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I recently failed in leading negotiations to sell my company’s Enterprise Division to one of the largest industrial groups in my country. This failure directly resulted in the loss of 20 people’s jobs.

During the initial meeting between the parties, we concluded the price and date of transfer. The CEOs left the room and left it up to us, the lawyers, to settle the details.

Throughout the meeting, a rivalry emerged between the legal parties. The situation eventually turned into personal animosity, to a point where the group’s CEO requested that we remove our external counsel. What made the situation even harder was the rising tension amongst the division’s employees. Productivity and morale dropped with rumors of a buy-out circulating.

After a month of discussions, the deal fell through. Twenty of the forty division’s employees were fired immediately with the rest scheduled to be fired within the upcoming weeks.

We failed by feeding off each other’s suspicions leading to spiraling negative dynamics. Most importantly, I failed to consider the extent to which my actions affected the division’s employees. Once the deal became too complex to be executed, I should have gone back to the drawing board or defused the situation by restraining, or even replacing our external counsel.

With this failure resonating in my mind, I have actually been given a second chance with an additional offer from a new party. This time around I’m determined not to allow personal rivalry get in the way of the company’s best interests. I constantly think about the job security of the remaining twenty employees, who have been with the company for over 15 years, people with families, who will have difficulties in finding new jobs.

“Congratulations on completing your internship. I’m offering you an attorney position at our firm. However, I’d like you to consider a more business-oriented position becoming my right-hand-man at my new company.”

This offer by our firm’s head partner who’d been nominated as a Chairman at another company, was the wake-up-call I needed. It made me realize that my passion was to lead a decision-making career.

The Telecom field is one of my country’s most competitive and exciting industries. Afterwards, I hope to become V.P. of Corporate Development for a cellular operator in my country. Since the Telecom industry is very strategy-driven, taking a decision-making role in Strategy will provide the perfect stepping-stone to realizing my long-term aim of becoming the company’s CEO.

In order to fulfill such goals, my short-run objectives are to acquire the best academic tools available and combine them with the substantial business experience I’ll gain working post-graduation as an Associate in a leading management consulting firm such as BCG or McKinsey.

INSEAD’s MBA Programme will best prepare me for the road ahead. It will complement my legal and corporate background in developing my understanding of fields I lack experience in: finance, HR, marketing and production. INSEAD’s courses Managing Media Companies and Market Driving Strategies, are bound to be a tremendous learning experience towards managing a Telecom company. Studying the “Blue Ocean Strategy” with Renée Mauborgne and Chan Kim, ranked among “The Thinkers 50″‘s top ten most influential thinkers, will provide me with useful insights I’ll utilize upon returning to the ruby-red ocean of the Telecom industry in my country.

On a more direct level, participating in one of the many consulting internships offered to INSEAD students will provide me my first real consulting experience. I’ll also join the Consulting Club, where I’ll expand my professional network and obtain exposure to recruiters. Furthermore, as Cassandra Pittman, the MBA Programme’s Assistant Director of Marketing pointed-out in a recent interview, McKinsey is INSEAD’s top recruiter, and hires more students from INSEAD than from any other business school. This famous recruitment record, specifically with consulting firms, will be a benefit in seeking my post-MBA position.

INSEAD’s campuses in two of the world’s major financial capitals fits in perfectly with my career goals. My previous positions have supplied me with business experience in South-America, Europe and Africa. Gaining cultural experience and business contacts in Asia, by attending the Singapore campus will benefit my career immensely.

As the ultimate stage of my career, I aim at implementing my business experience to impact i the public sector by becoming the CEO of a ministry such as Education or Industry. Participating in INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship course and INDEVOR club will be an important step in that direction. Being able to invest my efforts in improving the quality of the public services in my country would be the peak of my career.

The more I hear and read about INSEAD – the more I feel I belong there. INSEAD has few competitors in academic terms or in international repute, and is really the only truly diversified and international MBA Programme. I consider it to be a measure and a target in itself.

The Pharmaceutical industry has been facing major challenges in recent years, such as sales force ineffectiveness and significant pricing pressures from healthcare payers. Working for a leading Pharmaceutical firm, I had the opportunity to tackle such challenges, boosting my passion for this industry.

Assisting with the strategic plan of my company in South Africa I was exposed to McKinsey’s approach to Pharma challenges in developing countries. Therefore, after my MBA in INSEAD, I would like to work as an associate for a top international consulting firm such as McKinsey, Bain, or BCG and focus on pharmaceutics.

