2019 MBAs To Watch: Nathalie Rashed, INSEAD

Nathalie Rashed


“Curious, caring, adventure-seeking Swede with Polish/ Iraqi roots, and a passion for traveling and yoga.”

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Fun fact about yourself: I celebrated New Year 2016 at the Roof of Africa, reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro right in time for 2017’s first sunrise

Undergraduate School and Degree: Linköping University, Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Bain & Company, Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? N/A

Where will you be working after graduation? My plan is to return to Bain & Company as a Consultant.

With a well-rounded profile through my INSEAD MBA, I look forward to developing into a senior leader and advisor, continuing to help global companies with their most important questions, while also investing to help grow our internal talent.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Member of INSEAD Social Impact and Women in Business club. Participated in a SPLASH Community Project, helping build a bike trail for children with intellectual disabilities.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  I am most proud of the SPLASH Community Project that I participated in during the second week of INSEAD, to help build a bike trail at a school for children with intellectual disabilities. All incoming INSEAD students take part in the project and work hard during a full day of physical activities in the sun to meet a tight deadline and inaugurate the playground together with the children.

Seeing the happiness in the children’s eyes the moment they saw the finished bike trail, was truly a magical moment that emphasized the importance of helping people who are less privileged than ourselves. I am proud of myself and my peers for working hard and doing our best to create something unique for these children. I am also proud of being a student at INSEAD who year after year engages in similar projects. To me, this is ‘A Force for Good’ in action!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the latest client project I worked on, where I – together with the rest of the Bain team – helped a global industrial company define their automation strategy, and initiate a multi-year transformation. The reason is two-fold. First, the results that we created together with the client and the future impact that this new business is expected to have. Second, we were facing multiple challenges throughout the project. There was a sense of urgency, in that the client had to act now to capitalize on the market opportunity. Many stakeholders were also involved and they often disagreed.  On top of that, we were changing this company’s way of doing business, which for a multi-billion USD company is not an easy thing to adapt to overnight.

I believe that the key reason to why we managed to achieve great results that the client valued – and continued to build on after the project’s end – is our way of working together with the client as one team. We were building on each other’s expertise and working really closely from day one. Moreover, even though we all worked hard to achieve our goals, we remembered to also have fun together, which further enhanced the team spirit. I will always remember how the client referred to us as “family” at the end of the project, and I am proud of the work we did together when I read about our client’s success in international media.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Anil Gaba, Professor in Uncertainty, Data, and Judgment. I am impressed by the Professor’s ability to explain a relatively complex subject in a simple manner, while also making it fun to learn. The Professor has significant experience within the field and manages to convey his knowledge and demonstrate key concepts by engaging the audience through interactive exercises. A concrete example is having students bet real money only to learn the hard way that in a group of size ~70 students, the probability of at least one match is almost 100%.

Historically, I have found this subject to be difficult, but thanks to Professor Anil’s way of teaching, this is one of the courses I am looking forward to the most at the start of each week!

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course thus far is Organisational Behaviour 1 (OB1). OB1 is designed to help each student better understand themselves as well as other people, to eventually better work in and lead teams. The reason OB1 is my favorite course is that it builds on organizational psychology and, through interactive simulations and exercises, covers topics such as conflicts, challenges of working in dispersed teams, team effectiveness, and negotiations. In other words, it covers topics that are likely to be encountered in many professions on a day-to-day basis.

The biggest insight I have gained about business is that people play an essential role in determining the success of any company or business. Even more, as a leader, it is absolutely essential to educate yourself around these topics, as a low interest may have devastating consequences. One example of this is the loss of a NASA orbiter in the late 90’s, which was a result of asymmetric information regarding metrics – one team was using English units of measurement, while another was using the metric system…

Why did you choose this business school? Choosing INSEAD was an easy decision! First and foremost, I am looking for perspectives. The best way to obtain this, in my opinion, is to surround yourself with highly diverse people. At INSEAD, every nationality is a minority (~70 nationalities represented in my starting class) and each individual brings a unique perspective. I look forward to having close friends all across the globe, whom I can learn from even after INSEAD. Second, I know that I want to work in Europe after my MBA. As a result, I value studying at a top business school that allows me to build a strong network in Europe, while also exploring another continent. Third, the unique opportunity to obtain an MBA during a period of only 10 months aligns well with my preferences and the investment in terms of time and money that I am willing to commit to.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be personal in your essays and interviews with alumni. INSEAD is truly a business school for the world, and diversity is in its DNA. Everyone you will meet has a different story. Dare to share yours and the unique contributions that you would bring. INSEAD is looking to get to know you!

