Dipak Jain is best known for leading Northwestern University’s School of Managment for eight years during which Kellogg’s prestige MBA program was twice ranked first by Businessweek in 2002 and 2004.
After being Kellogg dean from 2001 to 2009, the gregarious Indian-born academic took a short break from administrative duties until becoming dean of INSEAD in May of 2011 and then director of the business school at the University of Bangkok in Thailand.
Jain is on the move again, with a highly ambitious initiative to make China’s top business school, CEIBs, a truly global institution, building on an existing footprint in Zurich and forging a major partnership with an elite U.S. business school.
‘MY ROLE IS TO INCREASE THE GLOBAL REPUTATION OF CEIBS’
Jain has been named European President-Designate of CEIBS and is now working closely with President Pedro Nueno and the rest of the school’s leadership to move CEIBs forward. One of the founders of CEIBS, Nueno has led the school’s impressive growth since 1994 when the school was established as a partnership between the Chinese government and the European Union. From a standing start 24 years ago, CEIBS now boasts campuses in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Accra in Ghana, and Zurich in Switzerland and more than 20,000 alumni from 85 countries.
Jain’s vision builds on the ideas and legacy of Nueno, whom he will eventually succeed. For now, they work together, along with the rest of the school’s management committee. “My role is to increase the global reputation of CEIBS,” says Jain in an interview with Poets&Quants. “One of the things CEIBS would like to do is to become a global school and less of a Chinese school. They said they want to have strong links to the U.S. and want us to increase our programs on our European base.”
Jain, who briefly served as dean of INSEAD from May 2011 to March 2013 until falling ill, sees a parallel with INSEAD’s three-campus model. “The next step is to do something in the U.S.,” he says. “My personal feeling is that there are lots of U.S. schools that would be interested in doing someting in China. We could give them a platform in China, and they could give us a foothold in the U.S.”
SEEKING A PROGRAM PARTNERSHIP WITH A MAJOR U.S. SCHOOL
A partnership with a top U.S. schools would likely start with a joint degree program in either the Executive MBA or specialized master’s space. “My emphasis is on the software, the partnerships and the programs rather than on brick and mortar,” adds Jain. “Eventually, we may build a campus like we did in Miami for Kellogg. Right now, I am spending a lot of time understanding China and seeing what would be the right thing for Chinese executives and for other executives who want to understand China.”
Jain’s new role with CEIBS coincides with the school’s emergence as the top business school in China. In January, CEIBS’ full-time MBA program cracked the top ten ranking of the Financial Times, placing eighth in the world. As Jain says, “To be in the top 10 in the world is not a minor thing.”
Jain’s deanship at INSEAD was cut short when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012. While he has recovered from the surgery, Jain says he is still suffering some side effects from follow-on medication that has impacted his hips and knees. Now 60, Jain has already had surgery for one replacement hip with another scheduled in the near future.
‘THE VISION IS TO BUILD A TRULY GLOBAL SCHOOL WITH CREATIVE PROGRAMS’
He was approached by the director general of European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the executive partner for CEIBS with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, last May about the opportunity with the Chinese school. That same month, he resigned his job as director of the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, worked through the summer with ESMD and quietly joined CEIBS part-time in October. Since then, he has been on something of a listening tour, going to China once a month for meetings with faculty and the deans.
“I am very excited about this,” he says. “After all this, I didn’t want a full-time job but I wanted some place where I could make a difference. The vision is to build a truly global school with creative programs. I want to spend the next decade or so doing this.”
Jain says CEIBS had acquired the Zurich Institute of Business Education, a center established years ago by a former president of IMD, and in 2016 CEIBS started a global Executive MBA program out of the institute. That inaugural class will graduate this October in Dubai but not before Jain returns to the classroom to teach.