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‘A Crucial Role To Play’: Top B-School Deans Share 2022 Resolutions

INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov: “Business has a crucial role to play in looking to build a better society where people and the planet are a priority.”

While 2022 is beginning under less than ideal circumstances at many of the top business schools, we have clearly reached a tipping point, says Ilian Mihov — in the pandemic and in tackling the myriad pressing problems around the globe. That’s because there is “a real consensus on the need for collective action and the need to act to tackle the social and environmental challenges that we face.”

Mihov is the dean of INSEAD and one of 12 B-school leaders from the United States and Europe to share their 2022 New Year’s resolutions with Poets&Quants readers. As part of our annual feature (see deans’ resolutions from 2020 and 2021), we ask the head honchos at the top B-schools to look ahead — and maybe look inward a bit as well — and share their hopes for the coming year.

For INSEAD’s dean, that means the opportunity, and the duty, to step up in a big way.

“Recent events such as COP26 have reinforced my long-held belief that we can’t rely only on governments and NGOs to fix the world’s problems,” Mihov says. “Business has a crucial role to play in looking to build a better society where people and the planet are a priority.”

CREATING A ‘LABORATORY OF PEACE’ AT HEC PARIS

Eloïc Peyrache. Magali Delporte photo

Like his colleague in Fontainebleau, HEC Paris Dean Eloïc Peyrache sees 2022 as a year when business schools helped make the world a better place — a common theme among the deans who spoke to P&Q. The way to achieve that, he says, is to embrace diversity and welcome students from every corner of the globe.

“In 2022, HEC Paris will work at making business education a source for peace,” Peyrache says. “Besides continuously investing in research to help change the world, leading business schools have a great responsibility in promoting social mobility in our societies, giving ‘wings to talents’ from all over the world and connecting them to each other in order to foster peace in the world.

“HEC Paris aspires to be a ‘laboratory of peace,’ and thus will keep investing in all dimensions of diversity. To make it happen, we are launching a new scholarship program aimed at attracting talents from countries at war to study at HEC Paris and engage in a movement for peace.”

Across the English Channel, London Business School Dean François Ortalo-Magné also has high aspirations for his school and students. In 2022, he says, LBS will make climate leadership an urgent priority.

“I commit to working with our alumni to amplify the impact of our researchers,” Ortalo-Magné says, “and collaborating with business school leaders to fuel the momentum initiated by Business Schools for Climate Leadership. This was launched at COP26 by eight business schools, including London Business School. Let us add academic perspective and business insights to the conversation on the role of business organizations in repairing our planet and saving lives.”

At Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business, Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou’s New Year’s resolution reflects that desire for collaboration and understanding as a path to solving the world’s biggest problems. By joining data with humanity, she says, great things are possible.

“My New Year’s resolution is to continue to build an Intelligent Future — a future where decisions will be informed by data and driven by human beings,” Bajeux-Besnainou says. “If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that data analysis alone just doesn’t work; it needs the human touch. An example of this has been skepticism and a lack of education about vaccinations, which contributed to confusion around the pandemic. At the Tepper School, we are striving to equip our students with strong analytical skills while building their emotional intelligence and empathy towards others.”

‘STUDENTS ATTENDING TODAY’S B-SCHOOLS WILL BE TOMORROW’S LEADERS’

Emotional intelligence is vital, agrees Ilian Mihov. And while “Business as a force for good” is not a new concept, its growing importance to the mission of graduate business education is undeniable — and encouraging.

“The ongoing impact of the pandemic has meant another challenging year for everyone, and I am sure that we are all looking forward to the opportunity to reset and recharge over the holiday season,” Mihov says. “However, I think that the one positive that we can take forward into 2022, is that we have clearly reached a tipping point. There is a real consensus on the need for collective action and the need to act to tackle the social and environmental challenges that we face. This is particularly true when I look at the willingness and commitment among business schools to integrate and accept sustainability concerns and societal issues into all aspects of management education.

“It is vital that we maximize this momentum as we move into the new year and look towards a post-pandemic future. That means working together to rebuild our curriculums and focusing our research to ensure we are equipping our students with the knowledge, values and tools necessary to make the right choices for their companies and their communities.

“It is also important that we continue to walk the talk and lead by example if we want people to follow our lead. Having already built sustainability into our core curriculum since 2017, we are now conducting a review to ensure its deeper integration across all our courses by 2023. As the business school for the world, with a community drawn from over 170 countries, we have always understood the value of cooperation and the benefits of working alongside diverse partners. That’s why we are already an active member of the UN-led Principles for Responsible Management Education Initiative. It’s also why we recently became a founding member of the Business Schools for Climate Leadership Initiative along with seven other leading European business schools.

“Such collaborations are key to achieving meaningful results, as no one person or organization can do this alone. I believe that 2022 will see this trend continue, with more and more organizations, institutions and companies putting aside their differences and coming together for the greater good. Recent events such as COP26 have reinforced my long-held belief that we can’t rely only on governments and NGOs to fix the world’s problems. Business has a crucial role to play in looking to build a better society where people and the planet are a priority.

“The students currently attending today’s business schools will be tomorrow’s business leaders. All business schools must work together to realize this potential. The ripple effect from having them embrace business as a force for good may lead to tectonic changes in the way that business addresses societal and environmental challenges.”