Spin the Globe4 min read

The overwhelming joy of welcoming my mom to INSEAD was indescribable. I was beaming. She has never seen me happier. And it’s only been 6 weeks since I arrived in Singapore!

When she asked how my quiz went that morning, I happily responded: I know I passed.


She was confused and rightly so. She distinctly remembers that I broke down and cried when I received my first B+ at Babson College! Like so many of my classmates at INSEAD, I was extremely focused on academics, GPA, and distinguishing accolades during my undergraduate years.

I explained the grade non-disclosure policy to my mom over lunch that day. Naturally, she asked, “So how does someone assess performance at INSEAD?”

Oh, that’s easy, I said. You simply ask yourself, ‘Have I achieved what I set out to do when I first got here?’

I sensed neurons firing off to alert her: Uncertain conditions ahead. Proceed with caution, but be ready to embrace change.

I assured her that I had come with a plan and that the real question is not ‘What does Sabrina look like when we relax the high GPA requirement?’ but rather, ‘How do we create an environment to unlock Sabrina’s true potential?’

Just as I said this, we walked into the Family Lounge to introduce my mom to my classmate’s 18-month old baby. Baby Hero’s eyes lit up as he saw me walk in. My mom watched as I raced to pick him up and spin him around until he laughed gleefully.

I wondered if watching me play with Baby Hero transported her to back when I was a child in her arms. Does she wonder how the journey of life has unfolded a series of moving experiences for her? And not just the move from her birth city of Karachi to Chicago, but also every time she helped her two children move to a new city and back home again. She’s thrived in uncertain conditions and has tried to teach us to do the same.

My brother and I have a running joke about which one of us has made mom and dad travel the most miles (air, land, and sea combined). Nowadays, it seems that we spin the globe and decide where to go next. My mom has helped us “set-up shop” in Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Stamford, San Jose, Seattle, Nairobi, Bellevue, and now Singapore. If my parents had known that they would be helping us move so often, we’re positive they would have started a professional moving company!

As we made our way to the café, I asked my mom if she remembers all the things I sold in the 3rd grade. She laughed as she recalled the rotating inventory in my locker and the different pricing strategies. I sold everything from Warheads Sour Candy ($3 each or 2 for $5) to laser light pointers with changeable caps ($25). I remember how upset I would be when my supplier (dad) would forget to bring the inventory I had requested. The next day, I would have to tell my regular customers (classmates) that their desired product was out of stock, but that I had something very similar that they would like even more…

As my mom’s 48-hour trip to INSEAD concluded, we discussed the set of objectives I’ve come up with for this new stage of my life and how I believe that working towards them would prepare me to live and work in a rapidly changing environment. I came up with them by asking myself what I would regret the most if I didn’t do it while I was at INSEAD. Here are my top 3 priorities:

  1. Start a Business – I came with an idea and now is the time to try it out. Even if I fail, I will have learned a lot.
  2. Socialize & Network – I really enjoy learning about people and OB just doesn’t cut it for me. ?
  3. Focused Job Search – I’m going to focus my efforts on landing a marketing consulting job where I can apply my knowledge of behavioral science.

I’m happy to report that she’s on board with my plan and knows I’m in good hands at INSEAD. She can’t wait to be back again for graduation in December. Only 46 weeks to go!

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About the Author

Sabrina is a behavioral scientist with a background in marketing and communications consulting, who seeks to self-actualize and create social change through her work. She holds an MBA degree from INSEAD and a BS degree in Business Management from Babson College. Her interests include psychology, systems thinking, sacred geometry, and Sufi poetry.

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