Meet the Deans

May 16, 2011 12:03 am

Dean navigates a steady course

 
Dipak C. Jain

Dipak Jain: ‘Down the road we have to decide what kind of presence we want [in the US] ...a partnership, a campus’

International mobility, always popular with business students, is proving increasingly attractive with deans as well. Academic heavyweight Dipak Jain has became the latest to prove that management education is a global business, by leaving the US to take over from Frank Brown as boss of Insead.

Since moving from the Kellogg school at Northwestern University he has devised ambitious plans for Insead, the self-styled “business school for the world”, where he became dean in February. In particular, he intends to ensure the school lives up to its slogan. At the heart of his strategy are plans to make Insead the same powerful force in the US and Latin America that it is in Europe and Asia, a basic requirement if Insead is to be a truly global player.

The plan is to make the Americas the school’s fourth pillar, alongside the three centres in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, says Prof Jain.

As former dean of Kellogg, and a long-time faculty member there, Prof Jain, knows more about the US business schools market than most, and the difficulties involved in breaking into that market. He is still considering his options for American mastery, but does not rule out a fourth campus – former Insead dean Gabriel Hawawini was unable to realise his aspirations for a campus in the US. In the shorter term Prof Jain is considering how to develop the existing partnerships, with the Wharton School in the US, with which Insead has had an alliance for 10 years, and with Fundação Dom Cabral in Brazil, the executive short course specialist.

But he has other immediate priorities. “Down the road we have to decide what kind of presence we want: a partnership, a campus. But first we have to unify the three [existing] campuses ... One of my visions is of One Insead.”

“One Insead” will be a logistical and a cultural challenge, but Prof Jain has a plan to consolidate all three existing campuses as regional hubs. “In France we are not a French school; in Singapore we are not a Singaporean school.” The school in France is already a powerful force in Europe and the Singapore campus, now 10 years old, will be used to reach out to China and India, as well as other Asian countries.

But it is the fledgling Abu Dhabi campus, inaugurated in June 2010, that will need most attention. The plan is for the campus to serve Africa as well as the Middle East, which Prof Jain acknowledges will take time. “We are building the Africa initiative from here. This year the plan is just to explore. We want to spend a year to study what we can do.”

Prof Jain recognises that recent unrest in the Middle East, has introduced uncertainty into the region, which has so far attracted top notch European business schools – including London Business School, HEC Paris and Manchester Business School – but few from the US. “I am sure it is only a matter of time before we see US schools. When things get very good [they will come],” he predicts.

He is confident the campus will do well. “Countries with resources attract people and one of the places with resources is Abu Dhabi.” He deflects questions about the political systems in the region. “To me the question is not democracy – China is not a democracy. But it has growth.”

While many US and European schools set up programmes in China to teach local students, Insead’s multi-campus approach is different, says Prof Jain. It is not just to attract students from the region, but to attract students worldwide who want to work in the region. Indeed the two largest nationality groups on the Fontainebleau and Singapore campuses are from the US and India. “When you go for a new campus it is not just to attract students from the region, but to create job opportunities.”

Insead is arguably the only business school that has substantial multiple international campuses, each with their own permanent faculty. The Singapore campus, for example, has 52 permanent faculty, making it bigger than the Tuck school at Dartmouth College (42), while the Abu Dhabi campus has five resident faculty.

. . .

But the heart of Insead remains in Fontainebleau, and that too will get a marketing facelift. To begin with, Prof Jain does not refer to Fontainebleau at all, but to the Paris campus. “Everything we do should help us to sharpen our brand.”

As a top-notch marketing professor, the value of location branding is something he learnt as dean at Kellogg in Evanston, Illinois. “Fontainebleau is fine, just like Evanston is fine. But Chicago is Chicago.”

And Paris is Paris. The Paris branding will prove particularly attractive to Americans, he believes. “We can put some programmes in Paris that will attract people from all over the world. How do you grow the European business? You leverage Paris.”

Insead is going one step further, developing an alliance with the Sorbonne University in Paris. “You have the power of two world-class brands,” as Prof Jain puts it.

As well as location, the alliance will bring the advantage of access to facilities. As a standalone school, Insead has no access to the wider academic research and teaching of a university, at a time when science, economics and even the humanities are seen as an essential part of the business world. In particular, Insead is hoping to work with the Sorbonne on a masters level law degree.

For Prof Jain, the need to “go beyond business” is central to his philosophy when it comes to educating the next generation of global leaders. And it is essential if the mantra “business school for the world” is to move beyond hyperbole.

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