Interviewed by Hanna Müller
Teresa Peiro-Camaro, a participant of our Women Talent Pool programme, is the Associate Director for the EMBA admissions at the global business school INSEAD, a partner of WIL Europe. In our interview, she talked about the social responsibility of leaders, introspection during the lockdown and French kissing!
Can you describe your current role as Associate Director at INSEAD?
INSEAD is one of the leading and largest business schools in the world. Our mission is to bring together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. We have four campuses in Europe (Fontainebleau, France); the Middle East (Abu Dhabi) and Asia (Singapore); and in February, we opened our San Francisco Hub for Business Innovation.
Beyond our full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme, we also offer an Executive MBA (EMBA). As head of the EMBA Admissions team, I am responsible for the class composition of all three GEMBA sections (Asia, Middle East and Europe) and the TIEMBA section, which is a joint programme between INSEAD and Tsinghua University based in Beijing, China.
You can think about my role as that of a gatekeeper. As soon as a candidate completes an application, my team takes over. In the pre-selection process, candidates either take an in-house test or submit their Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Executive Assessment (EA) score. The next steps include discussing a case study and passing a motivational interview.
Candidates sometimes believe that it is enough to submit a great score to make their way into the programme, but our final decision is based on their holistic application, including their personal qualities and life journey. On average, our candidates bring over 14 years of work experience. At this stage of their professional careers, executives look for more than management theories.
At INSEAD, participants embark on a transformational journey that challenges their assumptions and certainties. For example, the Leadership Development Programme with coaching sessions allows participants to receive and give feedback on a regular basis. Our programme enables them to redefine the way they think and lead.
Our mission is to bring together people,
cultures and ideas to develop
responsible leaders who transform
business and society.
The golden area of business education began in the early 50’s and was long time considered as an accelerator for your professional career. How has the impact of business schools shifted during the last years? And how do business schools adapt to a changing education landscape?
During the second half of the 20th century, right after INSEAD was founded, the MBA diploma became the gold standard of business education. It was a prerequisite to attain senior management or leadership positions. Then, following the global financial crisis in 2008we observed a tremendous change. What was the change?
Today’s INSEAD students have a very different collective outlook than those of a decade ago. While they may once have been largely driven by money and status, now strongly consider the societal demands for greater accountability and social responsibility in the way large and small companies conduct their business.
In that respect, INSEAD took the initiative to entirely redesign our academic curriculum . We now provide a first-class learning experience for the next generation of students, with greater focus on sustainability, ethics and social purpose. We are responsible for preparing students to make a difference through their work as responsible leaders who transform business and society.
We also have a variety of extracurricular social activities. Last year the GEMBA’19 Class, organised ‘INSEAD RUN4CHANGE’ to raise money for a global campaign supporting female education and empowerment around the world. We ran 20,000 kilometres and even exceeded our funding target of €20,000.
Leaders do not only
have an impact on their team
but on the whole society.
Can you explain the difference between the traditional MBA and the full-time EMBA? For which of both should I apply to evolve my career?
The main difference between both programmes would be the average age (37 vs 29 years) and length of work experience (5.6 vs 14 years). Moreover, the EMBA vs the MBA puts a different focus on self-development, maturity and defining your next career move. It is about becoming a better leader, switching to the next level, growing inside your organisation or your sector. The EMBA at INSEAD includes a Leadership Development Programme where we coach and accompany students in this personal development. We do not measure success via entry-exit salary or becoming a CEO but by the breadth and depth of their responsibilities.
In your opinion, what is the value of an MBA and is it still worth it in today’s world?
I do not think that the value of an MBA has decreased, but it has definitely shifted. One day a woman came to my office whose husband had gone through the EMBA and she said to me, ‘I do not know what you have done to my husband, but I want to go through the same programme. INSEAD gave me a better husband’.
After completing our EMBA program, many executives stay with their company. They do not change their employer, but rather their role. The programme gives students the opportunity for introspection and to figure out who are and what they want. We have students who worked at global companies before and have now founded their own start-ups.
Beyond your role as Associate Director, you are a licensed career coach. What would be your advice for professionals who may be worried about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their career?
The current context is really challenging. However, it also is an opportunity to step back, rethink and take some time for ourselves. We have never spent so much time with myself before. We pause and ponder: is this really what it is all about? Is there something we should be doing that we always wanted to do? Where are we going? What do we want from our professional life?
I am sure that the Covid-19 outbreak will trigger a lot of long-lasting changes to the way we live and work. Many people will change careers or try something new. It can help us understand that we have this one and only life.
The outbreak will trigger
a lot of long-lasting changes
to the way we live and work.
What will the world be like after the Covid-19 crisis according to you?
No one knows exactly what will come, but one thing is certain - we will not get out of this the same way we got in. I found this quote by Haruki Murakami, which describes the current context very well, ‘And once the storm is over, you will not remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You will not even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you will not be the same person who walked in. That is what this storm is all about.’
Society, government, healthcare, economy, our lifestyles and more - will change. Daily habits will not be the same as before. There will be more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, more remote work, and a revived appreciation of the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures.
Even our cultural habits might change. Physical distancing and wearing masks in public will be the new standards; and that will change the way we interact with each other. I am not sure if we will ever go back to ‘la bise’ in France. Kissing each other on the cheek to greet friends might no longer be tolerated.
Whatever the world will look like once we have overcome Covid-19, this period will last in our memories. I told my son that he will remember this period his entire life. When he is older, he will look back on the time he was locked down with his parents for several weeks.
However, I stay positive. Humans are quite inventive; they adapt rapidly and start thinking differently when they need to.
When you come out of the storm,
you will not be the same person
who walked in.