Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2017

INSEAD shows up surprisingly well in worldwide searches on Google

INSEAD’s Fontainbleau campus


Like Vassilev, the Class of 2018 arrives at INSEAD as the proverbial ‘stranger in a strange land.’ The start has been quite a whirlwind, says Dick. “Alumni told me that students at INSEAD can only do 2 out of 3 S’s at a time: Study, Socialise or Sleep,” he jokes.” “So far, I haven’t done Sleep.”

By the numbers, 2017 looks to be a promising class at INSEAD. The class’ GMAT scores rose from 705 to 708 in the past year, a more impressive feat considering the school’s demographics, says Fougea. “As we receive applications from countries around the world where English is not a language widely spoken and where the education system differs from the Anglo-Saxon system, we were extremely happy to see this class reach an amazing 708 average on the GMAT score.” The incoming class also includes 30% women.

Like previous years, undergraduate business and engineering majors comprise the majority of the class, divided 31% and 28% respectively. They were followed by economics (12%), sciences (8%), law and political sciences (6%), and humanities and the arts (6%). In terms of professional experience, consultants again take top honors in the 2017 Class at 28%, up 2% from the previous years. Technically, “corporate,” a new, catch-all category, is the biggest source of INSEAD talent at 40%, with financial services (21%) and technology, media, and telecommunications (11%) also accounting for large blocs of the class.


INSEAD certainly carries the cache to draw the world’s best and brightest professionals. For many, the school was their one-and-only choice. In a 2015 P&Q study of consultants, for example, INSEAD ranked fourth for enrolling the top MBA students, ahead of American stalwarts like Kellogg, Booth, and Sloan.

Caroline Diarte Edwards, a partner with Fortuna Admissions and a former INSEAD admissions director, attributes the program’s success to catering to slightly older professionals unwavering in their pursuit of careers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa or Asia. In the process, this brings a higher level of “thoughtfulness and maturity” to the classroom. Even more, adds Adam Hoff of the Amerasia Consulting Group, INSEAD impresses potential candidates by making it harder to get in with tougher application requirements. “I know for a fact that some of my clients come through this process thinking of INSEAD as more legitimate than counterpart schools simply because it was such a robust application process.”

The results speak for themselves. In 2016, INSEAD was ranked #1 in the world by The Financial Times (and #1 among international programs by P&Q a few months earlier). 2015 graduates also enjoyed seeing their starting base salaries balloon from, $89,400 to $107,100, with sign on bonuses rising from $19,400 to $23,000 in the process. Even more, the degree gives incoming MBAs unmatched flexibility, with over half of the 2015 Class opting to switch countries in their employment. That’s not the only area where students are able to make career transitions, adds Diarte Edwards, who points to 84% of INSEAD graduates being able to “change sector, function or country, and an impressive 25% switch on all three dimensions.”


INSEAD campus

Best of all, students are achieving these feats without the benefit of an internship due to the program’s one-year nature. For Vassilev, that was an advantage that enabled him to return to his career sooner, “which reduces the opportunity cost greatly and saves a lot of money as compared to a two-year long program.”


Of course, it’s near impossible to place a value on the INSEAD network. Diarte Edwards notes that INSEAD alums, which number 50,000 graduates, are found in 174 countries. She adds that 45 nations include 100 or more INSEAD alumni. In the 2015 Class alone, Dr. Guido Gianasso, global director of INSEAD’s career development center, observes that graduates found jobs with 293 employers in 57 different countries.

With INSEAD alumni found nearly everywhere, an INSEAD MBA is an easy sell for students looking to broaden their network beyond a certain region or industry. “During my research and conversations with alumni, I realised how valuable the INSEAD brand is in the business world,” says Dick. “And it seemed that this recognition was not centered around a specific area (such as Western Europe or South-East Asia), but worldwide.” As Georgina Howe, a former government official in the United Kingdom, learned, the alumni were more than happy to help. “Every alumnus that I met lit up when I asked about their time here no matter how long ago it was and that made me want to be a part of the INSEAD community.”


In a class that attracts students from a host of nationalities and industries, you’re bound to have a wide range of ambitions. The Class of 2017 is no different. “We welcomed students who had worked for NGOs, the media industry, family businesses as well as big consulting firms or mining companies,” Fougea  says. “The MBA17J students have, like the previous classes, widely spread long term goals from social entrepreneurship to healthcare, technology start up, renewable energy or finance in developing countries just to name a few.”

INSEAD is ranked second by Poets&Quants among non-U.S. business schools.

INSEAD is ranked first by Poets&Quants among non-U.S. business schools.

Shu, for one, has her eye on energy investment for its potential growth, profitability, and social impact. “I take pride in delivering sustainable energy solutions to the country and people to help propel their economic growth and improve standards of living. Given my multi-disciplinary background in engineering, finance and business, I would like to work in private equity that focuses on investing in energy sector especially in the Asia Pacific region. I would like to leverage my past experience to help finance infrastructure investments in both traditional and renewable energy, and to improve the performance of energy companies.”

Dick also dreams of making a “tangible, potential global impact one day,” preferably in the tech sector. However, he is also hedging his bets. “If the first weeks are anything to go by, there are so many interesting projects and opportunities that come up every day at INSEAD that I can’t be sure where I will be in 12 months’ time.”

At the same time, Kempel is just looking to become more versatile for her inevitable return to consulting. “I am very happy at McKinsey, and I am looking forward to return there after the MBA program.”


Before they fan out across the oceans, the Class of 2017 has plenty of time to leave their mark. Lina Gedvilaite, a second degree Tae Kwon Do belt, hopes to surprise her classmates – “in a good way.” Yu wants her classmates to have the best year of their lives, while Vassilev would like to be known as someone who brought out the best in others.

For See, who plans to “cheer, support, and help” her classmates, the next year is also about growth. When her classmates look back on their year in business school, she’d like for them to remember that she arrived at INSEAD with a “pinhole view of the world and graduated with a global mindset.” Even more, she plans to be remembered as the one who “dared to dream big, failed many times, and learnt a great deal in these 10 months.”


To read profiles of incoming INSEAD students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

Evgeniya Armstrong / Moscow, Russia

Serban Dick / Bucharest, Romania

Lina Gedvilaite / Plunge, Lithuania and Fort Myers, Florida

Georgina Howe / London, UK

Claudia Kampel / Augsburg, Germany

Inna Khlon / Moscow, Russia

Kailing See / Singapore

Hila Shabtai / Tel Aviv, Israel

Shu Shu / Chengdu China

Eser Tireli / Istanbul, Turkey

Lindsay Van Landeghem / Jackson, Mississippi (USA)

Jacquelyn Vanos / Toronto, Canada

Ivo Vassilev / Sofia, Bulgaria

Muzi Yu / Changchun, China

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