Benefits of an INSEAD MBA #231 – attend weddings all over the world!

Recently, I have got invitations to weddings in Amsterdam, Brazil, France and India. All of these turn out to mini reunions in a way since the peer group invited will usually be people who you were close with at INSEAD. Attending these weddings have their own pros and cons and are a good way to gauge how everyone is doing and what are the similarities in different people spread across the world. This is also an opportunity to know who you have kept in touch with. More on that later.

Out of the above wedding choices, I decided to attend only one of them – and the turnout was a good one of around 20 people, of which 4-5 I was very close to at INSEAD and have kept in touch since then. The others, I was probably meeting for the first time since graduation, and after talking to 3 of them, I had nailed down the answer to the standard questions of – what are you doing now and are you seeing someone?

After the 8th person, I realised that I just want to spend time with the people who I actually have kept in touch with and am updated on whats going on in their lives. For the 15 people, the standard was they either got married or are getting married soon, they are still in the same job/have just changed jobs or are sick of their jobs and will change soon (which they wont)

Everyone had a hint of sadness in them and there was lots of nostalgia about the times we spent at INSEAD. I recently came across this article by an INSEADer who graduated in 1995 – really liked it and therefore sharing –


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What do prospective/current/past INSEAD students search for?

This blog post is just a summary of the various searches that bring people to this blog. I would have had a lot more data but I think google and wordpress changed their terms a while back and now wordpress can no longer record the search words that get people here. I do have a list though and it throws up some interesting terms!

Here we go in order!

1) Pierre Hillion – Purely because I quote him a lot and he’s a famous funny guy

2) Insead12j – Understandably so, and I have added up all the various permutations of insead12j, inseadblog 12j, insead mykonos12j, insead graduation 2012. Actually this might just be number 1 cos I cant be bothered to count all the single searches

3) Insead sex – No kidding. This includes these one of searches like – “has anyone had sex with an INSEAD professor” – 3 searches, “sex parties at Insead” – more than 5 searches for that!,

4) Insead p3 singapore or Fonty – Understandable as this a question that faces most people

5) Your first hundred days Insead – surprising number of searches for this !

Now I’ll just mention some random searches that may have had 1 or 10 searches just for a laugh –

breaking up because of insead

letting go of insead

too many desis in insead

insead how many don’t graduate

good place to take your parents fontainebleau insead

easyjet mykonos insead

insead “champagne fund” rules

If anyone knows a way to record more search terms, let me know!

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The world of start-ups – post INSEAD analysis

I dedicate this blog to Patricj Turner, a larger than life personality, a great advertisement for the spirit of INSEAD and entrepreneurship, and a man who I would consider a big factor in becoming an entrepreneur post INSEAD.

Its been a little over 2 years since passing out of INSEAD, and the trend I have seen so far, is that more and more people are getting or wanting to start their own company. Having been an entrepreneur since graduating, a lot of my classmates call for advice / knowledge share. I divide them into two – wantapreneurs and entrepreneurs in disgust.

Wantapreneurs are people who think they have an idea, or think they want to be an entrepreneur, but are not willing to quit their high paying job or take the risk that goes with starting up. They want to work 10-7 PM a day and then work on their start up from 8 PM to 1 AM everyday. NEWSFLASH – It does not work like that. You cannot and should not have focus divided. You will not be doing justice to either and end up getting frustrated and think that being an entrepreneur is not for you. This was true of most INSEAD folks during and in the 3 month period after INSEAD. Everyone had a high of the entrepreneurship classes and the thoughts of freedom and very few of those people actually took a plunge. Today, we have 5 – 7 companies ranging from women undergarments (knixwear) to a travel related theater experience in Singapore (The Inside Job). if you look at it during INSEAD, about 100 ideas would have been formulated and worked upon!

Entrepreneurs in disgust on the other hand are people who have taken the plunge, and have not become a facebook or Uber in 1 year and are frustrated that they are not millionaires yet and are telling anyone and everyone that entrepreneurship is over-rated and that they are hating it. NEWSFLASH – If you could do it in one year (or even 5 !) then everyone would be an entrepreneur. It takes hard work of 5 years and then another 5 years of hard work before something is possible.

In the last few months I have met and spoken to both sets of classmates and its strange that both are unsatisfied with what they are doing – be it a job or in a start up. Grass is always greener on the other side!

For the wantapreneurs – take the plunge. at least you will stop wondering on what if, and whether successful or not, you’ll have a great story to tell.
Entrepreneurs in disgust – Figure out what you want. If its stable money, then go back to consulting, if its a thrill and the want to earn for yourself rather than someone else, then continue and try hard.

For all my batchmates – hope you are enjoying whatever you are doing wherever you are!

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Long time no see

Its been a while since I’ve updated this! Not because there isn’t anything to say, its just life has gone on much beyond INSEAD and everything that came with it. 

