2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Sami Mavrothalassitis, INSEAD

Sami Mavrothalassitis


“Curious and dynamic problem-solver, people-oriented, action-driven, with a passion for outdoor sports.”

Hometown: Paris, France

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been an amateur boxer since the age of fourteen and have competitively pursued the sport for several years. In 2016, I was given the opportunity to teach classes at my local boxing gym. As time passed, I found immense satisfaction in this act of passing on knowledge. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching in different boxing gyms as I moved, always on a voluntary basis. I look forward to pursuing transmitting the core values of martial arts, and through this positively influencing my communities and younger generations wherever I go!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Sorbonne Université (Bachelor’s Degree in Biology), JUNIA-ISA (Master’s Degree in Engineering), Skema BS (Master of Science in Project Management & Business Development).

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before joining INSEAD’s MBA, I was the Health & Safety Project Manager for HEINEKEN France.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? I joined the INSEAD MBA in January 2024 (graduating class of December 2024), so my internship will be during the summer of 2024. I intend to complete an internship in the consulting landscape as part of my professional objective.

Where will you be working after graduation? In the short term, I aspire to continue developing my skills and abilities by joining the consulting industry. This path will allow me to further explore various industries, contributing to the corporate world and society as they navigate technological, social, and environmental changes. In the long run, I intend to leverage my experiences to tackle sustainability-related challenges in business as I’m committed to engaging in work that’s both personally meaningful and socially beneficial.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Upon arriving at INSEAD I became a member of multiple student clubs including INDEVOR, the Martial Arts Club, and the Public Speaking Club. In the future, I look forward to being invested in leadership positions within those clubs as I know that pursuing an INSEAD MBA extends well beyond the rigorous academics; it encompasses significant personal and professional growth, which is fueled by the students’ active engagement.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As I joined the program seven weeks ago, I suspect (and expect) my proudest moments and achievements at INSEAD to be ahead of me! What I can already be proud of is the connections I have made with classmates that I already consider friends. This fast-paced program truly acts as a catalyst for fostering both professional and personal bonds.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at Heineken in 2021 to mitigate road risk, I developed a big data application that analyses driving behavior, suggesting safety improvements. Connected to a unique incentive program, the app rewards safe driving. Through gamification, the app manages to raise awareness of road risks and helps create safe and sustainable driving habits for the fleet. This project, voluntarily used by 80% of the 1200 light-vehicle drivers daily, has significantly reduced road accidents and fulfilled its goal of protecting HEINEKEN France employees and other road users.

Additionally, alongside my primary responsibilities, I successfully fostered connections with people globally from diverse backgrounds and fields through my leadership of the “We Care” program. This program that I chaired for three years champions unity, well-being, and open-mindedness, advocating for mental health, inclusion, and diversity, and actively organizing charity events for meaningful causes among our employees and their families. While at INSEAD, I intend to leverage this experience to cultivate significant relationships and contributions both inside and outside the classroom.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose INSEAD for my MBA journey primarily for its unparalleled diversity, both in terms of student nationalities and professional profiles. INSEAD stands out as a melting pot of global perspectives, hosting an eclectic community that represents over 90 nationalities! This multicultural environment is not just a backdrop, but the essence of INSEAD’s educational approach. Engaging with such a diverse cohort offers a glimpse of the global business landscape that I want to be a part of.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Daniel Bens, “Financial Accounting” professor. His exceptional teaching style made a challenging subject not only manageable but also engaging. Bens’s practical approach and his ability to bring subjects to life with captivating examples transformed a daunting topic into an intriguing one. Despite my initial lack of knowledge in this area, his method of simplifying complex concepts and making them fascinating was truly impressive. His enthusiasm (impressive collection of ties) and expertise made every class an enjoyable experience.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite MBA course was “Introduction to Strategy,” led by Professor Chengyi Lin. This course provided a deep dive into corporate strategy and its intricate effects on companies’ ecosystems. It equipped us with the necessary tools, skills, and intuition to approach strategy development in a systematic and strategic manner. Additionally, “Organizational Behavior I”, taught by Professor Ella Miron Spektor, deserves mention for its profound impact on my personal and professional growth. The concepts and ideas conveyed in the class resonated deeply with me.  The course’s content is designed to enhance leadership qualities, teamwork, and personal development, shaping not only better professionals but also better individuals.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Reflecting on my MBA journey at INSEAD, the one thing I’d do differently is to prioritize building deeper connections with my cohort mates from the onset of the program. Despite the fast-paced nature of INSEAD, where courses and workshops demand unwavering commitment, the value of forging strong relationships should not be understated. While the program’s structure naturally fosters interaction within sections, it inadvertently creates barriers to connecting with peers outside of it. In hindsight, I would’ve enjoyed connecting more with the broader cohort, understanding the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of my peers, and enriching my MBA experience even further. Going forward, I intend to allocate more of my time to seize this unique opportunity of interacting with brilliant individuals from all corners of the globe, fully embracing this unparalleled chance for development.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about INSEAD that you might hear is that it’s solely a consulting school. While it’s undeniable that a significant number of students come from a consulting background and many aim to enter the field after graduation (including me!), this perception doesn’t capture the full picture. Once you become part of the community, it becomes evident that the school fosters a wide range of professional backgrounds and aspirations. Students come from various sectors such as technology, entrepreneurship, finance, healthcare, and non-profits, among others. They bring with them a wealth of experiences that enrich the learning environment and contribute to a dynamic exchange of ideas. The myth may persist, but for those who are part of the INSEAD family, the reality of its diversity is what resonates the most.

