Well, it’s official.  I’m now done my MBA.  Orientation kicked off on January 9th and now 347 days later it’s over.

Today graduation took place in Versailles at the Palais de Congres.  It had its ups and downs.  We had to listen to a few long-winded speeches (although I’ve never been to a graduation ceremony that didn’t include a couple) and one incredible one.

The great one was by Cees van Lede, the chairman of the INSEAD board of directors and an MBA ‘67.  He was one of those magnetic speakers who can be charismatic without being loud.  He repeatedly talked about how your life is divided into three periods (“learning, earning and returning”) and we were making the transition to the second one; it struck a chord.

Afterwards we had a huge dinner in Paris at the Chez Paul restaurant in Bastille.  There was a total of 17 people: myself, Richard, Peter, Pateel, Aine and Arsalaan and our respective families.  It was a great time-somehow Chez Paul had a table that seated exactly 17 in a separately enclosed room.

Anyways, what a year.  Not only have I learned a tonne about “business” and met the coolest overachievers from all over the world, I’ve gotten to see the world.  I’ve lived in Singapore, Fontainebleau and San Francisco.  I’ve visited 15 countries this year: Canada, the U.S., England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Hong Kong.  I’ve lived on three continents and once the plane I’m currently on touches down in Newark I’ll have flown around the world.

Here’s an interesting thought for you.  At our graduation, people kept talking about all that we’ve “achieved”.  I don’t think that’s true at all; grad school is a giant escalator-you get on at the bottom and you’re going to get pushed out the top irrespective of how little work you do.  I don’t think it’s much of an achievement to graduate-the “achievement” is what you do with the degree.  Can’t wait to see what my classmates do; I’m already looking forward to the five year reunion.

Update (March 27, 2007): Here’s a photo of me graduating:

Also, here’s how the graduation ceremony was described on the alumni website:

Left to right: Guest speaker in Versailles, Philippe Houzé MBA '74; Dean Frank Brown; Cees van Lede

MBA '67; Dean of the MBA programme, Antonio Fatás

In Versailles, guest speaker Philippe Houzé MBA '74, Chairman of the Executive Board, Galeries Lafayette Group, gave an impressive speech about cultivating the values within you and responding to today's challenges. He asked the students to think about leadership, think outside the box, turn a crisis into an opportunity, use diversity, be innovative, think about the environment and about branding, as it is important to be different from other companies. Philippe stated, "As you rise up the ladder, you will receive more power. Remember, the more power you have, the harder it is to use. A real leader empowers the people around them, you will never succeed alone. Create a winning team and celebrate your success with all who have helped. Give back to society what it has given to you. INSEAD has given you knowledge, diversity and an amazing network

that spreads across the world. Keep this in mind and try to give back to INSEAD in whatever manner you can". Philippe then announced a new endowed MBA scholarship from Galeries Lafayette for women. He received much applause.

Antonio then invited Charles Sanford MBA '06D to the stage to speak on behalf of his class. Charles started by thanking INSEAD, the Dean, staff and faculty back and also his class members and their families and friends for their support during the year. Charles highlighted the diversity at INSEAD that expressed itself in so many different ways, not just in the classroom, but also at social occasions, giving participants the opportunity to experience something new from another part of the world.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

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