INSEAD Dean Talks B-School’s Past, Present, Future

INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov. Courtesy photo

INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov. Courtesy photo

Times are good for the business school headquartered in the quaint French town of Fontainebleau. INSEAD, which brushes up against a national forest about 70 kilometers southeast of Paris, is having a stellar year. Last November, it nabbed the top spot in Poets&Quants’ composite ranking of international schools. In January, INSEAD became the first school not named Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, or London Business School to claim number one in the Financial Times’ global ranking of MBA programs. What’s more, the school has more alumni giving and engagement than ever before, enjoys solid job placement rates despite offering a turbocharged 10-month full-time MBA, and is in the midst of planning a new curriculum that will roll out next September.

This past Saturday (Oct. 8), Poets&Quants had the opportunity to meet with INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov in his Fontainebleau office during a massive alumni reunion weekend to discuss his first three years as dean and where he sees the school — and business education as a whole — going. When Mihov took over as dean, he did so with at least three objectives. He wanted to put greater resources into career development, increase fundraising, and build a new curriculum. Three years later, he’s done all three.

First, Mihov says, INSEAD doubled the budget for career services. This led to increased staff and a new career development center. Students now gain personal career coaches before even starting the program, and more than 180 companies a year trek from around the globe to INSEAD’s Fontainebleau or Singapore campuses. Next, efforts to increase alumni engagement and giving have paid off handsomely. Five years ago, INSEAD raised about €4.7 million ($5.2 million). This past academic year, the school set a goal of €16.5 million ($18.2 million)— and ended up with nearly €24 million ($26.4 million). Meanwhile, Mihov says, alumni attendance at events on campus is up 25%.

Finally, after a lengthy process that was spearheaded by a five-member faculty committee and included input from recruiters, alumni, and current students, the school will roll out a completely revised curriculum for next September’s incoming class. Highlights will include a personalized leadership development program, a cluster of required courses focused on business and society, and, Mihov says, deeper self-reflection and character building.

APPLICATIONS FROM THE U.S. SURGING

To keep the upward momentum moving, Mihov says INSEAD must continue to fundraise so it can compete for the best students and professors. Currently, about 20% of INSEAD students receive scholarships, well below the near 50% level at Harvard Business School where the average annual student grant is $37,000. Mihov wants to get closer to HBS’ 50%. “I think that everybody is fighting for two things. One is students, and the other is faculty,” he says. “So the toughest challenge for us is to keep INSEAD an attractive proposition in this competitive environment.”

To be sure, INSEAD has tapped into two of the most saturated markets for MBA applicants. For the past five years, the largest nationalities represented have been from the U.S. and India. Each country has comprised 9% to 12% of the school’s cohort, which is enough for the highest conglomerate from one country. The school regularly enrolls students from more than 80 countries each year and has an alumni base that spans 170 countries. According to Mihov, U.S. applicants are higher than ever before. But to break deeper into the robust U.S. applicant market, Mihov says INSEAD needs to continue to communicate the legitimacy of the one-year MBA — and it needs to innovate.

In a robust and broad-ranging interview, Mihov discusses in detail the process INSEAD went through to revamp its curriculum, future development of the school’s Abu Dhabi campus, improvements the school needs to make, and why the one-year model involves classroom time equal to or more than a two-year program — among many other topics.

You’ve now officially been dean for just over three years. What are some of your proudest accomplishments over that time?

I think there are several key things that we did. At the very beginning, we decided to completely revamp our career services and build a career development center. We more than doubled our budget. We provide the students now with personal career advisers. So when students come to INSEAD, they have somebody who helps them during the year figure out where they want to apply, figure out what they are going to do, preparing them for interviews, preparing them for submitting CVs, recommendation letters — all of these things. Those are some of the technical things, but they also help with the behavioral things like how you behave during the interview. And I think that has a very big impact on how the students feel and the success rates on the reports in terms of matching students with the right employers.

