In July, it will be twenty years since I graduated from INSEAD with the 98J promotion. We are the promotion who went on strike when they announced the opening of a new campus in Singapore – how times changed! Since then, I have lived on two continents, changed careers several times, had three children, and added a new passport. I also met my husband Fred at INSEAD so I can truly say that that one year in Fontainebleau had a profound impact on my life.
I grew up in Ireland and came to INSEAD after working in banking in Dublin and London. Like so many INSEADers I have met, I only applied to the INSEAD MBA. The internationally diverse student body had a unique appeal and sharing a classroom with fellow students from radically different academic and professional background was fascinating. I had been warned about the challenges of group work by previous Irish students and they did not exaggerate. However, twenty years later, I think that the group experience is the unique thing that sets INSEAD apart and creates alumni who can succeed in the most diverse work environments.
After INSEAD, I joined Bain and Company in the San Francisco office. I learned a lot and enjoyed the collegiate atmosphere at Bain. At the time, the alumni community in the Bay Area was tiny so it is amazing to hear that INSEAD is coming to San Francisco in 2019. When life gave me three children in 15 months (yes, twins and another baby closely after) I decided that it was time to adopt a more flexible working life. I started volunteering in the non-profit sector, mostly in education and have ended up with an expertise in fundraising and non-profit governance from my various board roles. I quickly learned that the skills we use in the for-profit world are just as relevant in the non-profit environment. Fundraising in Silicon Valley is big business and left me well placed to apply these skills in other geographies.
A move back to the UK in 2013 was promoted largely by our desire to expose our children to a new cultural and educational experience and the INSEAD network made this move so much easier. Fred had recently had a bad accident and broken his neck. He made a full recovery, but suddenly the lure of corporate life held less appeal. Today, we live in rural England where I manage our horse farm, Manton Grange Stables. We followed our passion to start a breeding and training business for showjumping horses and spend a lot of our time on the road with our team at horse shows across Europe. We have also been building a real estate portfolio in Ireland and watching at close hand the rehabilitation of the Celtic tiger. Fred has started his own private equity business, Hattington Capital, with one of our classmates from 98J, Barney Burgess, while I continue to be an active board member on several arts and educational organisations.
I recently became Chair of the INSEAD Alumni Fund (IAF) and joined the Board of INSEAD. The IAF is the group of alumni volunteers who work with INSEAD to raise funds for the school. For me, the vision of Dean Ilian Mihov in supporting “business as a force for good” seems highly relevant today. In particular, I am excited by the development of the INSEAD Institute for Business and Society, which will support research and teaching across a wide range of initiatives such as income inequality, sustainability and gender diversity.
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