INSEAD MBA Admissions Chat with Johanna Hellborg

INSEAD MBA Admissions Chat with Johanna Hellborg

Please feel free to let us know if you would like to be informed of future chats by sending e-mail to We would also be interested in knowing if you would prefer a different format or different topics.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:03:12 AM)
Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the INSEAD chat today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about INSEAD. To make a sound application decision and get accepted at the school of your choice, you need to know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask the experts about this outstanding business school.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:03:37 AM)
I also want to welcome Johanna Hellborg, INSEAD’s MBA Admissions Manager and Caroline Diarte Edwards, INSEAD’s Director of Admissions, to today’s chat. Carline is also an Insead alum.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:03:44 AM)
Thanks to everyone for joining.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:06:06 AM)
Hello everyone,

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:06:19 AM)
Insead recently got a new dean, Dean Frank Brown. What changes has Dean Brown initiated or is he planning to take?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:07:40 AM)
Well he just took over in July so it is still early days, but he clearly has a different approach to previous deans as he comes from a purely business background.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:08:15 AM)
How is that different approach manifesting itself?

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:08:16 AM)
Does INSEAD help students get internships?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:09:13 AM)
Karps : Absolutely. Our Career Services will help you looking for internships, we have a lot of companies who regularly come and look for interns

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:09:25 AM)
Will INSEAD representatives be visiting the western United States this year?

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:10:24 AM)
How is placement for INSEAD grads this year? Any particularly hot industries?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:10:38 AM)
Sarah: we have been several times to the US and plan to go to San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago; New-York, Washington Dc in February

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:11:31 AM)
Sarah, what are you particularly interested in?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:11:37 AM)
Linda: we have record season for careers: we see a very good balance and growth of Finance, Consulting and Industry

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:12:31 AM)
My question is a little personal...I want to be a defense contractor consultant, but I'm afraid this will hurt my chances of admission because of the unpopularity of US Military ops now...

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:12:51 AM)
Financial Times just released its new rankings for the Best European B-schools and INSEAD fell from no. 2 to no. 10. Do you believe there is any particular reason behind this change?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:13:43 AM)
Sarah: our Admissions Committee is a multicultural group of alumni and faculty who would definitely not discriminate against your profile. On the contrary we are always looking for people with leadership experience ! ;-)

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:13:52 AM)
Is there a minimum job experience requirement?

Jayan (Dec 7, 2006 11:14:44 AM)
Hi..This is Jayan from Chennai, India

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:14:59 AM)
Welcome Jayan!

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:15:38 AM)
Karps : no real minimum. But we do like our students to bring some sort of experience that they can contribute with during the programme. most of our students have more then 2 years of experience

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:15:44 AM)
How important is it to be fluent in another language?

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:15:54 AM)
Caroline, Do you have any last-minute advice for applicants facing an extended deadline tomorrow?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:16:22 AM)
Paul: regarding the latest FT rankings of business schools: the ranking is a compilation of rankings of different programmes and schools are at an advantage if they have several programmes. The FT comments in its editorial that INSEAD did well to get the position it did on the basis of two programmes that had been ranked. You may notice that the number one ranked school has four programmes which are included in the ranking.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:16:22 AM)
Karps : you need to have good practical knowledge of a 2nd language before starting the programme and basic knowledge of a 3rd before graduating

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:16:52 AM)
Interesting, thanks for the insight.

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:17:08 AM)
Do most students stay on the INSEAD campus?

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:17:17 AM)
Johanna and Caroline, if you are looking at an application and the numbers and basic profile is in the ballpark for an INSEAD student, what distinguishes an application that is accepted from one that is rejected?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:17:22 AM)
My last minute advice would be to make sure they are good and ready when they submit their applications! A common mistake is to submit a rushed application.

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:18:04 AM)
What is a staged admissions?

Jayan (Dec 7, 2006 11:18:05 AM)
Thanks..Do you have any stipulation that the second language has to be a foreign language. I have this question because in India we speak different languages in different parts of the country

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:18:36 AM)
Sarah: we have 2 campuses in France and Singapore: all our students live outside the campus either in shared houses or apartments (even castles! ) in Fontainebleau. And in Singapore they share apartments in condo buildings.

