Balance in Business Initiative

We are a community of INSEAD alumni volunteers, who have come together with the aim of engaging and inspiring current and future leaders on why Balance in Business matters and how to implement it. The Impact Mentoring programme is at the core of this initiative.

Research shows that organisations with a good gender balance in their senior leadership teams perform better; and in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace those that promote diversity and have an inclusive culture are able to attract and retain the best talent.  Through the Balance in Business Initiative and Impact Mentoring programme we aim to support the next generation of INSEAD leaders and, more broadly, develop leadership competencies on gender balancing which is fast becoming a critical skill. 

The Impact Mentoring Programme

The Impact Mentoring programme was launched in 2017 as a legacy to the iW50 celebration, the 50-year anniversary of the first INSEAD women MBA graduates. The mission was to improve gender balance. In the last two years the community has grown to over 350 members, demonstrating the huge support among alumni to be involved as either mentors or mentees.

We are currently focused on supporting women in mid-to-senior positions.  Our ambition is to expand the Impact Mentoring programme to other segments and we would love to hear from you or your organisation if you are interested in partnering with us on that journey.  

If you are interested in the programme being adopted where you are based, please get in touch with your local Alumni Association and tell them about us! 

The Team

Our team of INSEAD alumni volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have recently graduated, others have already had their 30-year anniversary. Some work in large organisations, others run start-ups.  We come from a range of sectors banking, finance, technology, retail, HR and consultancies.  What we all have in common: we believe in Balanced Businesses and a shared mission to generate impact!  

We are also extremely thankful to the over 220 mentors, men and women, from across all sectors and industries, who volunteer their time and expertise.  We could not have reached this far without them. 

The Board

Florence Hamilton


Lead Balance in Business, Founder Alumni Impact Mentoring

“As the founder of this initiative, my mission is to create a community of alumni where men and women come together with one common purpose – that of creating gender balanced businesses. It is a business as well as a social imperative

Entrepreneur with over 30 years in business. Started out post INSEAD with JP Morgan and had stints with Johnson Wax, Mars, Coopers and Lybrand and Caffe Nero.  15 years of entrepreneurial experience in the property management business.  Recently, very active in the non-profit sector, latest venture UK INSEAD Alumni Balance in Business Initiative and Founder of INSEAD Alumni Impact Mentoring. Florence has also received the INSEAD Aumni Volunteer Leader Award 2020.

Norman Fiore


“I am delighted to be involved in this remarkable initiative which supports future women leaders in their careers, and I look forward, as a mentor myself, to learning how to improve balance in my own organization

Norman co-founded Dawn Capital in 2007, a Technology Venture Capital Firm with over $1B in AUM. Since that time he has invested in many of Europe’s leading software businesses.

Prior to Dawn, Norman was Partner and subsequent owner of the Reuters Greenhouse Fund, Reuters Plc’s global technology VC fund. He started his career at Bain & Company in London, initially in the Telecoms practice and then the Private Equity group.

Norman is a graduate of Stanford University with dual BS and BA degrees in Engineering and Economics and holds an MBA with distinction from INSEAD

Gaelle Lamotte


“Balance in Business should be the norm, not only because it is the right thing to do for and in any business environment, but because it is the key to better performance through diversity of thinking, experience and perspectives

Gaelle is co-founder and Director of SMP Ltd.  She has over 20 years of management consulting and executive coaching experience with a focus on strategy execution and change. Gaelle is regarded as a leading expert and practitioner in her field supporting senior teams to deliver lasting positive impact. She was previously Managing Director for Palladium Group’s Europe business founded by Balanced Scorecard innovators Drs. Kaplan and Norton. She is a Board and Executive Committee member of INSEAD’s UK National Alumni Association, an adviser on the HBA’s Ambassador leadership programme and a mentor on the McGill University Dobson Accelerator program.

Steven Parker

“Having lived around the world, with two grown-up daughters, diversity and inclusion are something I feel very keenly about and have promoted throughout my career. Our organisations and Boardrooms should simply be inclusive, not just as a way to reflect the world, but to bring the best skills, perspectives and thinking to any team

Steven has lived and worked across four continents from the Solomon Islands to Russia. His varied career has spanned technology, professional and financial services, across general management, marketing and customer engagement. Today, his portfolio includes leading a blockchain start-up and chairing a digital innovation consultancy, together with charity work, coaching and mentoring. He supports individuals, teams and Boards around issues of innovation, growth and identity.

