2023 MBA To Watch: Paula Heisecke, INSEAD

Paula Heisecke

INSEAD

“My name is Paula. I am Paraguayan and passionate about inclusive development.”

Hometown: Asuncion, Paraguay

Fun fact about yourself: I have two dogs, Luna and Toto, and I love them with all my heart!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Catholic University of Asuncion, Bachelor in Economics

University of Oxford, Blavatnik School of Government, Master of Public Policy

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Central Bank of Paraguay, Financial Specialist

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Geneva Finance Research Institute and the Swiss Lab for Sustainable Finance

Where will you be working after graduation? N/A

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: It has not been two months since we started school, but it already seems like a lifetime ago. I am excited to join the Robin Hood Scholarship Campaign Committee. This INSEAD student tradition involves a fundraising campaign to provide a needs-based diversity scholarship to a deserving candidate from the next intake. We have recently started meetings and the organization of activities and are looking forward to surpassing the goal and securing a scholarship to assist a worthy candidate in fulfilling the dream of attending INSEAD.

I am also looking forward to contributing to both the Women in Business and the Politics Clubs, joining discussions on creating more opportunities for strong women leaders, and promoting efficient cooperation between the public and private sectors to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth. I plan to apply for leadership roles within these organizations later this year.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Even though we have not started with the official campaign yet, I am already proud of being one of the volunteers at the Robin Hood Campaign. It has only been a short time since we started business school, but one of the most challenging aspects of a one-year MBA such as INSEAD is its intense and demanding schedule. I am proud of the few of us who have volunteered our time to contribute to such a great cause, and I am more than grateful to participate in helping future deserving candidates embark on one of the most transformational experiences in their lives.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Working at an organization such as the Central Bank of Paraguay has permitted me to participate in decisions that could critically impact my country, especially during the difficult and uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I am proud to have worked on designing new regulations to help my country mitigate liquidity shortages and overcome many of the pandemic’s economic and social impacts.

Further, I am also proud to have recently graduated with a Master of Public Policy from the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. With the MPP and MBA combination, I want to encourage public and private actors to work together to make our world one with equal opportunities for all.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose INSEAD because I deeply believe in the power of diversity. As we have learned in our organizational behavior course, working in diverse teams leads to better outcomes not only because of informational diversity – i.e., when different people bring different perspectives to the table. Even more, when we find ourselves within a diverse group, we work harder and become more diligent and open-minded. With students from over 80 different nationalities, INSEAD embodies the power of diversity.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It is still pretty soon to choose a favorite MBA professor. Yet, from P1, I greatly enjoyed our Introduction to Strategy course with Ithai Stern. The course has been extremely helpful in developing my understanding of the business environment and training my critical thinking skills to develop beneficial, long-term strategies, especially given that I come from a non-business background.

The Master Strategist Day, an activity designed for us to develop financially sustainable strategic recommendations for the Chateau de Fontainebleau in less than 24 hours, was the perfect (yet very challenging) way to put new concepts into practice.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Too soon to tell.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I had the chance for a do-over, I would come to Fontainebleau sooner and take advantage of the opportunities to travel around France and the EU – apparently, travel plans sometimes get in the way of keeping up with the MBA program 

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the biggest myths about INSEAD is that you need a business background to apply. In fact, I am proof that is not the case. The important thing is to have a clearly defined objective or reason for doing an MBA and to demonstrate how your experiences will enhance class discussions by providing a differentiated point of view.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? It is helping me practice French.

What surprised you the most about business school? I have to say that what surprised me the most is how impressive the people are. Our schedules are crazy, filled with classes, assignments, and group work, yet everyone is always willing to lend a hand when someone needs it.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Networking, networking, networking!

Reaching out to alums and current students is extremely important. Asking about their experiences, the university’s culture and values, the best classes and professors, exciting clubs and organizations, and even prospective projects is the best way to get to know the school. Further, it is the best way to show your commitment to the school and to learn if it is the right place for you.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I intend to work on promoting public policies that foster inclusive economic growth in my country, while at the same time continue growing professionally by developing my leadership skills and testing my resilience on more challenging endeavors.

I also plan on advocating for a greater representation of women in leadership positions within my country, my region and the wider INSEAD community.

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

“The Admissions Committee appreciated the fact that Paula could bring interesting perspectives from Public Policy in Latin America, working with NGOs and government organisations and embodying INSEAD mission Force for Good. She appeared to be a hard worker, studying at university and in parallel working in the family Construction Corporation. Paula applied to INSEAD while pursuing an MPP degree programme at Oxford, and convinced the Admissions Committee that this degree coupled with an MBA, would be the perfect combination to prepare her for leadership roles in Paraguay. Her drive, energy and dedication to succeed are impressive and will enable her to not only gain from the MBA but also contribute massively to the experience of others.”

Virgine Fougea
Director of Admissions

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