Career success mantra from Fergus Kennedy at INSEAD

Career success mantra from Fergus Kennedy at INSEAD

Ramdas Shenoyy from in conversation with Mr. Kennedy  Assistant Director, Employer Engagement at INSEAD, Singapore- world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, 

Being part of one of the World’s best B school, how do you see the Industry perception of programs offered? How relevant it is- considering industry requirements?

Companies come to INSEAD expecting to hire talent who can fit quickly and seamlessly into their organisation.  Thankfully this is the feedback we receive from our recruiters.  Most of the time our students will have 6+ years of industry experience but may be looking to change an aspect of their career, whether that is the industry, function or geography in which they work.  Hiring companies like to leverage on the areas our students have gained expertise in already but also the skills they develop during the INSEAD programme.

What are the key things people should look for.. to pursue a career in sunrise sectors like energy and industrial sector?

There is a perception that people must have energy or industrial background to join companies in this space.  While it is true that some companies like people with an engineering background for specific roles, there are far more opportunities in areas of the business where transferable skills from finance, marketing, strategy or IT are highly desired.  Some of the largest tech projects are happening in companies in the energy and industrial space as organisations race to become more relevant in the digital world.  For me, the most exciting opportunities now exist here rather than in Google’s and Apple’s.  If you want to change the world, this is the space to be in.

What are the things a young aspirant should ‘not do’ to make a mark in the industry?

Do not expect that an MBA from INSEAD, or any other business school for that matter, gives you a divine right to be hired by the company, or job of your choosing.  It is a big advantage, yes, but you still need to prove that you deserve the position during your interview. 

How is the approach going to be different for a young entrant versus a seasoned professional while manoeuvring in the corporate ecosystem?

I don’t feel that it should be hugely different apart from the seniority of those that they will be reaching out to.  I typically recommend that our MBA’s reach out to people on LinkedIn who are no lower than a “Head of Function” whether that is Sales, Strategy or where ever their interest/expertise lies.  These are the people who will know what roles their teams will be recruiting for in the next 6 months.  Try to secure a call or a meeting and then impress with your knowledge of the company or industry.  It should be the same for more seasoned professionals except at a higher level within the organization, i.e. regional C-suite or SVP’s.

What will be your advice in career planning to a senior professional in today’s dynamic and fast-changing tech scenario(where relevance becomes irrelevant in no time)?

Upskilling, whether through formal programmes or self-learning is going to be vital.  That said, for me, networking (at the right level of seniority) is the most important part of anyone’s job search.  People skills will always be required so they must be kept sharp.

What do employers look for in a candidate in today’s global economic slowdown state?

Almost all employers seem to want candidates to demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit.  Flexibility is very important and being comfortable with ambiguity.  If there is to be downsizing, employees may be expected to work across different functions.  

Which economies will you bet on?

Not much of a gambling man so I’ll play safe and just say Singapore

Your personal journey – a defining moment you cherish.

When students realize that the strategies I share with them if implemented correctly, can get them their ideal job.  There have been many but my favourite such case happened just today.  Strategy carried out to the letter by a student and within 2 months the perfect job was secured. 

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