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Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class Of 2018

Rouzbeh Shirgiri

INSEAD

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Driven by passion and inspirations I gather from my surrounding people and learning their stories.

Hometown: Tehran, Iran – Vancouver, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a collection of electric guitars including one that I built myself. It has a heavy relic Stratocaster body and an amazing tone!

Undergraduate School and Major:

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (Master of Engineering in Project & Construction Management)

University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

 Ledcor Mining, Vancouver, Canada – Project Coordinator

Ledcor Construction, Vancouver, Canada – Project Coordinator

Kanrood Sazeh Co., Tehran, Iran – Project Manager

Lavan Energy Development Co., Tehran, Iran – Business Development Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my former job, I worked as the business development manager for a start-up consulting company focusing on foreign companies entering Iran’s energy market. When I realized that there had been government research into launching a bio-ethanol plant without any physical advances, I started to investigate bio-ethanol production technologies and its potentials for Iran. As a wheat importer, Iran generates costly waste of wheat products. I presented the idea of launching a grains-fed bio-ethanol plant to our company’s management. Gaining their approval, we formed a team and started talks with leading companies in alcohol production, and also connected with Iran’s related governmental body responsible for pilot projects. Leveraging the senior management’s expertise at our company, we became the facilitator at the core of the collaborations between the technologists and the public sector. This resulted in gaining their approval to launch the official feasibility study that eventually led to launching Iran’s first Bio-Ethanol Plant project, in which we acted as the regional partner of the technologist company. The plant will produce 200,000 tons/day of bio-fuel to be used as a cleaner alternative of fuel additives.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Essays are one of the most important aspects of the application. They are also the best place for you to market yourself to the admission committee (adcom) in a greater depth and distinguish yourself from the massive pool of applicants.

 First, I suggest getting your GMAT or GRE done before starting your essays so that you don’t have to overlap the two and to share your mind between practicing tests and writing essays.

Considering your free times, plan ahead to allocate enough time for your essays. I initially underestimated the required time and I had to change my plans by selecting a later round of application in order to perfect my essays. Since the essays involve a deep inward looking exploration into your personality and aspirations, it is going to be a timely process. I would suggest giving at least one month and up to two months (specifically if you’re working full-time) to really deliver high quality essays. Try to get as much feedback on your revisions from your friends, colleagues, or anybody that knows you well. This really helps you to bring out the best of your thoughts and ideas.

For schools like INSEAD that have four rounds of applications, there is no need to stress about applying in an earlier round hoping for a higher admittance chance at the cost of lower quality materials. It is important to apply whenever you feel you are submitting your strongest package.

Have a strategy for your application as a whole. Think of the complete picture you want to present to the adcom and use every part of the application to deliver your messages. Having this in mind, think which messages you want to include in your essays.

Learn about your chosen school wholeheartedly and make sure that you are applying to the right school. The more you learn about the school the better you can write the essays. Moreover, the MBA is a huge investment in terms of time and money, and it’s best that you spend it where you really belong. One of the key checkpoints of the adcom is to see if you are a fit for the school’s culture. So it would be logical to first check for yourself whether the school is a fit for you culturally and whether it meets your desires. Go beyond initial factors such as school’s reputation or concentrations and gain a deeper knowledge of the school’s culture and values.

For top schools like INSEAD, there are abundant opportunities to do so by making a school visit, attending admission chats, online sessions, regional events, connecting with alumni, etc.  The school’s website is also a great source of information. It really is! There are loads of information available on the website which not only helps you better learn about the program and student experience but also gives you lots of hints and ideas for your essays. Look for courses, faculty, clubs, competitions, student blogs, etc.

And finally, be genuine in your essays and don’t stress about your downs in your profile (everybody has some). Receiving thousands of applications each year, adcom could easily spot anything slightly away from genuine. Don’t think of what the adcom would like to hear rather genuinely market your strengths and added values. It would be the best way to show what is unique about you.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? With three campuses in Fontainebleau, Singapore, and Dubai, gathering over 90 nationalities, along with an exceptional faculty (again with diverse nationalities), INSEAD truly proves to be a highly global MBA program. As an Iranian born person who lived a major part of his life in Canada, I was looking for a top MBA program that is highly international and is not weighted in a certain region.  With loads of international exposure opportunities, and an enriched network of over 50,000 alumni scattered all around the globe, INSEAD was the best choice for me to expand my career beyond a certain region or industry.

When I got admitted to the school, I got invited to our class Slack group by our earlier admit students. Reviewing the group conversations, it was difficult to find two people with the same nationality within any thread of messages! That’s how global our class is. It is really impressive to see how everybody is eager to connect with each other and help out one another.

An attractive fact about INSEAD is that culturally it’s not just about exceling academically. Extracurricular activities and socializing are at the core of the program. INSEAD has a great reputation for student-led events and trips. For instance, people at our class started planning for numerous trips and gatherings months before the program’s start date without even having met each other. There is going to be large pre-MBA trips with 100+ participation for a week just before the official start date! And that’s how the journey begins!

I am very excited to meet my classmates in person, and I already feel powerful and proud to be joining this group of talented and fun people.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? By next year, I would be successful if I could confidently say that I took the most out of the program by taking every opportunity that INSEAD opened up to us, and that I have made life-long friendships around the globe, with classmates who could call me their friend or potential business partner.