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Is the INSEAD MBA worth it?


INSEAD is one of the most famous business schools in the world and its flagship MBA program is one of the most competitive. But is the INSEAD MBA worth it? To find out, we spoke with Meet Shah, a graduate of the program. A native of New Zealand, Shah is a strategy and implementation consultant, successfully graduated from the MBA Class of December 2020, and is currently working in Germany.

In some ways, Meet Shah’s story is a familiar one. With a non-business background, his main motivation for pursuing an MBA was to add business acumen to his academic knowledge. In Meet’s case, however, his academic background covered a very different terrain than an MBA.

“I did my master’s in renewable energy and energy systems,” Meet says from his home in Germany. “Then I decided to go into engineering consulting to learn about the technical side of things.

I really enjoyed that kind of work. Then I slowly moved into project management. In the process, I realized that the problems clients were having were more about the business side than the technical side.”

At that point, Meet started thinking about an MBA, although he may not have realized it at the time. He started a social enterprise as an experiment to see if he could gain the business acumen he needed to advance in his career.

Frustrated with his lack of progress, he turned to his mentor for advice

“I had a mentor who suggested I get an MBA because I could have just done something part-time or read some books,” he says. “They had done something like that before, and I think that started the journey for me.

Meeting INSEAD

Deciding to pursue an MBA is just the first step in a long – and life-changing – journey. To find the right MBA, Meet set two key criteria that the program had to meet.

“One, it had to be a one-year program, because I was a little older at that point (29 years old) and didn’t want to be out of the workforce for a few years,” he explains.

“Another point I appreciated was the opportunity to travel and the international aspect. So the INSEAD MBA, with six months in Singapore and six months in France, was a great incentive.”

Business school chosen, program applied. Meet was accepted into the INSEAD MBA, which is no easy task since it is one of the most competitive MBAs in the world. Upon arriving at the “Business School for the World,” Meet expected INSEAD to have an international flair.

What he experienced blew him away

“It exceeded my expectations. Being from New Zealand, I’m used to a bit of diversity in the work environment – but this was absolutely crazy!

There are over 80 nationalities represented in the class, and every student has a different nationality,” he enthuses. “The insights you get from this environment, whether they’re personal or professional, are really great.”

Fostering entrepreneurship at INSEAD

The INSEAD MBA is one of the best MBA programs in the world and enjoys a global reputation. It is among the most competitive programs in the world. Meet was particularly excited about the entrepreneurial aspects of the program.

“One of the electives I took that was super cool is called Entrepreneurship Booster,” he tells us.

“It runs for five or six months and you only have one or two classes per period. It’s about taking an idea and making it happen. You do the needs assessment, create the MVP and try to bring something to market.

A stereotype about an MBA is that it is heavily focused on the consulting and finance industries. While it’s true that these two sectors are popular with MBA graduates, modern MBAs provide students with skills that allow them to pursue a range of careers after graduation.

Meet found the entrepreneurial skills he gained in the program particularly useful

“The most important thing for me was that there is a process for a startup,” he says. “Obviously, there’s not one standard process, but if you had to do it, what would be the three, four most important steps to take? Now I have that in my toolbox whenever I need it.”

So is the INSEAD MBA worth it?

An MBA has many more benefits than just the skills acquired. When asked if he thinks the INSEAD MBA was worth it, Meet has a simple answer – but maybe not for the reasons you expected.

“Yes! I think you should just do it, because you’d be kicking yourself if you didn’t take the option,” he says.

“Maybe you can look at the ROI of the program and really look at it quantitatively, but I think the qualitative nature of the program is hard to capture.

An MBA usually gives graduates a boost in salary. It adds weight to the resume. But it also gives you a set of experiences, friendships and connections that you’ll always remember – things that you can’t put a price on. That’s certainly the best way to judge whether or not an MBA is worth it.

“One of the reasons I’m in Europe now is the friendships I’ve made. I go to Luxembourg, London or the like almost every two weeks to meet up with friends. Those are the connections I’ll maintain for the rest of my life,” Meet says. “I think that’s something to think about when making that decision.”

Given the program’s return on investment, global reach and vast worldwide network, the answer to the question “Is the INSEAD MBA worth it?” is, without a doubt, yes!

Text and image source: (Author: Nick Harland)

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