Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2017


Evgeniya Armstrong


Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Explorer, achiever, and creator, believing in constant development and bringing structure to chaos.

Hometown: Moscow, Russia

Fun Fact About Yourself: My first skydiving experience was a solo jump, rather than in tandem with an instructor (after a theory class of course) – I just could not trust my life to someone else.

Undergraduate School and Major: Moscow State Institute of International Relations (International Civil Law) and Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation (Financial Management).

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Clifford Chance – I started at the firm as a Trainee and ended up a Senior Associate and Head of Practice Group.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working for Clifford Chance, a big international legal firm in Moscow, I established and developed a new practice group (Aircraft Finance) within the firm. The practice has been ranked Tier 1 by the leading international ranking agencies and has been one of the most financially sustainable practices within the firm. This shaped my interest in corporate entrepreneurship and business development.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? The most difficult and the most important part of the application process is to get to know yourself and formulate your own storyline. It comes down to thinking about your priorities and purposes in life and your career; the steps you already took in that direction; how an MBA may help you to achieve your purposes; and what is the alternative plan to achieve this purpose without an MBA. Even if your plans will significantly change during the MBA, this exercise will help you to make the right choice of business school, write essays that will differentiate you, and be comfortable through the interviews.

GMAT. Keep in mind that GMAT is not a math or language exam, it tests your logic and management abilities. Think about this as investment of your time and energy to maximize the return (exam result). It is all about time management and deciding what to prioritise during the exam.  You have to spot which questions are too hard for you, meaning even if you invest your time, you still have a high risk of a wrong answer.  These are not worth your time investment, so you should make a quick educated guess and move on, and use the time you saved for questions that will have a better return on your investment because you can definitely solve them if you invest the time.

Recommendation letters. Choose people who can support your storyline and discuss it with them before they write their letters. Remember that the recommendations are not only about their content, they are also a way to demonstrate your ability to manage and influence people (it is your responsibility to make sure that the recommendations are submitted on time).

Essays. This part of application normally takes the longest time. This is where you really need your storyline. Don’t be shy about talking about your storyline and your essays topic to your friends and relatives. The more you talk about this, the clearer your storyline and essays are going to be. Once you have finalized your draft, ask someone who knows your storyline and has some understanding about business or business schools to have a look at it. If you are not a native English speaker, ask your English speaking friend to proofread it.

Admissions interview. If you have done a good job on your essays and application (presumably you have, otherwise you won’t make it to the interview stage), the interviews should be relatively easy. You should be comfortable with your story line by now and your main task is to demonstrate your soft skills: be on time, build a connection with the interviewer, be confident but respectful, and try to enjoy the process. Treat the interview as a bilateral dialogue; you are telling people about yourself, but you are also getting information about the school, the interviewer’s experience, and opportunities the school and alumni body can give you after graduation.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? The best way to choose the program that will suit you is to do thorough research on the school and meet its people:

  1. Check employments statistics, program details, publications and research done by the school’s faculty.
  2. Visit the campus, off-campus sessions and events, talk to alumni, current students, and applicants (your potential classmates).

You probably will start thinking that all schools look quite similar, but after a while each school and program will start showing its own face and culture. So you will be able to choose the one (or a short list of them) that suits you more.

I chose INSEAD because of the positive impact I expect it to have on my personal and professional development:

  1. INSEAD provides unparalleled international experience and diversity of faculty and student body. Even if you are coming from a very international work environment, there is a good chance that you are still going to be challenged intellectually and emotionally because there are so many different personalities and cultures here.
  2. INSEAD has a strong reputation on the European job market, which I am targeting.
  3. INSEAD is well known for its open, friendly, and supportive environment among students and alumni, meaning a strong professional network and lots of new friends.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My dream job is intellectually challenging, in an international environment with a supportive and open corporate culture, and comes with a wide array of responsibilities. I lean towards general management, corporate development, and strategy, in an company producing a tangible product at the frontier of technical innovation. At the same time, I am excited about the opportunities INSEAD opens up to me and looking forward to seeing where this year will take me.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I hope that the majority of them will say that they are keen to work with me and that many of them will call me a friend for life.

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