The INSEAD Experience

What is the INSEAD Experience? What would still be the same if INSEAD isn't a business school (e.g. if INSEAD is a Public Policy school)? Over the last few weeks I got to meet students from other business schools and I realized how different the "INSEAD Experience" is. Here is my list on what creates the unique INSEAD experience:

1. Global
Truly global education. 2 full-scale campuses plus locations in other regions. If most big institutions are international these days shouldn't your school be too?
Broad international alumni base. Your network will automatically become much wider. Rather than duplicating your existing (and most likely concentrated) network, INSEAD naturally compliments it.
European and Asian perspectives. Europe has a bigger GDP than the US, and Asia is of course a very exciting region to be in. Having exposures to cases, visitors, and classmates from these regions will differentiate you.

2. Intense, One Year Program. People here are self-selected to work-hard play-harder. You know your future INSEAD colleagues have the ability to organize their lives and the physical endurance that you can count on at critical moments :-)

3. 3rd Language Requirement. Did you always wanted to learn French or Chinese? I have classmates who went from zero to be quite conversant in a year. You just have to be persistent (see #2).

4. Big and Intimate at the same time. Usually you either have to pick a bigger program or a smaller intimate one. INSEAD graduates the most MBAs each year among the top schools and certainly gives you space to network. At the same time, because of the dual-campus, dual-promotion system, you could also create an intimate program that is the smallest among the top schools. Depends how you structure it, INSEAD could be a school with 900+ students or 200. In fact, most people choose both. Why not enjoy a big chateau party one night and an intimate coffee chat the next?

5. Older Demographics. The average age is 29 means that your classmates are already bringing in certain amount of perspective and network.

6. Entrepreneurial and Independent. INSEAD stands alone as a private independent institution that isn't part of a bigger university system. This gives us certain flexibility to be innovative (e.g. dual campus system). We could move quicker and be more responsive to our "customers" because we manage our own finances and don't really have the luxury to be arrogant. The INSEAD idea itself was a startup and we don't just pay lip service to entrepreneurship.

What does 51K Euro buy you?

Even taking into account that it is an one year program INSEAD is not cheap. Once a while though you realize you are getting a good deal on your tuition.

The other day my section got a bonus lecture from Nikos Vettas on Greece and the Euro. Nikos is a super star Greek economist and is advising their government at this very critical time. One topic came up was how you can have a coordinated monetary policy when you don't have a coordinated fiscal policy. My personal feeling is that any talk of a Euro breakup is exaggerated and the monetary policy in the EU will stay quite loose for the time being.

In the words, INSEAD's tuition might get cheaper after all.

MBA Groups

When I tell people that I'm in one of those bigger groups most people become very concern about my well-being. "Are you okay?", "Oh it is going to be tough trying to get consensus", and even "Some groups get physical you fist fights". No fist fights so far :)

What I like about my group is that we are all so different.
  • A Peruvian Lawyer/Banker who has worked and lived in the US and South America.
  • A young management consultant/project manager/Private Equity lady from HK with experience from China to Southeast Asia.
  • A senior Swedish manager with extensive experience in online startups all over Europe.
  • A female Serbian/British Entrepreneur/CEO/Sales/Business Development with experience from Europe to Emerging Market.
  • An Indian CFA analyst and auditor with an IQ higher than you and I combined, and
  • Me
But there's more common among us than you think -- other than we are all super smart, driven, and extremely good looking -- we are all global. We all have experience living or working in a new culture as a foreigner and trying to find our way around a new environment.
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