From Fonty to Philly

I see the INSEAD – Wharton Alliance as a valuable way of joining strong resources, experiences and networking, allowing MBA students to benefit from a global perspective based on references for business education. Having started my MBA program at either school I knew beforehand I wanted to pursue this opportunity. After spending a quarter in welcoming Philly and, right before returning to France, I am even more convinced about the value of this experience.

During this quarter at Wharton, I had the good chance of attending a diverse set of courses. In the entrepreneurial realm, I attended Entrepreneurship – well taught by energetic Professor Ethan Mollick – and Entrepreneurship through Acquisition – in which experienced Professor Bob Chalfin shared steps to achieve success through leveraging acquisitions. In the finance area, I could learn more about private equity from reference Professors Bulent Gultekin and Bilge Yilmaz and their interesting guest speakers. Finally, through Scaling Operations, Professor Gad Allon engaged the class by sharing ways to guarantee that the operations of a company are aligned with its strategy, and that real growth can be achieved. Also, good lectures with renowned speakers such as Dr. Janet Yellen, John Sculley, vice-president Joe Biden and Dan Pink were highlights. The conduction of these sessions by Professors such as Adam Grant made them even more interesting.

All ‘INSEADers’ and I could also experience Wharton’s social scene, from Thursday’s pub, to fight night, to events organized by clubs and students. The Wharton Latin American Conference (WHALAC) was a great way of discussing challenges and opportunities from the region with respected professionals and many MBA colleagues. The Wharton Entrepreneurship Summit held in San Francisco was another good initiative, where MBAs from different business schools could interact and dive into topics such as startup launch and technology.

By being part of different clubs – Real Estate, Family Business and Latin American Student Association (WHALASA) – an exchange of experiences and development of knowledge and friendships were possible. As a valuable chapter of this exchange program for me, the clubs play definitely an important role for the school.

Drawing natural comparisons, I see both schools sharing many similarities – classes based on a mix of lectures and cases, great faculty, rich discussions among the MBAs, a variety of clubs, among others. Based on the previous months I have studied in French Fontainebleau, I can also identify some differences – our campus in France is adjacent to the large forest of Fontainebleau, but still a few minutes walking from city center and the historic Chateau; there is no majority nationality; and school agenda is structurally busier due to the 1-year program’s length.

During this intense and enjoyable period, myself and, I am sure all my colleagues coming from France and Singapore, had the chance of doing good friends – with or without common backgrounds and aspirations – but all sharing the same will to welcome, talk, ask, teach, learn, engage and have fun. I am happy to complete this exchange period with many new friends.

This period was also a great opportunity for the group of ‘exchange MBAs’ to get closer and enjoy together an enriching experience in a different culture – something that is embedded in INSEAD’s DNA. We now share the good moments we spent together in Philadelphia and in the US, which makes us all accomplices of a great time.

Being and ‘extension’ of INSEAD and all our colleagues was a rewarding experience, and in that sense, we were very happy to interact and mix with Wharton’s MBAs going now to Fontainebleau and Singapore. We are very happy to receive a big group of MBA friends and are confident of a great experience ahead too.

At the end, we all feel part of a strong and united community of MBAs and are proud to represent our schools in our academic and professional paths. Between Fonty and Philly, a valuable set of learnings, experiences and friends.