We also invested a lot in business development — that is, relationships with employers. Today we have more than 180 companies coming to campus recruiting, which is quite significant. That was the first thing I really thought was necessary to do.

The second thing that I’m very proud of is that we went through a long process of curriculum review. It’s always difficult to build consensus around something. One of our colleagues warned us — he was at another school before coming to INSEAD and was a tenured professor — and he said that there, they went through the same thing and at the end they went back to the same curriculum as before. But in our case, I’m happy that it went very well. We will be implementing the new curriculum for the class that starts in September of 2017. We produced a leadership development program so that there is professional coaching, group coaching, and peer coaching during the entire year to make our students more aware about how they make decisions, how they have biases, how to correct those biases, how to behave in teams. It’s a standard coaching exercise. In addition to this, we produced a cluster of business and society courses in our third period. One is political analysis, one is more of a public policy — environmental, sustainability, inequality — all these issues that link business and society and have created some problems in recent years. And the third course is ethics. We had it before as a required course but it was between other courses. Now we put it together in this cluster.

So there are several changes that I think will improve the program and will make it more effective. We have the students develop not only competencies, but also build and further their character and understanding of themselves. That’s the second thing.

The third thing is the relationship with the alumni. Today the alumni engagement at INSEAD is the highest ever. In the last year we have seen a 25% increase in the number of alumni coming back for reunions. Last year, we had 3,200 alumni come back for reunion. This is very important. I think it creates a much stronger school in a sense that the students can benefit much more from this relationship with alumni. Our faculty benefit from the relationships and we are trying to build something for the alumni as well, like a platform for continued learning, so they will benefit as well.

On the fundraising front, we are doing very well. To me, this is one of the most important successes because we have an alumni network that spreads into 170 countries. We have more alumni in more countries than any other business school. So it’s a very powerful network and if we can activate this network and connect it to the school, we can do a lot of new and interesting things.

And a fourth thing that is also quite interesting is in the digitalization we have moved forward substantially. It’s more relevant for executive education, but we are trying to bring it to the MBA class.

  • Jasmine

    I hate to be so blunt but I never trusted non US mba programs. It is just different culture in europe. MBA is not seen as it is here in US. and the economy is terrible there too. why the hell would someone do his/her MBA there! very weird.

  • RRK850

    Immature behavior of INSEAD fans here. It is not expected by any mean that all the +1000 grads will be happy and have “life changing experience”. Quite normal to find at least 10% of the class unsatisfied and don’t achieve any thing. This is the largest MBA factory in the world.

  • Harold

    you will spend every last minute of your life defending INSEAD reputation! Thats deep. Do you have anything in life you are proud of ?

  • The quality of the interview is good. However, comments have added quality in terms of information and the value, more so the critical comments.

    Critical comments contribute more towards the improvement of the institution’s delivery. They also probably help in improving the interview process at ‘Poets&Quants’. The poster not identifying himself/herself doesn’t in any way reduce the value of the comment. However, this type of reaction happens with all the educational Institutions and not unique to INSEAD.

    Disappointment often stems from the gap in the student perception and Institution performance. And it is a very common occurrence in education and it happens in all streams of education. Each Institution has its own delivery system, and same is explained in detail at various admissions related seminars and promotional brochures.

    The deliveries in most of the reputed institutions are as per promise. However, the institutions presume the students already are aware and understand certain basic details not mentioned in the promotional materials and events.

    However, the gap arises on account of the student not doing proper research about the institution before applying for admission. There is a huge bio-diversity in the way the institutions conduct their courses. This should be understood by the prospective applicants.

    Similar curriculum doesn’t necessary mean similar imparting process. The students need to find out exhaustive information about the imparting process of the institutions they are interested in, and select the best suited to their intellectual disposition.

    ‘Poets&Quants’, which is doing a great service in the field of education should come with effective guidelines for the student in the process of selecting an educational institution. A few years back ‘Poets and Quants’ had come out with an article that compared the imparting processes at Harvard & Wharton business schools. It was very informative. There should be more articles of this type.

