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Executive Education

Roland Houareau
Roland Houareau

Interview with a past participant: An impactful experience that changes the way you think

Roland Houareau

General Manager in Transition and Development at INPEX, Australia

The experience was simply outstanding and the concepts and principles I’ve taken on board have changed the way I look at both the problem and the solution. It’s given me so much." Says Roland after completing the Certificate in Global Management

Roland, what led you to pursue the Certificate in Global Management at INSEAD?

I work for an international company in the gas and oil industry and while my role brings me into regular contact with international people, the predominant focus is on the domestic market. Several years ago, I realised that to connect globally and open up my own thinking and approaches, I needed exposure to the kinds of perspectives I believe you can only really get from a truly international business school. I was born in the Seychelles and grew up in a small town in Western Australia, which is lovely but can be isolating.

I have always known that my personal and professional growth was contingent on taking my mind and experience outside of my own space, in a sense. I was looking for a business school and a course with a global dimension, the quality in its delivery, the flexibility and the diversity to really empower me to expand my development. INSEAD’s offerings just connected for me.

Which programmes did you choose to complete the Certificate and why?

I opted for three programmes that I felt best mapped to three distinct objectives. The Asian International Executive Management Programme, which I undertook in 2015, focuses on my geography and gave me a whole new lens on Asia and Australia within the broader global context – as well as a practical, broad and highly useful reading list for business.

In 2017 I undertook the Managing Partnerships and Strategic Alliances programme in Fontainebleau, which gave me a very different sense of how business is done. This programme was a deep dive into bringing diverse groups together to drive success and gave me real insight into different business models and behavioural economics concepts.

The third programme was Innovation by Design, which I completed in 2018. I went into this programme doubting my own creativity but I was completely taken by surprise. The experience was simply outstanding and the concepts and principles I’ve taken on board have changed the way I look at both the problem and the solution. It’s given me so much.

So the experience at INSEAD lived up to your expectations?

The experience at INSEAD was magic. To be able to connect with so many great minds – both the professors and the other professionals from around the world undertaking these programmes – has constituted a major milestone in my professional and personal life. It was simply magic being able to take that time out to develop myself whilst enjoying the experience.

From the curriculum to the cohort, which is designed and assembled to optimise diversity of background, thought and perspective, everything you experience at INSEAD makes you realise there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. There are just better questions to be asked. So when you are deeply entrenched in your own field and you are used to your own ways of working, it is profoundly refreshing and enriching to take a critical step outside of your own space and comfort zone and see things another way.

What would you say were the major takeaways of the learning experience for your professional and personal life?

I’d say there were three key takeaways. The first is that as a leader, you need to develop the personal breadth and depth to really tell a story. When you are aligning and inspiring other people, the story that you tell has to be compelling and has to connect with them. Then there is the design concept. In business we are always looking for answers to questions or problems. But when you are designing a solution, it is not just about finding a single answer – you need to be thinking about how to provide value in alignment with your objectives and for every stakeholder.

And finally, for me a major takeaway has been around the way the world is changing and the pace our society and economies are re-framing. More and more, you need to think about how you manage different people and partnerships remotely to drive better outcomes for everybody.

What impact has this had on you in terms of your career and your learning journey?

Well, I use storytelling and design concept in my day-to-day role. So these are tools I have embedded and that I absolutely deploy every day. They have become part of my professional scaffolding. In terms of my own learning journey, there is a deep connection with INSEAD that bolsters me and drives a forward dynamic within me to meet new challenges. In life and in work, your environment and new information keep coming towards you, it is never static. The connection with INSEAD helps sustain me – and it’s real, as is my appetite to keep learning and discovering.

So is the Certificate something you would recommend to others?

Absolutely! It is a great opportunity and a very available learning experience for people who - like me - are not in a position to dedicate a year or more to full-time study but want the transformational impact of a world-class business education.

My advice to anyone thinking of taking it is to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Take the time to think about what you want out of it and choose programmes or locations that will give you real global exposure and a better understanding of how businesses and organisations work around the world. Remember, your life will be there waiting for you when you finish the programme. So give yourself completely to the learning process. Turn off your phone and actively participate!