insead open house

MBA is a big thing these days. I used to scoff at the idea of MBAs. I am a firm believer that business is an acumen and cannot be taught. Being good is not enough. You must be a visionary (think Steve Jobs). THIS cannot be taught in school.

When W decided to do his MBA, we picked up this book ‘What They Teach You At Harvard Business School’ to understand more about MBA school and the student psyche. This book was hilarious and offered amazing insights on what goes on behind the scenes. Top tier MBA schools are fiercely competitive and it is BIG BUSINESS. It is amazing to see the humongous amount of literature and blog analysis on MBAs. It’s an obsession! Although core beliefs still remain, some of my perspectives on MBA have changed over the years. I now think it is an excellent tool for networking and it forces you to deal with a fiercely competitive environment created by diverse characters and nationalities.

My first brush with MBA school (as a Partner) was at the Insead Singapore Campus Open House last Saturday. It was an eye opener. I rarely have friends from foreign countries. And as a designer, the notion of meeting so many bright Finance sparks on one campus was daunting. Some were friendly, some intense and some looked fierce. These characters fascinate me. I wonder at their reasons for doing an MBA. (According to the Career Services Chart, apart from the obvious, money + promotions, career switch is THE next most popular reason why an MBA is taken up.) I also began to understand why Insead emphasizes on diversity. There are no minority nor majority groups. The tendency to create your own Singaporean clique is tough. You are ‘forced’ to mix around. Like the Dean said. ‘When you are out there, you don’t get to choose who you work with, the nationalities you work with or context you work in. You deal with it.’ TOUGH.

One professor was particularly interesting. His main highlight was not about the academia but attitude. He recounted this incident when during dinner, his girlfriend remarked that the sashimi slice was fishy and since he was not a fish lover, the comment spoiled his omakase experience. He highlighted that if he had not known, the experience would have been more pleasant. This is apparently a popular psychology theory. He wants the students to be aware. To steer away from negativity and be positive about the challenges. Nice reminder.

The talks were very well organized and the Q&A sessions provided alot of insights (on both students and staff). I was glad to have attended. I want to be part of W’s journey and I am really looking forward to stories of interesting people and events that would soon come. The interesting professor also introduced this book ‘The Art of Travel’ and I would be picking it up soon!


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