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In Between P1 and P2 March 9, 2007

Posted by InvisibleInk in Career, General, INSEAD.

Period 1 is over. I am sitting in the back of an A310 flying home to visit my parents. Listening to Paolo Nutini, feeling the sun on my face, dreaming of the sea and the beach. Felling relaxed at last. Life is good..

I’ve been getting numerous comments on why I’ve given up posting. I just find it very difficult to find time to write but I haven’t given up. I’ll hopefully have more time this term. INSEAD has been a lot more intense than I could have ever imagined. I can’t begin to imagine the impact of last month in my life. This period was THE turning point, a huge transition. In line with what I hoped but I had doubts of the possibilities.

I have been through the recruitment marathon of INSEAD in P1 and secured a summer internship with a top investment bank. A 180 degree change. I am delighted. This investment bank takes only 25 people a year in their London office and last year they offered 90% of their summer associates full-time positions. If the economy holds up and I manage to do well over the summer, I should be able to enjoy the rest of MBA with a relative comfort of having a job waiting for me upon my graduation.

In retrospective, the last two months have been great. Now that I have a few hours to reflect, I realised how good it’s been. It is really hard to stop and think in Fonty since life goes on at a surreal fast forward speed. INSEAD is the definition of “work hard, play hard” culture. Everyone is seriously pushed to produce an outstanding performance but at the same time, we manage to make it a big fun party. I am very happy with my choice of school. Two of my professors were simply amazing, two were excellent, one was unfortunately mediocre. I really learned a lot. Probably as much as I learnt in a year in my degree but just in two months. My classmates couldn’t have been better. Everyone is extremely smart, consistent over achievers, yet they are so down to earth, friendly, and most importantly FUN people.

Time is also a very interesting concept that dominates our lives here. The MBA planet is very different to the ‘real world’. The last two months feel like 6 months. It is almost like we live in a different time and space. Yet the 16 hour day, full 7 day weeks are too short. I never knew I could do so much in a day and still feel like I haven’t done much. If you are an efficient person and have mastered time management skills, you’ll do well in the MBA. I am going through a steep learning curve to improve my efficiency level.

I am looking forward to the next three days to relax and take care of myself. It will be great to eat some great food, enjoy the weather, spend some quality time with friends and family, and get some much needed pampering!!


Happy New Year! December 30, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.

Happy New Year

Well, I forgot to write in time to wish everyone Happy Christmas. I hope you had a nice time over Christmas. Mine was relatively quiet compared to usual. In the past 4-5 years I have been lucky enough to go travelling but this time I am firmly put at home as my moving date is coming closer. Only a week left before I drive to Paris!

I was organising my photos the other day and one pic in particular caught my attention. It is taken on Christmas day 3 years ago. It is a bright sunny day. I have my Christmas hat on, my swimsuit and sandals, sitting by the special diving pool, listening to Jamie (our instructor) talk about decompression. This was followed by a fantastic 3 day diving at the Great Barrier reef in Australia. I just hope I can do more of that during my exchange in Singapore. I know the MBA will be very busy and hard work but I really want to take advantage of the different campuses INSEAD has.

I am looking forward to 2007. I think it will be a fantastic year. My objectives for the next year are:

– to build long-lasting friendships
– to get a great job & widen my network
– to enjoy the experience
– to travel around Asia
– and of course to survive the MBA!

If I manage to do all of these it would be truly exceptional year.

Happy New Year to you all!

To Wharton or not to Wharton? December 4, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General, INSEAD.

Wharton INSEAD Alliance

I was thinking about pros and cons of doing an exchange at Wharton, the following comment from an INSEAD exchange student at Wharton helped a lot. I thought it would be useful to share.

