Tuesday, March 25, 2008


We received our P1 examination results today. Attached to our original examination answer booklets, INSEAD provides a summary of how we fare against the rest of the classes taught by the same professor for each module, ie, our Z-score in a normal distribution against the mean Z-score of 2.50.

Most celebrate to have survived the challenge of P1, only to be reminded by our professors that P2 examination is only 1 -month away...
Experience from P1 seems to suggest that, while some will attempt through all creative methods to persuade the rest not to study, thus creating an ideal 'Nash Equilibrium' that could benefit everybody, the actual defect rate was expectedly high.
As much as a Prisoners' Dilemma is undesirable, in practise, would be commonly found in the real world.

P2 is so far a period of enjoyable learning, albeit being a tough period. Having gone through the initial adjustment period, INSEAD obviously wants to push our learning curve steeper again to justify our reputation of an intensive and top 1-year programme. Aptly commented by a Process & Management Operation professor, the intensity of assignment deadlines and complexity of cases would force us towards full capacity (bottleneck), ideally propelling us towards better teamwork, since it would be virtually impossible for a 'normal' individual to accomplish all tasks without external sharing of workload and internal re-distribution of scarce (time) resource.

In our learning here, collaborating is always preached as a better way than screwing up others in handling many situations. It is then up to us to digest and hopefully apply in our lives after INSEAD.

Anyhow, most begin to enjoy the classes more, and look forward to electives in P3.
Most modules appear synchronized in content to train us a better business intuition to handle complicated scenarios. The qualitative + quantitative trainings make what we learn in classes look a lot more applicable in real world. No longer were the days when everything seem to be a mysterious matrix of figures.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the science of the relationship 'ice-berg'

The most interesting class of this Period is probably the Leading People & Group, ie. Organization Behaviour a.k.a. Group and Individual Psychology.

The subjects brought above the surface and discussed would likely benefit many of us many years post-MBA (with some optimism).

Isn't life more than just having a successful career? with all the hype about 'work-life balance' nowadays?

Group dynamic is agreeably a hell more intensive than observed at our previous work place, due to the facts that at INSEAD:
- there is no clear hierachy and thus assigned authority among participants
- everyone have paid/are paying a high price, in addition to monetary cost, to spend a year here. Previous comfort zone is given up and probably has diminished, opportunities forgone, relationships sacrificed.(the list continues)
- we have different expectations and priorities
- we behave in unconscious manner influenced by our (many many) different backgroup, experience, culture, belief, religion ...
- dealing with often egoistic, occassionally overconfident or self-centred MBAs on a daily /hourly basis
- average number of work experience is higher than most other top MBAs. It's a double edged sword. Some get insistent of their viewpoints backed by previous rich experience while some bring in a more matured perspective

Most top MBA school imposes an allocated study group system that requires the group to 'stick' together for some months. Love it or hate it. According to sources, the INSEAD culture is relatively more 'collaborative' and 'friendly' than our counterparts who view one another strictly as career competitors at Wall Street.
(Of course, we will have to compete. Just that, everything is in relative terms)

1 Period will be over in a week's time. It's way too early to judge if this MBA process will be the most enjoyable/memorable/beneficial period of our lives, in the way always testified at a graduation speech.

One thing for sure : everything fly pass like a falling shooting star here.

To all MBA prospective students:
- be realistic of what to expect. best of luck !

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Financial Market & Valuation projects have been a good generator of LPG assignment raw materials. The subjectivity of the explicit and/or implicit impact of the variable inputs on the final valuation creates the perfect setting for hours of 'intellectual' debates and sometimes, senseless display of the power of persuasion.

The sense and sensibility of persuasion is absolutely in play, even though the end-product is so 'mathematical'.

Among the groups, holding constant the factor of previous professional experience in financial valuation, there are those who apparently fight with one another for every single possible reason, and quote every possible 'supportive evidence' from lecture notes and textbooks and/or his/her more 'valuable' work experience in attempts to justify his/her academic argument. Meanwhile some are happy to devote time to more 'productive' activities, which definitions are subjected to the respective objectives of spending $$ and time at INSEAD.

By the way, it's never strange to find a wide range of valuation result for the same case, and different approaches adopted by the professor and by students who have financial valuation work experience.

It must be a coincidence.