  • Considering_IMD

    hahaha. The whole discussion is about certain case in INSEAD, why you intentionally inserted IMD?! This is so cheap marketing. Anyway, how many people told you how boring you are?

  • TISKAN

    how come one online post can get INSEAD mad?

  • charles

    Calm down. Internet is for all not for you only.

  • Warren

    “a shyt” + “source of pride” + “can’t afford me”. May I ask: how old are you?

  • F500-HR

    I read all your posts and replies. It is really, really, really sad that you have attended INSEAD. You know what, that is the price of a mass production, maybe INSEAD is not what it is in reality… who knows.. I always doubt the MBA programs outside U.S.

  • Bill

    Jesus!! This is hard to believe. All this for a single post?! This is the perfect “INSECURE” example of an INSEADers . what a shame.

  • Duc Dao

    Dear anonymous citizen of the internet,

    Let me answer your incomprehensible questions in order:

    1. I don’t give a shyt who you are.
    2. I do take it personally when someone insult INSEAD, which is a source of pride for me.
    3. No, I am not North Korean. Kim Young Il can’t afford me.
    4. Nope, “debatting” on an internet forum is not my core skills, and not planing on making it core.
    5. I have a job in which my boss doesn’t care how i spent my time as long as things get done
    6. Nope, I am not working for INSEAD career services.

    INSEAD has its positive and negative.

    That said, I will spend every last minute of my life defending its reputation.

    Cheers
    Duc

  • ronhubbardofinsead

    You can’t stand the heat. And who tells me who you are. Could well get you my name but the point is I rather be not involved with people like you. Obviously, for some reason you take criticism towards INSEAD personal. You even try to have comments deleted. What kind of debate should that be? Are you north korean? Secondly, for some unknown reason you seem very focussed on the identity of commentators whereas you better would focus on the arguments. Debatting doesn’t seem to be one of your core skills. Given the existence if bullying people like you, it is quite understandable why people prefer staying anonymous. Sad enough that that happens. You seem to be very successful in life given the time you spend here commenting every single post. Are you working at INSEAD career services? Lol.

  • Duc Dao

    Hi mate,

    If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    INSEAD taught me to value diversity, but here is the caveat:

    Diversity on matter when the voices of everyone are heard. We can’t hear you if you remain anonymous to bash a person or an institution behind the keyboard.

    Cheers
    Duc

  • Great interview. I feel it’s worth highlighting a few points made by Dean Mihov which may have gone under the radar amid the wealth of information provided.

    1 – Not just diversity, but diversity within the workgroups. The permanent (for the first 16 weeks in my day) workgroups are genuinely hand-crafted for maximum diversity and potential for intellectual and cultural discord. Why? Because in life and in organizations we don’t get to choose our teammates, our reports, or our managers. And yet we still need to produce results as part of a team. INSEAD builds this into the fabric of the curriculum in a way optimized for international business.

    2 – The newfound emphasis on leadership development from Day 1. I have been managing high-growth startups for the better part of the last ten years. If forced to name the most critical skill for this in one word, I would choose “judgment”. Making mature decisions, quickly and accurately under pressure, in the absence of enough hard data, is critical. This is challenging, and draws upon your experience, relationships and instincts. The program described by Dean Mihov sounds spot-on, especially the bit about reflection. We have all made mistakes. It is well worth the investment of time to learn from them.

    3 – Moving to a third (or fourth, if you count Wharton) continent. There is no substitute for time on the ground in preparing yourself to work in a given region. The Career Services team while I was at INSEAD put a great emphasis on networking. They would challenge us in the hallway, “Did you call X?” “Did you take Y out for a coffee?”. There is no comparison between networking in person and doing so remotely. It is very difficult to make the same personal connection or take “as full a download” when you’re not face to face. I’m glad to see INSEAD extending its lead by building out the Abu Dhabi campus.

    FWIW, Dean Mihov was my Macroeconomics professor during INSEAD and he was as excellent in that role as he is as Dean.

