Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class Of 2019

Natasha Saini


Oil trader attracted to clean energy and  social enterprise. Squash and DOTA player, caricaturist.”

Hometown: Delhi, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a radio reporter as part of my brief journalism career and some of those clips are still floating around on the internet

Undergraduate School and Major: Delhi University, BA Honours Economics; University of Warwick, MA International Political Economy

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: GAC Bunker Fuels, Marine Fuel Trader

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: A trader in my industry is only as good as their ‘book’ (i.e. client base). I asked for a move to Singapore during the worst couple years for the shipping industry in recent history (2015-2017) gave up my book from Middle East and built a new, one up from scratch hitting all my targets.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The consistency in our diversity. All of us are similar in that our journeys have taken us through such different places and experiences that there are no cliques. A second very interesting quality I find is that people are not only willing but eager to have their opinions challenged and to continuously update them.

Aside from your classmates, 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? The very high standing that INSEAD enjoys in the eastern hemisphere (Ranking #1 with no obvious contender for miles)

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?  INDEVOR – the organization for social enterprise

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I wanted to switch from my very niche job as a physical commodity trader in the oil industry to a broader commercial career in the energy industry or social enterprise. Making this career switch with 6-7 years of work experience is a very difficult task in itself and even more so in the sort of economic and political environment we are compelled to be part of. I therefore needed two things: A) a solid business knowledge base and B) a network that I could learn from as I explore the various paths I might take and that I could also reach out to in the years to come in my professional and even my personal life.

An INSEADer once said that he was there to recruit his ‘personal Board of Directors’ and I like that analogy enough to borrow it for this purpose. I was looking for a learning community that would help me shift career gears in the short term as well as one that I could count on for my life ahead as well. Therefore, an MBA at this stage made perfect sense for me.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? One would typically do a cost-benefit analysis for this sort of an investment as did I. In my case, the value of getting that second real shot at changing my career and choosing to do something that aligns with my value system and excites me was extremely high, which made the decision significantly easier.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to LBS

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In the first place, I knew that if I invested in an MBA it had to be top brand name. Therefore, I did not look beyond the top ranked Business schools. I also wanted to work in Asia and therefore prioritized schools with a strong reputation and network in the region. I reached out to professionals in the energy industry and in consulting in Southeast Asia and requested a few coffee chats where possible to get a candid view on how the school is viewed at their companies from a prestige and a recruitment point of view. I also reached out to students and alumni to get their honest opinions of their experience and I made sure to ask them what they did not like about the school as well.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? There isn’t one defining moment that I could point at; various events through my life have led to important turns.

To pick one I would say when I left India ten years ago and moved to the UK that was the beginning of my international journey – I went on to live in Dubai and then in Singapore and now in France. The immense load of cultural information I came by through travelling was amazing and also made me appreciate how much of a privilege it is to have the opportunity to travel. It is not something my parents could easily afford and I have been incredibly lucky to get these chances in my life. I learnt how different the working cultures in each country were and learnt of a fair few prejudices along the way too which were also small lessons in what not to do!

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I would like to work in Consulting ideally in the energy and social impact practices.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully I’ll be on my way to Partner at a top xonsulting firm having worked on some very fulfilling energy and social impact projects. I also hope that I would have been able to expand the network and work of the NGO I currently work with – Meraki Foundation –  and we would have made further leaps and bounds in the Indian education space for low income families.

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