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In 2020/2021 the rapid pivot to virtual classes and events of the previous year was followed by the new challenge of hybrid gatherings, notably the MBA graduation ceremony in July.
With 262 students in Fontainebleau, 31 in Singapore, 64 online and hundreds of family members attending virtually from around the world, the behind-the-scenes effort was an extraordinary achievement.
Likewise, after the launch of our new MIM programme in 2019/2020, there was an even more successful recruitment process for the second intake. Thanks to improved back office systems and new admissions staff, we were able to welcome 40% more students of the same high calibre in August 2021.
Similar magic was worked behind the scenes in Executive Education, as our exceptional administrative staff transformed programmes into radical new formats for faculty to deliver. Their colleagues in Advancement achieved comparable feats by creating a specialist digital marketing team and welcoming more than 15,000 alumni to virtual events. Neither department could have succeeded without the ingenuity of the IT and Campus Services teams, who upgraded old connections, provided new laptops and rolled out new technologies.
Finally, the year saw a stellar performance from the recently created global Procurement team. From January to August 2021, they worked on 224 projects, completed 69 tenders and delivered overall savings of €2.65 million for the academic year. This is money that the school can invest in innovations, systems, or additional resources for the years to come.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed methods of operating at INSEAD. Most of our people worked virtually for almost the entire academic year. Teleworking has proven to offer many benefits to the school and its staff. However, there are inevitable downsides, while the school has continued to focus on protecting the health and well-being of staff.
The cross-departmental Crisis Management Team has therefore remained in place and worked tirelessly throughout the year. At the same time, all departments were required to devise and implement an action plan based on various well-being and psychosocial risk surveys and analyses. In addition, special health information sessions ensured that staff in each of our locations were fully aware of the health insurance and well-being support available to them as employees of the school.
INSEAD learned a great deal about the well-being of employees during 2020/2021 and introduced several new measures. For example, the school now has a school-wide Agreement on Quality of Life at Work, with a focus on the “right to disconnect”, a commitment to more regular team meetings and more effective cascading of information from Management throughout the school.
Most important of all, over the last two years, we have learned that the sense of belonging to a unique global community is our key asset as an employer. Throughout 2020/2021, departments held not only regular e-meetings but also virtual social events. In addition, the Dean instituted monthly school-wide meetings attended, on average, by 577 staff.
Meanwhile, the Talent Development Team introduced monthly management “huddles”, or team leader sessions – with an average attendance of 70 per meeting – and a community of LinkedIn Learning Champions. One of our most successful experiments was the Mystery Virtual Coffees through which 250 colleagues met each other for the first time or got to know each other better.
As one of the world’s great educational institutions, INSEAD remains committed to developing its staff.
Although cost-saving measures to protect the finances of the school and maintain employment reduced the available training budgets for 2020/2021, 130 staff participated in our internal Executive Education courses, and we even saw an uptick of 30% in our LinkedIn Learning activations. We have also relaunched our extremely popular Giving and Receiving Feedback Workshops in virtual format.
For a large part, learning and professional development continued to happen on the job, most notably for the 55 staff members who transferred to different posts within the school and the 100 new recruits in 2020/2021.
The school’s leaders would like to express a huge thank you to all staff for doing so much more than their jobs over the last two academic years: turning their homes into offices; enduring uncertainty; showing flexibility in changing their work patterns and tasks to fit the new needs of the school; and even donating to INSEAD fundraising efforts. It is because of our amazing people that we were able to embark on the new academic year in September 2021 with such confidence.
Thanks are particularly due to the works council in France (the Comit Social et Economique). Over the course of the year, its representatives held 20 legally required consultations – many on Covid-related topics – and 15 negotiation meetings with Management. This is a significant investment of time and energy on top of their already busy work schedules.
Last but not least, thank you to the specialist well-being staff who have looked after their colleagues throughout the crisis, and to our Covid-19 Champions, whose exceptional behind-the-scenes contributions we have celebrated all through the year. We are delighted to conclude this Annual Report, by sharing some personal stories of just a few of our people.
Not only did Agata play a key role in launching the first MIM programme, she did so in the midst of a global pandemic, ensuring that our pioneer class had the best possible INSEAD experience. Faced with constant uncertainty and unexpected hurdles, Agata took on each new challenge with courage and determination, often implementing new processes on the fly. Despite the difficulties caused by Covid-19, her positive outlook has prevailed – anyone lucky enough to meet Agata can vouch for her friendly and supportive attitude. In fact, Agata is so popular that our MIM Class of 2021 even made her a special birthday video.
Frédéric has 38 years of service in Executive Education, making him the department’s longest- serving employee. During his career at INSEAD, Frédéric has lived through a profound transformation and exponential growth in Executive Education. An expert in the SQL programming language, he has not only experienced the rise of digital marketing and the adoption of sophisticated new systems, but also evolved his own skills and taken a progressively broader role. As Senior Marketing Analyst, he is now in charge of analysing the very complex market segmentation of Executive Education at INSEAD. Having adapted and reinvented himself throughout his career, Frédéric has played a pivotal role in the adaptation and reinvention of the entire department during the Covid-19 crisis.
The newly created Procurement team has had a transformational effect on the school, streamlining processes and delivering significant savings across all departments, at a time when tightly controlled spending was essential. These successes would not have been possible without the dedication of team members such as Elise. A talented professional with global experience in purchasing and sourcing, Elise takes ownership for her work and collaborates with her internal clients to defend the interests of INSEAD. At the same time, she brings innovative ideas and expert advice to her teammates. Elise’s job brings her into contact with colleagues throughout the school, and her qualities are appreciated across all four locations.
Kaleem is no stranger to hard work. Having abandoned his academic studies – so as not to burden his family in India with the fees – he travelled to the United Arab Emirates to find a job. At INSEAD, he found not just a career, but also the inspiration to complete a business degree (parttime). When the pandemic hit, Kaleem demonstrated his tireless work ethic once again, taking the bus to campus each day to ensure safe and smooth operations for the school’s community. Most importantly, he was responsible for implementing an extensive sanitisation programme and rigorous new cleaning practices enabling INSEAD to welcome students, staff and faculty back to campus. Since June 2020, Kaleem’s determination and dedication have been pivotal in gaining the authorities’ approval to keep the campus open and allow INSEAD to continue to offer in-person education to our students and participants as much as possible.