The INSEAD growth engine through times of crisis
The joyful return of all master students to campus ushered in a particularly intensive year. Not only did face-to-face teaching resume, there were additional make-up graduation and commencement ceremonies, with accompanying “reconnection days” for the classes that were unable to experience an in-person graduation during the pandemic years. In fact, there was a whole month of such events in the summer of 2022, including an INSEAD “first-ever” of two MBA graduation ceremonies on a single day. Dean of Degree Programmes Urs Peyer, also set a new personal record by proudly shaking hands with 1,527 new graduates over the course of June and July.
We were delighted that during 2021/2022, student satisfaction levels returned to their excellent pre-pandemic levels. The year’s rankings also brought good news. The MBA programme was ranked #3 by the Financial Times, which means it has been in the top four for the last eight years – another first for INSEAD. It was particularly encouraging to see very high scores this year for research, gender diversity and sustainability, reflecting the many investments in these areas during Dean Ilian Mihov’s tenure.
Another pleasing development this year was the school’s stellar performance in rankings related to entrepreneurship. Within Europe, the “Sifted” platform for entrepreneurs, calculated that INSEAD was the #1 business school for Unicorns - privately held start-ups with a value of over US$1 billion. This was a remarkable result, considering we were pitted against non-business schools such as Cambridge and Oxford universities. Data provider PitchBook placed INSEAD #4 in the global top MBA programme category by virtue of having 762 founders and 685 companies that have raised a staggering US$23.1 billion over the years. By the same criteria, the school was ranked #7 for female founders. And the influential online platform Poets & Quants not only ranked INSEAD the #1 international MBA programme for the sixth year in a row, but also #1 for the most MBA start-ups.
Many of these alumni companies had their origins in the twice-yearly INSEAD Venture Competition, organised by the Rudolf and Valeria Maag INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship. The competition proved as popular as ever in in 2021/2022, with prize winners from across the portfolio, including the classes of MIM’22, GEMBA’23 and MBA’21J, 21D and 22J.
As the world continued to face economic uncertainty, it was particularly important that we were able to maintain scholarship levels at historically high levels across the master degree portfolio. Thanks to donors and our own strategic investment, scholarships enable us to compete for the very best global talent, especially in the mature MBA market, and to ensure that our doors are open to outstanding students from all backgrounds.
While overall numbers of participants and applications met expectations over the year and revenues remained stable, the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) surpassed targets across all geographies, with the Asia and Middle East sections performing particularly well. Meanwhile, the Tsinghua–INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) was the only degree programme that was still affected by Covid-19, due to China’s ongoing zero-tolerance policy, though it continued to be ranked highly. Demand for the Master in Management (MIM) remains buoyant and the quality of applicants is still exceptionally high as the programme continues to grow.
We are delighted to announce that the distinctive Executive Master in Change (EMC) programme has been granted accreditation for two years by the French Conférence des Grandes Écoles. We are now working with the Programme Directors to integrate the suggestions that emerged from this demanding process to ensure continued accreditation from 2024 onwards.
In addition to our well-established open-enrolment Executive Master in Finance (EMFin), we also run a company-specific version of the programme for Aramco. The first MFin Aramco class completed their degree and graduated in September 2022 in Fontainebleau. Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, INSEAD, Aramco and participants alike are very pleased with the outcome and negotiations are underway for a second cohort, which is expected to start in fall 2023.
The strength in breadth of INSEAD’s master degree portfolio remains a strategic pillar for the school, as the MBA market matures further. Nevertheless, the MBA is still our flagship programme and is evolving to meet the needs of a rapidly shifting business landscape. In response to demand from both applicants and recruiters, sustainability was a major area of development in 2021/2022. In addition to content across the core curriculum – not just the unique “Business and Society” course – 20 of our 75 electives are now focused on social and environmental themes. With the support of the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, this year saw the start of the process to reassess the programme curriculum with a view to further strengthening the sustainability element.
One recent innovation was a pop-up sustainability quiz for the August 2022 Welcome Week. The event, which proved highly popular with the unsuspecting students, anchored the concept of sustainability in real-life practices and concrete questions. Created by Professors Gabriel Szulanski and Felipe Monteiro from the Strategy area, the quiz was designed to prepare our latest intake for the new reality of business, where ESG is a factor in every decision.
The similarly energetic and interactive Master Strategist Days continued to pair sustainability themes with technological innovation, as students experimented with immersive learning through VR platforms and headsets. The two whole-class events in autumn and spring, brought in real-world social impact organisations to work with student teams on strategies to preserve biodiversity and to prevent avoidable blindness in Egypt.
And looking to the future, preparations began in 2021/2022 for a new addition to the portfolio that will break new ground for INSEAD. Based partly on pandemic innovations, the Master in Business Data Analytics (MBDA) will be the school’s first ever masters programme to be delivered predominantly online. Marketing is expected to begin in summer 2023.
Designed for early to mid-career professionals, and featuring an accelerated 10-month curriculum, our MBA programme develops successful leaders and entrepreneurs.
Our Global Executive MBA programme is tailored for experienced professionals who wish to develop their leadership skills while they continue to advance their current careers.
This dual degree combines INSEAD’s global perspective and Tsinghua University’s in-depth expertise of business in China to produce highly successful business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The INSEAD Executive Master in Change takes participants deep into the basic drivers of human behaviour and the hidden dynamics of organisations.
Blending cutting-edge theory and best practice, the programme is for professionals with work experience in finance-related roles.
