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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