We continue our Admissions Director Q&A series with Teresa Peiro-Camaro, the Associate Director, Global Admissions at INSEAD. Based in Fontainebleau, France, she leads the Admissions Office team, which oversees the admissions process for Degree Programmes and is responsible for the class composition for Executive Degrees and MBA. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring that each INSEAD cohort brings together people, cultures, and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. Teresa and her team accompany candidates along the entire application journey, helping them to explore their driving motivation and to fulfill their professional aspirations. Teresa joined INSEAD in 2011 as a programme coordinator. During her first three years at the school, she managed high-level executive education programmes for corporate clients. In this role, she ensured a best-in-class delivery to the satisfaction of all parties involved, including INSEAD faculty. Teresa holds a dual degree in Marketing and Finance from both the Universidad de Valencia (Spain) and Kedge Business School (France). She is a CCS Licensed Career Coach and completed the INSEAD Programme: “Management Acceleration Programme.”
Read on for Teresa’s tips on the admissions essays, what INSEAD looks for in MBA candidates and more about the one-year MBA program below.
Clear Admit: What is the one aspect of your programme that you wish applicants knew more about?
Teresa Peiro-Camaro: The INSEAD Career Development Centre (CDC) organises different treks for the MBA students; these treks can be sector or geography focused. Last year, students interested in IB, Start-ups or Tech industry could travel to London, Berlin, Amsterdam or Paris to meet with companies to understand better the industries while connecting with INSEAD alumni already working for those companies. These trips are normally 2 full days of connecting with alumni while learning about the opportunities and deepening their understanding of the sectors. There are also other treks organised by location, as many of our students are interested in changing locations, they are also organised by the CDC and hosted by Alumni, to inform MBAs about the job opportunities by geographies. Most popular locations are major business hubs in Europe as well as Singapore, APAC and Abu Dhabi.
CA: Walk us through the life on an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision?
Teresa: First of all, the candidate will be welcomed by their admissions officer, who will be their main contact with INSEAD until they start the programme. Once introductions are in order, the admissions officer will inform the candidate whether the application file is completed and, if not, what are the missing elements. The completion of the file is the most administrative part of the process as the candidate needs to submit degrees, transcripts, videos, GMAT/GRE scores and ensure that their 2 recommenders have submitted their letters. Once the file is completed, the admissions officer will match each pre-selected candidate with 2 suitable interviewers. At INSEAD, all our interviewers are alumni volunteers who graduated within the last five years and who received specialised training. Each candidate will meet with at least one interviewer from their own industry and/or location. Once the admissions office receives the feedback from both interviews, the file is submitted to the admissions committee and once all votes are collated and a final decision is made, the outcome is shared with the candidate. It is important to highlight that during this 10-week process candidates are in contact with their officer, who will be their main support throughout the cycle.
CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read an essay? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?
Teresa: The essays are key elements, next to the video interview, that help us understand who the candidate is better, why they are applying to INSEAD and what it is that they will bring to the class. I would advise candidates to stay relevant; impactful and meaningful essays are usually short, sweet and to the point. It is important that candidates stay genuine and do not try to be someone else, not only content wise, but also regarding the writing style.
CA: Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Who conducts the interview (students, admissions officers, alumni) and what is the nature of the interview (resume-based, behavioural)?
Teresa: Each pre-selected MBA candidate is interviewed by 2 MBA alumni, who have completed their programme within the last five years. Matching candidates and interviewers is not a haphazard process; we look for one interviewer located in the same area as the candidate and another one working in the similar industry sector. The interviewers assess whether the candidates will fit in the programme and the school, as well as their soft skills.
CA: What is your testing policy? Do you offer exam waivers? Why or why not?
Teresa: INSEAD does not offer exam waivers for any of our degree programmes which require a test. We accept GMAT or GRE scores for our MBA and MIM, and EA for EMFIN and EMBA programmes. INSEAD programmes are shorter and very intense academically, since we need to cover all the core courses and electives in 9 months. Therefore, we need to be reassured academically before we offer admission to our candidates.
CA: Tell us briefly about two popular courses at your institution.
Teresa: Crypto Entrepreneurship: This course focuses on new entrepreneurial activity that is emerging around cryptographic blockchain protocols. Since the development of Bitcoin, there has been an explosion of decentralized venture formation and a democratization of participation in blockchains more generally. A theme of this course is that this value has been created through the entrepreneurial activities of individuals and teams who have discovered new opportunities that leverage crypto-blockchain technologies in what some are calling the “Web3” ecosystem.
Psychological Issues in Management: This course is about the psychological forces that influence the exercise of management and leadership. Its purpose is to enhance participants’ personal and professional ability to lead and live mindfully, effectively and responsibly in a range of contemporary workplaces. That is, workplaces characterized by frequent change and a diverse and mobile workforce.
The course provides opportunities to deepen your knowledge of the psychological forces that underpin the emergence and exercise of management and leadership, develop your ability to remain psychologically present in the moment and uncover the ways your history and aspirations interact with groups and social systems to shape the way you think, feel and act in work roles.
CA: As we learn to live with COVID-19, campuses have opened up and students are back. What about prospective students? Will they have the opportunity to visit campus? Will INSEAD admissions interviews be conducted virtually?
Teresa: INSEAD campuses are now open to visitors across all our locations: Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Fontainebleau. Prospective students, as well as all our applicants are welcome to visit us. Not only that, but we also encourage candidates and prospective students to organise their visit so they can experience, first hand, the atmosphere of their potential future “home.”
CA: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or INSEAD admissions process?
Teresa: At INSEAD, we believe that we have a robust and holistic admissions process. We want to know as much as possible about the candidate, and not only about their professional achievements, but also about their personal experiences and expectations of their MBA journey. We are looking to find the perfect match in terms of values to ensure we have a fully committed and diverse class who will become happy alumni ambassadors of the school.