Chairman, Axis Capital Holdings Ltd
A committed internationalist from an early age, Michael was brought up abroad. After studying history at Oxford, he chose a career in merchant banking. “It was in this job that I realised I knew absolutely nothing.”
Michael decided that he wanted to learn more about business and do an MBA but he didn’t want to follow everyone to Harvard – he wanted to go somewhere different.
“I found out about INSEAD and applied. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
“I was helped substantially both on a personal and financial level, by my mentor who agreed that INSEAD would be an excellent experience for me and agreed to sponsor my MBA. My mentor was so impressed by INSEAD that he became a major sponsor for INSEAD and started one of the original INSEAD scholarship schemes.”
Michael remembers the INSEAD early days when students were taught in the old buildings in the convent in Avon and he also recalls that it was very hard work. “For the first time in my life, I really worked hard. At Oxford, I enjoyed myself and learnt a lot but I didn’t work like I did at INSEAD.”
“I enjoyed my time at INSEAD enormously. I achieved my objectives by learning to focus and prioritise and we had good fun too and made life long friends. I found the benefits of INSEAD in the long term were extensive.”
“What are my fondest memories? I just enjoyed being part of an intellectually stimulated world of contrasts - a world like INSEAD.”
“INSEAD gave me a clear vision of what I wanted to do. I learnt quickly that the business of business creates wealth which can be distributed and that is a good thing for everyone. Business is not about the individual. It’s about growing business, creating opportunities and making the world a better place in which people can grow. INSEAD helped me develop a great interest in investing in people and seeing the rewards.”
Following his MBA, Michael went back to the same company and worked there for another twenty years. “They invested in me and given me a life time opportunity.”
Michael has always been very involved in INSEAD. He became a part of the UK Alumni Association after his MBA and took over as President and became Chairman of the International Alumni Association until 1989.
“I remember lots of fun discussions about how everyone saw the future of INSEAD during a time of European and global debate. I met lots of different people from different backgrounds – it was a fascinating time and it created a comparative learning process for us all. Even today, staying involved with INSEAD and working with different generations keeps me younger.”
“Relatively early on I realised that INSEAD had played a major part in my life and I wanted to give back to INSEAD. I joined the INSEAD Board and this was a captivating experience for me to participate on that level.”
Michael is extremely proud of INSEAD – of what it has achieved and what it will continue to achieve for so many people. He believes that INSEAD’s role in educating people who then spread their knowledge within their communities is tremendously powerful and constructive.
“Since I left INSEAD, I have spent around six months of every year travelling. I am looking forward to cutting back a little bit now and to living each day as it comes and continuing to do my best in everything every day.”
“I’m not someone who worries about how I’ll be remembered. I’m more concerned about the present and what we can do today and tomorrow to make the world a better place.”