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‘Second to none’: Why this Greek student choose to study at INSEAD

INSEAD MIM
Despite the challenges brought upon by the pandemic, Siatounis still experienced an enjoyable learning experience with INSEAD's MIM programme. Source: Harry Siatounis

It was the esteemed reputation of INSEAD’s Master in Management (MIM) programme that primarily drew Harry Siatounis to this world-leading business school. Despite a pandemic on hand, the Greek enjoyed a highly positive educational experience. His MIM journey started with in-person classes in France before moving on to the university’s campus in Singapore.

Becoming a student under the INSEAD’s MIM programme means studying within a diverse student bodyThe average age of students is 22, with 32 nationalities represented. A total of 39% of the cohort are female.

“I believe that the INSEAD MIM programme is a very rewarding experience and one which I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Siatounis says about his course. Below we talk to him about his experience of studying abroad in France and Southeast Asia:

What made you choose to be an INSEAD MIM student?

It was chiefly the international aspect of the programme. Although I had the chance to join more established ones, INSEAD stood out for the practical courses at the end of each period. To add to that, the INSEAD MIM programme is held in all five INSEAD campuses across the globe — travelling to the Middle East, Asia and the US had a value proposition that was second to none in my eyes. 

Apart from the international aspect, it was also the brand name. INSEAD is a top business school, and the professors are leaders in their respective fields of research. The alumni also form a close-knit community after graduating. 

INSEAD MIM

A class under the INSEAD MIM programme has average statistics of students being 22 years of age, from 32 nationalities and 39% female. Source: Harry Siatounis

What has been your most memorable class so far?

My most memorable class has been Process and Operations Management, where I learnt and applied complex frameworks on how to tackle modern business problems that companies face in their supply chains. I learned about bottlenecks in production and common strategies that companies use. 

The case studies written by the INSEAD faculty were up-to-date, so it felt like solving cases in real-time. I was surprised by how the frameworks we were taught can impact a business’ success. 

How have your lecturers supported you in your journey so far?

I’m genuinely astonished by the culture at INSEAD with professors and their relationships with students. For instance, our first day in Singapore, a professor in our strategy class asked a classmate and meftheories  to give him feedback on our INSEAD MIM experience. He was truly interested in hearing our stories. 

I could never imagine such an open discussion and it’s something that renders the INSEAD experience unique for me. The lecturers are always available to help me out with doubts or adjust my approach to focus on the objective. This kind of culture really enables me to pursue my interests with the support of a world-class faculty. 

INSEAD MIM

INSEAD is a top business school and the professors are leaders in their respective fields of research. Source: Harry Siatounis

Do you get to apply the theories you learnt to the real world?

Definitely! During our practicals, we have presented a strategic product repositioning the beverages industry, a leading French player, and built a financial model on valueing Tesla. We also were introduced to how to conduct business in the context of the Middle East and build our startup business model. 

With two more practicals until the end of our course — one of them in Blue Ocean Strategy — I can’t wait to apply it in the real world!

What are your academic goals in this programme?

My goals are to perform research in financial evaluation and to better understand how companies work through the eyes of an investor. I have gained additional skills in financial modelling and expanded my toolset in the various methods. I have also become more confident on making assumptions in my models based on empirical data or market reports. 

What do you plan to do with your degree after graduating?

I am thinking of applying for INSEAD’s PhD programme which trains exceptional individuals to become subject experts, who then transfer their knowledge to future generations of students.

After I graduate, however, I first intend to work in the financial services industry to get some work experience relating to the area in which I want to focus my research. 

INSEAD MIM

Siatounis appreciates the diverse student body and the chance to make lifelong connections. Source: Harry Siatounis

Do you think it would have made a difference if you had studied at a local institution?

I do believe that Greek unis are famous for their rigorous courses and professors. They are, however, notorious for being politically engaged, which could cause tension within the student population and their relationships with the faculty. 

I thought it would be better to study abroad to focus solely on my studies, without any external distractions. I was given the opportunity to begin my INSEAD journey which cannot be compared to any of the business schools in Greece. 

Onto more personal questions, what did you like most about France?

The baguettes and the wine. I would normally say cheese, but some in France are too heavy for my taste.

What have been your most memorable, non-academic experiences in France?

My first week when I attended the LEAD workshop and got close with 94 people from all over the world. It’s truly unique to find similar points of interest with so many people in such a short timespan. The sense of community is unlike anything I have felt or witnessed so far in my life and it’s something that will be in my mind forever.

Three fun facts about yourself:

I love teasing people, I come across as serious until the person gets to know me, and I enjoy solving brain teasers and riddles. 

Your hometown in Greece, where would you take me to visit?

I grew up in Lagonisi, near Athens. It’s a small city by the sea where people have holiday homes, but in the last 15 years, more and more people have moved there for good. I would definitely take you swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Argosaronic Gulf, eat souvlaki (grilled meat) or traditional Greek cuisine and get a refreshing drink at a beach bar during the sunset — a true Greek experience.

What’s the local food in France like compared to the food back home? 

It’s quite heavy as a cuisine. In my home country, it’s usually olive oil that’s used in cooking while in France it’s butter. There are French delicacies like the entrecôte (premium beef) and aligote (mashed potatoes with cheese) which I wasn’t particularly intrigued by. Maybe that will change in the future. 

What’s one thing you miss from home and how do you substitute it?

I definitely miss Greek food, but I was lucky enough to find a Greek restaurant in Paris called Mavrommatis. This was a place I visited often to restock my supply of tzatziki, tarama and ntolmadakia.  

What advice do you have for international students looking to apply for the INSEAD MIM programme?

This programme is unique, incomparable to any of the existing ones at other top business schools. As long as you are a team player, prepare to be trained for an international career and be academically strong for your master’s. 

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