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:19:11 AM)
Linda, the new dean, Frank Brown, is doing a lot to spread the word about INSEAD and is also putting the spotlight on some aspects of INSEAD's teaching strengths eg leadership.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:20:05 AM)
Caroline, can you elaborate on INSEAD's focus on teaching leadership?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:20:09 AM)
Karps: staged admissions is admissions by several rounds, i.e. rather than one decision deadline, there are 3 or 4 deadlines, as in INSEAD's case

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:20:24 AM)
Jayan : for entry : you need to speak 2 languages and one needs to be English (tuition is in English). As for the 3rd language you can have another Indian language but it has to be different from the 1st. Details on languages can be found on our website under language policy

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:20:36 AM)
Is there a difference in applying in the different rounds?

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:20:59 AM)
How did application volume for R1 of this year compare with R1 of last year?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:21:30 AM)
Linda, leadership is fundamental to our programmes. For example, on the MBA programme, students develop their leadership skills through team work and simulations.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:21:44 AM)
Karps : there is no real difference between the rounds in terms of quality. Sometimes it is a little bit more difficult to get the campus of your choice as a starting campus if you apply late. Also applying early gives you more time for logistics ! :-)

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:22:18 AM)
Linda: we are seeing a growth in application volume.

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:22:31 AM)
How do most people fund the MBA? Are there scholarships?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:23:42 AM)
Karps : People use various means of funding : loans,, savings, scholarships etc. INSEAD has a long list of scholarships based on merit or need, depending on your background, nationality etc

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:24:15 AM)
Any tips for applicants aiming for your next round deadline in January?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:25:42 AM)
Linda : don't rush into your application...........try to find something unique about you.................make sure you talk about your personal life too not only the professional honest !;-)

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:26:02 AM)
Great tips.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:26:23 AM)
How helpful do you feel is a visit to one of the INSEAD campuses?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:27:57 AM)
I think it is very important to get a flavor for the campus, whichever business school you choose. you get a much better sense for the atmosphere and the people if you can go to the school and experience the environment.

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:28:03 AM)
How should one prepare for the interview?

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:28:06 AM)
What types of things should we do to prepare before the academic year begins? Should we take courses in accounting or marketing?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:29:27 AM)
Karps : Clearly you need to review your life and not spend the interview searching for dates etc etc. Otherwise be open and also take the opportunity to ask questions about INSEAD. You will be interviewed by alumni who have gone through the Programme !

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:29:29 AM)
Sarah: there is some recommended pre-reading and also an optional course called Business Foundations which covers some basic quant skills that will help with quant based courses, for those who do not have a strong quant background

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:29:49 AM)
Johanna, how is the interview used in evaluating a candidate?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:31:10 AM)
Linda: The interview is one part of the overall application. An opportunity for us to also know how a candidate interacts on a one-on-one situation.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:31:21 AM)
Johanna and Caroline, if you are looking at an application and the numbers and basic profile is in the ballpark for an INSEAD student, what distinguishes an application that is accepted from one that is rejected?

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:31:59 AM)
How formal should our photo be? Should we be in business attire?

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:33:06 AM)
Is it a diverse student body? Where are most of the students from?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:33:17 AM)
Linda: when choosing between similar profiles, we will be looking at ability to contribute, ie what either person will bring to the programme

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:33:31 AM)
Sarah : :-))) I think I never had that question ! Well it is you own choice. Later during the programme we will definitely ask for a formal photo for the CV book. For the application, you choose how you want to present yourself ! ;-)

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:34:10 AM)
Thanks, Johanna, how soon before classes start do you recommend that we arrive in the country to prepare?

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:34:29 AM)
Caroline, because of the one-year length of INSEAD’s program, are you more interested in career-enhancers than career-changers?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:35:14 AM)
Sarah: That is up to you. Some people take a month to prepare onsite, others come with their suitcase on day 1. This depends on your job, commitments etc . But I would say a good 2 weeks is ideal.

