Alumni Profiles

Omar Elassar

 

Year Graduated: 2014 (MBA'14D)

Current Role: Founder, MENA Investor League

The campus switch was an unreal experience: going from a metropolis in South East Asia to a small town in France was unbelievable. People don’t realise what a strong selling point that is: one programme with a seamless academic transition across two continents.

Why did you choose to do an MBA at INSEAD?

Everyone I’d spoken to in Canada seemed to have an MBA from a North American school. Maybe it’s because I was born in the Middle East and raised in both regions, but I had that international itch. I wanted to change industry, job function and geography, so INSEAD’s international, one-year programme was the obvious choice for me.

How has INSEAD helped you in your career?

I’ve always been interested in the way technology drives economic development and how it positively impacts both public and private markets. My current aspiration is to work at the intersection of business, technology and venture finance. Coming to school with this clear goal meant that I could hit the ground running. Singapore has a booming Venture Capital scene and there are lots of entrepreneurship events at INSEAD. I met a venture capitalist at one of the events, and we stayed in touch. I visited his office and he ended up giving me an impromptu interview for an internship. I got the placement and the experience proved to be invaluable.

What was the biggest surprise of the INSEAD experience?

Even coming from a multicultural country like Canada, the diversity of INSEAD amazed me. Also, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of travelling I’d do from Singapore. I’ve added 10 to 15 countries to my list. Today, I feel the world is much smaller and it really is my oyster. All it takes is a couple of emails to connect with a friend anywhere on the planet.

Can you sum up the INSEAD culture in one word?

Collaborative. I wasn’t looking for the friendly, open, supportive atmosphere when I arrived, but now I realise how important that is. It’s a big difference compared to what I’d heard about the other schools.

What about the faculty?

They’re as diverse, open and friendly as the student body. You feel they have a vested interest in watching you grow and helping you gain experience. The professors in organisational behaviour pushed me to think about what I really wanted and challenged me to get out of my comfort zone.

Do you have any INSEAD highlights to share with us?

The 360-degree evaluation we did in our group stands out. Some things I knew about myself were already validated. But, other things I learnt about myself were completely new. The campus switch was an unreal experience: going from a metropolis in South East Asia to a small town in France was unbelievable. People don’t realise what a strong selling point that is: one programme with a seamless academic transition across two continents.

How would you sum up the INSEAD experience?

Maybe I’ll say something original like… “It was the best year of my life”!

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