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Globalization is a force to be reckoned with in business, and is having a significant impact on graduate management education, with most b-schools developing their international offerings. But only INSEAD considers itself the business school for the world. Today’s guest is Virginie Fougea, Director of Admissions at INSEAD. She’s worked there since 1996, and became Associate Director of Admissions in 2012. She just became Director. Welcome!
Can you give us an overview of INSEAD’s full-time MBA program? [2:05]
INSEAD was founded in 1957, with the first class starting in 1959, in Fontainbleau. They wanted to offer an MBA program in Europe – it was very forward looking. From the beginning, the founders wanted it to be international, independent, diverse, entrepreneurial, and close to business. It started as a 1-year program.
In 2000, we opened our Asia campus in Singapore. And in 2010, we opened a campus in Abu Dhabi. We were ranked #1 in the FT this year.
INSEAD considers itself a “business school for the world” – what does that mean for students? [4:05]
There are about 80 nationalities represented in the classroom. We provide a rich learning experience from the entire world.
There are 500 students in the starting class: 300 students in Fontainbleau and 200 in Singapore.
We have over 24,000 alumni in 174 countries – most countries in the world. And in 47 countries, we have over 100 alumni.
Can you study at multiple campuses during your 1 year program? [6:05]
We also have partnerships with Wharton in the US and Tsinghua in China.
Do you have tips for applicants considering this global program? [7:00]
Think about where they want to go – where do they want to work 5, 10, 20 years after INSEAD? We offer a lot of options to match people’s interests/profiles.
Should applicants show international experience? [8:20]
They should show open-mindedness and an interest in other cultures. There will be many cultures in the classroom.
We believe that global leaders need multicultural, international exposure.
Applicants don’t need to have traveled the world already – but they should at least have international interest.
How can you fit the full MBA curriculum into a 1-year intensive program? [9:40]
A 1½- or 2-year program usually includes an internship. Our students gain a lot of problem solving skills fast – we want to instill skills in our students.
Students collaborate with each other to get the most out of opportunities.
The pace of the program is similar to the pace of the professional world. You have to set priorities, just like in your professional/personal life.
43% of the class of 2015 was placed in consulting jobs. To what do you attribute this success in placing consultants? [12:09]
We talk to consulting firms about what they’re looking for – adaptability (skills, geography, language), people who have an idea of finance and strategy, etc – and our grads are really a perfect fit. About 29% of our applicants come from consulting pre-MBA, and we send 43% of our grads to consulting positions. We send about another 40% to the corporate sector, and about 15% to finance positions.
At some point, over half of INSEAD grads will start their own company. What does INSEAD offer aspiring entrepreneurs? [13:55]
Entrepreneurship is our biggest area of elective offerings. Our Center for Entrepreneurship is very active and seeks to empower entrepreneurs, offering support and mentoring. We have a student club, venture competition, boot-camp, family enterprise. And the career team works with students to help with networking opportunities, including making connections with successful ventures launched by INSEAD grads.
What do you wish applicants knew about the INSEAD application process? [16:40]
Be yourself. We often mention this – but give a holistic answer about who you are in the essays. We often get essays from people who are trying to be somebody else, or are trying to be what they think we want them to look like. When I meet applicants, I hear interesting personal stories, but sometimes their essays seem flat.
Has the GMAC’s score cancel policy changed how you see GMAT scores? Do you only care about the highest score, or is it helpful to see improvement? [19:08]
We consider all scores – you get information from the progression.
The GMAT is a good measure. We look especially at the quant and the verbal. The 70th percentile is a fair target, but there’s some flexibility. The score cancellation policy hasn’t changed that approach.
GMAT or GRE? [20:40]
We have a long understanding of the GMAT, and we have studies to understand its relation to academic performance. We know how to assess abilities based on the GMAT.
There’s a new video requirement on the application this year. Why? [21:25]
It’s an opportunity to see applicants come to life. The admissions team does not interview applicants. So this is a more interactive aspect to the admissions process.
In terms of what we were saying about being yourself, in a video, it’s easier to be genuine about you as a person. So that was the aim.
People should see it as an opportunity to convey their motivation and show their communication skills. Rather than a test, it’s another opportunity.
What’s the process for the video essay? [23:20]
Once the application has been submitted, applicants will receive a link to record a video. You can test your video and mic first – practice using your webcam. There are no right or wrong answers. We just want to learn about applicants.
The video is required for all applicants and must be done within a week after the application deadline.
The questions are standard introductory interview-type questions: “tell us about a time when…” “Why INSEAD?” etc.
Have you reviewed some videos already? [25:25]
Yes, and we love them! People are really getting it right.
We’re looking to find elements to invite people for interviews, not elements to disqualify people.
What is the interview process? [26:40]
Interviews are conducted by alumni. One benefit of that is that applicants can ask alumni interviewers questions about the program. The interviewer considers the applicant’s communication skills, motivation, etc.
And how can you prepare for the video question? [28:27]
Apart from being in a quiet space, the main thing is to practice using your webcam and get used to talking to a computer.
We’re also hearing of more companies recruiting through this sort of exercise, so that’s another reason for adding the video component.
Is the alumni interview traditional or behavioral? [31:00]
It’s a combination of both, along with being an informal conversation. It’s good to prepare questions to ask.
Any advice for reapplicants? [32:35]
Really see if your profile has changed since the first decision – something that might catch the committee’s eye and change the decision. We have a very thorough process, so a deny is the result of a thoughtful decision. So if the profile hasn’t changed, the decision is often the same. But if your profile really is stronger, it can be worth reapplying.
What is the worst advice you’ve ever heard given to MBA applicants? [34:55]
Someone telling an applicant with a 700 to retake the GMAT. The GMAT is only one element – experience, soft skills, etc, are very important.
Any advice for applicants planning for a 2018 application? [37:00]
We’re currently studying the IR section of the GMAT, and considering making it a required section with a target score.
What’s coming in the future at INSEAD? [39:10]
We have some changes to the curriculum ahead. One exciting project is the Personal Leadership Development Program – an opportunity for students to understand how they communicate, and help them develop as leaders.
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