Helen Pitcher OBE


“I am passionate about ensuring talent is recognised and supported to ensure individuals achieve and exceed their potential. Influencing business leaders to create a level and balanced playing field is of paramount importance to the sustainability of society

Helen Pitcher OBE is an experienced Chairman, SID, NED, Board Evaluator and Coach.  In her career, past and present, she has worked across FTSE organisations, Large Family owned Enterprises, the Legal profession, Education, Charity, Health, Food and Drink Sectors. Current appointments include, Chairman CCRC and Advanced Boardroom Excellence Ltd., SID One Health Group, NED and Remuneration Committee Chair C&C Group plc and United Biscuits.  President KidsOut, President INSEAD Directors Network and Chair of the Steering Group to Accelerate Women into the Chairman role.

David Tarsh


“Throughout my career, I encountered challenges where I felt out of my depth or politically isolated. I wanted discreet advice from a successful senior executive with relevant expertise but could not find it. The Impact Mentoring programme addresses that need

David has 35 years’ experience in PR & Communications, assisting individuals and organisations to win arguments, secure new business and raise their profile. He has generated media coverage for clients; influenced the UK government to block EU legislation and change Forces pension rules; helped unknown meetings become prominent international summits; positioned a start-up as the most authoritative source of forward-looking travel information and transformed a retired dentist into a celebrity.

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox


“Balance in business is a 21st century management skill. The next phase of balance is engaging men and leaders to convince other men – and the companies they lead – of its benefits in attracting top talent and targeting high-value customers to boost performance

Avivah is the CEO of 20-first, a leading gender balance consultancy. She is a consultant, author, executive coach and change agent, and has worked with many leading companies, CEOs and leadership teams to build strategically balanced organisations. Avivah has written award-winning books, has a Harvard Business Review and Forbes blog and is the first female columnist for Der Spiegel’s Manager Magazine. She speaks on leadership, gender balance and talent management and lectures at business schools including INSEAD and HEC. She is the Founder and Honorary President of the European Professional Women’s Network and has been recognised by ELLE Magazine as one of the TOP 40 Women Leading Change.

Executive Committee

Sarah Auerbach

Executive Team – BiB Events Lead

“Gender balance is vital. It’s not about being fair, it’s about making business sense. Companies that are diverse and inclusive perform better than others. Gender balance leads to increased GDP and economic growth. I am thrilled to be part of Balance in Business to help build awareness

Sarah is a specialist in e-commerce and marketing for early stage B2B & B2C businesses. Sarah Co-Founded AURORA LONDON, winner of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Awards in 2020, and FRESH ATTITUDE EVENTS.

Spent six years working in luxury health & beauty marketing at L’Oreal and LVMH managing a diverse portfolio of brands including Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Lancome and Givenchy. Developed key insights into product desirability and a unique understanding of customer purchasing behaviour.

Oksana Denysenko


Executive Team – Impact Mentoring

“Gender balance is about everyone being able to realise their full potential, regardless of gender. In today’s business world, women still face substantially more hurdles then men and I believe that Impact Mentoring is a great tool to level that playing field

Oksana is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of business experience, active in both the online and offline worlds, with ventures ranging from a real estate portal in Ukraine to using innovative fabrics in everyday textiles. Prior to that she was a banker at Credit Suisse, HSBC, and the Ukrainian Central Bank. She holds an MSc in Physics, an MA in Innovation Management, and an MBA from INSEAD.

Veena Giridhar Gopal


Executive Team – Strategy

“I’ve always been passionate about diversity and inclusion in businesses. And diversity, to me, has always been about gender diversity, neuro diversity and cultural diversity. Put them all together and you have Balance in Business. Looking back, my teams were (and are) always gender balanced and I have experienced the power of diverse thinking and the resulting benefits. I’m super excited by Florence’s vision about balance in business and look forward to any positive changes I can help make!

Veena is a qualified accountant and started her career in Botswana, where her clients included retail chains like Woolworths group and FMCG distributors in the region. After business school at INSEAD, she worked for several years within the FMCG industry for companies like PepsiCo and Diageo in roles that spanned finance, strategy, corporate development & sales. She is now co-founder & CEO of Salesbeat, a venture backed start-up. She is also on the Board of Trustees of Alquity Transforming Lives Foundation and is passionate about access to education, job creation in emerging markets and about diversity, equality & equity in businesses.  

Shalini Koshal


Executive Team – Marketing and Strategy

“I feel a deep affinity with the initiative as equality is one of my core values. I believe that the diversity of gender balanced businesses can be both economically and socially value enhancing

Shalini is a commercial strategy & business development specialist with 15+ years international work experience in UK, India & France with world class Media, CPG & Travel brands. She has led large cross functional teams to deliver commercially successful global projects including Advertising, Brand Marketing, Content initiatives (Partnerships, Production & Distribution) & Streaming media (OTT). She has been both on the client and supplier side having structured and negotiated mutually beneficial multimillion £ strategic partnerships with brands, media & tech companies.

