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Real Humans of INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2022

Hatem Abdelmotaal, INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2022

Age: 33
Hometown: Alexandria, Egypt
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Alexandria University (Undergrad) and Ecole Polytechnique (Graduate), Mechanical Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8.5 years, Oil and Energy

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Simply put, I wanted to pull off a career shift, broaden my perspective, and sharpen my business skills, especially on the entrepreneurial front. The timing was a no-brainer given the fact that the opportunity cost is minimal during COVID. I was also constantly putting off MBA with the belief that I could achieve my objectives without one, only to realize later that this is the best option given my current circumstances.

Why did you choose INSEAD? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I would like to think of INSEAD of a unique experience that happened to be an MBA. I don’t think any institution can command this level of diversity, short of the UN. Having seen firsthand how diversity can transform an organization’s capabilities, I came to INSEAD with a firm belief that this diverse group of individuals will have a lasting impact on my learning experience. 

Other factors come in handy as well such as the duration of the program, international focus, and specially the amazing alumni network. During my school research, INSEADers stood out as quite helpful and attentive. They quickly eroded any thoughts of “elitism” that might be attributed to business school graduates. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
Being slightly older than the typical applicant, I have a lot to share from my past experiences. And I mean by my interpersonal experience as a manager, salesperson, and subordinate. Coming from Egypt, business is usually intertwined with complex social relationships. This has given me practical insights into the human psyche when it comes to leading others, negotiating deals, and managing conflicts. 

Additionally, given my parallel life as a photographer, I thrive in creative environments and always thrive to put a creative touch in my group work and projects. I am even considering giving a photography workshop to my peers!

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I used to be a hardcore Game of Thrones fan, reading all books, some of them twice. I also watched the HBO series twice and some episodes thrice.

Post-MBA career interests:
Given my diverse background that includes quantitative, creative, and business-related elements, I see myself working within a multidisciplinary role. I would like to work in a dynamic tech driven company. I am currently exploring both the big tech and startup scenes. Roles in product management and strategy within a tech firm would allow me to build on my current skills and cater for my entrepreneurial aims. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:

– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Research and research! Without this amount of research, I wouldn’t have been able to refine my essays and my expectations. I advise all applicants to reach out to alumni. They are your number one resource for your application.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
None really. 

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT! I believe that the whole idea behind standardized tests needs to be revisited. Yet admittedly, the GMAT is a sound way to assess an applicant’s academic potential and drive. With INSEAD’s intensity, you need to be on the top of your game most of the time. I eventually managed to pull through with a solid study plan that I had to stick to no matter what.

What is your initial impression of INSEAD’s students/culture/community?
I can’t overemphasize the diversity of the student body. Also, I appreciate living in a relatively isolated small French town. This cozy environment helps students create genuine connections quite quickly.

What is one thing you have learned about INSEAD that has surprised you?
The school’s emphasis on the collective and individual psychological wellbeing. Bringing a group of overachieving individuals from different cultures presents a series of challenges. The school is quite aware of that and presents different tools to navigate this unique environment. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how? Not much. I still had to follow the same process. But in an indirect way COVID gave me time to prepare my application. As an oil and gas professional my amount of work was significantly reduced due to the COVID induced oil glut. I invested this time in my application and it paid off. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
COVID and the possibility of future outbreaks. We are the first 100% in-person class since the onset of the pandemic, and I would like things to remain like that. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Meeting everyone and getting to travel with interesting people around Europe and beyond. 

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2022, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: INSEAD

About the Author


Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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