I am now on the exchange and it is very different from Insead! There is less of an international feel and people seem a little more “serious” in general. Classes are similar but there is not the campus feel like at Insead since wharton is just part of a huge university. Not as much socializing than at Insead especially when you arrive for a 2-month program its hard to really meet people there. You end up spending time with insead people which can be nice though coz you get to spend time with people you wouldnt have had otherwise. On the positive sides there are some great career services and I personally had a lot of interviews and one job offer so if you want to work in the US thats the way to go. 2 pre-requisites though: you need a valid US visa and you need to be on campus in November-December. If you dont fullfill these two criterias you have very little chances to get a job there. Also, a word of advice for non-americans looking into marketing in the US: be careful it seems they are looking for Americans in priority. Also, if you are interested by working in the US its interesting to be in class and hear other people’s comments and just get a feel of people there.

5000 Hits! November 22, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.

Today my blog was viewed for the 5000th time! Thank you all for following my blog and for your valuable comments. I have included some interesting stats below.

Blog Stats — Ready for the gentle turbulence?
Total Views: 5,054
Best Day Ever: 233
Views today: 58 (and counting)

Posts: 19
Comments: 42
Tags: 17

Most interesting search keywords leading to my blog:

1. manfred Kets de vries imposter syndrome – (Don’t ask me how on earth this one is linked to my blog)
2. horacio falcao women (There seems to be a new breed of women named after an INSEAD professor!)
4. why go to wharton when you can go to insead (Wharton is a fantastic school, also INSEAD’s buddy in the U.S, although I asked the same question once myself, hence my INSEAD blog :o) )
5. 10 reasons for not doing mba – (Whoever you are, I hope I convinced you to consider doing an MBA!)

Many thanks!

My impressions from the Open Day October 26, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General, INSEAD.
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insead_open_day_21oct2006_small.jpgI am now back at my parent’s place after a fun and sleepless weekend. On Thursday, I flew over to Orly airport south of Paris, managed to get a good deal on my car rental from National Citer Alamo. INSEAD is about half-an-hour drive from Orly airport. I recommend renting a car rather than taxi-train-taxi as suggested on INSEAD’s website. A ‘weekend special’ rate works out the same price and it is much less hassle to rent a car.

I had some spare time on Friday and finally managed to take photos of the campus and will hopefully feed some curios minds here as to where I will be spending my time next year. INSEAD campus is extremely green and peaceful. On the other hand, it is large enough to provide pretty much anything you would need, from a gym to dry cleaners. On Friday evening, I met up with some future classmates for a meal and drinks. There were about 20+ of us and everyone got on very well. From first impressions, everyone was very friendly, modest, international, smart, and, fun. We went to a restaurant and to an English pub afterwards. One disappointing thing is the smoke. All the French and Italians started smoking instantly and before I knew we were covered in a big cloud of smoke. If you are not used to it, it can be very disturbing. Apparently, there will be a smoking ban in France as of next February with 1-year grace period. I hope the situation gets better by then.


After six hours of sleep, I went to the MBA foyer where we had buffet breakfast and registration. My day pretty much started with these words “Hi, my name is [..] .. I am from [..] .. I live in [..] .. I am a [..] .. I work at [..]” I must have repeated this about a hundred times during the day. We had a welcome session by Professor S. Dutta, the Dean of External Relations. Apparently, 53% of the alumni start their own business (es) at one point in their lives. This proves how strong entrepreneurship is in INSEAD. Another interesting point was the governance structure of INSEAD. Unlike other business schools, the independent nature of INSEAD gives the school a lot of freedom. The dean reports to the board of directors, all chairman and CEOs of multinational companies. Many of the directors are also alumni of INSEAD. The school is a non-profit organisation. For instance, the chairman and CEOs of some of the major recruiters in the campus (i.e. BCG) are also directors of the school. This governance structure ensures that the school stays close to the developments and needs of the industry and that there is a steady presence of employers in the campus.

The other interesting session was “meet the faculty”. We had two excellent professors Thomas D’aunno and Filipe Santos introducing the MBA programme to us. They were both very interesting, confident, knowledgeable and humorous. It felt good to see the emphasis on the application rather than the theory, and the high standard of delivery. Most of the students I spoke to had very good comments about the Profs.

