Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Hiro Herfert, INSEAD

Hiro Herfert


“Passionate musician turned consultant to make the world a better place.”

Hometown: Stuttgart, Germany

Fun Fact About Yourself: I hated winter sports, but my friends forced me on a snowboard – Come next winter, I bought my own gear and went snowboarding 17 times!

Undergraduate School and Major: ESB Business School, International Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: EY-Parthenon, Senior Consultant

INSEAD is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next year? Many case studies and classroom discussions will evolve around stories from diverse cultural backgrounds. Having representatives from those respective cultures in one class enhances not only the discussion, but will also supplement the case study with personal stories that may support or, in some cases, even contradict the case study. With these additional insights, a case study will turn from a written fixed story into a broader, more meaningful, and alive experience that I believe will sharpen everyone’s business senses.

With INSEAD’s diverse MBA program, there also is no dominant culture or profession at INSEAD, which keeps the discussion from steering into one specific direction. Coming from a European / consulting background, I am excited to better understand the line-of-thought of people from all around the world.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of INSEAD’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? INSEAD does not tailor its program specifically towards one particular job market. Since I aspire to take on business challenges all around the world, INSEAD’s status as the #1 school for those seeking a truly international career made it the obvious choice for me.

What has been your first impression of the INSEAD MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best INSEAD story so far. Diverse – It may sound trivial, however I have never met an INSEAD alumni who was similar to another INSEAD alumni. Everyone had their own experiences and their own background, which made each encounter exciting and memorable. My best INSEAD experience was meeting a senior alumnus who graduated a long time ago. I expected the conversation to be formal and stoic. However, this could not have been further from reality, as we spent all time laughing about our past professional and private shortcomings, making this the most pleasant conversation I had with any c-suite member.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? With my home country of Japan lagging behind in terms of gender equality in the workforce, I am always searching for new ideas and approaches that could improve the situation for women in Japan. INSEAD Women in Business is therefore the student club that I am most looking forward to joining.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It was supporting a struggling electronics manufacturer to escape bankruptcy. Often, it is difficult to measure the exact impact of consulting on a company. However, in this particular project, the impact of my work was clear: I helped a company to avoid bankruptcy and saved 1,000+ employees from losing their jobs. Keeping the factories running and defining a restructuring plan while facilitating the negotiations with a buyer was challenging. However, seeing the employees ultimately breathing a sigh of relief when the company was rescued made it worth the hectic weeks.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I noticed that my leadership skills were slightly lagging behind my technical skills. With my next career step being a promotion to a managerial role in consulting, I decided that now was the time to tackle this issue. After graduation, I intend to continue my current career path in consulting.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? The Corporation (2003) – Although the film is now nearly 20 years old, it depicts certain problems with companies relevant to this day that all future leaders should be wary of. Additionally, the movie is also a proxy for parts of the general public who are wary of large companies, in turn making this movie a good reference point to better understand their concerns.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? MIT Sloan

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program? I personally found it helpful to rewind my own past and re-discover what I have achieved and where I have failed. Especially since INSEAD’s essays are longer than most other business schools, a deep and honest look at my own personal and professional development added depth to my essays.

This process will also help to lay out how you can contribute to INSEAD’s international community and vice versa. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessarily relevant how many places you have visited or called home. More important are your actual engagements with individuals from a different background. A tricky customer from a different culture, a strict foreign headquarters of your company that you report to, or an uncollaborative overseas subsidiary – How you handled these relationships will more than make up for any lack of living abroad.


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