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Why INSEAD’s Time Has Finally Come

INSEAD students celebrate their No. 1 ranking in Fontainebleau, France, with a mimic of The Beatle's Abbey Road LP cover

INSEAD students celebrate their No. 1 ranking in Fontainebleau, France, with a mimic of The Beatles’ Abbey Road LP cover

 

INSEAD’s number one spot in the Financial Times’ ranking has been a long time coming. In the 18 years that this ranking has been published, the top spot has been held only by Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and London Business School.  As INSEAD’s Director of Admissions, Marketing and External Relations from 2005 to 2012, I remember long hours of laboring over data collection for MBA rankings submissions for publications such as the FT, and sweating it out as we waited for the results. I have to say that I leapt out of my chair in delight when I heard the result this year.

So what is INSEAD doing so well?

Academic excellence

INSEAD has succeeded in attracting many of the world’s best and brightest faculty and has ramped up investment in research. Faculty are drawn to the stimulating environment of such a diverse community. Professors also talk about the breadth of perspectives they encounter in the INSEAD classroom, which sparks a richer discussion than they have found elsewhere. Professor Randel Carlock says: “I enjoy teaching at INSEAD because it truly is a global experience. And I get to lead innovative classes with some of the brightest MBA students in the world.” His perspective is echoed by the school’s dean, Ilian Mihov, who comments that “the diversity in the INSEAD classroom is unparalleled and this fact alone creates a magical environment.”  Assistant Dean Graham Hastie also notes “We are very proud of the fact that our faculty research is so highly ranked and that more of our PhD graduates find faculty positions at top schools than those of any other program.”

A truly international school 

INSEAD clearly benefits from the emphasis on international dimensions in the FT ranking. INSEAD was in fact the first school to recognize the importance of a truly international perspective for business leaders, and this internationalism has been a fundamental part of the school’s DNA since its inception.

The school has constantly pushed the boundaries of what it means to be international, in its quest to train business leaders who excel at working across cultures. “The Business School for the World” has long boasted the most internationally diverse program, with students from over 80 countries, and no dominant nationality in the classroom. The geographic expansion of the school, with the Singapore campus (now in its 17th year) and the Abu Dhabi campus (now in its 7th year) has further reinforced the international visibility of the school and its ability to attract candidates and recruiters from all parts of the globe.

A springboard for an international career 

The FT 2016 ranking shows that the 1-year MBA can deliver the sort of earnings power and salary increase to compete with the very best 2-year programs. The school has progressively increased investment in the past few years in the careers team (from 30 to 40 staff since 2014) and has attracted alumni donations for state-of-the-art video conferencing interview suites on the 3 campuses. The INSEAD careers team has a huge challenge, given the 1-year format, and the geographic diversity and sheer size of the 1020 strong student body.  You might think it would be hard to achieve a dramatic career change during a 1-year program, however 84% of INSEAD students change sector, function or country, and an impressive 25% switch on all three dimensions. The school has built relationships with a huge roster of regular recruiters from across the globe, and last year graduates took positions with 440 different organizations in 64 countries.  Recruiters are also increasingly seeking the international mindset and ability to work across cultures that is the very essence of an INSEAD MBA graduate. INSEAD now has the highest proportion of alumni at the top 20 most attractive employers (according to a Universum survey) of any school.

 

  • inseadvshbs

    Condescening and ridiculous post, apart from the fact that MBB salaries are indeed lower in Europe than they are in the US. INSEAD recruits mainly for Europe. It therefore makes sense that quite a few INSEAD grads going into MBB are paid less than their US counterparts. That doesn’t make INSEAD a better or worse school – INSEAD recruits mainly for Europe, whereas M7 recruits mainly for the US.

  • Maria

    @pinch of salt … and this information comes from….? Personal experience or friends stories? In my class 90% of people were employed at the time of graduation….

  • Pinch Of Salt

    For a school, where 40-50% of the batch doesn’t have a job at the end of graduation, this rating should be taken with a pinch of salt. The career service needs to improve, especially by attracting more industries, as not everyone will/wants to get into management consulting.

  • Roger Panuplius

    Lol. What a sweeping statement. So everyone would want to study in the US for two years every time and you are so sure about that?

  • MichaelIsLying

    haha Ok michael. what is your full name. Oh wait you wrote anonymously because you are a lying troll.

  • loser

    *lose. You clearly aren’t one of the ‘people’ you know at all the top 10 programs

  • Maria

    datafreak.. do you know how many people go into HBS or Wharton from MBB with sponsorship? Most of my friends go into HBS every year with the same sponsorship you have mentioned. Actually what they do is they join MBB for a year or two, as they know this will be one of the most important selling points for them to get into HBS….

  • Maria

    datafreak.. do you know how many people go into HBS or Wharton from MBB with sponsorship? Most of my friends go into HBS every year with the same sponsorship you have mentioned. Actually what they do is they join MBB for a year or two, as they know this will be one of the most important selling points for them to get into HBS….

  • Pieire is a dumb american

    pieire – I did not go to INSEAD. I am an American that went to Cambridge (which I chose over M7 schools). I will not indulge too much here, but just state that you sound like an absolutely niave, idiotic American who has never been outside the country. You are an embarrassment. Now I’ll move on and give some perspective… Coming out of Cambridge I was hired into a company that is considered a top tier (probably top 4) company at all the top US schools. My starting base salary was roughly 10% lower than what an M7 school would have gotten since salaries are lower in Europe on average. The catch… My MBA only took 12 months and cost roughly 40% of what any M7 MBA would have cost. My SIGNING BONUS almost paid back MY ENTIRE MBA. Also, of course, since I “pocketed” one year with the shortened MBA, that means at the end of year one back in the workforce my salary already matched what the M7 grads were getting, accept they likely had a 100k in debt, whereas I was immediately debt free. So, you can take your slightly higher first year salaries from the M7. I’ll take my significantly higher ROI from a top tier European program, my 7 WEEKS VACATION (can’t get that in the U.S), and my much more unique international experience.

  • LIM

    I see a clear difference in philosophy between INSEAD and the HSW (and the M7). Harvard and Stanford, for example, clearly aim to admit only the best to preserve it’s elite status. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what attracts their applicants who have the potential to succeed without an MBA. INSEAD sees the whole MBA business with a purely commercial perspective. Hence its increasing intake and campuses in emerging economied. It will be interesting to see how the battle pans out with the emergence of the Asian MBA market where students see it purely as a commercial decision. These type of students may well be very successful in their careers. This may well be a master stroke by INSEAD. Clearly their respective successes depends on how the world changes. Sorry to state the obvious!