In addition to the huge buffet style lunch, we had a chateau dinner at Le Cercle. Food was really nice. We had about 4 courses. Many people came with their partners. It is surprising how many students already have families. At my table, there were four married couples and three singles. Two of the four couples have children. I guess this is due to the higher average age (29) of the INSEAD MBAs.

Around 11pm, we followed a current student, Kasper from class of December 2006 to Fonty for drinks. We went to a few bars but don’t expect anything special. In fact, I had a Mojito served in a plastic glass and forget the mint, it almost looked like it had some shredded lettuce at the bottom! All the bars shut before 1am, leaving us nowhere to go to. I now understand why INSEAD is so famous for its chateau parties. Luckily, Paris is not far away..

INSEAD News October 15, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General, INSEAD.
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Here is the recent newsletter posted by the Dean on cyber-INSEAD. If you want to apply to INSEAD in the future or simply want to learn more about the school, it’s worth a glance. I recommend the podcasts. You can also subscribe to those podcasts on iTunes. It is good to see the school following the footsteps of HBS, Fortune, BusinessWeek, and getting visibility in the podcast arena. Afterall, we live in the world of Web 2.0. I heard so much about the INSEAD professor Horacio Falcao who teaches Negotiations classes. Everyone I talked to said his classes are extremely interesting and very useful. I am looking forward to listening his podcast. Also congratulations to INSEAD on being accepted as the first of only five planned academic partners of the World Economic Forum.

Dear all,

Every two months I share with all MBA participants on campus, news about the school, the MBA programme and our alumni. Although you are not on one of our campuses yet, you will soon be. See below the most recent newsletter that I sent to both classes.

Antonio Fatas
Dean of the MBA Programme


MBA Newsletter, October 2006

Changes in technology. Over the coming weeks we will be making some changes in the way the MBA intranet looks as well as some school-wide IT related projects. For example, the school is about to launch a series of podcasts where faculty talk about their research, books, courses. The first two podcasts are from professors who teach regularly in the MBA programme and discuss the content of their courses (Patrick Turner who teaches Your First Hundred Days and Horacio Falcao who teaches Negotiations). If you want to listen to the podcasts, you can find them at http://www.insead.edu/podcast/. I would also like to thank the Student Council for all the effort they have put into developing a comprehensive student web site. Finally, if you have ideas on how to improve the MBA intranet (or technology in general), I have a strong personal interest in the subject and will be happy to discuss your ideas.

Some recent projects for the school. There are a couple of interesting external projects that the school is pursuing to improve our reach and our brand. Abu Dhabi: the school has signed an important agreement over the summer with the Abu Dhabi Education Council to create a Centre for Executive Education and Research. We will be developing the centre over the coming years with an eventual team of 30 – faculty and staff – based in Abu Dhabi. This is a great opportunity to develop our activities and brand in the Middle East and in general to promote our positioning as the Business School for the World. World Economic Forum: Our Dean, Frank Brown, recently met with the Forum leadership in Geneva, as he has been keen to have INSEAD recognised as a Forum partner. We can now announce that we’ve just been accepted as the first of only five planned academic partners. Faculty participation in the annual meeting in Davos and in regional meetings throughout the year will create excellent opportunities for us to develop brand awareness. We will also be involved with teaching the Forum’s outstanding Global Leadership Fellows group.

Some past and forthcoming events in our two campuses. In the last weeks we have seen the CEO of Lenovo (Bill Amelio) in Singapore and the CEO of IBM (Sam J. Palmisano) in Fontainebleau as part of the GLS series. Last week, Patricia Morrison, CIO of Motorola spoke in our Singapore campus and we will see Sidney Taurel, CEO of Eli Lilly in Fontainebleau (November 8th) also as part of the GLS series. The INSEAD Meeting in Asia (http://www.inseadmeetinginasia.org/) , will take place November 2nd-5h in Singapore and it is the largest gathering of INSEAD’s board & council members, alumni, supporters and friends in Asia. We will also be running over the next weeks the Open days for admitted participants to the class of December 2007. Our aim is to give them the opportunity to begin networking with their future classmates, current participants, faculty and staff, and to enable them to discover the INSEAD lifestyle before joining the Programme. One event will take place in Fontainebleau on October 21st, and the other in Singapore on November 4th. There are over 100 participants and partners who have signed up for these events who we look forward to welcome on our campuses. Detailed information about both events can be found at http://www.insead.edu/mba/opendays.

