Monday, January 21, 2008

The First 100 Days...

Ok this really is going to be the final addition to this blog.
I figured out talking about the post-INSEAD experience was part of the actual deal, and that it may interest potential applicants.

Well, few thoughts that come to my mind:
- I feel so much stronger than before not only thanks to the knowledge, the network, and the soft skills, but also because of credibility and respect from the others (in my particular entrepreneurial field, from banks, suppliers, and family)
- the network works -some fellow INSEADs did help me out on various queries, tapping in their own non-INSEAD networks
- Sense of community is still very vivid. There are still INSEAD parties/gatherings/week-ends in London, in Europe, and even in Sydney (thanks Facebook!)
- Lots of graduates have really created their companies (one online peer-to-peer, one legal services, several real estate, one transport project) -or at least working really hard on it
- Opportunities abound as people seek your skills, knowledge, and network. I was approached by 2 companies to gradually take over management (the Family Firm course was so right on family businesses emotional dynamics)
- Many actually spent some or more of their Hundred days travelling around the world!

Of course, I am not saying other MBAs do not offer more or less the same. Just that INSEAD to me is shaping up as a key milestone in what I hope will be great entrepreneurial adventures!

All the best to all of you, dare to apply at INSEAD, and make sure that the School be a launchpad to your most ambitious dreams.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

The End - Fin -

This is the last post. Number 170! Enough for you guys interested in applying to INSEAD to figure out about the fit.
I must say, a great memento for me as well, of a great year.
I have felt so blessed all year long, like having so much of good things, that I wanted to share some with you. Cheesy, but honest.
I will still be available for any questions regarding INSEAD applications or else. Just email me.
To any fellow July07 that may be lost over here, I was from E3G2 in Fonty, and G11 in Singapore P3.
There are very few decisive things that define a person: gender, nationality (maybe), family, undergrad (sometimes), friends (the rare sort of). INSEAD is one of them. It defines me.
See you all over the world, but it'll be easier in South Pacific or Paris!
All the best. And remember: give back to School!
Please visit July08 blogs in my links to get updates on INSEAD's programme.


Friday, July 06, 2007

The Graduation Ceremony

Yesterday was Graduation Day.

My day started with a visit to the Chateau. A must I guess for INSEAD Grads' visitors, as evidenced by the number of students I saw there with their guests.
Then we had a quick lunch at Chez Bernard (opposite the Chateau entrance) which was ok but for the rude service.
I expected a siesta break to make up for loss of proper sleep nights of past days, but it was impossible. We had to head to School, for the first ever Graduation Ceremony in School (actually, a marquee on the parking lot). I do think this is the best choice, though it sounds less appealing than previous graduations in Versailles or Paris. INSEAD is from Fonty, and my guests were really keen on visiting the School facilities.

The marquee was pretty impressive from inside though. It was a bit hot, but bearable. We had nice speeches from Dean Fatas, Dean Brown, our guest Speaker -who was astounding (BT CEO), and Tongai from Zimbabwe for the Students. He was awesome too, reminding us of good times and carpe diem. I still think though that Singapore was portrayed a bit too much as party hard... Then the Ford Prize for highest GPA was given to -a surprise to me- Robert the Brit. It confirmed my theory that the Brits were the biggest achiever group in School, and was great news as Robert embodies perfectly the ideal student: work hard, play hard.

My favourite speech was given from one my favourite Profs -Kevin Kaiser- because it was funny and touching. This guy is a real guru in all meanings. I do remember waking up at 8AM in P5, just to attend his classes for which I was not even registered!

Closing the ceremony was an INSEAD alumnus who had a great quote for parents too. Something like: "The MBA is an investment. And these students have learnt this year that investments are sunk costs. To the parents..."

Fellow MBAs I clapped for every one of you, on stage while you were receiving your degree from brothers Franky and Tonio. Because, as Tongai said, I wished I knew more of you, and more intensively -but that is just a beginning, and you can always reach me! And I do thank all those that clapped for me, but I suspect my super cool super successful shell necklace played a great part too!

In the end, the only thing missing was a proper release of energy. The promotion picture was not the best way to end. I honestly wanted to jump, throw my programme, shout, kiss every one... Just do something!

Anyway I'm sure there'll be some improvements for future intakes. I liked my Graduation Ceremony anyway. It'll be an ever-lasting memory.