What surprised you the most about business school? The most surprising aspect of business school for me has been the immediate and profound sense of community that formed among my MBA cohort. This camaraderie blossomed from the start, with everyone eager to support one another—academically, professionally, and personally. INSEAD nurtures this tight-knit environment through initiatives like the Personal Leadership Development Programme and its study group system, which have been critical in forging these strong bonds. This deep-rooted community spirit is undoubtedly the highlight of my experience.

Another aspect that surprised me is how times flow differently at INSEAD. From the first day, there’s so much happening that sometimes it feels like there are not enough hours in a day to get the most out of what INSEAD has to offer. Still, following the advice of former students and alumni, I try to be present and savor every moment, even when the pressure of academics, exams, and recruiting arises. In this transformative experience, every second is an opportunity for growth and enjoyment.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I admire the most is Yugentharan Shanmugam; whose transition from managing large, multicultural teams in high-stakes oil and gas projects across Asia to the academic environment of INSEAD is nothing short of remarkable. I have the privilege to be in Yugen study group and therefore witness daily his unique skills when it comes to interacting with others. Yugen’s leadership style is a blend of calmness and resilience, whether he’s taking the lead or supporting team members. His people-first philosophy is evident in his approach, ensuring that no one is left behind. Watching Yugen navigate the complexities of student life with the same finesse he applied in challenging geopolitical contexts like Iraq and Kuwait is inspiring. He embodies the human element that is crucial in business, effortlessly bridging age, cultural, and professional gaps. Yugen is a living example of what makes the INSEAD experience so unique—being surrounded by ambitious, adept professionals from whom one can learn and grow. His capacity to lead, evident in his past and undoubtedly in his future, sets a standard I aspire to reach.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The pinnacle of my professional aspirations is the establishment of an NGO dedicated to mentoring and tutoring bright young minds from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds in France. This initiative reflects my commitment to educational equity and my belief in the transformative power of mentorship. Following closely, my second ambition is to continue influencing sustainable business practices. I aim to work on sustainability-related topics, advocating for environmentally and socially responsible business models. Together, these goals embody my vision of blending social impact with sustainable business innovation.

What made Sami such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“French-born, with a lineage as diverse as the cultures he embodies Sami has roots stemming from his Tunisian mother and Greek father. Throughout his academic journey, he navigated the challenges with unwavering determination, working part-time while studying. Beyond his professional demeanor, his serene disposition and optimistic aura left a lasting impression on the Admissions Committee. In addition, they were captivated by his fervent drive to transcend societal barriers, driven by a strong desire to effect change and carve out a path to success. His drive for extreme sports and his ability to become a boxing coach also caught their attention.”


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