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Welcome to the Financial Times live web chat with Carmen Cucul who features in our Ten Questions Q&A.

Carmen Cucul, MBA student at Insead in Singapore, will answer your questions on Thursday 1st December, 2011 between 13.00-14.00 GMT.

Post your questions to ask@ft.com and they will be answered on the day on this page.


Hi Carmen, you mention issues hindering the experience at business schools, what ones have you faced?

Carmen: In an intense ten month programme such as the one at Insead, you need to make trade-offs very often. For example, there are times when invitations for career-related events overlap with academic assignments or courses: you would like to be in both places at the same time, as they are both critical for your development but that is just impossible.

Another improvement area which I assume is valid for any top business school is how the expectations of students are managed. We pay large amounts of money and we feel entitled to expect exceptional services in return, at all times. While this does happen in most situations, there are cases when for example, the IT system breaks down or you cannot find a free break-out-room to prepare for your next day`s exam. Little administrative issues like this can become disproportionately important to us, especially if there is no regular communication with the administration around such topics. Luckily, in the case of Insead, I found the MBA office very receptive of our feedback to improve campus logistics.

What was your biggest challenge travelling through Myanmar, Vietnam and India?

Carmen: I guess it was the lack of a minimal infrastructure that can make a European feel reasonably comfortable in a day-to-day setting (sanitation and food safety issues, for example).

I also felt fairly uneasy having to rely completely on local guides in order to enjoy the trips. Especially Myanmar, which is a country where you can hardly plan anything by yourself: “transaction” costs are high if you are a foreigner and some services are actually unavailable from abroad (for example, you cannot purchase domestic flights unless you are in Myanmar).

However, the experiences were absolutely amazing and I encourage everyone to visit these countries, if not for widening up your perspective about the world, then at least for the beautiful landscapes and warm people.

Why have you chosen a general management career in healthcare?

Carmen: I would address separately the two main issues in your question: “why a general management career?” and “why healthcare?” For the former, my answer is very simple: as I missed the opportunity to become a specialist during the five years after graduation, I think it is too late now to go onto this kind of path (e.g. becoming a good marketeer or a finance expert). As a result, a generalist career is what I have left. However, I am very happy with my choice, as general management reflects my personality better than functional expertise.

For the latter part of your question, I have a more philosophical response: I have worked in the not-for-profit sector for my entire professional career to date. I strongly believe that in order to become a well-rounded professional, one should experience all three sectors of activity: civil society, business and government. What I want to carry on throughout my different assignments is the focus on social impact. In the business sphere, I found healthcare to be one of the industries that comes closest to my need for touching the lives of people, while of course creating value for shareholders.

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