INSEAD Participant Interview
INSEAD Certificate in Global Management
Could you please introduce yourself?
I work for Millward Brown, one of the larger agency networks in WPP, the world leader in communications services. WPP has over 180,000 people working for it. Millward Brown focuses on helping companies grow their brand and our work includes brand strategy, all the way through to market measurement, communications effectiveness and data analytics.
In my role I cover two aspects: firstly, I am regional CEO and in that role, I am responsible for the teams in the 19markets we operate in. Secondly, I am Global Chief Client Officer and look after our company’s largest clients. So, whist I have a strong European lead, I am also operating in a global context.
What brought you to INSEAD and back to studying?
We have lots of internal programmes within WPP on topics such as leadership and client discovery, for example. These are tailored to WPP and tend to be fantastic courses which are very well run and good for networking. However, one of the primary benefits of looking externally, and coming to INSEAD, is the networking you can do outside of your organisation and your usual circle of contacts. My life is totally immersed within marketing and media and coming to INSEAD allowed me to take a step out of that world and get some cross-sector and cross-functional exposure. Of course, going to a business school will also give you international perspectives, but for me, the cross-sector and function aspects were more important.
Additionally, the calibre of participants on the programmes with me was also important. The seniority of those in the class with me helped with the learning.
Finally, I think that continual professional development is important. You have to keep yourself fresh. Although I get exposed to lots of ideas at work, and am surrounded by experts, you never know if you are on top of the latest thinking in the world of business. There may be new interesting insights out there and coming to INSEAD is a great opportunity to stop, take a step back and make sure you are aware of what is going on.
What new insights were you able to gain in the various programmes you completed?
Each programme brought something different. From a content perspective, all three allowed me to learn something new. They gave me the time to reflect and think. There is a poverty of time at work. For example, if you read a great article on the way to work you probably won’t think about it again. The advantage of taking time out is being able to take in the content and thinking.
The first programme I did was the Strategy Execution Programme and it was highly practical. This was the highlight of the programme. Over the three modules, you worked on the strategy you were applying, or thinking about applying, in your business. The advantage was you could apply the learnings straight away once back at work and in between the modules. You could stress test with peers in the class. It was a real chance to do all of this in a thought provoking and safe environment as you might not do this with your boss, peers and reports at work and. The whole programme helped reframe everything. It was very refreshing.
As part of the course, we also undertook a benchmarking piece at work. This was done by sending out a questionnaire to benchmark where your strategy is at. It was great for content, for framing and for engaging teams. The other advantage was that it made me feel as if my teams were doing the programme with me. We shared results and talked about them. It was a facilitation device to engage teams in how to fine-tune and communicate strategy.
So, it was a high impact programme. I could see how I was going to apply what I learned.
The other standout programme was Managing Global Virtual Teams. It was also very practical. I work in a very international environment so wasn’t expecting it to deliver many surprises, but I went away with very useful learnings nonetheless and lots of material to take back to work.
I was able to share my findings with my team and I also approached our learning and development team to ask how we could get all of our teams working more effectively internationally. The programme triggered constructive conversations internally and gave me the tools and knowledge to be able to ask better questions, be more informed and more motivated to make sure we start developing virtual team management as a real capability in the organisation.
In what way does INSEAD help with new thinking?
What INSEAD does is provoke your thinking. This comes not only from the Professors, but also from your peers in the classroom. More than the technical learnings I gained from the programmes, I think what really struck me across all three was the people focus: how to understand people, lead people and manage people. People management is a never ending learning journey and INSEAD went a long way in helping me how to understand to engage and work with people differently. It provoked me into thinking how to inspire people to do things differently. There was lots of self-reflection.