Interview 3: Rachel Fitzsimmons  

Rachel Fitzsimmons (CEng IMechE; BA MEng, Cambridge University), INSEAD

Upon graduating from Cambridge, Rachel’s interest in engineering simulation led her to CD-adapco, a CAE software provider specialised in Computational Fluid Dynamics (acquired by Siemens in 2016).  Through various roles in customer support, she has acquired both technical expertise and insight into the business needs of customers across a range of sectors including automotive, energy, oil and gas, building services and Formula 1.  In her most recent role, Rachel led a technical team working with prospective customers across Europe, promoting the benefits of engineering simulation and design space exploration.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
Not having studied economics or finance previously, one of my reasons for applying for an MBA was to address gaps in my knowledge that I felt would become increasingly important as I progressed in my career.  Beyond this though, I have chosen to study at INSEAD to gain insights not only into different industries but into different cultures, learning with classmates from around the world.

How will you use your MBA to further your career?  
My MBA will give me the knowledge and confidence to put myself forward for challenging roles, which will set me on a steeper career trajectory.  I am at my best when I both enjoy and believe in what I do, so one of my priorities in the MBA year is to identify career paths that offer stimulating environments and missions that I will find fulfilling.

What are your hopes/expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
An MBA is an exciting step, but I aspire to continual learning and improvement beyond INSEAD.  For this, a network of people with a similar background to my own will be an invaluable support.  I am excited that the SMF offers executive mentoring and I hope that this is something that I can one day take part in.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?
Given the current under-representation of women in engineering in general, and particularly at senior levels, I am keen to help the SMF to support women in the profession.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
I started thinking about doing an MBA quite some years back.  A number of colleagues had done Executive MBAs, but for me, the full-time route was more appealing.  It took a little while for the “stars to align” but eventually I reached a time and a financial state where it really made sense. At that point, things went really quickly, and here I am!

What difference has the scholarship made to you?
The increased financial security the scholarship has provided will give me peace of mind during my time at INSEAD and allow me greater flexibility in my career choices in the years after I graduate.  Beyond this though, the network and support of the SMF mean a lot to me.  I am proud to be a member and have already enjoyed conversations with other fellows.  I look forward to strengthening these ties in years to come.

What tip would you give to someone seeking financial support to do an MBA?
My advice is to research widely – it is worth the effort!  Your school is likely to offer scholarships, which will probably be clearly published.  If you speak to current students and alumni though, you may uncover further, external sources of funding.  Most external scholarships have a specific mission, so talk to those with the same nationality or career history as you, or with other matching characteristics.  As an example, I learned about the SMF through other British engineering graduates at INSEAD.


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