Then the cocktail was a good opportunity to introduce parents to friends, and say bye to some -already. In the evening, a very good INSEAD friend of mine invited some people to restaurant in Barbizon, including parents. We had a great time. But, we were so tired that most of us skipped the Grad Party. In retrospect, that maddens me because there are so many people I wanted to say bye to. But then, these people know that I care for them...

I also did my "coming out" to my favourite professors, and the Deans. They responded very kindly.
This week-end I'll upload the last pictures, and then the baton will be given to July08 Bloggers.

My special gift: Kevin Kaiser's acceptance speech for Best Elective Professor with nominations of Randall and Pierre. Winner of Core was Igor Vaysman, with nominations of Enrico and Pascal.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The last night before the End

I'm returning from a restaurant in Fonty. I hate to say that, but gosh I'm full. My parents are in town, accompanied by my aunt and my uncle. They did not know anything about INSEAD just a year ago. Today, they'd barely stepped out of the train that INSEAD was everywhere: shuttle bus, students, parents, and taxi cab claiming that the whole Fonty city lives thanks to INSEAD. It's cool, they are in the mood of falling for the institution.

They are staying at Aigle Noir Hotel. Same stuff: INSEAD owns half of the rooms of the nicest hotel in town. Then we went out to Croquembouche Restaurant in Rue de France, and again, many INSEAD grads with parents over there.

The bottom line is: these days, Fonty breathes INSEAD, oozes INSEAD, lives for and by INSEAD.

Actually my dad is so proud of INSEAD that he may be more knowledgeable about School's stats that I do. For him who could never attend such quality institutions, although he fully recognises the learning of the School of Life, it is very important to attend Graduation too.

Yesterday, I invited my various elective group members to a Paris restaurant. We had great fun. It was a worthy ending for tremendous learning experiences. We had again lots of great food and nice wines... Nice food, nice wine, nice people, nice moments, what else can you ask for?

Tomorrow at 3PM it will be the end. Dress code being "business attire" or "National dress", I've decided to go for the risqué choice, weather permitting. In my country, formal dress is simple: a flowery short sleeve shirt, and for special occasions, shell necklaces. Shell necklaces for men capture different values that "looking good". They are much more decorated but much heavier than women's too. In a sense, they represent my post INSEAD life: much more beautiful, but also with a much heavier burden.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Many thanks

As Graduation is fast approaching, marking the end of this blog adventure too (after all, I'll need to work very hard), it is time to wrap-up on the Programme, and thank everyone who participated in it.

I've had the pleasure to inform some applicants, sometimes help them through the application process. I've seen some accepted, some unfortunately denied.

On Admissions, if there's one single takeaway, it is that the more outlier you are, the more focused and determined you will need to be. Consultants or IBs follow a path. If you are creating your own path, you'll need to convince that INSEAD can help you, and stay consistent throughout in interviews etc.

While in, you'll really be able to customize your own track. Roughly, it seems to me that there are: the Entrepreneurship, the Finance/Accounting, the Leadership/OB, the Marketing, and the Economics/Strategy tracks. Realistically, you can follow in depth 2 tracks. For instance, I chose Entrepreneurship and Leadership. The good thing is, you can complement with bits of other tracks (like some B2B Marketing, or some Corporate Restructuring, or some ICA). But because 10 months is short, and credits are limited, you need to know what you want to take out of INSEAD. Where your weaknesses must be improved and where your strengths will be leveraged to give you a competitive advantage later. For these reason, INSEAD is so not a factory with a one-fits-all programme if you don't want it to. Although on some occasions you may need to audit because of excess demand...

As I said during the Alumni Reunion, I came in with a set of objectives/expectations. Looking back in my application dossier, I was looking for many answers:
"Through OB, I would improve my leadership and people management skills. Strategy classes would allow me to refine competitive dynamics and define strategic objectives. And Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses electives would provide me essential tools with which to understand the specifics of my family Group and optimise its governance and financial model, and guide me in mapping future opportunities. They would also help me to tackle the succession issue and model the optimal ownership structure."

INSEAD gave me answers to every single issue. Not only are they answers for pressing issues, but also for the longer term. The network will always be a pool of answers, as will be the prestige you get from School. I feel more confident than ever before, because it's no fluke -foundations are rock solid. Strong to have been able to go through 10 super intensive months, to have competed with such a bright crowd, to have exchanged with them. Strong, because I know them, and I can count on them, or on the School, and on Profs.

Back in November 5, I set myself a goal list to which my year would be evaluated. I've fulfilled all of them (but maybe for the longer-term relationships).

