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Real Humans of the INSEAD MBA Class of 2023

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Alex Gready, INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2023 

Age: 32

Hometown: Salisbury (UK)

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Bristol University, Physics BSC

Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years audit in London; 6 years as a finance manager/director in Rwanda

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I had been working as a finance manager of social enterprise businesses in Rwanda for the previous 6 years and whilst I really enjoyed aspects of the work, I had an urge to be more on the frontline in a more general management role. I looked at those in general management leadership in my firm and felt that I lacked certain skills to be able to add value at that level. I decided that an MBA would be a good way to strengthen my leadership skills to allow me to switch functions.

Why did you choose INSEAD? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I’m 32, so I’m probably in the older quartile of MBA candidates! I didn’t want to be out of the workforce for 18 months to 2 years, and it was, therefore, a real attraction that INSEAD offered a much more condensed course than others which takes only 10 months. I was also really excited by INSEAD’s commitment to diversity both in terms of nationality and professional background, and having now arrived and met so many interesting people with different stories to tell, I know that I made the right decision.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I think my experience working in sub-Saharan Africa in growth and start-up businesses is fairly unique and I’m therefore able to give a different perspective on ideas that may not apply in the so-called developing world

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I love riding motorbikes and doing big trips. I recently rode from Rwanda to South Africa with a friend, camping along the way. It was a lot of fun!

Post-MBA career interests:
General management in a business with social or environmental impact

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I took some tutoring classes for the GMAT, which was expensive but useful – I hadn’t done this type of test for many years and my tutor was able to give me some tricks and tips, which meant I only needed to take it once.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
In retrospect, I was far too nervous for the Alumni interviews – I was expecting to be really grilled, but for me they were both absolutely lovely people with very interesting backgrounds who were mainly interested in hearing my story. I would recommend that candidates applying give a lot of thought to how they want to portray their own personal journey, as I think this is really what the interviewers are interested in.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
INSEAD does a video interview stage after you have submitted your application, where you are given a question on the screen and given a very limited time to answer it by recording yourself. I found it horrible as, unlike a real interview, there is no interviewer to gauge the reaction to your response. This meant that I agonised over my responses for many days after I had done the interview.

What is your initial impression of the INSEAD students/culture/community?
It’s very similar to my expectations, given that I was able to discuss with INSEAD Alums beforehand. The class is extraordinarily diverse, and I immediately felt that the culture is very open and embracing of this diversity. Having said that, there are also a lot of consultants, which was expected!

What is one thing you have learned about INSEAD that has surprised you?
I didn’t know much about the pedagogy, and I have been extremely impressed by how interactive the teaching is. The lecturers are fantastic and the whole class is very engaged when they are teaching.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
The breadth of opportunity has led to some initial FOMO as there is so much going on, and this can be quite anxiety-inducing. Fortunately, everyone I have met is very open about how they are feeling, and I quickly realised that it was quite common to feel overwhelmed in this way which helps.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The opportunity to learn about different industries and functions from my peers’ experiences, INSEAD events and clubs. I came into INSEAD with a fairly clear view of what I wanted to do next, and I am now pleasantly confused by the breadth of opportunity!

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.