Atul Jose, Editor of F1GMAT, Interviewed Minh Huy Lai, Managing Director of the INSEAD MBA Programme to get a first-hand view of the curriculum, post-MBA opportunities, Campus structure, INSEAD's dominance in Management Consulting and the Admission process for the full-time MBA.
How does INSEAD complete the core and electives in such a short period (10 months) compared to US Business Schools that are typically 2-years in duration?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): When you look at the average age at INSEAD, it is 29. Our class is quite older. Students with considerable experience absorb faster. Another thing is that our Founder was an educator at Harvard Business School. He realized that we could deliver the same quality at a much shorter time. Our classes are longer in duration with a typical break at INSEAD ranging 3-4 days instead of 1-2 weeks that you see in US Schools. Our program is much more intense. That is how we cover so much in a short period. We have done that for 58 years. Recruiters will never come to us if we are not delivering on the quality of students at INSEAD. That is why INSEAD has the highest return on investment (according to Forbes).
How can students customize their INSEAD MBA Curriculum? When can they choose an elective?
Minh (INSEAD MBA):The INSEAD MBA program is divided into five periods of two months each. The first two are made up of core courses which all the students have to take. They can opt out of some core courses through exams. From period 3, INSEAD MBA students can choose from a portfolio of 75 electives in 10 academic areas based on their post-MBA goals.
How are the 900+ students allocated to the three campuses? Are there any criteria or the applicant chooses the home campus?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): It is a personal decision. Let us say you are from Asia, and you would like to start with France to explore Europe. The decision mostly depends on the candidate’s post-MBA career path. Those who want to be in North America or Europe, tend to favor France during the last two periods (4 and 5) for recruitment purposes. 77% change campuses. Only a small minority stay on one campus.
Post-MBA, 46% of the class, joined the Management Consulting function. Apart from the Curriculum, why is INSEAD so strong in the function? What is the secret?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): We are a top provider of talent to McKinsey. Our MBA is one of the shortest (10 months), and extremely intense. A Management consultant's job is stressful with travel requirements, demanding deadlines and ambitious goals. They have to make the clients happy. INSEAD prepares them well. An INSEAD student has to work with an international class with diverse backgrounds and produces results in a very short time. They have to work productively at a very fast pace to survive. Consulting firms know that if you survive INSEAD, you would have the caliber, resilience, agility, and toughness to survive a Management Consulting career. Because ours is an International class, firms know that students have the capacity to work with a multi-cultural team and adapt to any environment.
Are there any preference for campuses when it comes to recruitment for Management Consulting openings?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): No. Typically consulting companies come up with the recruitment needs and they find candidates who could fit the role. There are no campus preferences. It is about matching the job profile with candidates who have the right skill and background for a particular office or country.
Can students switch campuses? For instance, someone in France, will they be able to move to Singapore for post-MBA opportunities?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): During the first fourth months (Period 1 and 2), students are required to be at the home campus that they first chose. Let us say someone started in France. During Period 3, they can bid for an exchange to Abu Dhabi or Singapore. Our Career Development Services team is Global. They share openings on our internal job platform. Students can apply from anywhere regardless of their study campus. Obviously, there is on-campus recruitment, so some employers are willing to go to more than one campus, but some are keen on only one. For example, the Asian Development Bank, which is based in Manilla, decided to come only to the France campus. Having said that, students in Singapore can still apply for the interview process.
Many applicants want to move to Europe. Right now, the mood against immigration is negative. In France, although a liberal party won the election, has the rhetoric of anti-immigration campaigns impacted the policies in Europe.
Minh (INSEAD MBA): Some countries in Europe are tightening their immigration policies. For International students, this can be tricky. Students accepted to INSEAD are of high caliber. They already have an international background, but a few have faced difficulty in securing residency in Europe post-MBA. In France, the policy is that if you come to study, you can change to work visa with a year's validity, immediately after graduation. With the new open-minded government, the policy is unlikely to change. In Europe, with Brexit, in the short-term, companies recruiting for London or UK haven't changed much of their strategy. They still recruit at INSEAD, but we anticipate that finding placements in the UK would be more difficult in the long run. For the rest of Europe, our students tend to get placed in Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands. For recruitment at INSEAD, the four countries have not changed their policies in a big way, but we have seen a much bigger change in the US.
With a three-campus structure will the students get the chance to network effectively?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): Each campus brings in a different flavor. INSEAD Fontainebleau campus is in the countryside on the outskirts of Paris. Singapore campus is in a dynamic urban environment. But both campuses have similar student clubs and infrastructure support. Abu Dhabi campus has only one residential period with a smaller class (45 students). Therefore, the community connection is much stronger. The biggest fear for INSEAD students is not the lack of networking but Fear of Missing Out as they have too much to choose from.
A majority of our readers are from the US. For an American student at INSEAD, what are the post-MBA mobility trends?
Minh (INSEAD MBA): We have seen that a third of the students return to the US. Rest of them move to Europe and Asia.
Read the Second Part of the Interview with INSEAD MBA, Managing Director where we cover the Admission process, entry criteria and scholarship opportunities for MBA Applicants
Visit INSEAD MBA Programme page to learn more
About Minh Huy Lai
Minh is the Managing Director of the INSEAD MBA Programme. He was formerly the Executive Director of Degree Programmes at HEC Paris. Prior to his move to the higher education field, he has worked in investment banking and international development.
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