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:35:33 AM)
Karps: INSEAD has the most diverse student body of any top business school. Typically we have 70 different nationalities, with no dominant nationality (the largest groups being about 12% of the class). This has a huge impact on the learning environment.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:37:05 AM)
Caroline, you are an INSEAD alum, what do has been the benefit or takeaway from your INSEAD experience?

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:37:19 AM)
When reviewing essays, do you prefer essays that "stand out from the crowd" or are you more interested in concise answers?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:37:38 AM)
Linda: actually the vast majority of INSEAD students achieve a change across at least one of the following dimensions: geography, sector, function - and many achieve a change across 2, or even 3 of these dimensions. I, for example, was a management consultant in Europe before INSEAD, and joined the International Finance Corporation to do development work in Indonesia when I graduated.

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:37:45 AM)
Johanna, with such a large class size, what is the student/professor relationship like?

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:37:46 AM)
Sarah, my answer would be both - concise and unique, but let's hear from Caroline and Johanna.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:38:17 AM)
Sarah: we want personal and honest answers. Of course we are reading a lot of essays so a little creativity is always welcome ! And also do not hesitate to use your sense of humor ! :-)

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:39:11 AM)
Caroline, thanks for your reply, but I meant more in terms of personal growth ... change in the you lead or interact with professional peers.

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:39:40 AM)
Given the international focus of INSEAD's program is an applicant who is outstanding across the board (strong numbers, great leadership, knowledge of second language, etc.) but lacks international exposure at a disadvantage?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:39:42 AM)
Karps : there is a real openness and professors are always ready to chat with students outside the class. No boundaries there ! You can also see them playing soccer with the students on Tuesday lunch ! :-)

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:41:07 AM)
Linda: Personal growth is very difficult to summarize! The exposure to such a diverse environment really challenged my assumptions and thinking. As I did not have a formal business education prior to INSEAD, I learned a huge amount about a wide range of subjects. I think in the longer term, it is the "softer" skills that you build on an MBA programme that make the biggest impact.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:41:20 AM)
Paul : There is nothing like an advantage and disadvantage: each application has strengths and weaknesses. We look at the overall application. But some of our students don't have international exposure but clearly had other outstanding traits in their profile.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:42:11 AM)
Can you give an example of a change in thinking?

bhatta (Dec 7, 2006 11:42:11 AM)
typically how many applications does INSEAD get for every intake, and what is the acceptance rate?

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:42:56 AM)
Does INSEAD enter any local business competitions like the young entrepreneurs competition?

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:43:03 AM)
Is there a strong emphasis on extra-curricular activities?

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:43:26 AM)
Why do you think INSEAD and other European programs place so much higher a percentage of their MBAs in consulting vis--vis the majority of U.S. schools (with 1-2 exceptions)?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:43:44 AM)
Bhatta : this is a confidential number we don't' give out. But typically we would take one out of 3-4 ! The INSEAD pool of applicants is typically already self-selected and of very good quality

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:44:26 AM)
Linda: it changed my assumptions particularly about working in different cultures. I thought I was pretty international having worked across Europe and North America. I didn't really have a clue how different business environments on other continents can be - and really developed that awareness especially when on the INSEAD Singapore campus.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:44:52 AM)
Thanks Caroline.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:45:05 AM)
Karps : in the application process we do look at extra-curricular activities. At INSEAD we think a good leader is someone who has a diverse set of interests in life and is open to a lot of new things and different things.

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:45:44 AM)
Sarah: We have an INSEAD business venture competition and yes sometimes students also participate in external competitions.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:46:23 AM)
What are some of the more popular courses and professors at INSEAD?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:46:46 AM)
Paul : we usually place between 30 and 35%. Typically for INSEAD there are 2 reasons : One monetary : they need to pay back their year at INSEAD and consulting offers good salaries but the main one is actually the fit in personality : the intensity of the 1 year programme is reflected in the intensity in the consulting world. But after a few years out, you would see people leaving the consulting world to the industry !