Campus News. We have welcomed a new class just a month ago and the class is already well integrated into the community. The Class of July 2007 are busy with their P1 courses and ready to start the process of deciding in which campus they will be for the last three periods of the programme: Singapore, Fontainebleau or Wharton. The Class of December 2006 is busy with electives and job search. A record number of companies is coming to campus this Fall (about 135 companies will be doing on-campus presentations). Both classes will see for the first time a new elective on communication skills (The Art of Communication).

Recent Press Coverage of INSEAD MBA electives. A few recent articles from Business Week have highlighted INSEAD MBA electives as being innovative. Our collaboration with the Art Center (Pasadena) was mentioned as a good example of partnerships between D-schools (Design schools) and B-schools in this article (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_41/b4004401.htm) . They also dedicated an entire article (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_41/b4004407.htm) to feature Sameer Agrawal (graduated in 2005) who participated in this programme in Jan 2005. The collaboration with the Art Center in Pasadena involves a series of MBA electives with participation of design students. The programme has been running in the Fontainebleau campus but will be moving to the Singapore campus for the January 2007 edition. The elective Your First Hundred Days, taught by professor Patrick Turner, was also highlighted in a separate article (http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/aug2006/bs20060831_975840.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_b-schools) a few weeks ago.

INSEAD in the News. Our communications department puts together a weekly list of press articles that write about the school, its faculty or alumni. You can see below some of the highlights of the articles from last week as well as links to some of them.

* A piece of news regarding MBA alumna Karen John who has been appointed to Vice President of Design and Merchandising for company ‘Design Within Reach Inc’.

* The Guardian, UK, 30 September, Home and away – The competition among business schools intensifies with US schools setting up operations in Europe. Caroline Diarte Edwards, INSEAD’s Director of Admissions, Marketing and External Relations is quoted about the advantages of the one-year MBA. The article also cites MBA alumnus Jonathan Evans who participated in the INSEAD-Wharton exchange.

* La Tribune.fr & eFinancialCareers.fr, France, 12 September, ‘Un master de l’INSEAD sur-mesure pour Macquarie’ – Excellent article about the new INSEAD – Macquarie Master of Finance

* Hong Kong Economic Journal, September – Following his visit to INSEAD, Hong Kong journalist Cheuk Fei Man wrote an in-depth article about the school and its history. The article describes INSEAD’s different programmes and includes quotes by MBA and Executive Education participants, key staff and professors.

* The Wall Street Journal, 24 September, ‘Is a stock buyback a signal to buy?’ – INSEAD Professors Theo Vermaelen and Urs Peyer tested returns for 11 portfolios, each comprising 50 companies with relatively significant undervaluation and which announced a repurchase plan in the prior year. They found that the portfolios, started each year from 1992 through 2002, did better than a market benchmark.
* Inc. Magazine, USA, September, ‘The Impostor Syndrome’ – This article explore why so many successful entrepreneurs feel like fakes and quotes INSEAD Professor Manfred Kets de Vries about the ‘impostor syndrome’.

Other articles of interest

* Degussa European Science to Business Award 2006. The award is offered in collaboration with INSEAD and Handelsblatt Germany.

* Russia launches a new Business School. One of the benefactors of the new school is Roustam Tariko, an INSEAD MBA alumnus. Covered in the FT (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/6a02d86c-466c-11db-ac52-0000779e2340.html) and in the IHT (http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/21/bloomberg/bxmba.php)

* Cambridge Evening News, ‘Man of the world has high hopes for Judge’ – Speaking about his new job as Dean of The Judge Business School at Cambridge University, Professor Arnoud De Meyer also gives a lot of praise to INSEAD where he spent 20 years of his career

* Børsen, Denmark
MBA alumnus Peer Kølendorf’s career as a serial entrepreneur and INSEAD Entrepreneur in Residence.

