Partner: '14D Class
Undergraduate Education: Master degree in Finance & Investments
Work experience before INSEAD: Strategy Consulting
Make an effort to mingle with people in the INSEAD community. Go for dinners, go on trips around the region and engage in social activities. It can be tough in the beginning, but stay positive and you’ll have an amazing year.
1. Did you have any concerns before coming to INSEAD and if so how did you deal with them?
Yes. Having spent 2.5 years in strategy consulting, I decided to join my partner, move to Singapore and launch www.hotelgift.com, my global gift card for hotels start-up. I knew I would be working long hours and was worried about having to start my life from scratch. I’d launched my start-up in November 2013, about a month before we moved to Singapore and juggling the time difference was a challenge because our developers and investors were located in Europe and the hours I clocked were long. The prospect of having to make new friends as well as ensuring that I had an active social life made me apprehensive. But, looking back, I’m so glad we took that step. We’ve made life-long friendships, travelled a fair bit and I’ve successfully launched my business.
2. How would you describe the partners’ community?
The partners’ community is large and made up of diverse individuals. Some hold full-time jobs either through an internal transfer which they secured prior to moving or applied to work at MNCs in Singapore after they had moved here. Then, there are the few who have taken a year off. Some either spend their time doing volunteer work or learning a new skill or language. All the partners I’ve met are very open and often, we organise social gatherings such as dinners and evening outings together.
3. How does a typical day look like for you?
My days vary, but in general, I’m up by 8am and my work hours begin from 9am. On average, I work about 50 – 55 hours a week. During the day, I get to work quietly with my meetings usually taking place downtown, otherwise I work from a start-up incubator – at home or the INSEAD library. Occasionally, I work in the evenings as my calls with Europe go late into the night but, more often than not, my partner and I arrange to have dinner or drinks with friends.
4. How has INSEAD contributed to your personal and professional development?
It definitely gave me that ‘push’ to leave my job and launch my start-up. If my partner had decided to remain in Europe, I would never have been brave enough to take that plunge. In addition, the INSEAD network has been very useful. Although everyone has very different backgrounds, the people I’ve met have been extremely helpful and have provided feedback on my business plan. Finally, through the MBA students who were very active in the start-up scene in Singapore, I got to connect with other individuals involved in start-ups, investors and advisors. Most importantly, on a personal level, I’ve formed new friendships with people from around the world and I’ve definitely become more open-minded.
5. What personal advice would you give to future INSEAD partners?
My choice to move was a conscious decision I made with my partner and we understood that our relocation to Singapore might pose certain transitional challenges. It is important that you carve out a life of your own. Whether it be a job, volunteering or learning a new skill, it is essential that you keep yourself busy as well. In addition, make an effort to mingle with people in the INSEAD community. Go for dinners, go on trips around the region and engage in social activities. It can be tough in the beginning, but stay positive and you’ll have an amazing year.
6. What are your plans after INSEAD?
I will continue working on my Hotel Gift start-up and I hope to launch www.flightgiftcard.com, a second start-up for flight gift cards soon.