INSEAD Participant Interview
Refresh your knowledge in a variety of fields and deepen your understanding of the world
CEO, Group Moraru, Luxembourg
Clara Moraru on how the Advanced Management Programme allowed her to refresh her knowledge in a variety of fields, as well as deepen her understanding of the world.
What attracted you to the Advanced Management Programme?
In 2014 I read an article in a French magazine which spoke about the best executive trainings. The Advanced Management Programme was featured. I decided that for my 40th birthday, I wanted something special so I decided to apply for the programme. It seemed to be the best investment in myself, my future and my company. I thought it was a great opportunity to look at myself: Am I happy? What should I improve? How do others see me?
I knew INSEAD from having done the International Directors Programme and so it was my 1st choice school. When I arrived on the programme I was very pleased to have peers who had done similar programmes in the past, but then came to INSEAD and said this is the best among the very best. It was validation that I had made the right decision.
What were you looking to learn on the programme?
First of all, I wanted to refresh my knowledge in a variety of fields, as well as deepen my understanding of the world. I finished my MBA in 2003 and felt that since then, I hadn’t invested time in a big programme like the Advanced Management Programme.
Secondly, I wanted to network with peers who were as successful, or more successful, than myself. I worked hard during my MBA because I had 2 jobs at the time and was travelling extensively, and felt I didn’t spend enough time with the other participants in order to learn (as well) from their professional experiences. The Advanced Management Programme was the opportunity to make up for this.
You mentioned on social media that the programme would change your life. What did you mean by that and did it live up to your expectations?
What I meant by that is that after such a programme one feels a changed person. Not a different person, but a better one, mainly because of the self-awareness and reflection on our personal leadership agenda.
The programme is focused on the individual leader and allows each participant to get to know himself/herself better. For example, what is your preferred communication style? What is your communication style under pressure? What are your main values? And what is your leadership style? All these questions help you understand your exceptional strengths and the personal challenges you have to manage.
There was also a very significant human factor on the programme. During the four weeks that I was at INSEAD, I met exceptional people, who became very special to me and will always remain in my heart, even if there is a big physical distance that separates us.
Were there any particular challenges that you wanted to address?
Yes, absolutely. I felt I needed to adapt my leadership and communication styles in order to be able to coach and empower more. I've spent most of my career as an entrepreneur and have set up different companies in different countries. My priority in the Advanced Management Programme was to develop deeper active listening and to start using a more inquiring communication style, instead of advocating. Questioning and enquiring are very important. By doing these things, you engage people. You have to take time to ask questions so as to understand the different perspectives.
What were the programme highlights?
My favorite part was related to communication intelligence. Ian Woodward is an amazing director with background in psychology, the corporate world as well as politics at the White House. Regarding the four different communication styles he teaches about: rational, structured, expressive and visual, I have discovered that I have a quite rare and powerful communication style.
Another highlight was clarifying the many elements about one's self. For example, what are your personal values? Having this clarification enables you to go back home with tools and knowledge to help with self-improvement.
Along the same lines, I very much appreciated the leadership presence workshop, in which we worked on improving specific elements in order to improve the delivery of our message(s).
I also enjoyed the sessions on political dynamics and conflicts within organisations. Professor José Luis Álvarez is the best in this field and his insights into organisational behaviours, power and careers were very enriching and valuable.
Finally, the session on energy management, sourcing and sharing it, delivered by Alain Goudsmet -who trains the Belgian hockey Olympic team- was extremely insightful. I found the original methods and concrete techniques of energy management that Alain shared with us very useful. Too many leaders neglect this and therefore are unable to last long because they don't know how to recover and recharge their batteries.
What surprised you about the programme?
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the programme also focused on personal leadership, or self-awareness. I find that combining this personal leadership part with business fundamentals yields greater results at the end of the programme. It’s more rounded.
What did the Advanced Management Programme teach you about exercising judgement?
It made me so much more aware about how biased we are in our judgements. We interact, live and work with people from different cultures, countries and social status. We make on a regular basis (too) many assumptions; we are over confident; we have specific impressions, misperceptions or expectations anchored by our family, friends, Board or work colleagues; we constantly look for confirmations of our own beliefs or we are so comfortable in our position that we are attracted like a magnet by the status quo.
I also better understood how powerful it can be to check situations from different angles and seeking clarification through questioning even if - or especially if - you have already your own opinion.
What did you think of the networking opportunities?
Excellent. We had many opportunities to get to know each other as being on programme for four weeks allows for a lot of networking. The length gives you time to build connections. You don’t feel as much pressure as in a week long programme.
Being an entrepreneur, it was interesting to learn from those who work in the corporate world. I wanted to understand their challenges. What I discovered is that we in fact face similar ones. It was reassuring to hear.
So, for me, networking is a powerful way to learn.
How important as a leader is it to be self-aware?
I think it’s very important. Very often as leaders, we don’t have the time to focus on our values. We don’t have time to reflect and to think about our priorities. As leaders, we are experts in our fields. We understand the business fundamentals. But, we also need to think about the context and reflect. The Advanced Management Programme gives you that reflection time. It allows you to analyse yourself. You don’t get all the answers, but it’s a good exercise. It’s the start of the journey.
How important is continuous learning?
Very. The more I learn, the more motivated I am. The world is changing and if we want to remain competitive, we have to learn. There is a lot of disruption is in the business world; companies using disruptive business models. If you are not aware and stay in your field, you don’t see it coming. You don’t see the changes that are taking place in business. So, for me, learning is very important. It helps you think of new ideas and see things from different angles. You need to reflect and learn from others.
Has the programme changed the way you approach your work?
Absolutely. I do approach work differently. When I talk to people I question things a lot more. I am more aware of the different assumptions people are making. I am aware of framing conversations and am aware of different angles. I am more engaged. Thanks to the programme I have instruments and tools to understand and look at situations. This allows me to see the bigger picture.
I also have more self-confidence since finishing the programme and this has an effect on my work. Even my team has noticed. They say I am more relaxed.
How would you describe the programme to someone?
And INSEAD in one word?