  • ronhubbardofinsead

    Sorry guys but -believe it or not- myself an alumn, I find the bashing on the one negative commentator somewhat creepy and it really clouds my image of INSEAD as I have it. It really feels a bit sectarian and it already felt that way during INSEAD (even though a lot less so). There are many good things about INSEAD (the people all over the world we got to know, etc) but there were -obviously- also bad things. What is the problem in naming it? Not everybody did find his dream job. Not everybody was friends. Why would they be? There was bullying of people and some herd behavior at occasions. Probably not more than at other schools but also not less, I assume. And of course, there were very good classes but also very bad ones.

    And negative criticism might even help the school improve. Who says that that guy did not contact the school? You hail the diversity of holy mother INSEAD but you cannot stand a dissenting opinion. You are going to be the future leaders as you are critical in your thinking, smart and bold and that’s why you landed a top job in one of the top companies of the world (your are associate in BCG) already at the sweet age of 29 and that is why you do not tolerate that somebody offends your religion, INSEAD?

    Please, give me a break and grow up. More nonsense like this and I start feeling ashamed about INSEAD. I feel scientology is more open towards criticism. And without being a fan of conspiracy theories, I really don’t know anything about INSEAD’s ownership and corporate governance structure and I do not remember ever having discussed it during class. I doubt that it has to do something with the alleged problems but just think about it: why only have BCG amphis? One could also think about financial institutions or pharmaceutical multinationals sponsoring stuff (and being more present on campus). What about Google and the likes? Obviously, the school has some kind of business strategy (I hope they do), What is wrong about discussing it? We even touched upon it during class once. Even though more in the context of international expansion not with regard to the questionning of the total focus on consultancies (Scientology also does not question Hubbard ;-)).

    So, relax, and take the criticism with a grain of salt. I also sometimes think, INSEAD is overrated but I do not blame anybody other than me. That it is a consulting focused school, that info was always out there to see for everybody who wanted it to see. Also, I doubt that other schools do not also have their deficiencies.

    The point in this discussion is, that it looks a bit like people would defend INSEAD because they invested in their MBA and they feel that the value of their investment decreases or increases with the rise and fall of INSEADs reputation/rankings. This might well be the case. Nevertheless, critical debate must be allowed. I rather be friends with 20 smart, critical guys from a lower-ranked INSEAD than with 200 sectarians who pretend that INSEAD was the life-changing experience, an epiphany and that everybody was all but a happy but (of course) diverse family.

    Lost about 30 minutes of my life on this discussion, which I will never get back. Lucky enough, I am not a busy man (not a BCG consultant and otherwise important or a future leader).

  • As someone who produces content, I take umbrage to your belief more insights come from the comments!

    In all seriousness, I totally agree valuable info comes from the discourse, which is why it’s a priority for us to also engage in the comment sections. And also why it’s important to have differing opinions. As long as those opinions do not violate our community rules, there is no reason to act as a muzzle.

  • Michael Lee

    I read this post and I’ve been thinking about how to respond to it. My first reaction was to call you entitled and I actually wrote 3 paragraphs deriding how you have such lofty expectations while being unwilling to work hard.

    Then I thought maybe a better way is to first show empathy and give you some grace and explain how the world works.

    1. I get it. Yea – I didn’t like the parties either. I’m not tall, good looking or have money and I think I wanted to go to parties to meet girls – maybe that’s you. It wasn’t fun for me because I didn’t want to date a married woman and wasn’t attracted to many of my classmates. There were a lot of flirty girls, but that’s not who I am. I don’t like dating a girl that wants to date everyone. Personal experience. So you have my empathy there.

    2. Classes were difficult for me. As an undergrad I graduated from a top 40 US university in the top 3% of my class. At INSEAD, I struggled as I’m not a finance person so I’m hoping you can extend some empathy and grace to others.

