2021 CentreCourt MBA Alumni: Chen Chowers, INSEAD

Chen Chowers


Class: 2018D

Current Location: London, UK

Current Company and Title: Overstone Art; Head of Operations

Why did you choose to earn your MBA at this business school? The thought of INSEAD came hand-in hand with the initial thought of doing an MBA. Prior to INSEAD, my career was focused on the art world, where MBA’s are not common or a clear part of the career path. The thought of an MBA came following a conversation with my boss, an INSEAD alumna herself, and the two were immediately intertwined. The more I learnt about it, the more I was drawn to this specific program.

The international scope of the school felt as if it would open a completely new set of opportunities. I felt that within this diversity, my slightly different background would also have value. Once I decided to pursue an MBA, I knew the path would be significantly different from my career until that point. Thus, I was very keen to begin on this new trajectory as soon as possible! So the idea of a year-long program, which would begin as soon as January, was very appealing.

In hindsight, the whirlwind pace of the MBA, the different geographies and richness of backgrounds and experiences – while at times overwhelming – greatly contributed to my ability to rethink directions, and my career trajectory post-INSEAD.

Pretend you are an ambassador giving a tour at your business school. Name one place you would show a candidate and why was it so important to you? The outside area in front of ‘Freddie’s’ at the Fontainebleau campus. There are many parts that contribute to the experience which is INSEAD. However, two of them are very prominent in this location: random interesting conversations and being separated from the real world by the forest.

There is a piece of grass, at the center of the campus, where you can see the Fontainebleau forest surrounding campus. Everyone on campus naturally gravitates to this area and the most interesting and unplanned conversations occur there, all throughout the day. One of the most impressive and influential parts of the program is the people with whom I studied. That area of the campus was where you could randomly stumble on the most interesting conversations, with classmates from all over the world, from backgrounds I could never imagine, who would always open my eyes to new ways of looking at the world.

What was your favorite class and what lesson do you use from it in your role? I wouldn’t say it was my favorite, because so many different classes contributed so much! However, a very interesting class was Market Driving Strategies (though my interest in not marketing at all). So many of the cases and examples focused on markets I had never thought of in-depth. These cases required me to understand economic events and the cultural backgrounds in these markets, and figure out how they exerted influence in practice. While we always ‘know’ in an abstract sense that markets we haven’t worked in exist, the in-depth analysis of them really shifted my view, brought to life the slogans of a ‘global’ outlook on markets and business opportunities (and society in general!), and gave me tools and a framework to understand them in the future.

What was your best memory during your MBA program? Too many to count! One that is especially memorable (though so many compete for best) was the INSEAD summer ball, which also happened to fall on my birthday. Everyone got to take a breath for that evening, stope the crazy pace of responsibilities, dress up nice and meet all together in a beautiful French chateau. Next year’s birthday party was slightly shabbier. That event doubles as the reunion for earlier promotions. Aside from enjoying the evening with my friends, it was really incredible to see how many people arrived from all over the world, and still had such a warm place in their hearts for this little French village and all the people they met there.

What is one thing about the MBA program that you wish you had known when you applied? That the people I will study with are just as big of a part of it as the academics. I was told in advance, but it’s really not the same as experiencing.

What has been your biggest professional achievement? The art-backed lending market in which I work is a rapidly growing one. One of the main barriers is the need to mediate completely different industries to each other (Finance, Art, and in our case – Data Science as well). Over the last year, I have managed large scale art-based transactions and developed interpretive information of data driven risk algorithms for financial institutions in field of art backed lending. These efforts led to a 400% year-over-year increase in revenues, representing 7.5% of activity in the art backed lending field in Europe.

What advice would you give to a prospective student to help them earn a spot in your business school? Almost everyone who will apply is accomplished and driven. It might seem that you haven’t ticked all the right boxes along the way – but those deviations are exactly your value add! There is no point in competing against everyone else, just try to best articulate how your experiences will make you a great addition to the class you are aiming to join, how you will contribute, and how this program specifically fits in to what you want to achieve.

To reserve your free spot in P&Q’s CentreCourt MBA Festival from February 23-24, click here.

DON’T MISS: Meet The 2021 CentreCourt Distinguished MBA Alumni