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Insead has appointed economist and Singapore resident Ilian Mihov as dean. Prof Mihov has been one of two interim deans running the school since Dipak Jain stood down in February this year – Peter Zemsky was the second interim dean, based in Paris.

The decision is particularly significant as it marks the first time that an Insead dean will be resident in Singapore, on the school’s Asia campus. All previous deans have worked primarily in Fontainebleau, near Paris.

Prof Mihov says the decision was an important internal one, as it did away with the idea that there was a headquarters in France and a satellite campus in Singapore. “The biggest significance is that we really wanted to signal this,” says Prof Mihov, adding “We also want explore the expansion in Singapore.”

Though the Singapore campus is significantly smaller than the one in Fontainebleau today, expansion plans in Asia mean the two campuses will be of a similar size by the end of the decade. The MBA, Executive MBA, PhD and Executive Education programmes are all taught on the Singapore campus and it houses more than 10 research centres.

But growth in these programmes is hampered by the physical resources of the school, says the new dean. “It’s not that there are no students who want to come here.” The number of executive education clients and programmes is also growing in Singapore, he says.

As a result, the past two years have seen a steady flow of professors from France to Singapore. In the 2012-2013 academic year Insead had 55 teaching staff in Asia and 84 in Europe; this year there are 59 in Singapore, 81 in Europe.

As well as the stronger economic growth in Asia, other reasons given for the migration are an escape from the more punitive tax system under France’s socialist government, the more generous living allowances available to Insead professors in Singapore and the greater choice of English language schooling there for professors’ families.

One of Prof Mihov’s first tasks will be to “reconnect with the alumni,” as he puts it. This will be essential to support the fundraising campaign needed to ensure the Singapore campus expansion. “Fundraising is key. We cannot compete successfully with other big business schools without it,” says Prof Mihov. “If we want to change the way we do our business, we have to have capital to invest.”

But increased engagement will also be important to build the brand of the standalone business school. For most business schools, which are part of a larger university, 90 per cent of the branding comes from the university, he says. “We have to do everything on our own.”

The other priority will be online learning and digitalisation. Indeed this will “topic number one” on the agenda for the Insead faculty retreat at the end of November, says Prof Mihov. “We do a lot of digitalisation but it is not systemised and enterprised in the way other schools do.”

Prof Mihov is expected to announce his senior management team next week. This will include the new dean of faculty, which has to be approved by the faculty chairs at the school, and a deputy dean based in Fontainebleau – Peter Zemsky is expected to be appointed to this role.

The appointment of Prof Mihov will be the first time that an internal faculty member has been appointed as Insead dean since Gabriel Hawawini in 2000.


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