Meet INSEAD’s Incoming Class of 2016

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Marie-Renée B-Lajoie


Hometown: Shawinigan, Québec, Canada

Undergraduate School and Major (Include Graduate School if Relevant): 

Undergraduate:McGill University, Medicine

I specialized after in family medicine-emergency medicine

Graduate: Harvard University, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Master of Public Health

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

2012 to present: Cree Board of Health, part-time family physician in a remote community in the Canadian North (i.e. a 3 hour plane North from Montreal, Canada, where trees start ceasing to exist)

2013 to present:

  • Emergency Attending, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal
  • Associate professor (clinical), McGill Department of Family Medicine
  • Affiliated expert, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

I have a humanitarian background and my research focuses on the ability of the healthcare system to respond to novel threats, such as violence in densely urban areas. Right now, we are focusing on the Central American region, but I am looking into opportunities to expand this type of approach to other regions.

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? One word: practice! Knowing how these exams work is often one of the most important parts. Knowing the timing, the type of questions, and the expected answers will really improve your performance. You have seen most of the material before and practice will help you commit it to memory while identifying your knowledge gaps. Knowing the drill of the exams will also take part of the stress away. Talking of stress – I banked on studying in the weeks leading to the exam, with mostly review and more frequent exam practices as I got closer. The day before? I suggest you review materials you have identified that need short-term memory and, enjoy your day! Do whatever makes you happy and changes your mind. Get a good night’s sleep.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Here are my two pieces of advice:

  • Speak to alumni with similar backgrounds as you, but also those that may have pursued careers you are interested in.
  • Draft a list of important things for you (concentration, professors, subjects, exchange opportunities, etc.)

School officials (that I met through information sessions) were very useful in referring me to very engaging alumni. Having a list of important criteria helped me make this process slightly more objective as well: It allows you to compare schools head-to-head. Also, seeing what the school valued in their application process and information sessions was very useful in getting a sense of their culture and overall vibe (it tells you something about them!).

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf?

Once you have a potential list of schools you are interested in, get a sense of what their application process entails and plan accordingly. INSEAD required a very complete application with many essays and extensive documents for recommenders to fill. Make sure you and your recommenders have plenty of time to fill all of them thoughtfully. “Thoughtfully” being a key word here – I found the process to involve quite a bit of soul-searching, with multiple drafts in an attempt to best communicate my goals and interests.

As for the interviews, I searched online a bit to get a feel of what the interviews are traditionally like (there seems to be recurring questions on interests, goals, ability to perform in the program, etc.) and I went in with an open mind. My two INSEAD interviewers were alumni and turned out to be a great source of information about their own experience and gave me some perspective of what I could expect many years down the road. Both were great, relaxed discussions that helped me choose INSEAD as the school I wanted to be at.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? INSEAD offered the perfect mix for me. An intense, 10-month program, where international doesn’t only translate in a course abroad, but actually means engaging in the classroom everyday with individuals from a variety of cultural and professional backgrounds. I’ll be able to hit the ground running in a short amount of time, while broadening my perspective in global affairs. It’s an incredible opportunity to engage with students across two, and now three, campuses in three different regions of the world.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?

  • Develop a transferable costing model to assess the impact of new humanitarian threats on health of populations
  • Share my own experience with my colleagues while integrating the business perspective to the healthcare sector – particularly where it is challenging to provide care and for individuals to access quality, timely care.
  • Soak in all the inspiration of being with colleagues from around the world with a wealth of experience (and the European flair – I’ll be starting in the Fontainebleau campus!). 

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