Discover the initiatives that make this an outstanding year
According to Peter Zemsky, Dean of Innovation, “The pandemic has been a moment of truth for INSEAD’s entrepreneurial DNA. Would we be able to adapt and reinvent ourselves fast enough? I am incredibly proud of how faculty, staff and the whole community have embraced opportunities for innovation.”
This willingness to experiment has been represented by the way the school has firmly embraced the potential of technology to support cutting-edge learning. As an example of this in practice, the school has taken great strides in exploiting the powerful potential of Virtual Reality (VR) to offer truly immersive learning experiences. We now boast a growing bank of VR case studies – ranging from negotiating tense boardroom encounters to embarking on a unique team mission to Mars – placing the learner at the heart of the action and deeply enhancing student engagement. Not only does this experience allow participants to grasp the nuances of a situation more easily, but it allows them to take in more information faster and more deeply when compared to traditional printed case studies.
VR has proved particularly effective during the bi-annual Master Strategist Day (MSD). Part of the core strategy course in the INSEAD MBA programme, the MSD invites students to work with an organisation and come up with real-world solutions to the problems they face.
In the last year, virtual reality has been used to transport MBA students to the beaches of Cape Verde to help save turtles, to Malawi’s national parks to confront issues of poaching and sustainability, and to Tanzania, where they advised the NGO Miracle Feet on ways of scaling their mission to provide life-altering operations for children suffering from clubfoot.
As Ithai Stern, Professor of Strategy and Academic Director of the INSEAD VR Immersive Learning Initiative puts it, “In all these cases, VR has enabled the students to better understand the setting and challenges and thus develop better real-world solutions for the organisation’s core strategic problems.”
As all these cases demonstrate, VR has provided an opportunity for students to visit distant locations – even during the tightest of travel restrictions – and has allowed them to tour factories and markets without leaving the classroom.
Post-Covid, using VR in this way promises to save time and money and to reduce carbon footprints while offering a more controlled, convenient and rewarding experience for the participants. The potential long-term value of this technology is reflected in the fact that VR experiences are now integrated into a number of our Executive Education programmes.
Such early adoption of technology also meant the school already had the infrastructure in place to allow for an agile and rapid pivot to remote learning during the height of the pandemic. Faculty were able to make full use of the state-of-the-art suite of Live Online Rooms to present engaging ‘Live Virtual’ teaching, ensuring that students, executives and organisations could continue their learning programmes from anywhere in the world, in light of the ongoing travel restrictions.
In particular, the development of our special GO-Live technology over the last few years, with external provider Barco, has meant INSEAD was able to continue to provide a synchronous teaching and learning environment even in such difficult times. Offering an amphitheatre of screens, it provides participants dialling in from home or the office the opportunity to connect live with faculty and peers just as they would in a physical INSEAD classroom.
Now integrated into Live Virtual Open and Customised Programmes across the Executive Education portfolio, INSEAD GO-Live has consistently seen extremely high levels of participant satisfaction rates.
At the same time, we have also developed a very successful range of asynchronous online offerings for both corporate clients and the open executive education market. This has allowed us to create unique hybrid learning journeys, which combine live interactions with asynchronous (and sometimes on-demand) learning – allowing learners even greater levels of convenience and even more opportunities to tailor their own learning experience.
Building on these successes, the school is looking to further strengthen our technical infrastructure. INSEAD now boasts four GO-Live rooms and six live online rooms and is considering converting further learning spaces across our campuses. This commitment underlines the fact that an ability to provide interactive teaching remotely will remain important, even when the constraints of the pandemic finally lift.
Of course, having the tools to effectively deliver relevant and valuable learning is only half the battle. In many cases, it is simply not practical to move an eight-hour course directly online – no matter how immersive the experience. While this reality was faced in all areas of the school’s teaching, the challenge was most sharply felt by the Executive Education team – who were arguably hardest hit by the pandemic-enforced travel restrictions.
Staff and faculty needed to spend a lot of time restructuring, modifying and redesigning courses to make sure they suited the new online format, while still providing the same value and impactful learning outcomes to organisations as their in-person equivalents. The fact that INSEAD delivered 45 Live Virtual or blended Open Education Programmes during the last academic year is a remarkable testament to the dedication, hard work and agility of the whole team.
Yet despite these achievements, INSEAD understands the need to adapt the way it operates to better adjust to the new reality of a highly dynamic economy that requires the constant design and distribution of next-generation learning experiences.
