2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Rebecca Chandler, INSEAD

Rebecca Chandler


“Inquisitive, empathetic travel enthusiast passionate about transforming business for positive environmental and social impact.”

Hometown: Berkeley, a small countryside town in Gloucestershire, UK

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve walked in over 500 fashion shows on 4 continents, when working as a model between high school and graduating from my undergraduate university; I also co-founded a model influencer marketing start-up when Instagram took off in the UK.

Undergraduate School and Degree: King’s College London, BA (Hons) French and Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before INSEAD, I worked at UBS Group in London, most recently in Structured Lending for Wealth Management clients. Prior to that, I worked in Investment Bank Capital Markets, where I specialized in sustainable finance, equity derivatives and financing, and other strategic equity transactions for corporates and large investment funds across EMEA region.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I joined the INSEAD MBA in January 2023 (graduating class of December 2023), so my internship will be during summer 2023. I intend to complete an internship in sustainable finance or impact investing, as this is the focus of my professional and personal interests.

Where will you be working after graduation? My driving sense of purpose is to positively impact the communities I’m part of for the future, on both a planetary and a local scale. This purpose now drives my intention to leverage my previous seven years of financial sector experience to deploy capital towards solving key environmental and social sustainability challenges, through a career transition to sustainable and impact investing. Sustainability topics of particular personal interest to me include biodiversity, climate change, and circular business models.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: As soon as I arrived at INSEAD last month, I joined several student clubs, including INDEVOR social impact and Women in Business clubs, in order to contribute to the events and opportunities available on campus for our student community. The INSEAD MBA is about so much more than the (very intensive) academic study – personal and professional development is also an essential part of the experience here and is driven by the active participation of students. I am hoping to join the leadership team of the student impact investing fund and the Environment and Business clubs in May/June, when the leadership transitions to my December-graduating cohort, in order to amplify career opportunities for MBA graduates in impact investing and to deliver on-campus sustainability initiatives at INSEAD.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’ve only been on campus for 7 weeks, and envisage my best achievements as still to come over the next 11 months! So far, a proud moment has been the challenging 24-hour, hackathon-style Master Strategy Day. At 7 pm, we met the president of the Château de Fontainebleau and were tasked with designing a strategy plan tackling growth, sustainability, and social impact, which was to be presented from 1 pm the next day in competitive rounds in front of peers, alumni, the Dean and Château leadership team. I’ve never participated in anything similar, so it felt like jumping in the deep end while still learning to swim! It was an exhilarating learning experience where I put into practice everything I’ve learned in strategy classes. I’m proud of the positive feedback my team and I received.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Six months into joining UBS Investment Bank as a new 1st-year graduate analyst, during a challenging time of high junior employee turnover, I collaborated with my colleagues across the department to establish the Investment Bank Junior Executive Committee. This is a representative body of junior employees that advocates for their peers’ needs and well-being in discussions with senior management. I served as a founding committee member, hosting monthly talks with my team on workplace challenges and presenting junior talent retention initiatives to the Investment Bank CEO and senior management every quarter. In the JEC’s first year, we successfully implemented a ‘protected-weekend’ policy, improved training, and increased client-facing opportunities for analysts and associates, which had a noticeable positive impact on employee engagement and retention. I’m very proud that our Junior Executive Committee has continued successfully supporting junior employees over the past six years.

Why did you choose this business school? I aspire to drive positive societal impact through sustainable investing, so what first drew me to INSEAD beyond academic excellence was being one of the first top business schools offering sustainable finance electives, and the Hoffmann Institute’s Sustainable Development Goals expertise. Currently, the MBA programme offers over 10 electives specifically on sustainable business models, economics and financing, and is increasingly integrating this theme into all core courses as well. INSEAD’s focus on contributing to society, reflected by motto “Business as a force for Good”, aligns with my values and commitment to sustainability, volunteering and philanthropy.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? So far in Period 1, my favourite core course has been Introduction to Strategy taught by Ithai Stern. I‘ve always been interested in developing creative business strategies, but haven’t worked in a strategy role yet. The course introduces important tools and frameworks using a very interactive and hands-on approach – leveraging not just case-studies but also role-plays and virtual reality headsets. Ithai is a very engaging teacher who knows exactly how to bring concepts to life. The course ends with an immersive 24-hour Master Strategy Day challenge to develop strategies for an organization with social purpose.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? INSEAD MBA intakes are renowned for being very geographically diverse, so I’m really looking forward for INSEAD National Weeks. This is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about different countries’ cultures and our classmates’ backgrounds, directly first from our peers. Fun activities and great food always make an appearance!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I’d arrived in Fontainebleau further in advance of the start of term, to have more time getting to know my full MBA cohort before starting the incredible whirlwind of classes, leadership workshops, and career events. For the first four months of the INSEAD MBA, the cohort is divided into several sections each with their own different schedule – this builds strong bonds between students in the same section spending every class together, but means I rarely get to see people in the other sections except at social events. I’m looking forward to P3 in May when the sections will mix together for electives.    

What surprised you the most about business school? What has surprised me the most so far is the strong sense of community that was established within my MBA cohort right from the launch week; everyone is friendly, supportive, and always willing to help fellow students – almost every conversation ends with an offer to connect to a former colleague for career networking, to share a ride to the airport, an invitation to a home-cooked dinner, or a plan to practice case-study interview prep together. INSEAD helps foster this close-knit culture through the Personal Leadership Development programme and the study group system, and everyone is united in wanting to make the MBA the best possible experience for everyone.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think what helped my application most was honesty about my past experience and long-term motivations, rather than trying to guess what INSEAD might want to hear. I have a slightly non-traditional career-path, being a self-employed creative in the fashion industry for several years before working in banking. Focusing on my lived experiences enabled me to illustrate the unique experience and networks I can contribute to INSEAD. I also reached out to a former colleague who was in the INSEAD MBA 22D class at the time I was applying, who really embodied the INSEAD culture of giving back and shared a lot of helpful advice. 

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I’m constantly impressed by all of my INSEAD classmates’ exceptional talents and drive. I have particular admiration for my classmates from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds, including Zoé Toulouse, a professional Baker at bakeries in France and Canada who is pursuing the MBA programme in order to create and lead her own business. It must take a huge leap of courage to join a very intensive MBA programme without previous business studies or experience, as the academic workload is challenging even for those from consulting and finance backgrounds. Zoe always participates to the fullest and contributes unique ideas and experience to make our class experience much richer.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Top of my bucket list is to have tangible positive impact on the environment and society, by catalyzing investment in sustainability solutions and in the future, leading a company that’s working to solve a major environmental challenge.

In addition, I aspire to play a leading role in diversifying access to the finance sector through mentoring students from disadvantaged or under-represented backgrounds and advocating for equal opportunities.

What made Rebecca such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Rebecca majored in French studies from an excellent university, King’s College London. Yet, she obtained the CFA Level I and a number of additional finance certifications. The Admissions Committee was impressed by this mix of strong language skills and number driven abilities. Her career has been spanning over Debt Capital and Strategic Equity. Rebecca demonstrated her adaptability and open-mindedness, having worked with multi-cultural teams, living in Italy and the US as well as travelling extensively. She came across as having the perfect drive and curiosity to succeed both at INSEAD and after. For Rebecca there are multiple ways of contributing to the general subject of “Sustainability”. This was thought provoking and a confirmation that she will be able to meaningfully contribute during the MBA programme.“

Virgine Fougea
Global Director, Admissions, Financial Aid and Scholarships, Degree Programmes


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