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INSEAD: Economic policy needs creativity

BEIRUT: Economic and geopolitical uncertainties have become so entrenched in today’s everyday life that it is high time business and economic planning become unconstrained, said the dean of INSEAD, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate business schools.

“The world will never be ready,” visiting dean Dipak Jain told The Daily Star Friday. “One has to anticipate the complexity of this world and keep coming up with creative plans.

“The right time is when you are ready,” he added.

Jain explained business plans ought not to be governed by falling or increasing oil prices or political events, although he admits that unrest usually slows down business.

But he argued that crises, whether in the economic or political sector, should be seen as “a bend not an end.”

Jain added that INSEAD provides its students with the proper mechanisms to deal with obstacles that might get in their way.

“We are in the business of constructing, shaping, and training the leaders of tomorrow and we give them the tools to deal with the complexity of this world,” he said.

The newly appointed Jain is currently in Beirut for meetings with INSEAD alumni, including Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati whom he visited earlier Friday, and to promote the Executive MBA program which is offered by his school.

While the meeting with Mikati did not specifically explore the prospects of opening an INSEAD branch in Beirut, Jain said talks focused on means to establish productive cooperation between the leading business school and Lebanon.

“The meeting with Prime Minister -designate Mikati was a pleasant one,” said Jain.

“It was like somebody opening the door for you and saying this is not the only meeting we are going to have.”

Lebanon has ranked among the top five nationalities of admitted students at INSEAD. The first Lebanese MBA participant graduated in 1961, and all promotions since then have included Lebanese students, without exception.

Currently, 252 INSEAD alumni reside in Lebanon, according to figures provided by the university’s Lebanon alumni chapter.

According to Jain, INSEAD cannot keep creating campuses. The university currently operates three campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

But INSEAD ultimately seeks to cooperate with Lebanese universities by developing joint programs. “They can provide the hardware, i.e. the campus and we can provide the software i.e. the expertise,” said Jain.

The INSEAD dean does not hide his admiration for Lebanese youth, and said they own the “required ingredients” to succeed.

“The crux of education is intellect, and the Lebanese are well-known for that,” said Jain, adding that the Lebanese people have proven to be major entrepreneurs.

Particularly keen on disseminating information about the Executive MBA program offered by his school, Jain delivered a lecture Friday at a hotel in Beirut entitled “Entrepreneurship and innovation in the new economy.”

The lecture shed light on the types of new and innovative entrepreneurial ventures that should be appropriate in the current climate of economic and social structural changes.

These topics are examined in detail by the Executive MBA which aims at developing the leadership potential of students, while enabling them to pursue their current careers.

Executive MBA program dean Javier Gimeno, who is also in Beirut, said the course targeted experienced executives, adding that it was designed for people who have extensive work experience but wish to pursue their studies while working.

He added that the typical profile would be someone in their mid-thirties, working as a medium or senior manager in their organization.

Executive MBA students sit for the same core courses as their fellows completing a full-time MBA but they get more exposure to leadership and management skills.

“We give them extensive training on how to integrate various topics and skills,” said Gimeno, who encouraged Lebanese to apply for the program.

Gimeno added that INSEAD’s Executive MBA also forms the world’s future leaders. “The Executive MBA … also has a political nature because it trains people in a position of responsibility,” he said.

Jain said that INSEAD welcomes enthusiastic students. “People with passion come to INSEAD and we give them a set of skills for life,” he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 02, 2011, on page 4.

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