Maryam Haghighi


Nationality: Iranian/French
Year Graduated: 2015
Current Role: MENA Compensation & Benefits and Iran HR Leader, General Electric 

The Leadership Development Journey helped me put myself and my life into perspective, understand and value my strengths, and not take them for granted.

Why did you decide to do an EMBA and why did you choose the INSEAD EMBA?

After working several years internationally and mainly in various HR roles, I wanted to take steps to get closer to my dream of starting my own HR Consultancy firm or taking an important HR Business Leadership role. Consequently, I decided to pursue an EMBA with INSEAD in order to broaden my knowledge, advance my professional career as a senior HR business leader and to fully prepare myself to either take a leading role in a multinational organisation or to start my own venture. INSEAD was my first choice because of its international student body and because of the programme structure. 

How has the INSEAD EMBA changed your perspective?

I can say that my INSEAD classmates have become a second family and I am grateful for this especially since I have been away from my homeland for so many years. Furthermore, the Leadership Development Programme helped me put myself and my life into perspective, understand and value my strengths, and not take them for granted. On the other hand I also learnt to accept my weaknesses and to ask for support when I need it. Perfection doesn’t exist and the sky is only the limit!

How can business schools, especially INSEAD, help women in business?

INSEAD has extraordinary female professors who can analyse leadership attributes that women need to develop. Consequently, INSEAD can support women by helping them to improve these attributes and coach them so that they can in turn mentor and support other women in the workplace. I also think INSEAD can help increase awareness amongst all organisations at all levels - male and female - as women should not be part of this journey alone!

What do you feel is the greatest challenge for women in business today?

My colleague, Ademidun Edosomwan, and I chose our final project to focus on an initiative to empower women in leadership to attain C-Suite and higher roles, which remains a challenge particularly in emerging markets. Some progress has been made in recent years to include more women in corporate leadership roles, particularly in developed countries. And while, the representation of women on corporate boards continues to increase, the number of women leading boards still remains low globally. Overall, women now hold 12 percent of seats worldwide with 4 percent chairing boards (Deloitte, 2014). In my opinion this is still not enough.  

How would you handle or conquer this challenge?

In addition to offering various coaching and training sessions, I would like to see an increase in awareness amongst all stakeholders regarding, hidden social and cultural biases when it comes to male and female roles. Lastly, culturally adapted solutions need to be put in place to help women take ownership of their career advancement.  

What advice would you give to potential participants considering an INSEAD EMBA?

The GEMBA is a unique mix of knowledge, cultural diversity, fun and friendship, which will change your life for the better. I have not yet met anyone who regrets this journey and whilst everyone has different experiences, everyone is certainly the better for it. The GEMBA is very demanding in terms of time commitment, but it is a worthwhile investment. You will learn about general management, diversity and above all, make true friends who are smart and have the same mindset as you. I feel that I have built a network for life!



< Return to Alumni Profiles


INSEAD Personalised Experience




Save & Manage



It is easy, simply log in:

Via Social

  • icons
  • icons
  • icons


Use your email address