Case Study: Time to step back and take stock

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The international multilingual aspect of Insead was very attractive, and it seemed to be the place to be to train if you were planning, as I was, to stay in Europe. I am American by birth so a US MBA would have been the other obvious choice.

I had a Masters in finance from London School of Economics and I could have joined the Chicago Business School MBA by skipping the first year's courses. But I didn't want to be there, and I didn't want to take too long with the MBA either.

Although I had already worked in the City, I believed firmly in continuing education and had always come back for academic degrees. I was 30 when I started my Insead MBA and I felt strongly that I did not want to take years to get it.

I wanted more strings to my bow and although I had a break from employment when I did the degree, which was self-financed, the time out of work was a calculated risk but one that did not deter me.

The Insead courses on organisational behaviour and corporate strategy in particular gave one some insight and a top-down way of looking at things. It gave a framework for tackling subjects and an increased sense of confidence.

Unless one is in a firm that believes in moving employees around, there are no opportunities for gaining an overview. The MBA experience is academic and in the classroom, but it is all based on case studies. It would take years to gain such experience otherwise.

Immediately after Insead I worked for Citibank in marketing and product research, and moved around quite a bit within the firm, which recruited me at Fontainebleau. Now I work for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter for controllers and treasury, and I also do some work for the chairman's office.

The emphasis is on strategic projects and my work has a strong regulatory slant.

It is difficult to say that it was the MBA that had anything to do with a rise in salary as I went in from the City and came out keeping on the same track. Perhaps people who change professions altogether, moving over from industry for example, notice more of an increase.

I have to say that some people's expectations about the benefits of an MBA degree in general can be dangerous. It may open doors but it does not make people better than they are.

Those who are very bright do very well and it brings them together in one place. Most importantly, the MBA gives you a framework - a way of thinking about things.'