Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class Of 2023

90 nationalities.

Four campuses across the world.

An intense and transformational 10-month MBA program.

That’s INSEAD – “The business school for the world.” It is a place where no country holds a majority so no student is ever a minority. Here, students don’t just navigate differences, they learn to harness them to gain buy-in, identify blind spots, and compete globally. Call it the training ground for the c-suite, where students are immersed in diversity every day. In the process, they learn to listen and observe and think holistically and globally.

This is why the summer batch joined INSEAD last August. Today, leadership requires a grasp of cultural values and nuances – and an ability to speak to them. That requires openness and humility – not to mention an exposure to a wide range of perspectives and practices from across the globe. In recent years, Juliette Cremel has been working to gain such exposure. After growing up in France, Cremel studied at Harvard before taking roles in client management and business development in San Francisco and London respectively. Steeped in a “Western European” mindset, Cremel recognized that she needed exposure to more cultures before she could eventually run a multinational business. With so many cultures under one roof, she believed joining the Class of 2023 at INSEAD would enable her to “bridge that gap.”

“In the professional world, there is a ton of value in having people from different backgrounds around the decision-making table; they will challenge your perspective and bring a different point of view.”


Cremel’s classmate, Eric Husny, left Lebanon for similar reasons. In his experience, “practices and thinking styles can vary wildly from market-to-market.” In an INSEAD classroom, he notes, he has been able to interact with peers who’ve operated in array of industries and markets, giving him “perspective and context” that he wouldn’t receive in a more homogenous setting. Julia Schulz takes it a step further. She describes INSEAD as a simulation of a global business setting.

“It is special to the program that so many perspectives are concentrated in a single place.”

INSEAD isn’t just a collection of countries, explains Chris Poldoian, a ’22 grad and sommelier. He jokes that the “Where are you from” question rarely gets a single response at INSEAD. That’s because, Poldoian notes, that diversity “runs deeper than just someone’s passport.”

“I’ve met ex-jazz guitarists, documentary filmmakers, and social media analysts, military veterans, and more. No one here is defined by one thing – not their pre-MBA job, not their nationality, not their extracurriculars.”

INSEAD was rated as the top European unicorn university by Sifted, a European tech news outlet. It has 18 current unicorn ventures and 25 likely unicorns. Courtesy photo


That said, Poldoian admits that INSEAD can sometimes feel like a “United Nations Summit.” The program’s internationalism is on full display each class, where professors leverage students’ differing cultural backgrounds and political persuasions to pull deeper and wider takes on various issues. Notably, over a third of INSEAD cases involve non-American companies – a far cry from U.S. business schools according to Poldoian. Even more, he adds, INSEAD requires students to master three languages and holds each nationality to a 10 percent share of the class. As a result, MBAs will be uncomfortable to start, which results in teams who band together to support each other through the transition. This experience pays dividends regardless of where students plan to live or what they hope to do.

“The true value of an MBA program comes from its student body, Poldoian observes. “There is no better environment that will challenge you to deal with leading complex teams and force you to have some tough conversations across cultures, countries, and languages. INSEAD not only promotes its diversity, but actively challenges its students to explore the value of leading and managing diverse teams…. Every time I am the sole native English speaker in a study group or get soundly defeated in a debate on foreign policy, I’m reminded how valuable this year has been.”

Nana Yaw Kyere Opare-Anim echoes Poldoian’s sentiments. A native of Ghana, he likens his INSEAD experience to “two pairs of iron sharpening each other.” By that, he means that differences – and the questions and scrutiny they stir – only enriches learning and boosts confidence for all. Every moment matters at INSEAD and every perspective can alter another’s worldview. That’s one reason why, in the words of Lara Gruering, “Every conversation at INSEAD is a transforming experience.” Even more, it provides a global and versatile network that covers all industries, functions, and regions.

“We not only have the opportunity to learn about some of the most challenging and exciting business problems of our time across industries, but we have the unique opportunity to tackle these as a group of exceptionally diverse individuals,” Gruering writes. “The study groups at INSEAD are a unique opportunity to think about current business problems, whether it is the acceleration of digital transformation, the rise of decentralized finance, or the growth of social enterprises in emerging markets, through multiple lenses. Not only do we strengthen our team-building skills, we learn to do so with individuals that are very invaluably different from us both in terms of cultural and professional background.”