Jane Lewes

Advisor, Mentoring Training

“Having experienced at first hand, over many years, the positive impact that effective mentoring can have on the career aspirations, expectations and achievements of diverse individuals, I am delighted to be invited to share this experience with others.    My hope is that we will all benefit from access to a workforce which is genuinely diverse and inclusive

A dynamic development professional with a proven track record in motivating individuals and groups to identify and achieve their learning goals in her roles of consultant, facilitator, coach and mentor.   Working in “work-based” learning environments, Jane uses participative methods to encourage, enthuse and empower people from diverse backgrounds to work through the barriers, identify solutions and take responsibility for their own personal and professional development.  A powerful communicator and natural innovator, she has designed and delivered an impressive range of learning programmes and materials to promote individual and group development.  Her personal philosophy about the education process is “learning is more effective when it’s fun”. 

Jane has also recently been nominated for the 2020 EMCC Global Coaching Award.

Carol Pearson-Giraud


Executive Team – Fundraising

Throughout my career I have been committed to supporting women to thrive in the workplace through coaching and mentoring as well as conceiving and promoting scholarships to allow them to pursue their dreams. The Balance in Business Initiative enables me to take this commitment to the next level

Carol has extensive international experience of working with, and winning new business for, large multi-national organisations including P&G, PwC and Fujitsu Services as well as educational institutions such as INSEAD and International Schools of Business Management (a charitable consortium of Business Schools) for which she is the Company Secretary and Chief Operating Office.

She is known for being an excellent communicator with strong people management skills: coaching and mentoring to improve individual and team performance; getting results by motivating people; and inspiring them to raise their game.

A Henley Business School qualified Coach, and NLP Master Practitioner/Trainer, Carol has led training programmes and coached executives across the globe. She has championed women and other under-represented groups througout her career.

Sesilia Plavina


Executive Team

“To accelerate achieving gender balance in the workplace, I believe we need both women and men collaborating together to “push-and-pull”. This is why I am excited to be part of the Balance in Business initiative which can be a platform for this collaboration

Sesilia is a management consultant with an engineering background and over 10 years of experience in the energy sector. Her current work focuses on sustainability, particularly advising executives on how to address energy transition in their organisations and integrate sustainability into their strategy. Having worked in an industry that is typically male-dominated, Sesilia is passionate in advocating for women in the workplace and has been involved in launching a women’s network at her work to create a space for women to support each other in their career journey. 

Anja Spice

Executive Team – Marketing and Communications 

“I have lived in three different countries and have travelled extensively which is why I’m very keen on diversity in any aspect of live (personal or work related). Thus I’m very pleased to help and spread the message of Balance in Business!

Anja has over ten years’ experience in media and communications and has worked extensively on numerous assignments for the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and one for the tourism minister of Tanzania. She was also the Account Manager for the US luxury tour operator Tauck while working for Tarsh Consulting. Anja has ran media operations for several high-level Summit meetings and other global events. She has also managed media partner relationships with global brands including BBC, CNBC, FT and USA Today.

At WTTC, Anja has managed the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, known as the gold standard of recognition in sustainable tourism. Anja is very passionate and knowledgeable in sustainability. She has a MSc from the University of Surrey in Environmental Science/Sustainable Tourism and has recently received a diploma in ‘Managing sustainable marine environments.’

Previous Contributors

Pratima Aiyagari


Mentoring Co-Lead

“I have been fortunate to have had a number of mentors, both women and men, guide me in my career. Mentorship is a strong tool to effect the changes we need to have better balanced businesses and improve the number of women in senior leadership positions

Pratima is responsible for investments and acquisitions in the EMEA region at Cisco, with a specific focus on ML/AI, Enterprise Collaboration and Silicon. In this role, she serves as Cisco’s board observer on several portfolio companies. Prior to this, she has over a decade of experience in multiple roles as a Cisco software engineer in the US (in network management, access routing and advanced services), sell-side equity research in Europe covering the TMT sector (Société Générale) and corporate development at RiskFirst (acquired by Moodys). Pratima is a co-author of a US patent in the area of network device clusters and high availability. Pratima received her MBA from INSEAD in France and an MS in computer science from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the US.