Experiencing the vast diversity of the consulting industry and understanding the global business world are imperative for me to attain my goals, and I understand that applying specific industry knowledge, global understanding and strategic focus is what INSEAD is all about.

Following three to five years in consulting, I would like to enter a large pharmaceutics corporation with an international expansion strategy such as Pfizer. A senior management position in international business development, such as out-licensing manager, would give me an insight on developing pharmaceutics markets and would allow me to manage internal portfolio assets while forming the right alliances. After a few years of corporate experience, I see myself advancing to a vice president of business development position where I would be leading the organization’s expansion, responsible for corporate strategy and managing the business development department.

Pharmaceutics is a global industry which is affected by specific regional healthcare needs, governments’ regulations and local cultures. This has been forcing large pharmaceutical companies to be truly international organizations, which need truly international individuals. INSEAD’s multinational and multicultural environment will enable me to expose, absorb and learn how to handle this kind of diversity.

My visit to Fontainebleau campus (2008) showed me that studying with students from more than 70 nationalities really makes a difference and how the cultural aspect is addressed by exposing each nationality to the others. Moreover, the opportunity to experience Asia through the Singapore campus of INSEAD will allow me to network with large Pharma companies, like Roche, using Singapore as one of their hubs to the fast growing far east.

Furthermore, dynamic changes in this sector require structured yet flexible marketing strategies to better penetrate new markets and develop suitable mergers and acquisitions. INSEAD’s strategic orientation provides the exact tools to build such plans. I am particularly excited about Dr. Reinhard Angelmar’s Pharmaceutical Marketing Strategy elective course. This is very important to me because as a Manager in the Pharma industry, I am particularly exposed to an ever-changing environment but need to display solid core marketing tactics in order to influence others to follow my vision.

Attending Javier Jimeno’s Industry & Competitive analysis class introduced me to the open atmosphere of classes and the kind of top-tier professors offered by INSEAD. In addition, it taught me that the group experience, as used in INSEAD to link between students from different backgrounds, can help me truly leverage difference multicultural approaches.

Personally, INSEAD attracts me also due to the proximity to my uncles in Paris, which would assist me in my post-MBA job search using their local relations and to my father in Milan, who I could rely on during and after my studies there.

The medical technology world has always fascinated me. With cost of traditional health care going up and of technology going down, healthcare technology is migrating from the hospital and doctor’s Clinique to the patient’s home. Thus, I believe medical technologies will be an exciting area of growth in the world economy in the years to come.

Post-INSEAD I seek to join a sales and marketing team, in an international medical technology company such as GE health care. My goal is to lead an energetic and ambitious sales team, in an ambiguous setting, towards yet untapped markets and regions. In a later stage, I aim to become global sales manager.

From INSEAD I look to gain a unique multi-cultural learning experience, interacting with people of all backgrounds, absorbing their insights, sharing mine, in and outside the class and to learn how to do business with them. I expect to gain a behind the scenes look into international companies and analyze their strategic and operational moves, meeting the company leaders in person. In addition, I would like to earn tools to perform professional strategic analyses and thereby practice these tools in an intellectually engaging class, improving them throughout the degree, I look forward to take courses from world renown strategy professors such as W. Chan Kim and Phil Parker. Taking special courses about the pharma industry such as Health Care Management with Prof Stephen Chick, joining the healthcare club and participating in the social innovation center’s Healthcare management initiative will allow me to expand my knowledge of this industry and find the optimal job opportunity. I heard a lot about Pierre Chandon, Phillip Anderson, and Ziv Carmon and their marketing management, Venture capital and private equity and consumer psychology courses, which will enrich me with official marketing knowledge, crucial to my career path towards global sales and will enable me to re-evaluate my own experiences.

I talked to INSEAD alumni’s Mr. Igor Landau (MBA ’71), former Aventis President and today a director in the Sanofi-Aventis board and with Iddo Leshem (J07), country manager at Brystol-Myers-Squib, about the Healthcare value chain, and where I can optimally fit in the chain, contributing to its improvement. They also shared with me their Insights about a career in Biotech and Pharma post-INSEAD and how INSEAD helped them achieve their career goals.

I have a strong personal affiliation to INSEAD. It was my late father’s wish that I should acquire an MBA at INSEAD. He believed that the market in my country is limited and that had he acquired a business education in an international school from INSEAD, as did his friend and today my mentor Mr. Igor Landau, his career could have reached new and exciting heights. My connections in France, acquired by family and by business ventures, added to the INSEAD network, will be a stepping-stone in my job search post INSEAD.

