Humaira Hayat


Nationality: Pakistani

Work country: France
Graduated: 2012
Job: Demand Management Optimisation Global Lead, Shell

The GEMBA made all the difference and gave me the right platform to bounce back into my professional life/career .

Why did you decide to do an EMBA?

A few years ago, I looked into doing an MBA but some great professional opportunities came my way and I kept postponing my plans. Then came children and I took a professional break to enjoy time with them. During that break I started to explore the alternatives for people with several years of experience i.e. an Executive MBA.

And why did you choose INSEAD?

There were a few people in my organisation whose leadership style I really admired. It turned out they’d studied at INSEAD. When I talked to them about the school I was impressed by the light in their eyes! It seemed that INSEAD was close to their hearts in a way that wasn’t the case for alumni of other schools. Then I visited the campus and felt the sense of belonging for myself. This magical place in the Fontainebleau forest felt like a hidden treasure.

How did you balance the programme with family life?

My partner was immediately very supportive and my parents said they’d be happy to help looking after the kids. My older child just thought it was funny that Mum was doing homework – that is, preparing for the GMAT! When the programme started, I initially made the mistake of thinking I could drive home from Fontainebleau to Paris every day. Soon I realised that there is a lot you learn outside the classroom as well and getting to know your classmates and participating in social activities is equally important. So, I ended up staying on campus during the rest of the modules. I explained to my kids why I was travelling to the other side of the planet and they wouldn’t see me for a couple of weeks and I made sure that I organised every little thing for them before leaving.  Between modules, I also made sure that I studied every day to keep up with the intensive academic workload.  

What were your favourite classes?

Every class was an intense experience. Even when I thought I knew a subject well, there was always a new perspective to learn. In particular, I was so overwhelmed by finance before I started! But as soon as the finance course began, I found myself breaking down the entry barriers that I’d created. It was an amazing feeling. My comfort zone got bigger and bigger with every subject/ class we completed.

How did you benefit from the Leadership Development Programme?

For me, it was the highlight of the GEMBA program. I learned that in order to deliver through others you first have to know yourself. Doing the 360-degree feedback and exercises in such a fantastic and supportive group made all the difference to me. The Leadership Development Programme gave me a lot more confidence and new perspectives about my work and priorities.

What was your final project about?

My hobby is painting on silk. With a classmate, I explored how to turn this into a business. I’d never have dared to do such a thing outside INSEAD, but we actually entered the school’s venture competition and, to my amazement, we were selected for the semi-finals and even the finals. I discovered my entrepreneurial side during that final project. I did consider devoting myself fully to entrepreneurship… but then I got my dream job back in Shell, which got in the way!

Did the programme help you get your dream job?

Absolutely. The GEMBA made all the difference and gave me the right platform to bounce back into my professional life/career. In a company this big it can be difficult to move into a completely new area. But now I’m using the knowledge of other industries that I gained through the programme to work across our retail and fuel businesses in value chain optimisation. I work with people across 34 countries and I genuinely love what I’m doing. INSEAD has made my professional life so exciting.

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