    3. Many people didn’t find jobs. I did, but I know why I did, because I was obsessive. I did 32 interviews in 70 days in P4 – P5. I didn’t have a ton of fun. I had a few close friends and worked on my resume probably for a total of 3 straight days for 8 hours comparing them to Columbia, Wharton, Harvard, Yale and INSEAD’s resume books and ensuring every line of my resume was impactful. No one believes me when I tell them this online, but when I meet them in person and see how I am, then they believe me because in general the feedback I get from people is that I’m very intense. What was your experience? Can you extend sympathy for this?

    4. I found a job at a blue chip company that paid ~155 USD+ total package. I’m American. I wanted to work in Asia. I didn’t get a job at MBB. So I offer you sympathy if you didn’t get a job you like.

    5. If you’re a career changer, I just want to tell you how the world works. You’ll receive my sympathy at the end, but I hope you can take some honest feedback.

    In everything you do, you should think – why would they hire me instead of someone else that has experience. Have you asked yourself that? Do you know how to differentiate yourself? If I asked you what’s your value proposition that’s idiosyncratic to you, what would you say?

    Reading your post, I can tell you a few things about you.

    1. You don’t have attention to detail. You’re going to tell me that it’s an internet post so grammar and punctuation shouldn’t matter, but you posted for a reason – you wanted your message to be heard and if that’s the case, why would you let silly mistakes deteriorate your message? But, I suppose maybe that’s who you are? You have many comma splices, spelling errors and additional grammatical mistakes.

    Leads me to my second point about you is that 2. You believe that if it’s 80% ok, then the other 20% will come. You went to a good undergrad or that you got into INSEAD and show up to career services and then you should have a job. This is an entitled attidue.

    3. If you were ostracized from school because of your dissent then I’m really surprised you didn’t find a job? You have all that time in in P4 and P5, what are you doing? Or were you afraid of dissent?

    If I can give you a few points of actionable feedback.

    1. Attention to detail in everything you do that you want to be meaningful.
    2. 80% is not enough. When you think you’re working hard enough, there’s still a long way to go.
    3. It’s ok to be ostracized by people you don’t like anyway.
    4. You don’t need to salary-less if you start a company – you can raise money with a powerpoint these days.

  • Duc Dao

    Nathan,

    Thanks for your response.

    The comment section of any online portals actually reveals more insights than the content of the article itself. Look at how many people actually defense the school and its reputation? That said a lot about the loyalty that we have for INSEAD

    The post from INSEAD Alumni is trolling at its best. And here is why:

    Some random dude creates a fake account, say something controversial and start a discussion/argument. People start to pile in and generate traffic for the portal. I got here because a classmate posted this article on social media.

    I thought about not to engage, but … what the hell… time to have a break from long work hours

    Cheers,
    Duc

  • C. Taylor

    Real or imagined, the referenced post was first posted on Quora. Later it was posted/referenced on a couple of forums including P&Q by inseadsux who claims authorship. Insead-alum is possibly a copy-cat poster as inseadsux weighed in on ‘insead-alum’ posts.

    ‘Insead-alum’ posts are possibly the work of a certain individual who was apparently rejected by IMD and INSEAD for the Jan15 intake. Separate from any potential ‘insead-alum’ posts, that person consistently posts demonstrably false and misleading information under various pseudonyms–including those of other users. This is sometimes interspersed with tidbits of accurate info (gleaned from others’ posting) to lend the poster credence.

  • Duc Dao

    Everyone entitled to his or her own opinion.

    But, if they have something controversial to share, feel free to take it directly to the dean. He will look into the concerns and resolves them, if it is credible.

    Being a keyboard warrior and trolling Poets&Quants won’t help to pay back that student loan.

  • Hi Duc,

    Identifying the commenter is exactly what I tried to do my inviting him/her to email me since the commenter registered with a bogus Gmail account.

    As to vetting out “internet trolls,” I don’t personally see this fitting in the “troll” category. Perhaps this person has an ax to grind, but their opinion and experience is just as valuable to civil discourse as yours. We can’t and won’t “vet out” commenters you personally disagree with.