I was assigned the lead role for our company’s Singapore IT Department stress management event in 2010 to help colleagues identify and address early signs of stress.

One of my colleagues in another department recommended a trainer who conducted a well received workshop in her department. I went to the trainer’s website and found a long list of amazing titles, including certified therapist and advanced corporate trainer. Impressed, I met up with her to discuss the training objective and review the presentation package. I decided to engage her, after discussing with my team members. Then, I proceeded to coordinate my team members’ efforts to book the venues, cater refreshment, and design advertising communication to attract our colleagues.

Around 130 participants attended this event, which seemed to be engaging and interesting. However, I was surprised and upset when the feedback revealed an average overall satisfaction of only 3 out of 5. Some attendees felt the trainer focused too little on identifying and coping with stress, while others thought she was not knowledgeable enough.

Looking deeper into why the event was unsuccessful, I realized I didn’t study the needs of the participants, especially ignoring the fact that some senior colleagues may have attended similar workshops previously. I wrongly assumed that what I consider useful would be pertinent for all. I had to admit I was overly fascinated by the speaker’s titles when I should have looked for her relevant experience. Finally, I realized I gave the speaker too much control over the presentation, when I should have been more specific about my audience’s needs.

I continued to volunteer for event committees to gain experience and lent my hand for events chaired by my colleagues. I also carefully reviewed feedback and reflected after each event.

This year, I volunteered to chair a “new hires” event for the Women’s Interest Network at work. I sent out a survey to all the new hires to gather questions they had about career progression. I chose senior management panelists and discussion topics based on the most popular questions submitted, in consultation with the HR department.

More than 50 new hires attended this event. As the emcee, I encouraged audience to ask questions and facilitated discussion between the panelists and audience. This time, the average satisfaction rate was 4.5 out of 5, and I was asked to organize additional events in the future.

I manage a team responsible for providing central actuarial expertise in financial reporting to Old Mutual’s life insurance entities in 9 countries in Africa. My responsibility includes carrying out the end-to-end valuation process used to calculate the liability and profit positions of these companies on a quarterly basis. My team consists of 3 sub-teams – business partners responsible for reviewing results produced and engaging with in-country management to feed these into business decisions; financial specialists responsible for running and calibrating the financial models that produce the financial output for the business partners; and a consolidation function responsible for collating the results across all countries and reporting to the central group function.

I have successfully grown the team from 6 to 12 people in two years, driving employee career progression, training and recruitment. I built a very effective and highly performing operation with my team, exceeding expectations by delivering ahead of deadlines and receiving better feedback from clients compared to previous engagements. As a result, I am happy to receive additional responsibilities over time including taking over model development work from Cape Town and projects such as distribution economics from the Africa holding company. I manage a budget of €1m for my internal team, receive €3m in fees from my clients across Africa and grew these by 20% in the last 2 years.

I use my strong technical and analytical background to initiate projects that drive Old Mutual’s growth strategy in Africa. Based on my analysis of the profit drivers of our Kenya business, I identified a product that was incorrectly priced and incurred losses for the group. I initiated a project to review the pricing of the product, set up steering committees and presented recommendations to the Board. I also worked with the IT and marketing teams to implement these changes on systems and brochures, resulting in a 10% increase in operating profits.

The intersection of finance and technology has triggered a revolution in the way people manage their financials. While growing up, I remember our domestic worker being outraged when her bank targeted her with a funeral coverage product and costs were deducted from her accounts, leaving her with little to survive on. My vision is to empower more people in developing markets to structure and control their financial futures, enhancing financial inclusion. I acted on this vision when I led the development of a mobile insurance product in Uganda, offering consumers direct access to financial advisers.

In the long term, I want to lead a FinTech initiative in Africa. I want to leverage my deep financial understanding to develop new processes, products and business models in the insurance industry, composed of one or more complementary financial services and provided as an end-to-end digital solution.

Upon graduation, I intend to become a Digital Product Manager in a major financial services firm such as Munich Re or Prudential. I want to experience first-hand how large traditional corporations fight to stay relevant and offer more innovative solutions and then apply this knowledge when leading a FinTech venture. In this role, I will design, implement and drive the usage of new digital platforms to broaden the distribution of financial services products and optimize the customer experience using big data analytics to continually attract and add value to customers.