Aimed at young leaders with a clear sense of direction when they finish their undergraduate studies. Students want a deep dive into business theory and a complete set of management skills. The MIM programme also focuses on leadership in global business with international experience integrated into the course of study.
INSEAD’s most academically demanding programme does not simply train and export great minds to the world’s best business school faculties. It is also the magic ingredient in our formula for research excellence. Like the rest of the school, the doctoral community thrived in the virtual landscape of the pandemic. But, reunited once again, we were reminded and convinced of the incalculable value of face-to-face interactions. There is no substitute for spontaneous encounters among students and professors, when it comes to generating new insights and fresh ideas.
Fortunately, the small class numbers enabled us to return to the physical teaching space sooner than other INSEAD programmes. We were also able to resume the regular student exchanges between campuses. Meanwhile, those PhD candidates already in the research phase of their studies were inspired to win a bumper crop of awards and prizes, as well as publishing articles in top academic journals.
Other reasons for celebration include: an increase in both quality and quantity of applicants; a greater number of female enrolments; and an outstanding 100% placement record for graduating students. The schools that recruited our new PhD holders were (in alphabetical order): Copenhagen Business School, HEC Paris, I.E. Business School Spain, IESE Business School Barcelona, National University of Singapore, Southern Methodist University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
In addition, the global INSEAD PhD alumni community has become more connected than ever, thanks to the launch of a new annual newsletter. Much more than a simple communications tool, this is an exciting vehicle for promoting lifelong research collaboration and career development.
All in all – and all together again – 2021/2022 was a truly inspirational year for the INSEAD PhD programme.
Prizewinners in 2021/2022 included the following:
Winner, Best Conference PhD Paper Prize
2021 Strategic Management Society Annual Meeting
“Agreeing to be Different: Startup Founding Teams, Cultural Legacy, and Atypicality”
Student Paper Award
2021 INFORMS Decision Analysis Society
“Fast and Simple Adaptive Elicitations: Experimental Test for Probability Weighting”
Winner, Best Proposal Prize, Behavioural Strategy IG
2021 Strategic Management Society Annual Meeting
“Does Social Interaction Hurt Search by Groups? Evidence from Kaggle”
2021 INFORMS Case Competition
“Integration Planning at SFB (A, B, C)”
Winner, Dissertation Research Award
2021 American Psychological Association
“The Sweet Spot of Self-Promotion”
Winner, Best Talk Award
2022 Society of Consumer Psychology Annual Meeting
“The Adverse Role of Heterosexual Standards in Male Dyadic Consumption Sharing”
Coming back to campus full time has been incredible. My office in the Accounting and Control Area is a constant source of new ideas and returning to it has helped me work diligently. Being around faculty mentors has boosted my research tremendously, especially because I can benefit from their real-time guidance, which has been instrumental in the completion of my dissertation. I can also engage with my wider PhD peers, as we now regularly support each other academically and meet for social activities.
My research interests revolve around the real and contracting effects of financial reporting. My current work looks into complexity in accounting for financial risk management and revenue recognition. Prior to joining INSEAD, I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) London (UK) and Grant Thornton London (UK) as a qualified accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW). At INSEAD, I work with Professors Daniel Bens and Gavin Cassar.
Returning to campus had tremendous benefits in multiple ways. First of all, being on campus means being physically in the middle of a vibrant community. Saying casual “Hi’s”, meeting with new people, attending events and going to the gym energises me a lot – which motivates me to work. Second, there is an amazing information flow. People discuss interesting topics all the time – during an encounter in the corridor, coffee break, lunch or happy hour. This creates a synergy that contributes to advancing research. Lastly, it is much easier to support each other on campus. Nothing can replace a warm hug!
My work – with Professors Luk Van Wassenhove, Atalay Atasu and Antoine Desir – focuses on humanitarian donors’ decisions. Humanitarian ecosystems are challenging, due to the variety of stakeholders, organisations and needs, as well as the inherent uncertainty in terms of both supply (funds) and demand (needs). Donating in this environment has the potential to impact millions of lives. My thesis analyses the fund allocation process in order to structure donors’ decision-making and provide insights to humanitarian managers – and help ensure that scarce resources are used for the greatest good.
On-campus recruiting formats and events have continued to evolve in exciting new directions in the post-pandemic world. Many recruiters and students welcomed the regained opportunities to interact in person during the year, while others opted for the flexibility and greener credentials of virtual engagement. We expect on-campus recruiting to become ever more personalised going forward, through a combination of digital and face-to-face contact.
Meanwhile, the recovering world economy’s strong labour markets, particularly in consulting, fuelled a rebound in MBA employment offers to pre-pandemic levels. This contributed to placement in major cities such as London, Singapore and Dubai, hitting a five-year high.
MIM graduates also fared well in this market, with 99% of them receiving an offer within three months of finishing at INSEAD.
Sustainability is a key theme for the Career Development Centre, just as it is for the programmes served by our staff of careers educators and counsellors, employer engagement experts and operations specialists. This year, we worked with the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society on the award of Impact Internship Stipends and the MBA Summer Start-up Tour to explore EdTech ecosystems in Europe and the Middle East.
The global economic outlook for the upcoming year is uncertain, but our job markets appear relatively stable. We expect demand for the school’s talent to remain strong. By attracting high-calibre students at all career stages and equipping them to be adaptive, INSEAD will continue to bring a broad set of employers from all sectors and regions to engage with the Career Development Centre.