This is a good point, just over 2 years since graduation to reflect on the journey that 500 of us started together, and now spread across the world, have just those memories to cherish. 

So 2 years hence, the memories have remained, the friends have faded away, priorities in life have changed. I speak only for myself, but from 6 months after INSEAD when I was in touch with 15-20 people, now I think I’m in touch with below 5, and thats pushing it. I just went for an INSEAD wedding a few weeks ago, and caught up with 30 friends who I think if I had to choose 30 people from INSEAD I would want to meet, would have been close to 75% of these people. 

The conversations ranged around what we are doing now, whats happening on the personal life front, who have you been in touch with, where is the next get together etc. The problem was, and this is for me, that there was nothing to talk to beyond this. People who I spent 10 months with, whom I went for numerous holidays with, people who I talked to about setting up a business, people who I was in a group with for all my classes – the same people who helped me form such wonderful memories, were like complete strangers with no substance in the conversation.

I traced it back to my upbringing in a boarding school, where the friendships I formed there were so strong that I try to compare everything to that benchmark, and unfortunately, nothing does or can live upto that. 

Moving on, I have tried since then to make a concerted effort to do better with the people I met. Some are life long friends but I am now making more of an effort to keep in touch with them. 

Its hard to believe that 4 promotions have gone by since I left INSEAD! 



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Whats happening now?

Its been a while since INSEAD ended, and as more and more time passes, this blog can no longer be just about that. Well it can, but it makes sense to mix it up a bit.

So the INSEAD memories slowly fade away, but then a photograph or a whatsapp message from someone transports you back to those days. Couples formed at INSEAD are breaking up, getting married or just realising that its not easy outside the bubble to be together. Some couples who lasted through INSEAD are now realising that their spouses don’t measure up to the intellectual standard they have become accustomed to at INSEAD. Its funny the way it works.

Most people have started working now, and there have been clamours for a meet up somewhere in the world. The Monsoon ball is this weekend and I have some amazing memories of that event from last year. Lots of people living in Singapore and Hong Kong are going for it and I have got massive FOMO about it with people sending messages saying India is just 5 hours away!

I’ve started working as well and so far its going well. I am enjoying it and the independance that comes with it. We have had a couple of INSEAD meet ups here in the past few months and they have not been the same for me.

I spoke to a friend who is currently at supposedly the best business school in the USA, and his first words to me were “This isn’t INSEAD”. That speaks volumes coming from someone at a rival school. He lived vicariously through me while I was at INSEAD and expected something similar at his school and he was in for a shock as two months into his program, he is not having as much fun as I was. Fun is not the only thing that defines a MBA program, but its a big part of it. If you are not enjoying it, why do it?

With that closing, this video deserves a mention –


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2 months after…

2 months and a bit have passed since we graduated from INSEAD. Most of us are back at work now and the lucky few starting later on are still travelling all over the world or doing some short term projects to bide time usually in exotic locations!
Life is hitting a routine now and thinking back to the days of INSEAD, the following things hit me:
1) It seems like a really really long time ago. However, there is no difference between the first day and the last day.. they both seem equally far away!
2) How did we sustain that lifestyle for 10 months? Of constant drinking and late nights and lack of sleep? Thinking back to that, and trying to do it again now, seems almost impossible even though it was just two months ago!
3) This is the stage where you realise how strong your friendships made really were! in the first month, everyone was sending fond messages and emails as it was all fresh. Now that we are 2 months out, those messages have dried up and I can easily see the people I was really close to! Surprise surprise that some people I thought I would be in touch with, I am completely not and vice versa!
4) Getting asked questions about what you learnt still leave me stumped. Last night at Dinner I was asked what does INSEAD teach you that gets consulting companies to hire so much? I thought about it hard and my answer revolved around the international nature of the program etc etc.. wonder if a better answer is out there?

Ciao for now.

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Life as we knew it

Going by the number of nostalgic posts and photographs on facebook, I am not the only one in shock after the end of INSEAD. Almost one month on, almost all the P6 trips over, people are now starting to realise that life back home is not the same. Its not the same as INSEAD for sure, but it is also not the same as it used to be before our 10 month adventure started. Now we are hungry, used to being kept busy, used to exotic locations and liver damage.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have tried to understand how much of what I learnt at INSEAD has been retained and actually can be applied in real life and I was quite surprised to realise that there is quite a bit that is retained and applied. Its more of unconscious learning and you just assume you always knew it but now you have a name or reference point for it.

I am still in touch with almost all of the close friends I made and we regularly talk on Skype, whatsapp etc. Its good to see people making an effort but lets see how long it really lasts. Once everyone starts working and settles into a lifestyle, it is going to be hard to maintain contact.

