Ambassador for Europe’s schools

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Replacing a business school dean is usually a traumatic experience. Not so at Instituto de Empresa, the Madrid school. When the departing dean announced last summer that he was quitting, the school was able to announce simultaneously that he would be replaced by Santiago Íñiguez de Onzoño, who had worked at IE as a strategy professor for 13 years.

One practical reason why the decision could be made quickly was that IE is a private institution and does not have to go through the tortuous bureaucratic processes of a state university. But it was also because Prof Íñiguez was the obvious man for the job.

One of the best known and popular business school professors on the European scene, Prof Íñiguez has been committed to the development of quality standards in Europe, both through the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) in Brussels and the Association of MBAs in London. He has commanded respect through quiet diplomacy and has been one of the most significant figures in promoting European business schools internationally.

“I was very lucky to join the school at the beginning of the whole international expansion,” says Prof Íñiguez. “European business schools have now got rid of their feeling of inferiority.”

A former associate professor of jurisprudence in Spain, Prof Íñiguez has led a dual academic career in business and law. Indeed his doctoral degree is in law and from Universidad Complutense, in Madrid - although he has an MBA from IE.

Just 42 years old when he was appointed dean, on an international level Prof Íñiguez is certainly one of the new breed of young international deans. By IE standards, however, 42 is decidedly middle-aged.

The previous dean was only 32 when he got the job and the school was set up by Spanish aristocrat Diego Alcazar in 1973 when he was just 23. IE was intended to be a business school run by business people for business, not a traditional, highly academic university-based institution.

Though the academic base of the school has been built upon over the years, the hallmark of the school has always been its entrepreneurial fervour, something which Prof Íñiguez intends to build on. “IE has been very innovative and entrepreneurial since it began. Entrepreneurship is part of the school’s DNA,” he says. “My aim is to make IE a reference for innovation.”

He is certainly starting as he means to go on. The school has recently announced it will introduce a raft of new programmes in the coming year, the flagship of which will be a new MBA programme.

The Global Communities MBA, which will begin in February 2006, will be the first of its kind in the world. The plan is that it will use distance learning technology to enable the 100 participants to study in groups in up to 10 different cities around the world.

One of the most distinctive features of the programme is that participants will interact not only with their own class but with a wider community composed of IE’s alumni base, a network of mentors and business figures.

Also new is a DBA programme - only last year the school announced a PhD programme - and specialised masters programmes in finance and marketing.

Prof Íñiguez is also capitalising on his strengths as a lawyer. This year IE will begin running a masters degree in law jointly with the law school at Northwestern University in Chicago. The executive masters degree is aimed at those with five years of experience in the legal sector, and Prof Íñiguez reports applications from law firms and blue-chip corporations.

Prof Íñiguez has also decided that IE needs to develop an expertise in public policy and will launch a masters degree in the subject in two years.

The underlying enabling tool for all these programmes is the technology platform which supports the interaction. Even more important, says Prof Íñiguez, is the ability of the IE faculty to teach online. Prof Íñiguez believes 85 per cent of them can now do so effectively - and in English.

Although Prof Íñiguez has developed a powerful network in Europe - he is chairman of Equal (European Quality Link), a consortium of European accreditation systems and business school associations - he is working on a similar network in the Americas.

Prof Íñiguez was instrumental in IE’s decision to set up the Sumaq Alliance in 2001, a network of eight leading schools from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.

Partly due to the Sumaq Alliance, IE has seen an extraordinary growth in its income from executive education programmes. This year revenues have doubled, against an increase of about 20 per cent last year. Overall executive education contributes about a quarter of IE’s €51m annual income, though Prof Íñiguez expects this percentage grow fast.

Good news indeed for a school with increasingly international aspirations.

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