By Sweeny Chhabra, Forté Fellow MBA 2013, INSEAD.
In May 2012 (after I had been accepted into INSEAD but yet to start), we heard from the Deputy Dean Peter Zemsky that ours could be the first class that will be given an opportunity to be part of INSEAD’s first ever Abu Dhabi module. As I had grown up in the Middle East for part of my childhood, I got quite excited to visit this region again as an adult. Also, having the additional opportunity to actually learn about business environment in the middle east made this an excellent opportunity..
Needless to say, I applied in October 2012 to attend the module and was one of 36 students selected to attend. There is already an Executive MBA program at Abu Dhabi campus but this was the first time, MBA students from Singapore and Fontainebleau were invited to be part of the campus. The program runs over two residential weeks (early January, end of February and a final presentation day at the end of March) and involves a consulting based project.
I recently completed the first part of the Abu Dhabi module and was amazed at just how much I learned about the region in the week that we were there. My highlight for the entire week was the lecture at the very beginning of the week on factors driving ‘Global wealth creation’ delivered by the well-renowned INSEAD strategy professor: Prof. Neil Jones. In delivering a framework to analyze cities and countries around the world and their potential to support development, he armed students with an intelligent way to converse about the topic. Thank you Prof. Jones!
Throughout the week, we had numerous opportunities to network with EMBA students and also to meet some of the 480 INSEAD alums in the Emirates. The mornings and afternoons were packed with multiple panels (finance, human capital, economic development) and company visits (media, banking, development and funding organizations, oil & gas and consulting firms). One of the free afternoons, (which was a rarity!) we went on a desert safari consisting of team-building activities/games and dune bashing, ending off with an authentic Middle Eastern dinner, as the sun set in the desert.
As I look back, I realize that the week in Abu Dhabi was exactly how I had pictured my MBA to be—an intense, yet practical learning experience filled with moments of cultural immersion and meeting people from all around the world. Thank you INSEAD for delivering such an amazing week for all of us. I am definitely looking forward to my second week in Abu Dhabi at the end of February.