MBA Student Profiles

Nathaniel Kenninger

Nationality: American
Previous Education: Bachelors in Spanish, Economics, and Business Law, Indiana University
Previous Employment: Finance Manager at PepsiCo

Diversity is a call to action; in essence, it’s a verb… INSEAD definitely encourages this “active” definition of diversity.

INSEAD takes pride and effort in ensuring great diversity in the classrooms. How has the diversity in the classroom enhanced your INSEAD experience?

Diversity is a word with an expansive meaning. I think my frame of reference before INSEAD was that two types of diversity existed: visible (race, gender, nationality, etc.) and invisible (religious affiliation, political expression, sexual orientation, etc.). I now know that this framework is flawed. Diversity isn’t a passive noun that you just “feel” or can visibly see and potentially elicit through conversation. Diversity is a call to action; in essence, it’s a verb. Grammarians may find fault with my definition, but I think diversity is all about actively seeking people with different experiences and viewpoints than you and integrating those people into your life.  INSEAD definitely encourages this “active” definition of diversity.

As a new committee member of OUTSEAD, what aspirations do you have for OUTSEAD in the coming year?

My goal for OUTSEAD is to develop a robust alumni organisation with a dedicated resource from the Alumni Relations office. One of INSEAD’s strongest assets is its outstanding alumni, and I want to create a community of INSEAD LGBTQ alumni, who may or may not have been “out” at INSEAD and who could benefit from a stronger LGBTQ professional network. INSEAD structures alumni programming along national clubs, so my challenge will be to create a virtual international community that is enriching and useful for both alumni and students.

In addition to structuring an LGBTQ alumni organisation, I hope to foster a more accepting community at the Fontainebleau campus, so that students feel comfortable “coming out” during their INSEAD experience. Many INSEAD students come from conservative societies. As a result these students may not have had the opportunity to come out in a welcoming environment. Creating this “welcoming environment” is a more nebulous, less tangible goal than creating an alumni organisation, but I am thankful to know that both Dean Mihov and MBA Programme Director Minh Huy Lai have this as a top priority as well.

Diversity includes people from conservative societies, how would you reach out to them?
Building bridges with people from diverse backgrounds is critical so that both sides can understand one another and work together constructively. For the LGBTQ community, it is important to reach out to individuals with conservative values (whether or not they come from traditionally conservative societies) because many times viewpoints on homosexuality are shaped either because of family or religious upbringing or a nation-state’s view on the topic. As members of the LGBTQ community, we have to be sensitive to these backgrounds but also realise that viewpoints regarding homosexuality can be malleable. By building bridges and understanding, we can help to shape policy that positively impacts LGBTQ communities around the world. At INSEAD, we try to encourage people who may hold more traditionally conservative social values to push themselves “our of their comfort zone”. This is a classic “foot-in-the-door” technique for individuals to open their minds out of a purely intellectual basis, and once they do that, usually they become more receptive to the LGBTQ community and even become some of their most active supporters.
You have received a McKinsey scholarship (congrats!) Can you tell us more about the scholarship and how you got to know about it and the application process? 
The McKinsey LGBT Leadership Award is an award to celebrate MBA students in Europe who have had a positive impact on the LGBT community. This is the first year for the award. I found out about the scholarship because McKinsey was actively promoting it, and our 16D OUTSEAD leaders encouraged all 17J OUTSEAD members to apply. The scholarship required me to write an essay about my contributions to the LGBTQ community as well as complete an interview. I am very thankful for McKinsey’s leadership and continued support for LGBTQ communities across the globe. Their thought leadership and action has inspired many corporations to follow their lead and promote equality for LGBTQ employees.
What are your plans after the MBA?

In the short-term, I would like to make the jump to the public sector, despite having had no work experience there. Ideally, I would work for a large international aid organisation or potentially work in public sector consulting here in Western Europe or back in Mexico. In the long-term, I want to be involved in shaping public policy and support economic development in disadvantaged and marginalised communities. 

What advice would you give potential LGBT prospects who are interested in the INSEAD MBA?​

I would encourage them to reach out to current INSEAD students to learn more about the programme. INSEAD gives you the ability to pursue whatever you want while you are here so the onus is on you to make the MBA experience as valuable as possible. It really boils down to what you make of it.







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