2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Bernice Liu, INSEAD

Bernice Liu – INSEAD

Age: 44

An artist-innovationist, connecting and facilitating different industries through interactive dynamic platforms. Proud INSEAD-er!”

Hometown: Hong Kong is now my home, but I’m originally from Prince Rupert BC, Canada.

Family Members: 7 dogs (Mac, Bailey, Latte, Cappuccino, Kahlua, Caramel, & Misto), with 4 of my dogs having Dr. Dog certifications, allowing them to visit children’s hospitals and elderly homes).

Fun fact about yourself: I only recently graduated from UBC in 2020, as I was a Miss Chinese International Pageant winner; therefore my professional career spans over 23 years which is more than half of my lifetime!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Commerce, University of British Columbia

Where are you currently working

Winemaven.io & Bellavizio Wines (Founder/Owner)

RACKS City Bar (Part-Owner)

Artist/Content Creator (Alien Creation)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Ambassador for Breast Cancer Foundation HK for over 18 years; involved in many children’s charities such as World Vision, Benji’s Center, Research with HKU and Queen Mary Hospital for Incurable Disease, etc.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? A Lot of opportunities came at the time I was attending INSEAD. It was during COVID, and I had been chosen to be an ambassador for the Hong Kong Tourism Board and featured for the “Hello Hong Kong” promotion of welcoming people back to Hong Kong. I was very honored as I think I represent the diversity in the community in Hong Kong.

Being able to bring some positivity to Asia through my work as an artist and as a strong figure in the F&B industry, it is something I am proud to advocate and support wholeheartedly.  Most challenging for me though, was the academic course load of INSEAD. Not having a finance or engineering background, I was learning a lot of new concepts in a short amount of time. At the same time, I was still working as an artist and running the businesses that I had. As an executive MBA, I was able to manage time, stay engaged, operate in the Asia time zone while doing the Europe section, and survive, I think that is the true spirit of INSEAD and worth a pat on the back

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of being able to utilize my entertainment career and pivot into an industry that interests me such as F&B. Most would think about changing careers, but it’s not easy when you are established in one industry and try to make the leap into something new and foreign. The fear of failing is always there. However, my family roots are in F&B. I feel there is a need to help the current industry to improve – not only to be more sustainable, but to move forward into a platform and digital future in order to adapt. With the support you get from INSEAD – not only from the faculty and the institution – the people you meet are your most invaluable assets.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have two. I really enjoyed Charles Galunic (OB professor) and Philip M. Parker (Marketing professor). Their lectures, and their enthusiasm in teaching the content to us, was most encouraging and ignited excitement in us!

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose INSEAD’s Global EMBA program because not only is its international exposure and diversity offered unparalleled, but it also allows us to experience across 3 countries of their main campuses (plus offerings in US, Israel, and Dubai). The vast network of individuals and exceptional industry backgrounds are priceless.  In addition, the Leadership Development Programme at INSEAD was one of the most useful toolkits you will find applicable to your everyday life.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The most useful learning concept is from my Strategy class by Professor Ilze Kivleneice. My implementation essay was using one of the tools in her class to analyze my platform business. In doing so, I was able to objectively break down the current status of the platform business, and see how to improve it in order to remain sustainable.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? It was actually very difficult!  I was flying back and forth from Asia to Europe and attending the Europe section (even though I was based in Asia). Due to COVID restrictions of flying and quarantine measures in Hong Kong, INSEAD’s only solution was for me to attend the Europe section in order to be a part of 2024. Therefore, I didn’t sleep very much as I would have to work online for HK during after class hours while I was in Europe. From there, I would have meetings during my breaks or off hours for my classes while I was working back in Asia. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger!”

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? It’s a significant investment in terms of money and time, so once you decide to do it, be open to anything when you get there. It will be difficult at times when you find yourself having to balance between study, work, family, and self, but you will find others going through the same struggles and winning through the challenges together. Ask as many questions as you need and don’t be afraid to reach out to your classmates and faculty. It’s what you take away from all this that means the most in the end.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That it’s hard to go back to school after so many years… it is. And the GEMBA program is quite intensive from the beginning, so it was quite challenging at first adjusting to going back to school life. Time management is something you very quickly master in order to keep up and still enjoy the process of the program.

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s really hard to name one classmate that I most admire, as there are so many people that I met from so many different backgrounds.  I had some real interactions and conversations with a few classmates such as Velvet Basemera-Fitzpatrick, Chunyan Hou, and Andrea Manzini. All three are from very different cultures, backgrounds, and professions, and I admire each of them wanting to know more and share more with each of them!

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? At this level, an in-person experience and classroom-based learning was important to me.  Interaction with peers and professors was what networking and expanding my world meant, and INSEAD was the best choice for me.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term goal is about connecting the worlds in which I live. I want to use my experience and network from the entertainment business of over 20 years and combine it with the F&B business background and qualifications that I have of over 14 years. From there, I want to pivot with the tools that I learned at INSEAD to help and connect these industries to be more sustainable by building stronger communities, providing awareness and visibility, and bridge worlds where there is a lack of communication and understanding for each other. My motto: “Keep the conversation going!”

What made Bernice such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“After a successful career in the entertainment industry spanning over 20 years, Bernice is on her way to succeed in the Food & Beverage industry, running her own wine business. To do so, she recently completed her bachelors and is determined to improve her knowledge to become a better leader and entrepreneur through her EMBA journey. She has shown adaptability, determination, and drive, transitioning from the entertainment industry, becoming a Certified Sommelier and entering the wine industry. She also had to adapt to a different culture by moving from Canada to Hong Kong, where she had to learn Cantonese in order to make the most of her Hong Kong life.”

Teresa Peiro-Camaro
Associate Director Global Admissions, Degree Programmes at INSEAD

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