2017 Best MBAs: Myriam Ahmed, INSEAD

Myriam Ahmed

INSEAD

An international mess; French by nationality but also half Burmese, grew up in London, but lived in New York for five years pre-INSEAD.

Age: 28

Hometown: London, UK

Fun fact about yourself: I went backpacking by myself at 19 across South America for 6 months (and almost gave my parents a heart-attack in the process…)

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Cambridge BA hons Land Economy and MA Cantab Land Economy

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Natixis CIB as a Vice President in Debt Capital Markets

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I was at Natixis

Where will you be working after graduation? Likely to return to Natixis in NYC

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Wine Club – quite frankly I couldn’t survive without wine so why not make it an interest? Community work has so far included SPLASH, where INSEAD students went and undertook physical labour for the day at a working farm in Singapore. Some of the tasks involved, putting together benches, making signs, painting a mural etc.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? While the year’s only just begun for me, I plan on focusing on my extracurricular agenda. I’ve already signed up for societies I’d never have dreamt of at Cambridge like Rugby – but hey why not! At INSEAD they encourage women to join and make it a much more involved sport for both sexes.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was promoted in 2016 to one of (in fact I believe) the youngest Vice President in the US, as both a female and a foreigner, this was a considerable achievement for me.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Anil Gaba – The only man I know that can blow your mind in a basic statistics lesson

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Prices and Markets – I studied Economics at Cambridge, so I thought I’d basically just be re-learning what I’d already discovered. False. The practicality of the Microeconomics jumped out the page, constructing real life supply curves from class 2 using actual data for entire industries was a whole new way of practically thinking about Economics.

Why did you choose this business school? It’s the only thing or place that might be more international than even me! It has people who come from equally messy and confusing nationalities and backgrounds, which makes them some of the most interesting in the world in terms of perspective and experience. It’s also in two locations which means I get an opportunity to become even more international and live on two different continents during my year. Furthermore I really like that it’s only one year instead of two. Firstly, I’m 28 so going to a U.S. b-school where everyone is 25/26 and only had a few years of work experience isn’t really so appealing and secondly it means tuition and living fees are less.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The network of people. The INSEAD community is ridiculously fascinating and international. I continue to learn so much just by being around everyone and that’s before I’ve even stepped into class! Plus this place throws stereotypes out the window and brings together a mix of the best of brightest.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I thought I knew a decent amount from my undergrad at Cambridge and my 6 years at work experience, how wrong I was! I’m learning so much and working harder than I ever anticipated I would.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Keep.On.Hustling. There’s no doubt that the process of applying in long and hard but every second you put in will be worth it and what you’ll get out of it will be exponentially greater than you could imagine. Be yourself for your INSEAD essays and really enjoy your interviews, take it as a time to really learn about the culture and the experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That all you do is party – we work seriously hard! (But we also love to party…this is true.)

What was your biggest regret in business school? Time goes quickly. Don’t let too much pass you by, Be proactive.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? In truth, I admire all my classmates because by default they’re all incredibly impressive to even be here in the first place. There is a particular classmate I have on the France campus who started her own company in India and taught women how to franchise and set up their own branches of her business all over the country. I would love to think that one day I could start something which could empower women or men (!) in that way.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I started to get the learning bug and feel as though it may be my last opportunity to really indulge in learning, meeting incredible people and having time to reflect on my career and decisions.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… Sitting in the same seat in my old office thinking about why I didn’t go to business school.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My aim is to start my own business – to create something which I’m truly vested in rather than working in the service sector

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My father – he was born in Burma and had to leave at a very young age, losing everything in the process. He has taught me never to give up, that education is crucial, that health is the most important thing but not to be naïve, and money helps.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Intellectually curious, warm, caring, loved to make fun of people (and herself) and could never say no to a party.

Favorite book: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Favorite movie or television show: The Graduate

Favorite musical performer: Fleetwood Mac (and more recently I’ve become a Belieber, I’m not ashamed)

Favorite vacation spot: Rio de Janeiro (preferably Carnivale)

Hobbies? Wine, my friends, dancing, running (but only outdoors)

What made Myriam such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Myriam started to work in the UK after her successful studies at Cambridge University. She worked in the treasury department of the EBRD before moving to work at Credit Agricole on sovereign bonds. She enjoyed her work but decided to take the opportunity to move to the US when a big part of the Credit Agricole team transferred to Natixis in NY. With a degree in land economy, she had to pick up her finance skills along the way but she certainly seems to have not only succeeded in doing that but also excelled. The Admissions Committee was convinced that this truly multicultural, smart, driven, empathetic and charismatic candidate would bring interesting perspectives to INSEAD.”

Virginie Fougea
Director, MBA Recruitment and Admissions

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017