Why Nadine Farouq Chose INSEAD MBA Program From Among 8 Schools0
Bangladeshi-American Nadine Farouq took the decision to enrol for the MBA program at the Fontainebleau campus of INSEAD December 2019 class after visiting a total of eight schools in three countries over the span of four years.
Holding an M.A. in International Trade and Investment Policy from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington, Nadine had been working for the US government, most recently as a diplomat focused on economic policy at the US Mission to the European Union in Brussels.
Writing in “The INSEAD MBA Experience” blog, she gives several reasons for choosing this B-school over the others.
She says she wanted to study in a top-ranked school for her additional master’s degree to add value to her resume.
Having lived and worked in Europe for the past two years, she wanted to stay on. By joining a European institution, she felt she would be able to continue to live in the continent while making herself more competitive for the European job market.
Unlike in the US, where it is rare to have a master’s degree, due to the differences in the education systems, almost all Europeans pursuing their MBAs already have master’s degrees. In this respect, she felt she would fit right in.
Insead was the only school where the administration went out of their way to tell a group of prospective students that they recognize the program is expensive and want to make sure they got their money’s worth.
Nadine also wanted to be in a country where she could improve her French or Spanish. “I love learning languages, even if I’m not particularly talented at it. The language classes at INSEAD—included in tuition—appealed strongly to me,” she says.
She was also seeking diversity having been a minority as a Bangladeshi-American. “This lack of diversity amplified when I joined the government, where people are disproportionately recruited from elite schools. At INSEAD, I found a level of diversity unmatched by top US schools. When I visited the school, it was the first time in a very long time that I felt I wasn’t a minority. Rather, I was just among a group of kind, intelligent, and interesting people from all over the world,” she says.
Another factor weighing in favour of INSEAD was the higher average age of the cohort compared to American programs. “I didn’t want to do an executive MBA program since I’m changing sectors from the government. The average age in top US MBA programs (non-executive) ranges from 26 to about 28, and they increasingly admit students directly after undergrad or with less than two years of work experience.
“INSEAD’s average age is 29, with an average six years of work experience. It’s not much higher than the US schools, but I felt the difference when I visited schools. At each of these sessions, I sought out the 30+ crowd and asked about their experiences. INSEAD was the only school where the older students had a positive experience and encouraged me to apply, and the younger students specifically said they had a better experience because of the older average age. With too low of an average age, students would have less to contribute in terms of sharing their past experiences.”
She also says that while she spoke with current students and some alumni at the schools she visited, it was only at INSEAD she got a positive feedback.
Regarding the curriculum, she says of all the MBA masterclasses she attended, it was only the one at INSEAD that piqued her interest. “Granted, the first masterclass was with Erin Meyer, who I now know is some kind of international superstar professor, but I appreciate that INSEAD would bring out the big guns to attract new students.”
She also felt that this was the only school where the administration went out of their way to tell a group of prospective students that they recognize the program is expensive and want to make sure they got their money’s worth.
The location at Fontainebleau, she says, allows her to focus on the program and the MBA experience rather than being distracted in a bigger city. “Small doesn’t mean rural by any means; Fontainebleau is a tourist destination in and of itself. There are plenty of supermarkets, restaurants, bars, and at least two artisanal bakeries on each block. The campus is quite integrated into the town, so it’s easy to find a place to live that’s within walking distance of everything you’ll need on a day-to-day basis. And of course, if it gets too small for you, a 45-minute train ride will put you in the centre of Paris,” she says.