During one of the consulting firm presentations this week, (which, coincidentally, the academically focused people have no time to bother about), a director suggests that conventional valuation theories and practices, particularly in the derivation of Beta and Discount Rate, are increasingly inadequate in assessing the real business risks nowadays. Business sustainability, in its own complexity, demands much more sophisticated analysis which does not involve simply quantitative financial datas, but a deeper understanding of the interacting forces in business.

Some of us can't help but wonder, if one is so caught up by every tiny detail in a case, why doesn't he/she enrols into a Master/PhD of Finance instead?

Monday, February 18, 2008

I.N.S.E.A.D. towards the end of P1

I.N.S.E.A.D - I Never Sleep Enough After December (2007...)
because ... I Never Stop Eating And Drinking ?? :p
(if you are an INSEAD December class)

It's crazy how 2 months fly pass and the first term examination is approaching !!
(and Euro 10,000 tuition fee is now Realised Cost... oh how we really splurge !)

The wiser seniors claim that P1 is the most 'academically stressful' are probably right. Now the real hangover effects of partying, travelling and socialising really produce headaches. We never meant it this way, but when at Fontainebleau the only competitively priced product is alcohol, and there is hardly any public enterntainment facility, you can hardly blame us for attending one party after another...
(No...I am just joking...)

The truths are:

So much readings undone and so little time is left... The academic stress
P3 students who started their year at the Singapore campus always claim that INSEADers at Fontainebleau campus study much harder...the library at Singapore campus rarely hosts any diligent bookworm after 10pm, while the Fontainebleau library is opened 24-hour to accommodate an inelastic demand... wisdom from the senior promotion suggests that such painful situation will gradually improve as we learn to prioritize/multi-task/be less bothered by GPA, and particularly if we get to immerse in the Singapore campus culture for some months. we shall see.

Within the first 2 weeks many banker-aspirants found themselves pulled into the tornado of finance summer internship programme information sessions and company applications. Those genuinely motivated and armed with relevant experience naturally have the necessary bullets admist this financial crisis. Stress mounts as the illusion of having a luxury to first explore then decide bursts in the face of tougher selection by the banks. Luckier are those company-sponsored free souls and those un-seduced by the finance sector.

Networking is generally less efficient when we have >300 names and faces to remember. It adds to the challenge when we have names and accents from >70 nationalities. Study group is either a blessing or a curse. Most of us have little clue of how to complete the 2000-3000 word LPG (a.k.a. analyse your study group's characters, dynamic and functionality) essay due next week. To write 500-625 words about each group member is a great deal of over-diagnosis and description.

P1 is such a roller-coaster... it is so over-whelming and yet so sweet that I start to be nolstagic.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First 2 weeks @ INSEAD

Many feels that 2 weeks here felt as if a term has passed. The extent of 'shake-ups' experienced differ for individuals, but probably few will be discount the impact of introspection created by the various debates on leadership, ethics and corporate social responsibility of business decision-making 'game' players, whom we obviously aspire to become by coming to INSEAD MBA, and the after-effect internalised through the orientation Outward Bound activities.

Some MBA applicants and newly admitted students may question what is the real value of INSEAD experience, in comparison to the many others which 'brand name' may be more prominent outside the MBA world, but sometimes mainly contributed by their other star faculties other than MBA, or by more pro-active marketing. After just 2 weeks here, I dare to say the learning and reflection only possible in our truly diverse environment is the most valuable (but perhaps under-valued) distinction for INSEAD.

One grows the most when placed in a challenging position outside the comfort zone.

While the transition could be tiring, I believe my school fee and opportunity cost will proved to be well invested.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Great way if you like to contribute to this dying earth or pick up something 2nd for free


The long-anticipated beginning

yes ! school will start officially tomorrow

Most of us here live at a house with many housemates. It promotes interactions and probably provides a great setting for house parties for which Fontainebleau campus is well reputated. So far, everyone (well..almost..) look courteous and approachable, as always at most first few social meetings.

The schedule for the orientation week seems manageable, and for most of us, the only concern is about going for Outward Bound team-building activity here in winter ! Temperature can drop to sub-zero sometimes and it would be fun to break the ice among us.

INSEAD class is divided into sessions of 75 students, and into allocated study groups of 5-6 students. With the release of the list recently, everyone is eager to 'learn more about the group mates' with whom we must stick together for the next 4 months for all core modules.

Good Luck !!