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Dipak Jain, the former dean of the Kellogg school at Northwestern University in the US, is tipped to replace Frank Brown as dean of Insead, the business school with campuses in Fontainebleau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The complicated appointment process at Insead means a prospective dean has to get the approval of both the board of the school and the faculty on both the French and Singapore campuses. This process is expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks, and Prof Jain has emerged as the front-runner for the job in the process.

Prof Jain stepped down as dean of Kellogg in September 2009, after eight years in the job. A prolific marketing scholar, he moved to Kellogg in 1986 as an assistant professor and quickly rose to be the right-hand man of former dean, Don Jacobs. He was senior associate dean for five years before his appointment to the dean’s job in 1994.

Prof Jain told the FT a year ago that one of his achievements was to alter the culture at Kellogg from an individual-driven school, as it was when Prof Jacobs was dean, to an institution-driven school, with multiple associate deans and devolved responsibilities. If appointed to Insead, it is an experience that will stand him in good stead there, where he will be called upon to manage multiple programmes in multiple locations - including the largest MBA programme at any of the top business schools.

Though his academic career has largely been in the US, it is thought to have been Prof Jain’s vision of developments in Asia that appealed to the Insead community. Born in Assam in northeast India, and having taught in India in his youth, Prof Jain was instrumental in the establishment of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. In spite of his undoubted experience, at 53 years of age Prof Jain is still one of the younger international business school deans.

The appointment of Prof Jain to his second dean’s job would reflect the situation at Kellogg’s neighbour, Chicago Booth, where Edward Snyder stepped down as dean shortly after Prof Jain but then was quickly appointed as dean of the Yale School of Management. He will take up the position there in 2011 after a year’s sabbatical.

Insead’s decision to appoint a thoroughbred academic to the dean’s job to replace Mr Brown, who came from the professional services industry, reflects a growing concern in Europe about the role of a non-academic dean. At London Business School, Robin Buchanan, again a professional services man, lasted less than two years in the job, to be replaced by in-house academic Andrew Likierman.

And only last month John Wells, who was again deemed a “non-academic” dean, quit as president at IMD in Switzerland. He was replaced on an interim basis by Dominique Turpin, a marketing and strategy professor at the school.


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