Gruering herself is a Parisian brand marketer who spent a gap year living in Iran and studying the country’s emerging consumer market. In the Class of 2023, you’ll find plenty of students like her: distinct, gifted, and accomplished. Take Melloney Daye Awit. Her “passion for innovation” led her to dabble in numerous fields: “risk manager, a global fixed income analyst/trader, an independent consultant, a teacher, a fintech start-up entrepreneur, and a data scientist.” Compare that to the UK’s Jack Arkwright – the self-described “pied piper of Myanmar.” A Russian Studies major as an undergrad, Awkwright co-founded and built one of Myanmar’s top pest control firms – even though he “knew nothing” about the industry and hadn’t even visited the country before. At the same time, Juliette Cremel boasts a resume that belies her youth.

“My biggest accomplishment was launching a startup accelerator and incubator in Paris at age 22, when I was hired by Founders Factory to handle the launch of the Paris office with the newly appointed CEO Albin Serviant,” she tells P&Q. “It was an amazing experience where I got to get my hands in all aspects of launching a business, from recruitment to administration – as well as sourcing startups. Although the venture did not survive the COVID crisis it taught me a lot about entrepreneurship and resilience.”

Speaking of startups – and resilience – Eric Husny can share quite a tale. He co-founded a startup,, in his native Lebanon. Soon enough, he learned bad news always comes in threes. In his case, his time was swallowed up by COVID, a national banking freefall, and a port explosion in Beirut. In particular, the financial crisis resulted in half of the firm’s investment “vanishing”. Not only did the Beirut blast take 218 lives, but also “vaporized” their offices and homes. These setbacks didn’t stop Husny’s team from staying the course.

“My co-founders elected to leave Lebanon, as did most of our employees, and we slowly re-established a working system once everyone was ready and fit to get back to work,” Husny explains. “Thanks to the team’s effort we eventually managed to sell the company. Looking back, I am very proud of how we handled things.”

An MBA startup from INSEAD tops this year’s list of 100 top-funded MBA startups of 2022, the first time a school from outside the U.S. has come out on top. Courtesy photo


Hiro Herfert can tell a similar tale. A senior consultant at EY-Parthenon before joining INSEAD, Herfert prevented an electronics company for filing bankruptcy – an effort that saved the jobs of over a thousand employees. Fast forward to Ghana, where Nana Yaw Kyere Opare-Anim ran inventory for Nestle’s Central and West Africa region. As the firm’s supply chain lead during COVID, he produced record (and near-perfect) service despite a 50% jump in demand – winning him Nestle’s Supply Chain Star Award in 2021. At 26, Hadeel Jaradat was running Facility Management unit in Rawabi City – which she describes as the “the first Palestinian planned city and the largest private sector project in Palestine’s history.” Her unit consisted of seven departments and 130 employees, who handled everything from plumbing to housekeeping. And let’s just way word of her feats got around.

I was featured in a 60 Minutes show in 2021.”

Tamuna Andguladze also made waves at 26. She became the youngest loan officer at the European Investment Bank. Last year, she spearheaded the Urgent Solidarity Support Package, which provided $668 million dollars in support to Ukraine after the Russian invasion. That wasn’t her only major contribution in banking

“At the EIB, I developed the first partial portfolio guarantees signed with banks in Georgia, Ukraine, and Palestine enabling financing multiple start-up ideas,” she adds. In the future, I want to leverage on this experience and set up a first Guarantee Agency in Georgia. The Agency would improve access to finance for start-ups as well as small and medium enterprises through providing risk-sharing instruments to banks and would contribute to strengthening economic resilience of Georgia in preparation for joining the EU.”

Looking for star power in the Class of 2023? Jack Arkwright once auditioned with Emma Watson for a part in the Harry Potter movie franchise. He even set up a hockey club in Myanmar – even though the country’s record low temperature was 45 degrees! At the same time, Juliette Cremel veered off the beaten career path to pursue her dream job: “[Getting] paid to swing upside down on a 6-meter-high trapeze and catch people throwing themselves at me in mid-air!”


“I left Founders Factory Paris in September 2020 to pursue a lifelong dream of obtaining a circus teaching certification, which led me to working full-time as a circus teacher in a high-end resort in Greece for five months. While this experience taught me a lot, it also made me realize that I wanted to bring my passion and business skills together to launch my own business and bring circus arts as a practice to a broader audience. This led me to pursuing an MBA.”

Next Page: Interview with INSEAD Leadership

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