INSEAD’s three-campus structure will expose me to industry leaders and trail-blazers in Singapore, Fontainebleau and Abu Dhabi to help launch my global post-MBA career. Speaking with an alumna from promotion 15J, I learnt how electives such as “Technology and Innovation Strategy” and “Entrepreneurial Strategies in Emerging Markets” would prepare me for a digital lead role and eventually help me found a FinTech initiative in Africa. She also confirmed the networking benefits of INSEAD’s Finance and Women in Business clubs, in which I intend to take leadership roles, expand my skill set and achieve my financial inclusion goals. I would also like to initiate a FinTech event at INSEAD and invite an alumnus who founded the mobile banking start-up “Curve”, to discuss challenges in disrupting the traditional finance industry.

Being a daughter of two politicians, I once accompanied my father to the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Zuma in Parliament. When the media approached my father for a comment, he was firm and honest in his response, acknowledging progress made but highlighting the president’s failure to address unemployment. From my father’s example, I learnt how to stand up for what I believe yet also to be attentive to others’ opinions. In one instance, I motivated that my employee be promoted, listened to the challenge from other managers and in rebuttal, shared practical examples of his excellent performance to reach consensus.

I grew immensely when I moved from the small town where I grew up to the bustling city of Johannesburg to study actuarial science. I was intrigued by the idea of building predictive models after an actuary visited my school to talk about the profession, offering bursaries and I promised to also give back. Determined to empower others, while chairing the university Business Society I initiated an entrepreneurship forum for students to share their innovative business ideas. The number of students participating doubled to 300 in a year, and I was delighted when many opened small businesses on campus.

I always wanted to work in a cross-cultural environment and immerse myself in diverse ethnicity. When I relocated to the Old Mutual UK office I realized that the local organisational structure was less hierarchical. As a result, decisions were made faster and change, including products I re-priced, was quickly implemented. I adjusted by proactively engaging on my product ideas to influence change instead of continuously receiving change. This experience gave me insights into change management in an international setting, allowed me to bridge cultural differences and sparked a passion to make a global impact.

During yoga practice I constantly aspired to reach the perfect poses. I was introduced to yoga during a visit to India, when I admired the serenity that surrounded local practitioners. Over time I realized that my relentless aspiration for perfectionism was making it more difficult for me to compromise and settle. I consulted with my yoga teacher who helped me put things into perspective and concentrate on the present. This viewpoint transferred to work, where I was easier on myself when standardizing the profit templates across countries, and accepted that this could not be achieved perfectly given different systems used to generate data.

Passionate to help others, I volunteered in a civil society organisation and launched 15 food gardens, creating incomes for 150 previously unemployed people. Even though I was operating at full capacity, I felt obligated to help another volunteer in distress to source sprinklers for the gardens, and I obtained insufficient seeds to grow the vegetables, delaying the end product. I learnt that even though I constantly strive to please others, I need to define clear boundaries to be effective. For example, during our valuation when deadlines are tight, I politely declined to proof-read a colleague’s report which was a good decision as we met deadlines in the nick of time.

My diverse experiences have shaped my character and aspirations, while my determination to build on my strengths and address my weaknesses serves as a ground for becoming a global leader.

Since I was eight years old, basketball has been one of my biggest passions and my most time-consuming hobby. As a teen, I was the captain of a championship-winning basketball team. Playing a competitive group sport has been one of the most enriching experiences in my life.

Today, sports are still a big part of my life. I play basketball twice a week, and have grown passionate about extreme sports. I will definitely promote a snowboarding or ski-trip for my classmates.

One year after I finished my military service, my father closed our successful family jewellery business to become a winemaker, purchasing land and planting a modest vineyard. Spending many weekends picking grapes, tilling the soil, and planting seeds, I enjoyed helping this small endeavour evolve into a recognised, award-winning winery that produces over 10,000 bottles annually. Wine has since become a great hobby for me, and my father’s success inspired me to establish my own wine-refrigerator e-commerce store.

I would love to share my wine experiences and knowledge with my classmates and host a visit to my family’s winery during the Start-Up Nation visit. I’d also like to reopen and manage INSEAD’s wine club, bringing people who are passionate about wine, together, in the country that produces the world’s greatest wine.

During university, looking for a way to contribute within the community, I became a volunteer tutor for students with learning disorders, and it became one of most fulfilling experiences. I have also volunteered for the last 3 years at a non-profit organization, today by providing them with professional services.

Finally, I love to travel, especially with my wife. We love to take spontaneous trips abroad, as well as to hike the offbeat trails of Israel, with our dog alongside us.

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