For this, I would like to thank:

- the Admission Committee for selecting an amazing crowd,

- Dean Fatas for doing an incredible job organizing this complex programme with extremely demanding people, and the Staff,

- Dean Brown for accepting the School challenge of raising the School's profile even more (my 2 cents, we are not Harvard and don't want to be it right?)

- The Faculty, for inspiring us so much,

- my Housemates for being so nice,

- all July07 for the whole experience, stay in touch!

- and of course, the Alumni for building the reputation, and giving back to School...

Many thanks.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Most

I've just finished my day with the 20, 30, and 40 year Alumni. Pretty interesting.
First on me, I think either my head is swelling like crazy, or I'm on illicit substances, or I've improved so much, because presenting in front of 80 alumns, in Amphi A, with a mike, caused me no stress or problem whatsoever. Actually my presentation was very well received, with plenty of people congratulating on the humourous touch, or at least the heart-felt tone. I'm so pumped up. Folks, that is 4 presentations in a row that went out perfectly. The point is: we'll leave INSEAD confident about our abilities, and with a brandname that gives respect. We'll have our First Hundred Days too, to fulfill expectations put on us...

Interesting points about the Alumni Reunion:
- Some of them were worried that Singapore and 900 people intake meant dilution and lesser selection. I beg to differ. First, ratio of applicant to acceptances is irrelevant, because of the self-selection to INSEAD (1 year programme, very differentiated, and 700+ GMAT). Second, in 30 or 40 years, the MBA market has grown to places untapped for before -Latin America, India, East Europe...
- Alumni were very impressed by the develoment of the School over years.
- They are so attached to School that many came with their children and groom them for INSEAD. I met an Israeli 40Y Alumn whose son (or grandson I can't recall) graduated in 2000 and other son is applying this year!
- In 30 years INSEAD has gone from less than 30 nationalities to more than 70. And has over 100 alumns in more 25 countries (against 12 for Harvard and co.)

On the train back to Paris, I met someone from the Student Council. While he did not want to reveal the recipients' names of Best Awards, he hinted at the finalists. Whoever wins will deserve it.

That made me wonder of all these great professors met during the programme.
Most passionate: Tim Van Zandt
Most funny: Enrico Diecidue
Most humour noir funny: Theo Vermaelen
Most sensitive: Michael Brimm
Most subtly un-PC (but I like that!): Thomas D'Aunno
Most cool: Igor Vaysman
Most weird-funny: Nils Rudi
Most edgy: Igor Vaysman
Most sharp: Pascal Maenhout
Most impressive: Phil Anderson
Most Hollywood: Horacio Falcao
Most nice and dedicated: Ilian Mihov
Most connected: Randel Carlock
Most obviously un-PC (but I like that!): Fernando Bartholomei
Most underrated: Deigan Morris
Most shrewd: Tim Bovard
Most challenging: Kevin Kaiser
Most insightful: Karen Cool
Most make-it-easy-and-fun: Jake Cohen
Most useful-for-survival: Jose Luis Alvarez
Most brilliant: all of the above -well, you know which ones I preferred for each period...

They made an impact on me, I will never forget them. And I did not attend most of the Finance track, which has lots of Stars...

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Giving back

I can't believe School is really, really ending on Thursday next week. As you know, I've skipped the Grad Trip, although on second thoughts they are probably having loads of fun to die for. But, too much for me, too much travel, too much party, too much booze, too much not enough time, at once. I needed a break. Well, not that I'll be idle though. Tomorrow I'm meeting 20, 30, and 40 years Alumns on campus, for a short presentation on life at INSEAD now, and a visit of the campus (with a strong emphasis on Salamander Awards Wall -the Donors Wall). Instead of the Adriatic Sea, this will be my Blue Ocean.
Kidding, I'm really happy to do that just for the School.

By the way, did you know that the Bronze Salamander Award started at only €15.000? That's barely the price of a small no-thrills car...



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Business Idea

It would be cool if someone came up with a something against hangover; a fast hangover recoverer...
That'd be a smash at School these days.
OK we are not drinking to get drunk. And mostly we are not really drunk. But the morning after, we are all a bit wasted.
Ooops. Maybe I am sick of something else then...

Yesterday, I had a presentation using 5 forces etc etc and other MBA stuff, mixing strategic necessities and operational alignment. People in the audience were captivated.
I feel strong, I feel good!
I loooooove INSEAD.