Dean Q&A: INSEAD's New Leader

Dipak Jain had just finished an eight-year stint as dean of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile) when he got a phone call from a member of INSEAD's (INSEAD Full-Time MBA Profile) dean search committee informing him he was on their short list of candidates.At the time, Jain was on a one-year sabbatical and not in the market for a deanship, but in April he agreed to fly to Europe to learn more about the job.Ash clouds from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano prevented him from making the trip over the Atlantic, but the committee pressed him to reschedule the interview for later that spring.Once Jain finally arrived in Paris, the search committee described to him the global vision and mission of INSEAD, which has campuses in France, Singapore, and the Middle East, and an MBA class that hails from more than 80 countries.The pitch intrigued him enough to postpone his plans for a quiet life as an academic in order to accept the dean's position at INSEAD, Bloomberg Businessweek's No.1 ranked international school.

Jain will officially become dean of INSEAD in March, taking over for J. Frank Brown, who is stepping down from the position he has held since 2006. Currently Jain is a professor of enterpreneurial studies and marketing at Kellogg. He was formally introduced to the INSEAD community at the 10th anniversary celebration of the school's Singapore campus on Nov. 12, where he led a discussion on the future of management education in Asia. It's an area that Jain is deeply familiar with; during his time at Kellogg, he expanded the school's ties to Asia and also worked to help launch the Indian School of Business, now one of the leading business school in India.

Bloomberg Businessweek's Alison Damast recently spoke with Jain about his new role and INSEAD's plans to expand its presence in Asia and the Middle East. Here is an edited transcript of their conversation.

It sounds like becoming dean of another business school wasn't what you had originally planned when you left the position at Kellogg last September. What was it about INSEAD that changed your mind?

A lot of people ask me why I'd want to do this again since I've already been a dean. I tell them that very few people get a chance to become dean once, and I am going to do it twice. I took the job because I liked INSEAD's emphasis on diversity, its commitment to research, and its global model in terms of how it is trying to be a business school for the world. INSEAD is the only school in the world that has shown you can create another campus in addition to your own campus with equal vitality and energy. I thought it was very different from what I had seen in the U.S., and I believe in the vision of the school, which is to be the business school for the world.

How did your eight years as the dean of Kellogg prepare you to take on this new role?

The Kellogg experience was instrumental for me even to be considered by the committee and faculty here. Kellogg and INSEAD have a lot in common, and what I have learned at Kellogg will help me in trying to deliver on INSEAD's vision. The INSEAD program is a one-year program, and Kellogg is the only business school in the U.S. among the top schools that also offers a one-year program. It was important that I had some experience running a one-year program, because you need to believe in the product. I thought the passion I had for Kellogg and what INSEAD is aspiring to be are synchronized.

You recently attended INSEAD's annual Leadership Summit Asia, where the school celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Singapore campus. How do you see the campus evolving over the next decade to meet the demands of Asian executives?

Our first task will be to build and expand the Singapore campus, which we will use to increase our footprint in Asia. We will not set up campuses in China and India, because to be global we don't need to have campuses all over the world. What we do want is certain locations where we can practice enough in the region to draw on talent. We're going to invest more in the Singapore campus and use this as a way of creating links with greater China.

What are some of the changes the school has planned for the Singapore campus?

We plan to have more space for faculty offices, classrooms, and student activities. We also want to create space for executive education programs for senior managers. We run advanced management programs three times a year on our Fountainebleau campus, and we would like to have the fourth offering in Singapore once we build the new addition. We're going to have to launch a capital campaign to raise the funds for this. We are getting support from agencies in Singapore, but we'll also be trying to put together some other sort of fundraising initiative.

Why did INSEAD launch an Executive MBA program this fall in Abu Dabhi, and what is the school's vision for the Middle East?

The Middle East is another growth area where there is an acute need for managerial talent. A big expat population is working there, but they will also need some training. We started this program because we believe there are executives in the region who have not had management education when they graduated. We already have something there, but it is not the same size as our Fountainebleau or Singapore campus. We need to get a better understanding of the product we offer in the region, but it could eventually become a big campus.

Are there any plans for INSEAD to develop programs or a campus in the U.S., as some European business schools have recently done?

We cannot be a business school of the world if we don't have a footprint in the U.S., so we are looking for ways to enter the American market. But we are taking this one step at a time. First, we'll build the Singapore campus, and then we'll see what we want to do in this region.

Outside of INSEAD, you are working on a project to help launch a business school for women in Bangladesh that will focus on entrepreneurship and small business management. Why did you feel it was important to get involved in the social projects?

I always tell students they need to think beyond their personal success and do something unique. One day I thought if I'm telling students this, I should practice what I preach. The school in Bangladesh will be for women from such countries as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, and Bhutan, where traditionally women can't go out and get an MBA degree. We have a piece of land, and we will offer a two-year MBA program. The school will start in the 2012-13 [academic] year, and it will be 120 or 130 women. It's not what you'd normally think of as a business school, but we are trying to create a school where people who can't afford it can get a full-quality education taught by world-class academics. I thought it would be a good template, because if the school becomes successful, we can then replicate it in other parts of the world.