December 25, 2007

INSEAD Singapore FAQ, Facts and Myths / clarifying doubts

There appears to be some confusion regarding INSEAD's dual campus structure - one in Fontainebleau in France and the other in Singapore. I get questions on this and recently I read some threads where some not-so-informed posters write what is sometimes utter rubbish without even bothering to find out the truth. This post is to talk more about INSEAD Singapore, facts about what it means to be in INSEAD Singapore and how it differs from Fontainebleau, impact on career, reputation, brand, professors etc. Hopefully next time some idiot posts his ignorance, you will also get a chance to read about it from a different angle. So, just to make it easier, I'm going to keep it in a Q&A format.

Q0. Is admission different between INSEAD Singapore and Fonty?
A. No. Admissions is centralized, you only specify which campus you prefer to start in. In some cases, you may not get what you choose - your admission is guaranteed but the campus is not. The idea is that this is "one campus two locations" and not two "distinct administrative campuses". I have class mates who opted for Fonty but were given Singapore. There are many, many people in my class (including me) who opted for Singapore as the first choice for various reasons. The admissions committee apparently does not even know which campus an applicant chose (adcom says this, and a professor who is in the admissions committee told us in class - I trust them). What that means is there is no quality or any kind of difference between students in the 2 campuses - both campuses are equally diverse, groups are formed in the same way (each class = 'n' groups where each group = 5 people with each person from a different country) and student bodies mix mid-way in the course.

Q1. Isn't INSEAD Singapore a separate institution from Fonty?
A. No. It's only a separate location. The dean is the same, many of the professors switch and teach different terms at both campuses - and this includes many star professors, the curriculum is the same, the exam terms are same, the fee is the same *sigh*, companies are not told which campus a student is in - they recruit from the common pool, both campuses apply and interview for the same jobs.

Q2. Isn't INSEAD Singapore a lower brand compared to original Fonty campus?
A. It's INSEAD - period. At the end of the course, you are an INSEAD MBA. Not INSEAD Singapore MBA. Companies don't really go around distinguishing between "oh wait, you're in Singapore campus,you must be a moron!" Where you are does make a difference in terms of how you approach your career move, not how you are perceived. Nearly 70% of the class switches campus mid-way. In fact, for P3 starting in January, we have more students in Singapore than in Fonty! Over 150 Fonty students are coming over to Singapore. Fonty is the bigger campus - about 2/3rd student population is in Fonty and 1/3rd in Singapore.

Q3. How does where you are impact your career?
A. If you want to focus on being in Europe, you should aim to be in Fonty in P4/P5. If you want to try for Asia, be in Singapore during the recruitment season (P4/P5). From statistics we got, in previous batches, 80% of Fonty ends up in Europe and 20% rest of the world. In Singapore, it's 60 Europe/rest and 40 Asia. Asian recruiters in general prefer to see commitment to the region, so if you are really interested in working in Asia you should spend majority of your time in Singapore campus. Starting in Singapore works very nicely - you get to experience this campus and if you want to focus on jobs in Europe, you switch to Fonty in P4/P5 (many do this - and everyone gets the chance to go to Fonty because it's a big campus).

Q4. What are the advantages of being in Singapore?
A. Depends on what you seek. It's a smaller campus, feels more cohesive, you get to know your class mates much better, you are in a great city, parties are "class wide" and everyone attends, paperwork to go to Singapore is super-easy, it's easier to meet/talk to companies that are located in Singapore, easier to do treks to Hong Kong, lots of beach countries around, and you can get setup easily in just 2 days. And you can go to Fonty whenever you want :) And most people love the place once they come here.

Q5. What are the advantages of being in INSEAD Fontainebleau (Fonty) ?
A. More companies come on campus to Fonty which means better chance to network, meet and see presentations (note that jobs are open to all, I'm only talking about physically being present to meet companies and in some cases, Interviews). Fonty provides closer access to London if you want to try getting there. If you plan to search for a job starting early in Europe, then it makes sense to be in Fonty. It's a much bigger campus (so I am told, I'm going in P4) and apparently has a very different feel to it. You get to be in crazy house parties, live in chateaus, and eat French food. You get to see Europe.

Q4 and Q5 point - remember, most of the class switches campus, so you can experience both and use both advantages. For e.g. you could do legwork and your own career search in Singapore until P3, go to Fonty for P4, do recruiting events, and return to P5 to Singapore. It's flexible and you choose what you want. You can be really focused and choose to remain in one campus throughout - and you will be a minority. Some are really adventurous, they do Singapore, Fonty and Wharton!

Some phrases you should not worry about

P1) "Do you think I should try for INSEAD Singapore?" - there's nothing like trying for INSEAD Singapore. You try to get into INSEAD and make a campus choice. If they put you in Singapore and you're super unhappy, you can always go to Fonty in P3, P4 and P5.

P2) "I'm not sure how INSEAD Singapore is perceived..." read P1.

P3) "Can I get a job in Europe if I join INSEAD Singapore"
see (P1), then read (Q3)

P4) "I read somewhere that there is this Asian school XYZ that is better than INSEAD Singapore!" - Sure. Go there.

Hope that helped!


res i(p)sa said...

A useful rundown, necro.
If I may add one more thing, from a Fonty perspective, for future students: contrary to popular belief, campus exchange is not completely guaranteed. If you're a July class student, starting in Fonty, and want to spend P3 in Singapore, you better be ready for a serious challenge, both in terms of getting a place in the lottery, and in terms of logistical nightmares. If not prepared to deal with the hassle, just do what I did: become a Fonty-lifer. It's not so bad! (and in P3, we'll be the ones with the small, cozy campus!)

Looking forward to meeting you in P4!

DTLF said...

Way to school 'em, Necro. I bet you're going to see a huge traffic spike from this post and the next. said...

dtlf - you'd be surprised, the biggest spike I saw in recent times was my post on CV/resumes. Even for some basic keywords on google that post turns up within the first few links...strange. Anyway, I wanted to set a few perceptions right on singapore :)

Amu said...

Hello there! Chanced on your blog while doing the usual research on INSEAD. I had almost made up my mind that Fonty was a better campus and should be my campus of preference (although SPore is logistically the better option!!) because most of the "stud" faculty was based in the Europe Campus according to the Faculty list on their website.So this post cleared that up! Thanks..shall stay tuned in for more as I will be Applying to INSEAD for the July batch next year..

Ilya said...

Hi, necro. Very useful summary. Short question: I'm thinking about trying to get a job in Big 3 consulting in Australia after INSEAD - would it make more sense to spend P4,P5 in Singapore in this case (due to geographic proximity)? Or, given the Big 3 recruit on both campuses, there is not much difference ?


pam said...

Hi Nerco,

Your blogs are too good, looking forward to my one year in INSEAD starting July 09!

Anil said...

A very informative post on Insead Singapore. I will be applying for the class of July 2013. I am keen on the Singapore campus and would like to work in Asia post my MBA. Just wanted to confirm when are the recruitment events for the July class. Would it be better to start at the Fonty campus and then shift to the Singapore campus to coincide with the recruitment events?
Thanks for your help.

Summer Kate Williams said...
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