I for one am finding it hard to adjust to life at home after 10 months in two different continents. Coming back home has been an eye opener as to how much things changed outside the bubble in ten months and how much I changed in those ten months when people who were used to you before are amazed at the after you.

So there it is, life as we knew it before INSEAD has changed, life as we knew it at INSEAD is over and now we have to get used to a new life. Here is to the 12 J promotion being successful in whatever they do!

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That sinking feeling… Its over!

Have you ever felt that feeling in your stomach where you are uncomfortable and don’t know why and what to do about it. thats the feeling I have right now after having graduated from INSEAD. After 10 months of hard work, partying, tears, laughter, its all coming to a rushing end. A number of amazing conversations took place on the grad trip about this with different people and everyone had their own version of what is happening. It was amazing to see this. Thats what is amazing about INSEAD. you might think diversity is just a marketing gimmick but its really not. Everyone brings their own perspective and its really the biggest learning here at INSEAD.

Our graduation trip just finished in Mykonossssss and it was 4 days of drinking and relaxing with friends. On the flight back from Mykonos, we were about 160 out of 180 INSEADers on the plane and took it over and kudos to easyjet for letting us enjoy ourselves and taking part in our celebrations. There is a video out there somewhere, watch out for it!

Graduation day was full of happy tears. A lot of parents were in town and it was amazing to see them enjoying our celebrations.. In conversation with a few parents, one thing most of them mentioned was the bond amongst all of us. During the graduation, there were 405 students being awarded their diplomas. After about the 25th, the parents and others gave up clapping and got bored. On the other hand, all the 12Js cheered and clapped every one of the 405 people who went up on stage. For the parents, that kind of bond was amazing to see in 10 months time.

The grad party was a sad affair with a lot of tears flowing from everyone. People were sadder that their shared experience was coming to an end more than the fact that we would not see each other again because we will. The beauty of an INSEAD MBA is that now I have someone almost in every corner of the world to have a meal and chat with. There is this comfort in knowing that we have friends from all over the world. Come the holidays, I am sure there will be travel plans made to different parts of the world with people meeting up again and again.

I am off for a P6 trip tomorrow and will be back to reflect on the time gone by soon!

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Is this the end?

I am sitting in an apartment in Western Europe on holiday just before my graduation reflecting on the 10 months that have gone by. I thought 10 months was a long time but the pace at which the MBA has gone by has amazed me. It starts off slow and you keep telling yourself you are going to enjoy every minute and remember everything that happens and before you know it its the end of a period and you stop and think to yourself -where did the last two months go? This happened to me and im sure everyone else 5 times over every period.

What is it that this INSEAD MBA has given me? Have I learnt to be a better manager? more importantly, have I learnt to be a better person? Did I change as a person over the past 10 months? for the better or for the worse? The answer to most of these questions will slowly come out over the next few months after I get used to life after this beautiful crazy adventure of INSEAD.
Its very hard to describe these 10 months to someone. I made friends, I lost friends, I fell in love, I fell out of love, I travelled to exotic locations, I toiled studying till midnight, I drank till my liver hurt, I danced till my feet gave away, I studied till I fell asleep on the table and I did a lot more.
I have a brief synopsis on the before INSEAD and after INSEAD me but I will save that for another post.

Right, next up, Graduation trip in Mykonos with 300 people whom I have grown to love and treat like my family. Unfortunately I will never see some of these people again but I hope and pray that some of them become part of my family across the world and I can always count on them for their support when I need it.
On the 5th of July, We will all be the proud receivers of INSEAD MBA’s and go out into the big bad world to make something of our lives and repay some of the faith put into us by so many people!

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Last class over!

What a bittersweet feeling.
My last class at INSEAD was yesterday. The feeling was one of relief, fear, anxiety and a whole lot of others mixed together. I graduate on 5th of July and thats just 3 weeks away. In between that and now are 3 trips lined up to different parts of Europe! Apart from that, there is a yearning to spend time on campus and see as many familiar faces as possible. After 3 weeks, I am sure that there are a lot of people I will never see again. On the other hand, I am also sure that there are some people I will be in touch with forever as the friendships formed with them are absolutely amazing!

Here is a brief update of whats been going on:

Classes – I finished with Your First hundred Days (YFCD). It was the best class I’ve taken at INSEAD and involved a lot of work from the students and the professors side. Its pretty much being put in charge of a live company for its first 100 days and having all sorts of issues crop up and test your abilities as managers. For me, this course took into account almost every other course taught at INSEAD and was a good culmination of the courses.

We have had Latin American week and Italian week so far. Italian week was amazing with a ferrari on campus and a great dinner and party with lots of alcohol!

The Grad trip is to Greece this time and it is lined up to be a whole lot of fun!


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Filed under Fontainebleau, INSEAD, P5, travels