Forté Fellows

Forté Fellow Spotlight: Joanne Guan

Joanne-GuanJoanne Guan

University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical), 2007
INSEAD, Class of 2015 December
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Business Development and Process Engineering

Early this year, I was scratching my head over the MBA application when I asked a friend, an INSEAD alumni, what he found most rewarding out of the entire MBA program. I had heard of the network, the academics, and the life-changing experience that an MBA could offer, but at the same time I was juggling a heavy work load, struggling to put together my application, and if truth be told, had even developed some doubts if the financial and opportunity cost of going to business school was the correct decision for me. I wanted to know: what exactly did the students find to be the most rewarding experience from Business School?

My friend chuckled and replied, “Well, Jo, the most rewarding aspect is the opportunity to get re-acquainted with yourself. And this doesn’t only happen when school starts: it starts the day you begin your application to business school.”

Application Means Reflection

The essays in an MBA application are often seen as the most grueling part of the application, as not only are we forced to sit down and examine ourselves, our experiences, aspirations and flaws, but we’re also expected to sum all of it up in essays of 500 words or less! If you’re struggling with this like I did — you’re definitely not alone.

I realize now that the word limit forced me to be extra critical in my self-reflection, and to search deep in the past 28 years of my life to find key words and examples that define who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. As young professionals we rush through each day juggling work, hobbies and family and the application months may very well be the first time since graduation that we truly sit down and recall all the achievements, and failures that we have accumulated in our lives.

Be Ready, and Be Yourself

Everyone has their own reasons for embarking on the MBA journey, and since meeting fellow INSEAD admits, I’ve come to realize that the common denominator amongst us is that not only was it something we truly wanted, but that we all applied for it only when we felt ready.

No one can truly understand another’s reasons for deciding to attend Business School; so my advice to applicants would be to be sure of your decision, and be ready to articulate clearly a reply to the “Why MBA?” question which friends, family, and interviewers will be throwing at you.Additionally, in both application essays and interviews, I found it easiest to just be myself. The interviewers have enough experience to know when you’re not truly being yourself.

Last but not least, its easy to focus on the outcome of the application but try to enjoy the journey there. It may be frustrating at times, but it is also a great opportunity to get re-acquainted with yourself.

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