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‘Diversity encourages new ideas, thoughts’

That is why, at INSEAD, they have a good mix of students in their classes.

education Updated: Jun 04, 2013 15:26 IST
Ayesha Banerjee

Ahothouse of ideas, INSEAD is where the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ has been developed. The eponymous book written by W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgn outlined growth and profitmaking strategies for organisations by tapping undeveloped markets instead of fighting the competition. The world of business took to it like fish takes to water.


That will definitely come as no surprise for INSEAD faculty as the B-school believes in nurturing in its students the ability to think differently. “When we recruit, it’s the application that counts,” says Virginie Fougea, who looks after admissions at INSEAD. Under the scanner is the candidate’s academic capacity and professional experience, leadership capacity and ability to contribute to the programme. “Talent counts,

motivation and interests are very important, as are goals. People come in seeking change – engineers apply for courses wanting to go in for consulting, or strategy, others want to go on to develop family businesses,” says Fougea. Most are now part of an alumni that comprises CEOs and senior level directors at a large number of global companies, including LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), L’Oreal, Power Corporation of Canada, Danfoss, Deutsche bank, Sanofi-Aventis, Siemens etc.

The institute has also regularly featured among the top 10 business schools worldwide since 2000, has been number one in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2010 ranking of international business schools (non-US), number two in Forbes’ ranking of one-year MBA programmes outside the US in 2011 and number six in the Financial Times’ global MBA ranking in 2012.

Programmes offered include MBA, executive MBA, PhD, executive education, specialised degrees (master in finance, executive master in consulting and coaching for change). Diversity, too, is key for this B-school, which was established in 1957 and has three campuses – INSEAD Europe campus in Fontainebleau, France; INSEAD Asia campus in Singapore and INSEAD campus in Abu Dhabi.

The B-school’s mission is to promote a learning environment that brings together people, cultures and ideas from around the world, to promote management education; to develop leaders and entrepreneurs who create value for their organisations and their communities; and to expand the frontiers of academic thought and infuence business practice through research.

This “international outlook,” says Fougea, ensured that despite the economic slowdown in Europe, there was a recruitment surge (of students) in BRIC countries and a small increase in North America. About 92% graduates reported employment within three months of graduation – slightly short of their 93% record.

INSEAD’s Career Services start training students early on in their programmes to find out which careers are best suited to them. An interesting finding, says Fougea, is that 82% of INSEAD’s graduates changed their careers in terms of job function, geography and industry and 23% changed all three. Base salaries reflected the wide range of career desginations and currencies, ranging from Euro 10,600 to Euro 250,000. Students who responded to the survey online on their careers reported offers from consulting, finance and the corporate sector.

The ‘global’ education focus has in fact ensured that 43,000 of INSEAD’s alumni are spread over 160 countries (2011 figures). Among the companies that had recruited in 2011 included AT Kearney, Accenture, Adidas, Aditya Birla, Amazon, Apple, Barclays Capital, British Telecom, Carlsberg, Citi, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, General Electric, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, HSBC, Infosys, Jaguar, KPMG, McKinsey, Shell, Vodafone, Volkswagen Consulting etc.

Prof Yves L Doz, Solvay chaired professor of technological innovation, who recently coauthored a book, Managing Global Innovation, with INSEAD research scholar Keeley Wilson, says the executive education programme is woven around innovation. Interestingly, a multicultural background helps, says Doz. There is a hidden advantage in India where success stories such as Hindustan Unilever have been possible because Indians are used to living in a bicultural societies. “People from such societies are better able to achieve knowledge-sharing, learn more from their friends from multiple cultures,” he adds.

That is why, says Marey Carey, director of Career Services, INSEAD maintains its mission of diversity. Each year around 80 different nationalities study across INSEAD campuses in Europe and Asia, in addition to the new MBA module in Abu Dhabi), and there is no dominant culture amongst the student body (the largest segments are generally around 10-11%). Where student numbers are concerned, more Indians have started applying – especially for MBA.

All said and done, for the visitor, INSEAD is remembered for its beautiful Fontainebleau campus, the vibrant cafetarias with their seafood options and salad bars and the massive library with a fierce guardian angel in head librarian Pascale Pajona. She manages the massive collection of 50,000 books, case studies, theses, articles and working papers published by INSEAD professors and PhD students. This library also has access to about 7,000 periodicals.

The Kitao Collection deserves a special mention. It has been set up in the memory of a student, Yoshinori Kitao, who passed away while studying at INSEAD. Funds were collected by his friends and batchmates for the books, most of which are related to Asia and Japan.