    Nathan

  • Free speech alumn

    What’s the matter? You got a positive experience, others did not. Why shouldn’t they be able to share their views? The world does not consist if you only.

    There are good reasons to criticise INSEAD and the incredibly bad career services there.

  • Insead Alum – 14J

    I usually also am rather an interested reader than a poster, but at this instance do feel that some clarifying/rectifying comments to Insead-Alum’s post below are in order. I do wonder whether that really is someone having attended the school since her/his comment is so riddled with half truths and facts that are just plain wrong. Some points (that indeed are verifiable facts):

    – INSEAD is a non-profit organization and
    therefore reliant on donations in addition to the regular tuition fees,
    especially also to enable as many students as possible to receive scholarships

    – Job banks by career services are extensive, as is the support one gets; not only are there plenty of materials, but they also get experts for different industries on campus for individual coaching and mock interviews. Certainly there still is potential for improvement – as there always is – but I know for a fact that a lot of investment has been made here in recent years to provide even more personalized support. No one gets told ‘you didn’t try hard enough’. In any case, the incredibly wide array of companies coming to pitch on-campus speaks for itself

    – Saying the actual education is a joke due to your CFA1 demonstrates incredible ignorance – if indeed this person ever has been a student. One of the awesome things about the school is the huge diversity in professional and cultural backgrounds. In core courses at the very beginning this does mean having to start with certain basics to get everyone up to speed, but classes will move beyond that very fast. There are dozens and dozens of electives as well that one can choose freely to challenge oneself in completely new fields. If indeed you are such a finance expert already thanks to your CFA1, why not exempt that particular core course (which INSEAD allows for exactly that reason) and get an additional elective instead?

    – As a student from a developed country you can’t compete in the job market? Almost everyone in my class had a job by the time of graduation (including myself, being from a developed country), and the rest within months thereafter. And we are talking about top companies here (again, very many of which come to campus). Many classmates of mine also did start their own company. This is not some statistic (since you seem to distrust those) but my very personal knowledge from the hundreds of friends and contacts I made within that year

    – INSEAD absolutely reports how many of those going to consulting firms are returning (i.e. sponsored) students. Just google the report. For MBB out of 226 students going there after graduation only 76 were sponsored in 2014-15. The rest were all new hires (including myself despite having a very different professional background, and I know dozens of those who got hired as well. Not to speak of all the other consulting firms that also hire from INSEAD)

    Some further personal comments based on my experience (that might not be as verifiable):

    – Ownership, while not 100% transparent, is known to some degree to every student, as it gets discussed repeatedly in classes

    – I have never heard anything about being able to claim a certain specialization; however, thanks to the broad array of electives it is very much possible to focus on certain fields more than others, and that is something one can definitely mention in interviews

    – I would really like to see the barns students get drunk in in Singapore; and chateaus in Fontainebleau can hardly be called anything like that

    – Generally, there is a huge array of possibilities for social life that go well beyond partying; people form bands, go travel, have wine clubs, do all kinds of sports etc. Pity for you if you didn’t make the effort of finding what works for you

    I really wonder what kind of troll takes time to write such extensive BS. In any case, don’t take my word for it, get in touch with any – veryfiable – INSEAD alum (and there are plenty of them 😉 )

  • Another Alumn

    So true.

  • Duc Dao

    Nathan of Poet & Quants,

    I suggest that you clearly verify the identity the post name “INSEAD-Alum” before wasting your time investigating that whatever he or she said. I have been visiting this site before I joined INSEAD. Various classmates and myself included recalled to see the exact same type of post words-for-words by “INSEAD-Alum”

    I usually don’t post and engage in these types of forum discussion, but I make an efforts to sign up and reveal my real name and details on a Facebook to make the following points:

    1. Overall, INSEAD has changed my life. The school provide me access to an unmatched social, academic, and career opportunities.

