Even before taking over as the school’s dean, Caroline Roussel has already had a deep and lasting impact on IÉSEG School of Management.
Roussel’s imprint on the “grand école” business school, one of a dozen across France, begins with her remarkable two-decade teaching career that will culminate with her deanship beginning July 1. It includes her role in shaping the school’s new five-year strategy after having been one of the main architects of the last one, and her leadership in guiding the creation of the B-school’s Vision 2025, a whole-school collaborative process based on analysis of the school’s strengths, areas for improvement, roots, and values, but also on identification of future trends in society and higher education that served as a foundation for the new strategic plan.
Roussel’s impact can be weighed in IÉSEG’s growth as she has served, in succession, as professor, head of the Finance Audit & Control Department, director of Academic Development and Quality, academic dean and, since January 2020, vice dean. “I would like to say that I’m lucky,” Roussel tells Poets&Quants in a recent interview, “because I’m already at IÉSEG, and I’ve been working with IÉSEG over the last 20 years — so I’m not a newcomer who will take the deanship at IÉSEG and have to discover the full school, discover the teams, discover what has been the achievements of the last years. I’m involved in and leading the academic efforts of the school since the last 10 years.”
IÉSEG: INSPIRING, CONNECTING, TRANSFORMING
Given the difficult task of finding a new dean for the first time in nearly 30 years, it’s hard to imagine IESEG School of Management making a better hire than Caroline Roussel.
Roussel has spent almost her entire academic career at the French B-school, including the last two and a half years as its vice dean under Jean-Philipe Ammeux, dean of IÉSEG since 1994. In fact, shortly after Roussel earned her Ph.D. from nearby IAE Lille in 2002, it was Ammeux who hired her for the job that would become a two-decade — and counting — career at one of France’s grand écoles, a group of 12 French B-schools of which IÉSEG, founded in 1964, is the largest and highest-ranked.
In replacing her mentor, Roussel will have very large shoes to fill. Among many other accomplishments, Ammeux oversaw the transition of IÉSEG to an English-language school in 2004 — a process that internationalized the school to such a successful extent that its most recent MBA class is one-fifth North American, nearly one-third Latin American, about 16% European and another 16% South Asian/Indo-Pacific. Another 10% of students hail from the Middle East.
“No one in higher education in France was thinking about internationalization, internationalization of content, of courses, internationalization of faculty, internationalization of programs. And that was really visionary — it was a visionary leadership,” Roussel says.
‘THE SHORT STORY OF A LONG JOURNEY’
Roussel’s own roles have included a large amount of visionary leadership, as well, beginning with leading the school’s successful effort to achieve triple accreditation — IÉSEG is the only grand ecolé accredited by AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA. She was also the choice to lead the formation of the school’s 2016 to 2021 strategic plan, the goal of which she summarized as “to be a unique international hub, to be change-makers for a better society.” Knowing the school “from the inside,” as Roussel says, made her the perfect choice to steer the last strategic plan, as well as the logical fit to guide the design and implementation of the new five-year plan, “Inspire – Connect – Transform.”
The new plan, like its predecessor, reflects a collective effort of the entire IÉSEG community, including academic and administrative teams, students, alumni, and business and other partners. More than 100 stakeholders weighed in, Roussel says. The final vision: to make the school “a hub of collective intelligence supporting both entrepreneurship and innovation to respond to the current environmental, social, societal and economic challenges.” The plan has five pillars:
- To propose an engaging student learning experience
- To become an interdisciplinary hub, integrating AI and humanities
- To develop an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem
- To be an intercultural, diverse and inclusive community
- To reinforce the systemic and global approach to sustainability
“It has been an opportunity to reflect on the next five years before taking my official appointment as the new dean of the school,” Roussel says. “Over the last months I have been working with the teams of the school to collectively rethink the future and to collectively build the main axis of the next strategic plan. This is the short story of a long journey for the next five years.”
THE POETS&QUANTS INTERVIEW WITH IÉSEG DEAN CAROLINE ROUSSEL
Poets&Quants: Congratulations on the impending start of your deanship.
Caroline Roussel: I would like to say that I’m lucky because I’m already at IÉSEG, and I’ve been working with IÉSEG over the last 20 years. So I’m not a newcomer, as you know, who will take the deanship at IÉSEG and discover the full school, discover the teams, discover what has been the achievements of the last years. So I’m involved in the academic, and leading the academic efforts of the school since the last 10 years — leading the accreditation, in charge of the faculty of the school, the pedagogy program center. So I really know the school from the inside.
And for me, it has been an opportunity to reflect on the next five years before taking my official appointment as the new dean of the school. So over the last month I have been working with the teams of the school to collectively rethink the future school and to collectively build the main axis of the next strategic plan. So this is the short story of a long journey for the next five years.
You were involved in the 2016 to 2021 strategic plan. What was that process like, and how was the process different for this new one?
I think that an important milestone in the school history has been in 2014, 2015, when we decided to start a divisioning process and to involve all the stakeholders of the school in the co-building of the next steps of the school. And basically in 2014, we were at the end of a strategic plan. And our current director was thinking that we are an autonomous business school. We are non-profit organization. So we do not have any shareholders, but we have multiple stakeholders. And at this time in 2014, we didn’t want to imagine the future of the school only as the management board of the school, but actually wanted to involve all the stakeholders of the school. So in 2014, we decided to start what we call a divisioning process, which is more a process imported from companies, and to involve all the stakeholders to imagine the future of the school in 2025.
And I’ve been in charge of leading this process, and it has been really powerful. And in 2015, after 18 months of thousands of surveys, interviews, learning experiences abroad, we have defined together with more than 400 people, including the academic staff. And I think it’s quite unique to involve also the academic staff in this collective thinking. And we have defined the vision of the school for 2025 — which was to be a unique international hub, to be change-makers for a better society.
And that was the strategic plan for 2016 until 2021. And now we do the next one.
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