INSEAD Participant Interview
Studying in a Multicultural Environment
Operations Manager South Australia, TI Automotive Australia
Hamish Hogben shares his experience of the Management Acceleration Programme: "The programme provided an opportunity to work and interact with a diverse multicultural group, something otherwise difficult to achieve in any other environment."
Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Australian, living in Adelaide. I graduated with a Bachelor in International Business from Flinders University, South Australia.
After finishing my degree, I spent four and a half years working for TI Automotive in Shanghai. I then moved to Bangkok where I was the Asia Pacific Commercial Manager and lived there for 2.5 years. I am currently based in Adelaide, where I am Operations Manager for our South Australian operations.
What are some of the key challenges you face in your current role?
With the downturn in the Australian Automotive Industry and the ultimate closure of the original equipment manufacturers in Australia I need to show strong leadership to keep our business performing well and manage people to ensure they stay focused.
Why did you choose to use your ILF scholarship with INSEAD and specifically the Management Acceleration Programme?
Having already lived and worked in Asia, I wanted to study at a world-class business school based in Europe to experience a diverse study environment outside of my usual comfort zone.
I chose the Management Acceleration Programme at INSEAD to further develop my leadership and management skills. The programme was a three week intensive programme, covering a range of areas such as leadership foundations and skills, strategic insight, finance and management accounting, marketing and operations and supply chain management.
One of the attractions of this programme was to experience a learning environment with a diverse group of people, at similar ages and stages in their working life. I had the opportunity to interact with people from over 16 different nationalities, all bringing dynamic and interesting experiences and backgrounds to the group.
I was also interested in the opportunity to live on campus for three weeks to allow compete focus on study, to share our points of view at the end of each day and to have networking opportunities.
What kind of expectations did you have before coming to INSEAD?
I had high expectations before coming to INSEAD as I had heard it offered the highest calibre of teachers and a fantastic learning environment. I wanted to study with a diverse group of students from around the world and I also expected to build a solid foundation of learning, leaving with tools that would help develop my leadership skills.
Were these expectations met?
Yes, they were met and I found the Management Acceleration Programme to be very rewarding and an unforgettable experience.
What were some of your key takeaways from the programme?
I found the feedback from my colleagues through a 360-degree process to be some of the most valuable learning. I also received group consulting and personal coaching to assist in my learning. These allowed me to reflect on, and plan for, my future leadership skills development to help me towards taking on a more senior leadership role in my company.
How will what you learnt on the programme help you in your work and help you meet the challenges mentioned earlier?
Receiving feedback at the end of each teaching session, and through the personal coaching, allowed me to clearly identify some of my weaknesses that I need to work on to become a stronger leader and in turn then help manage my workforce.
Through the international simulation exercise, I was also given a snapshot of all aspects in running a business. This highlighted some of the key areas to focus on in order to manage a successful business.
Did you benefit from the diversity of participants on the programme?
Definitely. The broad range of job functions and Industries represented – from finance and sales to engineering and law – helped give the programme great diversity with dynamic experiences and input to the class case studies.
Similarly, how do you think the programme helps participants understand the challenges and opportunities of working in multicultural environments and what are some of the lessons you come away with?
I believe you can read many books about doing business in foreign countries and how to behave in different cultures, but it is not until you actually interact and talk to people that you truly understand the challenges. One of the big draw cards that attracted me to the Management Acceleration Programme was the opportunity to study with people from different countries from around the world, all with different backgrounds. I also chose the European campus for this reason, as I had already lived in Asia so I wanted to try and get exposed to some other more unfamiliar cultures.
The programme provided an opportunity to work and interact with a diverse multicultural group, something otherwise difficult to achieve in any other environment. For me, this was the biggest reward. Being able to study with students in the environment we were given really opened up the opportunity to learn the different cultures and beliefs of people firsthand.
For example, when it came time to give feedback to each other in our team on helpful, and not so helpful traits, one student was not comfortable giving negative feedback to the group as it was not something that was practiced in their culture. This is very useful information and can often only ever be learnt through actual situations, which is what the programme can give.
And what did you think of the teaching?
The learning methods were exciting and interactive, consisting of lectures, case study discussions based on real life business dilemmas, team work exercises providing perspectives different than your own, outdoor workshops and business simulations. One of the highlights was a three day international general management simulation we carried out at the end of the programme. This was a team based activity using software. It allowed you to experience the challenges and dilemmas of managing and leading an entrepreneurial firm.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of attending INSEAD and the Management Acceleration Programme?
Having the opportunity to study at INSEAD and attend the Management Acceleration Programme was the experience of a lifetime. The tailored learning environment gave me the confidence and enthusiasm to excel in my own working environment when I returned. I gained a wealth of new tools to use daily and broadened my international network of friends. I believe this is something unique that INSEAD can offer.
Finally, how would you describe good leadership?
I feel that good leadership is being aware of your surroundings and having a vision. Being a good leader means being able to encourage everyone around you to succeed and grow, even though you are also still learning every step of the way.