    2. Financially, I effectively double my pre-MBA salary. I worked as an electrical engineer in the US and now leading business development and strategic marketing team for one of the biggest business within A large US conglomerate

    3. Professionally, without what I learnt at INSEAD, I don’t think I can do what I can do now.

    4. Socially, I can now go to any country in the world, make a post on Facebook, and there are 99% chance that I will have a group of friends to hangout with.

    In short, if poets&quants want to be a reputable sources for MBA ranking. Please make you really vet out internet trolls before allowing them to make a posts

  • Nikola Najdovski

    The INSEAD MBA was a positive life changing experience for me. In P4 I met another alum from the J class and we later got engaged and married and now we’re expecting our first child. I come from a developed country and moved to another developed one after the MBA. The school gives you all the skills you need, if you focus on acquiring them during the INSEAD year. I come from a non- traditional MBA background as a pharmacist and I got enough skills and knowledge to join a Fortune 150 company in the US, with the help of career services. The biggest gain is of course the world- wide network of alums and friends that is second to none.I personally enjoyed most of the parties at INSEAD and visited 15 countries on 5 continents during that year. I doubt you can get that anywhere else. The candidates that join the school are driven and diverse and you make friendships that last a lifetime. And being the business school for the world it doesn’t matter if those friends are from the top 0,1% or not. The vast majority of the students are approachable and friendly.

  • INSEAD Alum, 2009J

    It’s extremely flattering to be labeled #1, but no we all know rankings come and go. INSEAD’s key and enduring strength is it’s people and specifically, its diversity. With 70-80 Nationalities per class, coming from a ridiculously varied backgrounds (My class had included NGO leaders, a concert pianist, chemical engineers, champion tango dancers… to name a few) and the same type of mix among Professors. So, the essential fodder for debate and discovery was always there.

    Even having spent time working and studying in several very different countries and continents I found the vehemently divergent opinions in every course (among students, profs, visiting speakers & CEOs…) surprising at first… and I came to respect them as one of the school’s major assets. At INSEAD, speaking your mind on all levels is encouraged, both during and after graduation. Still today I often find myself involved in vigorous debate with other Alums about everything from starting a business in Singapore to the Alumni Fund to the quality of the food in the bar.

    Luckily, we are in the hands of excellent leadership, including a Dean who started as a Professor and repeatedly chose INSEAD over decidedly more glamorous and lucrative options. We also owe much to the the school’s recklessly entrepreneurial founders and early leaders, who depended since Day 1 not on a pre-existing reputation or a substantial chunk of money (there was none), but on the unwavering belief in a future ideal of diversity and a truly global outlook. These leaders set the foundation for an Alumni-community of sometimes brilliant, often cantankerous independent thinkers (I fall into the latter), whose commitment to the school stems from nothing but their own life-changing experience at INSEAD.

  • MBA2003

    Excellent interview and a great overview of what has been happening at the school in the past couple years. INSEAD is going from strength to strength under the outstanding leadership of Ilian Mihov. Long may he continue as dean!
    Something I would add for potential candidates who are concerned about the internship question: the January intake does have an internship option (during the 2 month summer break) and most students in that class do undertake an internship. September entry does not have an internship option.
    Keep up the great work INSEAD!
    INSEAD alum, class of Dec 2003

  • I’m happy to look into this if you can give me a little more detail. My email is on the contact page. Feel free to reach out anytime.

  • INSEAD-Alum

    As an INSEAD alumni I am always surprised at how highly INSEAD is ranked on the league tables. The INSEAD MBA has been a zero value add for me. INSEAD is a for profit school just like Hult or the University of Phoenix, INSEAD has all of the same issues and problems as any for profit school. Nobody has ever failed, you pay your fee you get your MBA.

    Who owns INSEAD and are there any conflicts of interest? This should be investigated. The school is heavily orientated towards participants from strategy consultancies. The strategy consultants have on average 2 years of experience vs the non strategy students must have approx 7 years of experience. Could the owner of INSEAD be the partner in charge of education at one of the strategy consultancies? I made a mistake; I bought an intangible product from a seller I knew nothing about and that product was useless.

