2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Petra Haddad, INSEAD

Petra Haddad

INSEAD

“Passion for tech & green innovation, multi-cultural profile, adventurous, determined, caring, integrity and life-long learner.”

Hometown: Lahr, Black Forest – Germany

Family Members: Lebanese father and German mother who met in France, two younger brothers. French is the family communication language and culture.

Fun fact about yourself: One of my dreams was always to skydive – alone! One day, I finally got to realize this dream. During the training session, many participants were joking and feeling sure of themselves, while I stayed calm and concentrated. When eventually came the moment that our plane took off for our first jump, they stopped laughing and became quite serious, with concern in their eyes. Whereas I… lighted up and smiled so much during the take-off, as I could not wait for my first jump! During the video debrief, you could see everybody’s reactions on the screen: I had a great smile while jumping, sure of myself, thrilled by this new challenge and adventure!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

– Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (ENST – Télécom ParisTech) : Master in Network Conception
– Ecole Supérieure des Ingénieurs de Beyrouth (ESIB) : Electric Engineer
– Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour (Jesuit school in Lebanon)

Where are you currently working? I am currently Senior Strategy Manager at Orange (Group Strategy Corporate Direction).

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

Extracurricular Activities:
I love Paris nightlife, wine-tasting, toastmaster groups, nature, hiking, horse-riding and traveling around the world. Overall, I have a great pleasure organizing social activities.

Passionate about geostrategy, I attend geopolitics working groups:
– Member of the ANAJ-IHEDN, Institute for Advanced National Defense Studies.
– Member of the Open Diplomacy Institute
As member of Open Diplomacy Institute, I had the opportunity to work with the French MP & Fields medalist Cédric Villani and to contribute to its AI France Strategy report for the French Government.

School awards:
– Top of my class in Télécom ParisTech
– Top 10% of my class in ESIB

Community Work: Red Cross and Sainte-Cécile Youth Group

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

LDP Program
One of the reasons I wanted to join INSEAD was for its LDP (Leadership Development Program) and Career Development Programs. This enlightening program really gave me the triggers to capitalize on my strengths. I have always thought I had to work on my areas of development and improve myself in this regard, which is still true today. But I also realized that I was not capitalizing enough on my strengths and that I was not confident enough to propel myself forward. The LDP gave me tools to discover how colleagues and close friends perceived me and it really gave me confidence to move forward and to be more confident in myself.

Class Rep
I was also honored to be elected one of INSEAD GEMBA’23 Class Reps. It is a real pleasure and a great honor for me that my fellow classmates and new friends trust me to represent them and defend their interests and requests.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2020, I was given the great opportunity to pilot Orange’s program aiming to prioritize strategic innovation projects (BigBets) for the next 5 years (350 M€). This covered topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Cloud, AR/VR, Blockchain, and many others. The program gathered around 300 people within the Group. This led to the hearing of 40 candidate projects and to the selection of 5 Big Bets, whose budgets and governance are prioritized to increase our revenues and improve our operational efficiency. This program included a financial aspect that challenged the projects’ business case and ROI, providing me and 7 executive directors with the tools to select the Big Bets. The selection results were presented to Orange CEO and ExCom and I was congratulated by many of my peers for this Group transversal project.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Charlie Galunic (Chaired Professor of Leadership and Responsibility) taught us how to analyze the performing companies by doing a thorough 360-analysis (Strategy, Leadership, Group Culture, Organization & Politics). The key successful organizational behaviors within a company were also investigated, especially highlighting the fact that better performance does not only rely on a good incentive, but more particularly on people’s passion for their job, inspiration, motivation to feel useful, and have an impact for a larger goal, aspiration for recognition and autonomy…

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Congratulated for my work on the BigBets program, especially by the CTO and program’s sponsor, I was confirmed in my ambition to become myself a multinational Chief Strategy Director or CTO helping my company drive its digital transformation. Therefore, the INSEAD Executive MBA could help me reach this goal by improving my finance and management expertise.

