How I Got Into INSEAD

I am from Hong Kong, a city where all the fun happens and where the Eastern and Western cultures fuse together. I graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and information systems (Dean’s honor list) and was admitted as a certified public accountant (CPA) of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

From 2012 to 2014, I was a senior associate with PwC, specializing in financial and internal control assurance. I joined Deloitte Consulting in 2014 as a consultant and made the switch to strategy and operations, primarily advising S&P 500 multinational corporations and listed global financial service institutions on China business strategy, market entry strategy, and M&A strategy, targeting operating model redesign, digital transformation strategy, and growth strategy.

After my transition from a pure financial guy to a management consultant, I’ve worked in consulting projects that empower me to impact society through my career, always with a team effort — be it advising the leading U.S.-based FMCG brand on their China market entry plans, or reforming the operating model of a global financial company that impacts all its existing portfolios. My career in consulting fuels me with the passion and inspiration to further my impact on society, and while I intend to further develop my consulting career, I see a world-class MBA education will enhance my leadership capabilities with an international lens to achieve my long-term career aspiration to serve as a key player actively contributing to the global trend of how people consume and interact with brands.

So why did I choose INSEAD?

Hewitt Chan

After my preliminary research into MBA programs, targeting top-10 programs (e.g. attending information sessions and countless coffee chats with alumni), I recognized that an MBA is a rewarding experience provided that the MBA school and you are a good fit for each other — it is always a two-way process. Top MBA schools are always competitive, with a pool of high-achievers with perfect scores, so the key is to find one that you resonate with and that gives you opportunities and sets the stage for you to shine.

Recognizing that an MBA is indeed a very personal choice, I lay down three requirements in applying for MBA schools:

  1. An MBA that meets my career aspirations: Coming from a consulting background with the aspiration to work further in consulting, an MBA with accelerated path/shorter duration/vigorous curriculum would give me the advantage of focusing on strengthening my leadership skills without the need to spend an additional year on foundations in business/consulting.
  1. An MBA that has a diversified culture: I am always looking for a class with diversified nationalities, pre-MBA industries, etc. There is always something to learn from your fellow classmates. And it’s important to me that every minority’s voice be heard in class.
  1. An MBA that is intellectually challenging while staying relevant and updated with the latest global trends: This is a job requirement for consulting — clients are always looking for innovative solutions to resolve the most complicated business problems.

These three factors ultimately lead me to apply for INSEAD. Yet what ultimately motivated me to accept an offer from INSEAD is the INSEAD community — a welcoming community with full dedication to my development.

Why didn’t I apply to other schools?

Due to time constraints, I only applied for INSEAD in round one. I felt most connected to the school for its international class profile and alumni base. I received the offer in November right away before I had the opportunity to apply for other schools, including the M7. I was awarded the ROMBA (Reaching Out MBA) fellowship, so I am happy with my choice.

I think the international profile, alumni base, and of course the recent Financial Times ranking are appealing to me. But what really sold me on INSEAD is the people — from application to admission, I felt the personal touch from the admissions office and future classmates, that each of them is devoted to each other’s success, and I feel that now we are forming a close-knitted community already.

And last but not least is the full-blown and wide-ranged support of entrepreneurship from the school, which aligns with my personal aspiration to set up a social initiative devoted to serving the underprivileged and minorities through education support and empowerment. I personally feel that many potential applicants may underrate INSEAD’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

What was the application and interview process like?

Applying to INSEAD is a self-reflective process, and I had the chance to get through every single choice I made in my life — the application is composed of multiple short essays to reflect your story from different perspectives, from career and education to personal interests — matters that you are truly passionate about. I took some time to connect the dots to put together a unique story of mine.

The interview process is interactive and relaxing. I met with a tech entrepreneur and a medical doctor-turned-pharmaceutical director. Basic questions were asked during the interview, but they were all central to the idea that they want to get to know you as a person and have an open discussion on whether INSEAD is the right choice for you. I had a wonderful time with the two interviewers and maintain contact with them.

I had always felt connected to France and Europe, both from business and personal perspectives, and I can imagine myself having an enjoyable time pursuing an MBA in France.

What are some of the global leadership roles I have held?

At Leo Clubs International:

  • About eight years’ service in Leo Club (young affiliation of Lions Club, the largest service club in the world)
  • Started out as a student volunteer of a local unit and eventually became the district group chairman of Hong Kong and Macau, leading 10 clubs with about 300 volunteers
  • As the international committee chairperson, organized youth exchange for 40 students from 36 countries
  • Represented Hong Kong in the international conferences in Chicago, Bangkok, Italy, and Seoul

As a pro-bono volunteer:

  • Currently a pro-bono volunteer working on education support for underprivileged and minority students
  • Co-founder of a nonprofit initiative to match underprivileged and minority students to young mentors on education support and overcoming adversities
  • As part of the group of 30 young individuals, I will take part in a seven-week training this summer to explore the latest technology and business ideas and connect with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at Draper University in Silicon Valley.

What was my score on the GMAT?


What has INSEAD done to help me fit in?

The INSEAD experience has been exciting and the pre-MBA gatherings/events/drinks have never stopped. Luckily enough, I got to join the welcome event/meet-ups in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and London, respectively, and met with some of my future classmates — and I was astonished by the fact that the upcoming cohort is a group of diversified talent spanning across different industries, educational backgrounds, and personal interests. We basically follow the three-step rule to introduce ourselves (which is a pretty typical INSEAD profile): Where you were born? Where did you move? Which country are you working in now?

Recently when someone sent out a mass message to an admitted Slack group, a warning popped up saying that the message would be sent to 21 time zones. The next thing we want to do is figure out which three time zones are missing. Would be great if we can make it 24!

Every alumnus I’ve met regards INSEAD as the best year of his/her life — and I am starting to feel it, too, as we are planning a trip for Oktoberfest and it takes only 72 hours to fully fill a flight from Paris to Munich!

I am also touched to be awarded the Reaching Out MBA fellowship for my previous leadership experience in helping the LGBTQ community. I will represent INSEAD and join fellows from 30 other business schools to serve as an ambassador to the group. I will be joining other fellows in New York City for a welcome event in July 2017 and the annual conference in Boston in October.

Hewitt Chan, 28, is from Hong Kong. He is a management consultant for Deloitte; this summer he will be a social-entrepreneur-in-residence at Draper University in Silicon Valley. Chan will begin his MBA at INSEAD in the fall. 


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