    The first few days of INSEAD were interesting, I had many interesting discussions; but then the welcome week hazing event started. This consisted of the upper class playing a series of weird and often cruel pranks on the incoming class. For example; people were forced to fight each other and others were abandoned in the middle of the forest at night. This in a program were the average age is 28. This hazing ruined what might have otherwise been a good year. After the hazing event no one takes the school seriously. Since this hazing event was not listed on the brochure and this event negatively impacted my experience I feel that INSEAD was a bait and switch scam.

    The final part of welcome week is the Dean’s speech during which the Dean told us: ‘INSEAD offers a general management MBA but if you want you can say that you have a specialization. If a background investigator calls the school, staff are trained to always answer ‘yes’. You should try this; call INSEAD and ask does a specific alumni have an MBA with a concentration in Taxidermy or any other ridiculous subject, the school will say ‘yes’!

    After welcome week the place feels like a cult, no one will say anything against the school, facilities or social life. Descent is discouraged, those that fall foul of this rule can find themselves ostracized. People display symptoms of being brain washed. Hundreds of students, average age 28, get drunk in barns and tell each other that these are the best parties they have ever been to. However; one on one, in hushed tones, people said to me ‘I thought I was the only one that didn’t like the social life’.

    The career service didn’t seem to actually exist; there was an office labelled careers and there were people working there but it was a sham. The alleged career service did not even maintain student records, nor a job bank nor interview preparation materials. My undergraduate university offered this level of career services, I had expected INSEAD to exceed this standard. The careers services released reports on their own performance that read like North Korean harvest reports. In my promotion apparently a large percentage used the career service to find jobs and almost everyone changed career. We see the external economist report contradicts these assertions. After graduation when you cannot get a job that is when the careers service start their victim blaming: ‘you need to be more of an entrepreneur to get a job’ or ‘you didn’t try hard enough’.

    The actual education was a joke e.g. the finance professor stated ‘the school has had feedback that some graduates don’t know what bonds are; therefore, we’ll spend the next 15 minutes on fixed income. Before INSEAD I had completed the CFA level 1 – I had expected my ‘intense’ INSEAD MBA to be a similar level of challenge to the CFA, INSEAD was trivial in comparison. The education was neither wide nor deep, the classes were pitched at the high school level.

    The participants can be split into the following groups:

    Wealthy global elite (top 0.1%)
    Strategy consultants (non native English speakers)
    Developing world (non elite,non strategy)
    Developed world (non elite,non strategy)

    The wealthy and strategy students are well served by the school. These people want to have a good time and get a rubber stamp MBA. Students from the developing world have language skills that will enable them to get jobs in growing markets that are underserved by other business schools. Developed world students get a very poor deal from INSEAD; the INSEAD MBA is just not sophisticated enough to compete in the MBA job market in the developed world. During INSEAD you will be a resource for other students, you will probably have more experience, be educated in leading universities and have a wealth of other experience. This will be sucked out of you and fed to people in the other groups. Employers will laugh at your MBA. Also INSEAD uses the word entrepreneur to mean unemployed. If you couldn’t start a business before INSEAD how could you start a business upon graduation with all that debt?! Becoming an entrepreneur right after business school doesn’t make sense; no pay for a year, spend $150,000, then start a business whilst servicing that debt?! INSEAD reports how many graduates go to the top consultancy firms; what they don’t tell you is that almost all of those people are sponsored by those firms and already have those jobs. In reality very few people (1 or 2 in my class) get a new job upon graduation.

    If you are there as a career changer from the developed world you are being scammed. You share your experience with the strategy consultant and family business students and when you graduate there are no jobs for you. The only logical explanation for the consistent large minority of students that do not do well post INSEAD, is that INSEAD is ripping of one group of students for the benefit of another.

    INSEAD is constantly asking for donations – a ‘for profit’ business asking for donations! How is that not a scam?