Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Julia Zhang, INSEAD        

Julia Zhang        


“German-Chinese management consultant with a passion for entrepreneurship.”

Hometown: Frankfurt, Germany & Shanghai, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a curious person by nature and my path has been anything but straightforward: From wanting to become a concert pianist to working on film sets, I joined a M&A communication firm, founded my own startups and eventually landed at a global management consultancy. It has certainly been an interesting ride so far. Having lived, studied and/or worked in China, Germany and the U.S., I’m grateful for the diverse experience I gained and the wonderful people I’ve met on the way.

Undergraduate School and Major: Mannheim University, B.A. in Media and Communication Studies; Columbia University, M.Sc. in Strategic Communications

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: McKinsey & Company, Fellow Senior Associate

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? I believe that the exposure to global perspectives at INSEAD will significantly enhance the value of my business education in three key ways:

1. Broader Understanding of Global Markets: Interacting with a diverse cohort from various countries and backgrounds will expose me to a multitude of perspectives on global markets, international business practices, and cultural nuances. This broader understanding will enable me to make more informed and strategic decisions when it comes to navigating and capitalizing on opportunities in different regions.

2. Adaptability and Cultural Intelligence: Engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds will challenge my preconceptions and biases, promoting adaptability and cultural intelligence. This adaptability will be crucial in an increasingly interconnected world, where businesses operate across borders and understanding different cultures becomes vital for success.

3. Building a Global Network: INSEAD’s diverse community offers an unparalleled opportunity to build a global network of contacts, spanning different industries and geographies. This network will not only enrich my personal and professional life but also provide valuable support and resources throughout my career.

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’s one-year MBA program is known for its intensity and rigorous curriculum. The shorter duration ensures that I can achieve my academic and career goals efficiently, saving time and expenses compared to traditional two-year programs.

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. The diversity among INSEAD MBA students I’ve met is truly remarkable. From different nationalities to diverse professional backgrounds, everyone brings a unique perspective to the table.

The conversations I’ve had with my peers have been eye-opening and enriching. It’s fascinating to hear stories of their experiences from various corners of the world and how they’ve navigated different cultural and business landscapes.

Furthermore, the willingness of INSEAD students and alumni to share their knowledge and insights has been remarkable. The collaborative atmosphere fosters a genuine desire to learn from one another, and I’ve found that people are not only open to sharing their experiences but also eager to listen and learn from mine.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? As someone with a strong interest in entrepreneurship, I’m most excited about the Entrepreneurship Club since it provides an ideal platform to connect with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for innovation and startups. Being surrounded by a community of aspiring entrepreneurs will undoubtedly be motivating and inspiring and help me build a diverse network that can open doors to potential co-founders, investors, mentors, and collaborators, crucial for building a successful startup.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In February 2020, I was able to help local German hospitals, nursing homes, and municipalities procure medical face masks in the first chaotic weeks of the pandemic when supply chains were down, and there was a severe mask shortage in Germany. I invested my savings to set up a private corporation, leveraged my network in China to contact medical mask factories and private logistics companies, and liaised with German customs authorities to import 20,000 FFP2 masks into Germany. I believe that my actions had a positive impact on local communities, because they would have had to wait several weeks if not months, before they would have gotten support from the German government. It was also a significant experience for me, because in the face of uncertainty and doubts, I acted decisively and took the opportunity to help people. Not only did I learn a lot about setting up and running a business, but I also learned how to manage cross-border stakeholders and the importance of perseverance in a crisis.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? My immediate goal is to continue my journey as a management consultant. Working in this capacity will provide me with valuable exposure to diverse industries, business challenges, and organizational dynamics. I believe that the experience gained as a consultant will help me develop a well-rounded skill set and a deeper understanding of various business functions.

In the longer term, my aspiration is to transition from being a management consultant to founding and leading my own company. Entrepreneurship has always been a passion of mine, and I believe that the diverse skills acquired from both the INSEAD MBA program and my consulting experience will be invaluable in building a successful business.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program? Be clear as to why you want to pursue an MBA at INSEAD and bring a unique perspective to the table.


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