Huge growth in digital delivery alongside a tentative return to campus.
Today, most of our Executive Education programmes have some digital content. This content can be fully online, with self-paced learning but shared deadlines; or live virtual, with attendance in an “e-classroom”. There is also hybrid delivery – with some participants physically present and others video-linked.
The preceding two years’ investments in GO-Live classrooms – where professors engage with participants through an “amphitheatre” of screens – underpinned our ability to offer both Open and Customised Programmes to leaders in need of support during the pandemic. Similarly, we responded to the needs of organisations by continuing to provide individual executives with Virtual Executive Coaching, and also extended this service to groups of executives working at the same organisation.
Changing times also brought changing leadership. In January 2021, Professor Sameer Hasija was appointed Dean of Executive Education, stepping into the shoes of Professor Ben Bensaou. Professor Hasija, the Shell Fellow in Business and the Environment, has been with INSEAD for 13 years, during which time, he has built an outstanding reputation as a researcher, teacher and institutional contributor.
From September 2021, Professor Hasija implemented an innovative new management structure to support him in leading the department. He is bringing together the strengths of three proven INSEAD leaders in the Executive Education Executive Committee consisting of: Nathalie Bobrinsky, Executive Director of Corporate Partnerships; Isabelle Girault, Executive Director of Administration & Operations; and Severine Guilloux, Executive Director of Open Programmes, Online Learning & Innovation.
The new structure signals a new chapter and offers tighter integration, increased agility and greater synergy between Executive Education teams as the department evolves in our rapidly changing world.
Earlier experimentation with Virtual Reality Immersive Learning became a regular occurrence, with virtual reality (VR) sessions integrated into Executive Education. INSEAD now has a growing bank of immersive case studies, developed in our own studios, as well as a fleet of headsets at each of our locations. In March, there was further innovation, as we held our first VR session via Zoom, as part of the Blue Ocean Strategy programme. Devices were shipped to 20 learners, who participated successfully from 10 countries across the world.
As travel restrictions eased during 2020/2021, INSEAD professors were finally able to undertake some face-to-face teaching, with all the networking benefits that this brings to participants. By the end of the academic year, we were seeing significant interest from executives and companies in returning to our campuses. At the same time, there was even greater appetite for our growing menu of content on digitalisation and innovation. Like us, it seems, our participants are eager to emerge stronger from the continuing “business un-usual”.
During the year, we pivoted most of our Open Programmes to live virtual delivery. All of the department’s teams worked together to make the shift to remote learning possible. At the same time, the creativity and flexibility of our faculty, as they adapted to the new modes of teaching, led to exceptionally high satisfaction levels among participants.
Meanwhile, demand for Open Online Programmes surged in 2020/2021. We now have 15 programmes and welcomed 7,500 participants during the year. Our Open Online portfolio has significantly developed since 2016, when we launched with just two programmes and 659 participants. In fact, the number of Open Online Programmes participants increased by nearly 90% compared to last year.
Interest in our Certificate programmes – certifications gained by taking several complementary programmes over a fixed period of time – has also grown. Following the success of the Online Certificate: Leading in a Transforming World at the beginning of Academic Year 2021/2022, we introduced a further Online Certificate in Negotiation, along with a hybrid learning Advanced Certificate in Negotiation. We look forwarding to welcoming our first participants in April 2022.
Given the continuing uncertainty of 2020/2021, most of our corporate partners came to realise that their leaders needed INSEAD’s support sooner rather than later. Instead of rescheduling and risking further postponements, clients quickly came back to us requesting changes not just to the format of the programmes we had planned together, but also for content about topics such as crisis management, resilience and agility. Our own innovative approach to adapting is reflected in a number of awards won in 2021 for Customised Programmes.
One example is Cargill’s Catalyst, which won a silver medal at the EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards, the “Oscars” of Executive Education. This innovative programme has now reached 1,700 managers at the global food and agricultural giant, which is also America’s largest privately owned corporation. There are three levels of learning: face-to-face for the top 120 leaders; hybrid for the next 240 most senior leaders; and all-digital for the final tranche of executives. In addition, participants from the senior levels act as internal learning coaches for their colleagues. This form of cascaded learning is the perfect way to spread knowledge and skills throughout an organisation in unpredictable times.
In addition, the ENGIE University x INSEAD Customer Academy won a bronze medal at the Brandon Hall Awards. This B2B marketing “bootcamp” brought participants together from all functions and business units to improve customer service and break down silos. Like so many other programmes of the year, it had to make a rapid pivot to digital delivery.