* The Economist, UK
Article about business angels. The journalist attended the INSEAD Private Equity Conference and we actually provided him with access to many of the personalities cited in the article. Unfortunately INSEAD is not mentioned.

* Handelsblatt, Germany
The INSEAD Centre for Research and Executive Education in Abu Dhabi.

* Het Financieele Dagblad, Netherlands
INSEAD launches Centre for Research and Executive Education in Abu Dhabi.

* La Tribune, France
MBA alumnus Loïc le Guesquet has been appointed CEO of Oracle France.
MBA alumnus Nicolas Wertrans has been appointed CEO of BMW France
The INSEAD-Macquarie Master of Finance Programme

* Le Figaro Magazine, France
Profile of MBA alumnus, Charles Philipponnat, CEO of Champagne Philipponnat.

* Le Figaro Entreprises, France
EMBA alumnus Luc Poppe about the value of his INSEAD experience

* New Zealand Herald
Professor Luk Van Wassenhove is quoted about humanitarian logistics

* Trends/Tendances, Belgium
About MBA alumnus Tanguy Peers, CEO of eBay Belgium

* Wirtschaftswoche, Germany
Announces the Booz Allen Hamilton MBA scholarships for women

* The Wall Street Journal
This is an article about short innovative Master degrees. The new INSEAD-Macquarie Master of Finance degree is covered.

Antonio Fatas
Dean of the MBA Programme
Professor of Economics

Farewell Party at Work October 14, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.

Farewell Party at Work
As of this week, I am officially unemployed. It feels strange but it’s good to finally have some time for myself. 🙂 In the midst of dealing with HSBC, I forgot to write about my farewell party. Last week was my last week at work. I can’t believe how fast time went. On Friday, I went to the office and packed my things. It took me a lot less time then I imagined. Within an hour my box was ready to go home with me. I received some chocolates, hugs and cards. Many people congratulated me on going to INSEAD.

In the evening, we went out for drinks and dinner with colleagues from work. It was quite hard to say bye to some people I have been seeing almost everyday for the past three years. Particularly, my boss and a friend with whom I share my office. I was excited about the future but partly sad having to say good-bye. We went to our local danish bar and to the newest Italian restaurant in the city. I really enjoyed the evening. The food was really nice, along with excellent company. This restaurant has strangely adopted tapas for the Italian cuisine. The advantage is that you can have a taste of many lovely dishes in the menu, the downside is I am not sure if Italians would like this idea too well.

The following night, I went to another party. I met up with some old friends and some new faces. There were Italians, Greeks, Turks, Swedes, and, Brits. Everyone worked in a different industry to each other before and lived in at least in two countries. A very INSEAD setting. A lot of interesting conversations took place. Also, my friend who hosted the party had a huge variety of drinks. We all started creating a drink for everyone else. We had some very good stuff, and some weird creations, at one point I lost the plot. We all got pretty drunk. We then ended up going to a Greek place in the early hours of the morning. This is me keeping fit for INSEAD!

Time for a bit of logistics September 24, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General, MBA Financing / Loans, MBA Prep / Logistics.
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Accommodation, check. Deposit, check. Profile on NetVestibule, check. Finances, not yet! For the past month I have been kept busy by INSEAD and HSBC. I finally got all my paperwork together and applied for an MBA loan at the end of August. Unfortunately, five weeks on, my application is still in progress. Might take a while before I know if I’ve got a loan. :/

I also managed to squeeze in 5 scholarship applications before the deadline. At INSEAD, there is no such a thing as offering candidates scholarship on the basis of their admission application. If you want to get funding, you have to write a separate essay for each scholarship you wish to apply. I guess they go with the idea that there is no such thing as a free meal! It can be a bit difficult to find inspiration for scholarship essays while juggling many things at the same time. In my case it meant writing three essays and a hasty copy paste job for the other two to meet the deadline. I’d be extremely surprised if I get short-listed for the last two. But I am very hopeful about one of the scholarships. To apply, you have to be a woman and from one of the few countries listed. The advantage of being in INSEAD, there are not too many women who fit the criteria. Also, I’ve got very good feedback from a couple of my friends on my essay. If I get it, it will cover €15,000 of my tuition fees. That would be nice!