With this in mind, incoming Dean of Executive Education, Sameer Hasija, announced the creation of a new Executive Education Executive Committee in September 2021, which brings the three pillars of Corporate Partnerships; Administration & Operations; and Open Programmes, Online Learning & Innovation closer together and ensures the department has the flexibility and agility to meet the rapidly evolving needs of individuals and organisations.
In addition, our efforts to continually innovate have been further supported with the recent promotion of Swapnil Chugh to Chief Learning Innovation Officer. In this role, Swapnil will play a lead role in exploring a number of exciting new opportunities which we have already begun working on in this field.
As we look forward to life beyond the pandemic, INSEAD has positioned itself as a leader in tech-enabled management education. Beyond simply replacing in-person learning with online learning, we are now designing and providing blended programmes that offer the best of both worlds. However, there is no question of resting on these past successes as we look towards that postpandemic future.
The nature of the market has changed and so the way that INSEAD designs, delivers and markets its programmes also needs to be agile enough to reflect those changes. That means developing courses that empower the individual learner by giving them greater choice and flexibility.
A case in point are the new Negotiation programmes set to launch in April 2022. Based on a popular pre-existing course, participants can now choose to select from one or more programmes covering Negotiation Fundamentals, Strategic Negotiations and Advanced Negotiation. Offering online, on-demand and in-person options, each programme can be taken on its own, but participants can also decide to combine the three courses over time and build towards a full certificate in Negotiations.
The opportunity for an individual learner to decide the level and type of learning experience demonstrated in the new Negotiations programmes is perhaps a glimpse of what promises to be an exciting future at INSEAD. Work is already well under way to develop an intuitive new lifelong learning platform that aims to offer users both complete flexibility as well as expert guidance on their own personal learning journey.
This digital hub will look to utilise the power of machine learning and algorithm technology, combining it with the innovation, pedagogical know-how and closeness to business of INSEAD faculty. The result will be seamlessly curated, personalised, integrated content that addresses the specific goals and learning needs of both the organisation and the individual learner.
When launched, this groundbreaking new learning ecosystem will further cement the position of INSEAD as a true pioneer in the field of management education. It is the latest example of the school’s willingness to experiment and innovate with its teaching tools, techniques and methods to ensure it consistently serves up impactful, immersive and relevant learning experiences to individual students, executives and organisations.
Reflecting on the enduring commitment and remarkable dedication of both Claude and Olivier to the INSEAD mission, it is worth considering what originally inspired them to get involved in Doriot’s great project.
INSEAD was founded at a time when Europe was attempting to rebuild itself after the wholesale devastation of World War II and society was facing the apocalyptic threat of the Cold War. Yet, amid the division, doubt and destruction, the INSEAD founders saw opportunity. An opportunity to create a revolutionary business school defined by internationalism, diversity, independence, an entrepreneurial spirit, and proximity to business. A school that could help transform a newly integrated Europe, stimulate economic growth and foster peace and prosperity.
Claude and Olivier shared this practical, yet idealistic vision of the power of business to be a force for good. It was this vision and these core values that inspired them; and it was these original values that they worked so hard to champion, nurture and maintain within INSEAD, at every step of our remarkable journey.
The world would be a very different place without INSEAD; and without Claude and Olivier, INSEAD simply would not exist. Through their hard work and commitment, over 60,000 alumni from all over the world have benefitted from a world-class INSEAD education, the subsequent doors it has opened and the connections it has helped them form. But, just as importantly, those alumni have also been touched by the values that our founders held dear and have been inspired by their INSEAD experience to make a positive difference within their organisations, their communities, and the world at large. This is Claude and Olivier’s greatest achievement.
Today, our global society faces multiple challenges. Social and economic inequality, environmental degradation, populist politics and climate change are just some of the obstacles we must tackle as we aim to build a better, more sustainable, and more equitable society.
Yet, we are fortunate to have the legacy of Claude and Olivier to inspire us to see these challenges as opportunities. We can take heart from the vision and passion that drove them forward. And, perhaps most importantly, we can be guided by the values that they held so dear.
We must continue to champion diversity and a global outlook. We must innovate and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. We must invest in rigorous and relevant research that changes attitudes and behaviours. And we must continue to believe in the incredible power of business to be a positive force for good.
Thank you, Claude and Olivier, our global community owes you the greatest of debts. It is now our responsibility to play our part and ensure that your incredible legacy lives on.