What is the biggest myth about your school? It is that the majority of people who study at INSEAD are looking to go into consulting post-graduation. While I have met a fair share of people who either want to go back or change career paths into consulting, the majority is actually interested in pursuing other opportunities within, for instance, investment banking, retail, tech, or entrepreneurship. The list is long.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I would have received the advice to thoroughly define and rank my priorities prior to starting the program. As soon as you step onto campus, everything becomes very intense. Because of constant interactions with people and the steep learning curve, it is hard to find time to reflect in depth. As such, my advice to anyone starting an MBA is to arrive with a clear plan of what you want to get out of your year (academically, socially, and from a career perspective) and use that as a compass to help guide you in this amazing and unparalleled adventure!  

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I find it almost impossible to choose just one peer whom I admire most, as every single individual brings a unique perspective and inspires me in one way or another. However, what I find most inspirational, is how people overcame a significant number of barriers, through hard work and dedication, to secure a place at INSEAD – as well as the actions they are willing to take to go above and beyond in helping others.

For example, my friend Simon Tangtongthavee is pro-actively going out of his way to connect INSEADers with personal connections in industries outside of his own expertise. My other friend Zain Butt made many new friends during the first few weeks at INSEAD, but was so clear in the career priorities that he decided to prioritize working on applications over joining our first group trips, which resulted in him securing interviews at top investments banks. Everyone around him has been incredibly understanding and helpful, which showcases the truly supportive community of people at INSEAD.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. The acronym itself is not new to me, but it has gained a completely different meaning since starting at INSEAD, and is by far the most frequently occurring acronym.

Prior to INSEAD, many alumni told me that people experience a lot of FOMO during the year. I could not believe them until I experienced it myself, even before the first day, and quickly noticed that the majority of people around me actually do the same. Since the INSEAD MBA is an accelerated 10-month program, many people are struggling with finding the right balance between focusing on academics and career-related topics and participating in social interactions like parties and traveling. Going forward, I hope and believe that there will be an adjustment period where people will feel more comfortable with the decisions they make as we all learn what is most important to us to make the most out of our MBA experience.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…pursuing my career at Bain & Company, while continuing to invest my time in the Bain Stockholm Social Impact Team which I co-founded with two colleagues. As one of the main objectives of my MBA at INSEAD is to gain perspective, I would also either apply for a short-term transfer to our San Francisco office to obtain further exposure to the Technology industry or pursue an externship at an NGO in Africa to support children within the area of education.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I am sponsored by Bain & Company, and will, therefore, pay for my MBA by returning to the company for at least two years. I find this to be an attractive deal as I value the characteristics of the work (the type of projects, roles, people, international environment), and further anticipate an elevated learning curve post my MBA. I cannot determine the financial component, but I know that I would still pursue an MBA at INSEAD even if I had to return for more than two years.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Successfully complete the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon (Dec 2019) and, one day, found my own company that aligns with one or more of my passion for yoga, food, and helping humanity

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a genuine and loving person who does her best to help others, has a hunger to learn and grow, and always adopts a can-do attitude with a smile on her face

Hobbies? Traveling (visited 40+ countries; hope to visit at least 10 new countries during my MBA), mountaineering (climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Kinabalu; Mount Everest and Annapurna Base Camps on my bucket list), cooking, yoga, and surfing

What made Nathalie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“The Admissions Committee quickly identified Nathalie’s strong leadership skills as well as her fun personality and collaborative style. They liked that she was born in Sweden to a father from Iraq and a mother from Poland. To reinforce her international mindset, she did a year exchange in Singapore while at university and has now visited almost 40 countries. Nathalie studied industrial engineering before joining Bain where she has had a fast career path. The committee was also impressed by her passion for yoga and mountaineering.”

Are you a friend of Nathalie? Leave a comment to congratulate her.

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