Aparajita ‘Aps’ Ajit

CCC'07, EMC'13

Event Lead

“Delighted to be on the committee and also lead the Launch Event. This is indeed an exciting journey, for I reckon that life turns on little things. The momentous events in history can leave us untouched, while small events like this may shape our destinies…

Over 20 years of international experience in market making, jumpstarting new strategic initiatives for business growth, key account breakthrough and talent management. Currently at Genpact, a global transformation company as Vice President and Client Partner, Banking and Financial Services and their Diversity Champion. She has developed strong understanding of international markets having lived and /or worked in Asia (India, Singapore), Europe (London, Paris) and US. Aps speaks and moderates extensively at several global forums focused on themes that promote gender balance, women in business and digital transformation.

Maria Charash Koundina


Mentoring Co-Lead

“I was inspired by the vision of Florence and the Leadership team for a more balanced workplace and jumped on the opportunity to help them build and develop the mentorship programme for INSEAD women

Maria is a finance professional with over 20 years’ experience gained in multinational blue-chip companies, mainly in the energy industry. Her most recent role was Head of Commercial Finance and Treasury at a leading LPG trader Petredec. Prior to that, she led M&A for EMEA at World Fuel Services (NYSE-listed, Fortune 100 company). Earlier in her career, she spent 13 years at Royal Dutch Shell in various finance and M&A roles, including being responsible for the merger integration of Shell and BG. Since 2020, Maria has been working as independent advisor. She is currently involved in the INSEAD Community Impact Challenge, aimed at making the INSEAD community carbon neutral. Maria is married with three school-aged children.

Lata Gullapalli


Mentoring Executive Team

“Helping and mentoring people around me was always part of my life and when  was asked to sign up as a mentor to the programme, I was totally bought in. I was honoured when Florence asked me to join the executive committee, I do hope I can bring some positive touches to the initiative

Lata Gullapalli, an investment banker by profession, specialising in mergers and acquisitions. She has worked in investment banking for 20 years in south Asia, Russia and the UK. Lata is an author with published works. Lata has and education in corporate law, financaial strategey, taxation and economics among others.She has and MBA from INSEAD and she is also Chartered Secretary and a Chartered Financial Analyst with a Diploma in Basic Finance. Lata works with NGOs in the UK and in India that are primarily focused on child protection, education for girls and orphaned children. 

Celine Infeld


Contributor, Marketing 

“I am a passionate supporter of inclusive cultures and the value it creates, and delighted to be part of this initiative as we look to support alumni, and business leaders more broadly, in achieving strategically balanced teams

Specialties: Business Transformation, Growth, Strategy, Building High-Performing Teams, Culture & Change Management, Digital Business Models, Subscriptions (SaaS), Research, Consultancy, M&A, Business Integration, Due Diligence

Liqian Lim


Mentoring Executive Team

“Having successfully transitioned careers with the guidance of mentors, I want others to benefit from this, too. Senior management and industries like the tech sector need more diversity, to help businesses flourish and I believe that mentorship will grease the wheels

A lawyer by training, Liqian honed her deal-making skills across 22 jurisdictions and built a legal department from scratch, as Head Legal Officer for a global hospitality brand. Having advised C-Suites on strategic deals over the years and dabbled in start-ups, Liqian came to love strategic growth and improving efficiencies. Post-MBA, Liqian transitioned out of law and developed an A.I. concept with a renowned U.K. incubator/accelerator, engineered new market strategies for a pioneering public service technology, and then drove business and recognition for an international, FT-ranked legal A.I.

Bob Medows

MBA '02 J

Board Member

Owner, Saxonbury Ltd

Elise Nobileau-Forget


Mentoring Co-Lead

Practice Leader Transformation Strategy and Innovation

Teresa White



“What captivated me from the start was the chance to help launch a unique initiative targeting two critically important issues; accelerating the change to a better balance in business and making quality mentoring more widely available to future leaders

Teresa works with retailers, brands, charities and social enterprises to define and deliver business growth strategies in an increasingly disruptive retail environment.

She works collaboratively with leaders and their teams to explore, evaluate, imagine, identify and validate – always with a focus on improving performance, defining new opportunities and establishing future direction.

Teresa also combines analytical rigour with creative thinking, and strategic vision with hands-on practical implementation to bring a different perspective, add value and facilitate change.

INSEAD, as a leading business school and thought leader, influences the decisions made by leaders today that determine the future and is now seeking to develop value-driven business leaders with a global mind-set.  The Balance in Business initiative:
  • Unites and aligns with INSEAD’s dual mission of being ‘the Business School for the World’ and ‘A Force for Good
  • Is a key pillar at the intersection of business, society and impact (the Hoffman Global Institute)
  • Is a recognized global leadership challenge (UN SDG)

Founding Partners

Founding Partner