Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Lara Gruering, INSEAD

Lara Gruering


“Hyper passionate, French-Swiss raised, US-educated, consumer obsessed brand marketing whiz speaking 5+ languages.”

Hometown: Paris, France

Fun Fact About Yourself: I took a gap year from my undergraduate studies to live in Iran for a year in 2016-2017 to study Persian, travel and explore consumer industries in emerging markets (this was right after the Obama administration re-opened business with Iran for the U.S and Europe).

Undergraduate School and Major: MBA (business administration)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Tally Weijl, Brand Marketing Director

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? Every conversation at INSEAD is a transforming experience. The core purpose of business education is to prepare us as future global leaders in our industries of choice. Through INSEAD’s unparalleled cultural and professional diversity, 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. 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. Thanks to INSEAD’s cultural and professional diversity, we’re given the opportunity, to not just build a network for our immediate post-MBA goals, but to set ourselves up with a lifelong global network of exceptional individuals across fields.

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? In comparison with other top-tier MBA programmes, INSEAD has an unparalleled focus on driving positive impact at a global scale through business. My upbringing in an entrepreneurial family – and my experiences through travels around the world from the Middle East to Asia and Latin America – have left me left me with an incredible zest to continuously grow into a positive contributor in the world and a leader of change. This covers a broad scope of missions and objectives from building diverse and inclusive business organizations with well-rounded missions focused on values such as sustainability, to being an actor for positive change in established organizations.

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. While all top tier MBAs attract high-performing and driven students, I believe INSEADers have a unique level of passion that complements their drive for growth. My first time meeting fellow INSEADers occurred at a pre-MBA trip collectively organized by a group of students in Croatia during the summer. On the ride from the airport to our accommodation, I was seated next to an exceptionally kind and radiant fellow student hailing from the United States (but speaking Arabic and Spanish). When we got to talking, I realized that not only had we attended the same undergraduate university (at different times), but we had also pursued similar study paths (Middle East and International Relations). We had gone on to very different paths post-bachelors. Meeting people who share some elements of your background but who have radically different views on so many other experiences is one of the key advantages of INSEAD.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? At INSEAD, I look forward to joining the Retail, Consumer, and Luxury Goods Club (RCLG) as well as the Environmental Club. As part of RCLG, I’m excited to both connect with other INSEADers from the consumer-facing industry to discover other verticals (e.g. hospitality, CPG, etc.) and to share my know-how in the fashion and wellness spaces. As part of the Environmental Club, I hope to drive meaningful conversations on environmental sustainability in the business world as well as potentially host a conference involving alumni, professors, and current students on the key sustainability initiatives across key industries (finance, consulting, tech, consumer, social). I am also teaming up with some of my classmates to start a skiing club focused on exploring some of the best winter spots on the European continent (possibly even in the world!)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My first manager always said: “The more you shoot at the goal, the higher the probability that a shot will go in.” I’ve always taken this expression to mean that, while luck and probability are important, we direct our fate through tenacity and determination. This mentality, combined with strong risk-taking, have led me to experience numerous achievements and failures.

So far, the achievement which stands out most is the successful setup and scaling of a strong team of marketing executives. Joining Tally Weijl in June 2020 as a digital manager, I took over the marketing department within three months and rapidly presented a two-year acceleration plan to our board of directors, which was unanimously approved along with my director candidature. I immediately hit the ground running on performance objectives and team restructuring, mixing external talent with internal expertise to create top-tier foundations. Amidst budget restrictions, I focused on competitive advantages and recruited in digital and data analytics. I further merged teams (e.g. social media and community management), increasing alignment and creative agglomeration. Finally, I recruited out-of-the-box. For instance, I onboarded our now newly-appointed Store Marketing Manager from sales as a community manager to scale our revenue-driven ambassador program, where he thrived and quickly promoted. In total, the team scaled from three average marketers focused on retail to fifteen outstanding, qualified, and motivated leaders with close knit team relations.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? As a young professional, I’ve spent the last three years working for fast-paced, growth-powered, small-to-medium ventures to drive change through direct actions. I started out a venture-backed pre-launch startup, before advancing to the role of brand marketing director within our family business. Post-MBA, I plan to step away from the family business for 5+ years, to join a best-in-class, post-series B, disrupting and scaling venture in consumer marketing. My core objective is to achieve a CMO position in a top-tier business in the next ten years in order to eventually join the family business as CEO and lead it into the next phase of transformation and expansion.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Lately, I have spent a lot of time exploring resources from top-tier consulting and financing firms (e.g. industry reports, panel discussions, short articles on specific issues), which come in the format of articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos. I would highly recommend for prospective MBA students to use these to inform their knowledge of various industries to think of their future outside their current industry (when relevant) and their long-term plans. This will help them think through their next steps, prepare for their MBA application, and (if selected)

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was also accepted to London Business School.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program? My core advice would be to give yourself enough time to prepare the different components of the application and make them the best they can be, whether it is practicing for the standardized tests (GMAT/GRE), spending time with your recommenders to discuss your future plans, or thinking through the admissions essays. Beyond that, I think it’s also key to be as honest as possible about who you are and where you are at in your journey. INSEAD is looking for passionate, excited, globally minded individuals from diverse backgrounds (professional and cultural) to form unique classes of exceptional individuals. Being yourself and believing in your strengths.


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