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:47:09 AM)
Do most American students at INSEAD return to the US for their first post-MBA job or do they usually initially work outside the US?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:47:22 AM)
Linda: there are over 80 electives and several very popular ones in strategy, entrepreneurship and negotiations, for example

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:48:30 AM)
Linda: more than half of our graduates change countries; I don't have the exact percentage for the US nationals but it will be a similar figure

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:48:44 AM)
I know that INSEAD emphasizes entrepreneurship, but places a high percentage in consulting. Is that somewhat incongruous?

bhatta (Dec 7, 2006 11:48:54 AM)
To expand on Karps question: do you look for community service/voluntary activities specifically? How would a candidate who has a good sports career in college compare with someone who has done social community service?

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:48:58 AM)

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:50:33 AM)
Bhatta : We don't look for anything : otherwise we would not follow our philosophy of diversity ! We want to know what is important to you, your hobbies, passions, etc what makes you tick in life.

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:50:36 AM)
Linda: actually we have a pretty equal number of grads in finance, consulting and industry. A few INSEAD grads do start businesses straight after their MBA, but many more start their own businesses later on. Around 40% of our alumni are or have been involved in entrepreneurial ventures.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:51:33 AM)
Any tips for applicants who end up on your waitlist? Do you want to know of significant events in their professional lives that occurred since they submitted their application?

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:51:43 AM)
Does the school organize informational trips to other countries like China or India?

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:52:48 AM)
Sarah: yes there are trips to China, India, Silicon Valley and other places, some organized by INSEAD, some organized by the participants themselves

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:52:51 AM)
Linda : we definitely want to know about significant changes in their life post application. But no need for additional data if it is just repetitions of info we have already.

Karps (Dec 7, 2006 11:52:59 AM)
Caroline: Is there an active alumni network?

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:53:07 AM)
Johanna: If forced to name the primary difference between INSEAD's program and London Business School's, what would you say?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:55:12 AM)
Paul : well, the differences between London Business School are the length of the programme, not the same diversity. Location, size. Otherwise 2 very good programmes and I would encourage you, if you have the opportunity, to visit both, so you get a feel of what best fits you as a person !

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:55:32 AM)
What would you say is the primary academic difference between attending INSEAD at the Singapore campus or Fontainebleau?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:56:08 AM)
Karps : Yes a very active alumni network . We have the most representation throughout the world with more than 25 countries where we have more than 100 alumni. Alumni are present in more than 156 countries.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:57:04 AM)
Caroline, What advice do you have for those who want to reapply to INSEAD?

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:57:43 AM)
Sarah : there is no difference between the campuses - it is the same programme. And more than 70% experience both campuses during their year ! Some of the electives could be more Asia or Europe oriented. depending on the campus.

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:57:50 AM)
Linda: I would only advise a candidate to reapply if there has been a significant change in their profile since their last application.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:58:16 AM)
70%! That's high. It really is an international program.

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 11:58:44 AM)
I also understand that participants can spend time in France, Singapore and the US (Wharton). Correct?

Paul_Bodine (Dec 7, 2006 11:58:50 AM)
Has INSEAD faced any culture-specific challenges in wooing applicants from Japan?

SarahH (Dec 7, 2006 11:58:56 AM)
So people transfer between the campuses quit regularly? How interesting.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:59:05 AM)
Linda : Yes correct !

CarolineDiarteEdwardsINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:59:53 AM)
Paul: we have a good steady stream of applications coming through from Japan. I would say the challenge for some of them is the level of English.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 11:59:56 AM)
Sarah : yes you start the first 2 periods on one campus and then you can go for 1-2 or 3 periods, depending on availability, to the other campus

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 12:00:00 PM)
Thank you again all for participating this evening. Special thanks to Johanna and Caroline for taking the time to join us today

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 12:00:12 PM)
We look forward to seeing you at future chats.

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 12:00:33 PM)
Thank you ! Happy to answer your questions !

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 12:00:35 PM)
We also have several on the drawing board for January, which seems so far away!

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 12:00:41 PM)
If you would like to be notified of future MBA admissions events, please subscribe at .

Linda Abraham (Dec 7, 2006 12:00:46 PM)
Have a very good evening! Good luck with your applications!

johannaHellborgINSEAD (Dec 7, 2006 12:01:24 PM)
Have a good evening ! Good luck and don't hesitate to visit our website :

Information about's consulting and Editing Services

MBA Chat Transcript Index || Chat Room