Orientation Day 1 was close to excellent for me.
I picked up my neighbour Jonathan (UK) and off we went to INSEAD, in time for the 10am Citibank presentation - which turned out to be not about careers, but setting up an international bank account which had amazingly attractive fixed deposit rates. NZ$ for 9% p.a.?! But when I tried to sign up for it, and when Citibank learnt I was Singaporean, I was advised to stick with my local account instead as it wouldn’t make much difference. I’m not sure if they really meant well or they just wanted non-Singaporeans who would probably earn more money overseas. So that left me with a flat taste in my mouth.
Meeting my new groupmates
We were asked to register at different times, depending on where in the alphabet our last name fell under. Being in the second half as my surname began with ‘T’, I was quite early, but was able to collect my stuff immediately, including a tonne of notes which we would use for P1. I learnt that I would be in section A1 while a few other friends would be in A2. I would be in group 6 and would have to sit right in front for every lecture! Just as well, since I am not so tall plus my vision gets blurry every now and then. That also means I have to pay attention in class and arrive on time!
I am happy with my 4 group mates. I was particularly delighted to learn that Myriam from Lebanon would be in my group. We had met a couple weeks ago and got along so well that I called her my ‘sister’. She was equally elated to learn that I would be her group mate. I met the other guys, Raphael from Germany (McKinsey) who has his own photo site, Eloi from Spain (space engineer) and George from Greece (aeronautical engineer). From our backgrounds, it looks like I will be contributing the ‘soft skills’, the guys will probably be strong in quant, while Myriam (Law, Business/Finance) will be the all-rounder.
It also looks like the men will construct the catapult or whatever device we have to make during the outward bound day, while I will do the publicity and Myriam will do the financing and handle the lawsuits caused by damage to the surroundings!
The A2 section weren’t entirely happy with the arrangements as they’re scheduled for full-day classes on Saturday, while my section only has to attend classes in the morning. One or two classmates have considered changing their section for convenience, but I didn’t think it was advisable because INSEAD probably put them in their group and section for a reason. Changing sections means that groups will also be affected. A lot of thought has been put in to ensure that groupmates would have different nationalities and backgrounds - a key part of the learning experience at INSEAD.
Our new MBA Dean, Jake Cohen, gave an hour-long talk to each section and assured us that beneath his serious exterior, he is a fun-loving guy. We weren’t too sure about that until he told us something he did which shall not be mentioned on this blog :P However, he sounds like he really means business - we have to take our work seriously because there will be a minimum mark to pass each topic.
Our two Deans and a Japanese INSEAD alumnus who’s now the CEO of a private equities firm, gave speeches at the end of the day. I managed to snap this shot of them all.
Meeting our INSEAD Dean, Frank Brown, was a highlight. I thought we’d have to push through the crowds to speak to him, but instead he came right up to my group and started chatting. He assured us that he was working on improving the INSEAD name in the US, and that CEOs and 20-somethings were aware of us but the trick was now to convince them to join despite the hefty price tag - not an easy task especially with a weak US economy. But I’m sure we’ll get there.
Through the day I introduced myself to people who would then say, “Your name is familiar… hey you’re the one who’s very active on Facebook!” or even better, “I read your blog! It’s vantan.org!” which is amazing. To the first comment I assure you that once school starts I will not have so much time. To the second comment … wow … I am honoured. But another reason I am blogging here is because a future employer at an MNC says he is keeping an eye on my INSEAD blog, so I must keep it up! :)
I managed to meet up with various members of the Mac Users @ INSEAD group which I founded on Facebook. My purpose was not to set up an elitist clique but to support each other as we endeavour to get through our 10 months doing business work on our Macs. Earlier on, there were false rumours that INSEAD’s IT department would not support Macs, but I found that staff were particularly interested in improving their Mac knowledge. Also it is nice talking to classmates who also appreciate design and the Apple brand.
All in all it was a good outing. My next focus is to pass the French language test on Wednesday. Tomorrow, orientation continues at 9am. I will sign up for the test tomorrow and will probably have a late lunch, then head home for revision!