Given my technological and international background, I consider INSEAD’s footprint as a strong asset since it provides a global educational experience covering Europe, Asia, and Middle East campuses and San Francisco hub as well, not to mention an amazing opportunity to visit the CERN in Geneva. France is an algorithmic research talents pool, Singapore is an Asian frontrunner example of disrupting tech development and UAE, investing a lot in tech, is the first country to have appointed a Minister of Artificial Intelligence. Needless to say, the Silicon Valley hub or the Research Deep Tech Center of the CERN in Geneva would also be of utmost interest for me.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? One of the reasons I wanted to join INSEAD was its LDP (Leadership Development Program) and Career Development Programs, which gave me tools to discover how colleagues and close friends perceived me and to feel more confident in myself to move forward. I applied this specifically at my job when I launched, in March 2022, a new Blockchain association for France, Alliance Blockchain France, together with around 20 other French leaders (ow Atos, IN Group, French institutions and startups).

In a global context where national Blockchain networks start to emerge (Alastria in Spain, ID Union in Germany), France has the means to be one of the leaders of the European Blockchain ecosystem. The objective is to build a common Blockchain infrastructure that could allow its members to develop Blockchain use cases. We hope to grow and extend to hundreds of companies, while working with the French government to receive its support as part of the French Blockchain strategy.

The INSEAD EMBA program and notably the LDP program allowed me to gain trust in myself and to improve my leadership skills to better address the many political challenges induced by the creation of this new national association.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? In order to pursue the Executive MBA, I had to take many holidays (paid leaves). This left almost no time to rest, as it was very time-consuming to juggle between education, work, and private life (as previously said, I’m keen on organizing and leading social activities). The new rhythm imposed by the INSEAD GEMBA program required a lot of preparation between every two modules, covering pre-readings, teamwork, assignments, or essays to prepare.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Just do it! Truly, the preparation seems overwhelming at first. With a little bit of structure and preparation, the entire process can be done within 2-3 months covering a very good preparation for the GMAT and a thorough concentration for the essays. But the real crucial element to first identify is what you want to do AFTER the MBA program. What end will it serve you? This is really a major issue, because you can afterwards dedicate every program assignment to the professional project you have in mind, whether it’s already started or planned to be developed in the long run.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not doing it sooner!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire many classmates within my class:

* The entrepreneurs who want to launch a new company with a bold new idea. I admire them a lot, because given the startups success rates, I find this path really courageous!

* The parents who already have a family and who juggle between work, family and now business school!

* And so many more, I feel I have so much to learn from each and every one!

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I feel a full-time executive MBA allows me to be fully immersed during the modules and to better benefit not only from the learning experience, but also from the networking, campus possibilities and making new friends! The time spent on the campus passes so quickly, and at the same time, you can feel how much more you can do in one single day once you are on campus. Now I understand why the alumni told me: “INSEAD will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term objective is to build a more sovereign, sustainable, and secure technological offer supporting companies in their digital transformation, either by launching my own company or by joining a multinational that shares my philosophy. I am personally convinced that this transformation IS possible and can foster the thriving technology market.

What made Petra an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Petra is someone who combines things that are not easy to hold in such strong (high-level) balance in one individual. She is creative and insightful (“right brain” skills), but also organized and methodical (“left brain” skills). She is empathic and mindful of others, but also displays toughness and resilience. There was no surprise when she was one of the few participants elected to represent her EMBA class. She also helped build bridges between the EMBA class and other participants on campus, going out of her way to create new learning and relationship building moments for the class, and others outside the tribe. She is a great asset, and a super human being. Fortunate to have her in my class, and our programme.”

Professor: Charles GALUNIC
AVIVA Chaired Professor of Leadership and Responsibility
Professor of OB INSEAD

DON’T MISS: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBAS OF 2022

 

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