Meet the leaders driving organisational excellence at INSEAD
Academic year 2019/2020 opened with a celebration as INSEAD commemorated the first MBA classes held at Chateau de Fontainebleau in 1959. This pioneering “First Class” learned a moral approach to business and practical knowledge that aimed to unite Europe around the idea that peace and mutual prosperity go hand in hand.
The vision of INSEAD as academically rigorous, diverse, independent, close to business and entrepreneurial to the core would guide our growth over the next six decades. The school attracted talented professors and motivated students who drove expansion at a global scale and propelled the school into the upper echelon of business schools. This vision is especially pertinent today, as the world looks for leaders to build better businesses and resilient societies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic struck at a pivotal time for INSEAD. As we reflected on and celebrated our past, the present hindered our best-laid plans, such as putting a halt on the launch of our visionary Europe Campus renewal project.
Meanwhile, the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society had just sponsored the “SDG Tent” alongside the World Economic Forum in Davos. We inaugurated the San Francisco Hub for Business Innovation, INSEAD’s first permanent learning facility in North America, bringing our unparalleled global reach to the heart of the world’s leading innovation centre.
When the health crisis escalated, we swiftly put together the Crisis Management Team comprised of staff and faculty to coordinate action across the institution. This team responded with a priority on the safety and wellbeing of our students and community as more and more restrictions were put in place in France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and San Francisco.
It quickly became clear that responding to COVID-19 would require campus closures, and in just two short weeks, our IT team mobilised to move all programmes online. Faculty and students were agile and quickly transitioned to new formats and platforms. Staff adjusted work according to their campus and role. Under extreme adversity, our faculty and staff delivered the INSEAD education and experience even as the crisis accelerated.
The challenges were undeniable, but our institution’s mission became more relevant than ever. At this crucial time, the school got a ringing endorsement and an unprecedented show of support. An alumnus gave a transformational gift of €60 million, pledging €40 million to the INSEAD endowment for research and designating €20 million to secure the land the Europe Campus is built on, a foundational part of our Europe Campus renewal project. It was the largest gift we have received in our school’s history.
Other alumni also stepped up to support the school’s future. Giving Day surpassed expectations, with 2,164 donors giving a total of €2.3 million – the highest amount ever raised through this annual initiative. The faculty showed strong support, teaching pro bono and committing €2 million to key areas, including scholarships and the Dean’s Fund. Alumni, staff and friends also gave generously to the Dean’s Fund, which expanded our capacity to address time-sensitive needs.
The enormous show of support from our entire community enabled the school to keep its eye resolutely focused on its mission. INSEAD doubled down on efforts to strengthen scholarships, research and diversity. We were able to take this opportunity to re-assess and re-think “business as usual”. It was a moment to renew our commitment to help empower business as a force for good.
During this year, events around the world laid bare persistent racial inequalities and injustices. We know that these issues transcend national borders and that they affect our communities as well.
Although diversity is one of our founding values, we felt we had to deepen our commitment to address inequities and to stamp out racism and discrimination wherever they exist. We did this by making Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) a central priority. We doubled our scholarship budget for students of underrepresented groups, allocated significant seed funding to EDI research, and launched the INSEAD Africa Initiative to develop partnerships with African universities and increase the diversity of our student applications.
There is undeniably a long way to go, but we have proved before that we can make significant progress when we commit to ambitious goals and make them part of who we are. The support we have seen from our entire community this year strengthens this conviction.
This 2019/2020 Annual Report reflects the dedication and hard work of our talented INSEAD community during this difficult year. We would like to give a special thanks to all our employees and their families for their unwavering support. To recognise their contributions and dedication, we are including an INSEAD People section in the Annual Report from this year onwards.
We want to thank the global INSEAD community for collaborating with us to make this year and the Force for Good Campaign as successful as possible. To the members of our community who have lost loved ones or been affected by COVID-19, our thoughts are with you.
Reflecting on the history of INSEAD, we have seen difficult times before. The school has made it through these times and come out stronger because of our values and our community. This global pandemic is no different. When we stand together, we can achieve a better future for INSEAD and for the world.
Thank you for your support and stay safe.
Chairman of the Board
Dean of INSEAD