On the other hand, my “to do” list is far from finished. I was checking the messages in NetVestibule (cyber INSEAD) and realised that I have to make a decision to attend the pre-MBA module as soon as possible. In the mist of sorting out my finances, I have totally forgotten that I have to make a decision and pay by 2nd of October. Unfortunately, I am still undecided about what to do. It costs €1200 plus accommodation and flights for a week’s course. I have got a degree in Management and Economics but that was long time ago and frankly I don’t remember much of it either. I think I would benefit from refreshing some accounting and finance topics along with statistics. Or, I could do some home study and use the time and money to go for a nice holiday before the programme kicks off. Hmm, interesting decision to make!

10 Reasons Why August 16, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.

On a more positive note today, I came across shanulk’s blog called “Strange Incidents in an Otherwise Ordinary Life”. Nice name by the way. He has done a fair bit of research on INSEAD and just got an offer. Congrats! I thought his ‘10 reasons to choose INSEAD’ would make a good case to justify the costs outlined in my previous post. In summary, you get what you pay for. Here it goes, in his words:

“ To all future MBAs let me tell you what you will miss out on if you don’t go to INSEAD:

1) Making Friends from Everywhere in the world. My batch has almost equal representation from 70+ countries.

2) The most diverse professional backgrounds. Every time I go through the “selected students” message board, I come across amazing profiles. For example there is a guy who was a team member of the US 2004 Olympics team. There is also a top model in my class. (I am already sharpening my math skills to be able to help her out)

3) An MBA in a year! It is strange why the “Ivy League” schools are still stuck with 2 year MBAs. Things have picked up since the easy paced days of the Victorian Era. You should he enterprising enough to get if done with your MBA in a year.

4) Have I mentioned the fact that though it is considered to be the best “general management” school in the world, if has the best finance professors too.

5) INSEAD’s December batches have had comparable placements with the US top 5 – Wharton, Stanford, Kelloggs, Chicago & Tuck.

6) You can stop having nightmares about loan sharks following you for the $110,000 that you need for the US top 10. INSEAD will get you a World Class MBA for about $70,000 inclusive of everything. And then you start making $$$ one year early (US Top 10 are all 2 year courses).

7) Your job is not dependent on any economy. If you graduate in a year when US economy is slowing down, you’ve had it unless you are an INSEADer – because companies from all once the world come here.

8) And companies that visit US Top 10 also visit INSEAD and pick an almost equal number of dudes and duddettes.

9) Female ratio is the lowest in INSEAD. Is this something good? Well, INSEAD selects people on basis of merit rather than to maintain a healthy sex ratio. Then there are 2 schools of thought. One, if you are a guy, you will be less distracted in your studies. Two, if you are a guy then you will make efforts to impress the one female in your group and study harder!

10) Since I want to make this a “10 reasons why” list, I will combine 2 points to make one. INSEAD gives you a fair chance to go to Wharton for 2 months. Second, you have a choice of going to Asia for a part of your course – it has a campus in Singapore too.”

Point 9 above prompted me to check the female ratio in NetVestibule. It seems like we now have 52 female students, 351 students overall. Much better than 15!

Plugged in! July 5, 2006

Posted by InvisibleInk in General.
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I was checking my blog stats yesterday and noticed that my last two posts have been featured on Wharton’s Adcomblog and ClearAdmit’s blog!! I am really happy about this. I suspect this is thanks to Hella. Hella is doing a great job of keeping track of all the recent MBA blogs at opencoder.org where you can view about 60 recent MBA Blogs.

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