from the French Caribbean, I felt like I did not fit in any commonly accepted boxes. For years, I struggled with what this complex identity meant. But throughout my journey, studying in France, Korea, and Singapore, I realised that I could share the love of my island with my childhood friends from Martinique, have the same silliness and humour as an Argentinian woman raised in Spain holding the French nationality, or the ambitions and values as an Asian-American wanting to launch their career in Singapore. 

While I’m proud of being a Black young French Caribbean woman, these attributes tied to my roots are not what defines me. This is the reason I love being abroad, the reason I wanted to start an international career in places where people do not know anything about the French Caribbean, and the reason I absolutely loved my experience at INSEAD. People get to know me as an individual without preconceived ideas.

On defining oneself

Before leaving home, I never really had to think about my identity. To me, it was simple; I was just from Martinique. Then, I remember the confusion of people when I moved to France, and I was not what they imagined people from Martinique to look like. Some of them would even deny my origins: “You cannot be from the Caribbean! You are so dynamic!” Whatever that means … 

I remember trying to come up with ways to explain my identity. At the same time, going back home, I felt a disconnect due to my new experiences. I felt a conflict between my ambitions, my eagerness to discover the world and my attachment to home. Talking with my friends at INSEAD, I find that it is a feeling a lot of ambitious young professionals can share at an early stage in their career.

Over the years, I learned to stop trying to fit into people’s mental images of where I come from.

Because you are confronted with new cultures and living new experiences as you mature, it does not make you belong less to your original community. I feel like the contribution I can personally make is showcasing that you don’t need to fit into a set of checkboxes to understand a person’s identity.

Image
Muriel Jacques

 

On the meaning of Limitless

Being limitless means to not let social constructs or stereotypes decide what you can achieve. While it is important to know your roots and be realistic of how others perceive you, they should not become mental barriers you create for yourself. 

It means to be intellectually curious, to look for new perspectives and experiences in our daily lives. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel and live in different countries, but I do think that everyone can work on themselves to truly understand other people around them. This empathy ultimately allows you to break free of the set of boxes we often put ourselves in and that limit us.

 

Why INSEAD?

INSEAD has made everything I have experienced so far in my career come together. I have always loved being intellectually challenged and I have met incredibly smart people not only on the Master in Management (MIM) programme but other programmes as well.

I was surrounded by students from more than 23 different nationalities. Traveling around and learning with brilliant professors and classmates was truly amazing for me. Going through the beginning of the COVID pandemic, traveling from France to Singapore and applying for jobs in a challenging job market has allowed me to create close bonds with my classmates and has made this year one of the best years of my life. 

 

Return to Creating Positive Change

MIM

Download MIM Brochure

Download now