Tom Duncan

 

Nationality: New Zealander
Year Graduated: 2015
Current Role: Head of Partnerships APAC, Chubb Digital

What really impressed me was the faculty. Each professor delivered their content in an engaging way and brought with them real-world insights.

What made you decide to do an EMBA? Why the INSEAD GEMBA?

After more than a decade in banking, I built a specific skill set that I wanted to broaden by doing an EMBA. INSEAD was really the only business school that I was interested in attending. I was attracted by the strong academic reputation INSEAD has, as well as the entrepreneurial focus of the school. Many of the professors have had experience in launching businesses and a number of great startups have been created by INSEAD alumni. Finally, I liked the structure of the programme including the fact it could be completed in less than 18 months and integrated with full-time work.  

How has the INSEAD GEMBA changed your life/perspectives?

The programme really provides a unique opportunity to take time out from your day-to-day to reflect on personal priorities and direction, whilst gathering new knowledge and meeting new people.

 What are your thoughts on the curriculum and class experience?

I found the core EMBA curriculum to be comprehensive and went to the right depth for me on each topic. A lot of the knowledge gained was really useful. The electives really allowed me to build understanding in areas of interest, with many of the topics being relevant for the current business environment including an elective on Big Data. What really impressed me was the faculty. Each professor delivered their content in an engaging way and brought with them real-world insights. This helped create a class experience that exceeded expectations. For example in Realising Entrepreneurial Potential, the professor (Tim Bovard) had ex-students who had launched new businesses come into class to speak about their experiences. One Accounting professor even got a standing ovation at the end of one class.   

How has the GEMBA made a difference to you or your career?

The EMBA made a difference for me in two key ways. Firstly, the people I met, including the co-founders of Grow360, other great entrepreneurs and faculty who have invaluable real world insights. The INSEAD network is powerful and has global reach. Secondly, I believe the EMBA has helped me gain frameworks for problem-solving in a range of areas. These include technical skills such as financial management and softer skills such as negotiating and communication. This has proven to be a great help in the work I am doing with startups, as much of this involves problem-solving with limited resources and information. 

Is there a particular module that you enjoyed most, and why?

It is difficult to single out one module. The Corporate Governance class I took in Abu Dhabi with Professor Ludo van der Heyden had significant impact for me. While it covered many topics on best practice with regard to boards and governance, it also went far beyond this to leadership (fair process leadership), team dynamics and personal performance. I have incorporated many of the lessons from it into my day-to-day work.   

Did the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) make an impact on you?

The Leadership Development Programme run by Professor Vincent Domine is one of the highlights of the EMBA experience. It is really a unique opportunity to work on personal development in a neutral environment away from the workplace. Working with the same LDP group over the entire programme provides an opportunity to really get to know each other. The feedback you get from this group is therefore invaluable - it is totally unbiased by work considerations and therefore provides real insight into yourself. For me it had a real impact in a number of ways, including gaining a better understanding of my communication style and how it is perceived by others. It helped get clarity on my career and personal priorities. Many of these groups continue to work together after graduation which is a testament to how effective they are. 

 

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