Meet INSEAD’s Incoming Class of 2016

Philip Koretz-Insead-PoetsAndQuants-Classof2017

Phil Koretz

INSEAD (Singapore Campus)

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA

Undergraduate School and Major: 

Undergrad: Middlebury College, History major

            Graduate: University of Chicago, Committee on International Relations, M.A.,             International Relations

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation (Last Five Years): 

  • Emerging Markets Consultant, Self-employed (Kenya)
  • Director of Finance and Operations, PowerGen Renewable Energy (Kenya)
  • Regional Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State (U.S., Algeria, Morocco) 

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? 

  • I registered for the GMAT in Nairobi and had some doubts about the test site. Visiting the location beforehand made me more comfortable with the process and helped me visualize test day.
  • I prepared for the GMAT on my own, but might have done slightly better with a tutor or online class. On the practice tests, my greatest point gains were in the first three weeks. I’d recommend devoting a block of time to studying 5-6 days per week, but not spending more than a month or so preparing unless you’re in really dire shape. It’s pretty fun at first, but burn-out sets in fast.
  • On test day, don’t feel sheepish about asking the proctor for whatever you need. All of the dry-erase markers at my test site were out of juice, and I ended up having to do a lot of the math in my head. It would have been a lot easier to test the markers before starting.

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? Spend some time deciding what it is that you’re really after in business school and how flexible you are on things like location, excitement factor, subject-matter emphasis, ranking, student demographics, recruiting profile, and so forth. Make a matrix of all the schools that you think you’re interested in on one axis and all of your criteria on the other, do your diligence, then apply to the schools that match your requirements.  I’ve been told that admissions committees make decisions based on a desired class profile that you’re not privy to, which can make their acceptances/rejections feel arbitrary, so better to apply to a couple of programs.

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? For written essays, read the prompt and as soon as you have ideas and jot them down. Come back to them a week or two later, assess which ones are good and which ones are totally embarrassing and then work on the good ideas until they’re essays. What I mean is that you should write your ideas off-the-cuff for authenticity, then labor over the essays so they, er, read well.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? My decision was based on four factors: Location, reputation, experience with alumni, and cost.

  • Location and Reputation: My wife and I were interested in working in Asia for the professional growth opportunities and to be closer to our families. INSEAD seemed to have the best reputation on the continent for a global MBA. There are of course other great programs in Asia, but they tend to be more country- or region-focused than INSEAD. 
  • Experience with Alumni: I met and talked on the phone with alumni from all of the programs that I applied to and liked the INSEAD alums the best. 
  • Cost: One year is cheaper than two years on tuition and opportunity cost.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?  I’m looking forward to spending time with interesting people, filling in some knowledge gaps, contributing to clubs, and traveling in Southeast Asia. So, that and a great job offer.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.