IMD has announced an unprecedented shakeup in its MBA program, resulting in the departure of five officials who play central roles in admissions, program delivery, career services, marketing, and financial aid.
Ralf Boscheck, program director of IMD’s MBA program, disclosed the surprising changes in an email obtained by Poets&Quants, but provided little detail why the wholesale moves are occurring. The disruption caused by the changes is likely to be highly damaging to the prestige European school located in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Together, the five departing officials, including the director and associate directors of admissions, have 45 years of combined experience at IMD, having played especially critical roles in recruiting, evaluating and admitting students to the school’s boutique MBA program that enrolls only 90 students a year. It’s not clear if they were asked for their resignations or if they quit en masse after a conflict with Boscheck.
‘WE HAVE DECIDED TO REALIGN THE MBA OFFICE’
“I would like to inform you that we have decided to realign the MBA Office with our new MBA program starting in January 2015,” wrote Boscheck. “Claire Lecoq, Lisa Piguet, Janet Shaner, Marine Frey and Simone Kuhn have decided to pursue other opportunities and will leave once they have accomplished their respective missions.”
The changes come in the aftermath of a controversial move by the school to break with industry practice and begin to report career stats on a three-year basis rather than annually. The decision caused an uproar among applicants and alumni, even more so when IMD disclosed that the change hid a decline in salary and placement numbers for the school’s MBA graduates, the second consecutive year of deteriorating results.
“I don’t know who was behind that decision, but I do know there is a new program director and he probably wants ‘his people’ in positions that affect recruiting both of new students and potential employers,” said Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com and a prominent admissions consultant. “Either the old staff wasn’t comfortable with his approach and resigned, or they saw handwriting on the wall about their futures and resigned.”
When the school decided to hold a webinar run by Boscheck to allay applicant concerns, he evaded some of the more pointed questions about significant turnover in IMD’s career services office and whether a significant percentage of last year’s class is still unemployed. Without directly addressing the issue, he noted that the school has “a team of five internal specialists that we have never had before.”
‘IF THE CHANGES PROVE UNPOPULAR, IMD’S REPUTATION AND BRAND WILL BE WEAKENED’
A long-time economics and business policy professor at IMD, Boscheck has little to no experience in running a competitive MBA program. He has been MBA program director for only ten months.
Some believe the shakeup will lead to more short-term turmoil for IMD. “I think IMD is going to struggle until the changes the new program director wants to make are implemented and prove popular with recruiters and students, added Abraham. “If the changes are successful and the results are realized quickly, IMD will bounce back stronger than ever. If the changes prove unpopular or the results take a long time to be seen, IMD will decline until the new program director is replaced. In the latter case, its reputation and brand will be weakened.”
Lecoq has been director of IMD MBA admissions, marketing and career services for slightly more than four years. A former head of career services for INSEAD, she has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, consulting and business education.
Lisa Piguet has been associate director of MBA admission and marketing at IMD for nearly six years and has been with the school for almost 14 years, starting as an admissions committee member and doing career coaching in 2002.
SEVERAL LONG-TIME VETERANS OF IMD ARE OUT
Janet Shaner, a Harvard MBA, is also another long-time player in IMD’s MBA program. For the past five years and eight months, she has been director of MBA program design and delivery, but she first joined IMD in early 1998 as a research associate.
Marine Frey has been an MBA admissions officer at IMD for more than seven years since July of 2007. Simone Kuhn, MBA marketing and financial aid officer, has been with IMD since August of 2010.
“On behalf of myself and the whole IMD team,” added Boscheck. “ I would like to thank all of them for their great dedication and contribution to building the current program. We also wish them a successful continuation of their careers. We will be back to you shortly with more detailed information on the new structure that we are planning to put in place.”