A Year
of Firsts

When we look back, 2016 will most likely be remembered at INSEAD as “a year of firsts”. From a “triple first” in the Financial Times rankings to the grandeur of graduation at the Château de Fontainebleau, this year INSEAD brimmed with inspiration, innovation and new digital ways to capture it all.


Topping the Rankings

In January, INSEAD became the first and only business school to achieve a “triple first” in the globally recognised Financial Times (FT) business school rankings. Our MBA, Tsinghua-INSEAD EMBA (TIEMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) all ranked #1 in their respective categories during the 2015/2016 academic year.

To achieve this remarkable recognition for our MBA programme, INSEAD scored high across all the Financial Times parameters: alumni career progress, research and diversity.

Specifically, our alumni’s success was evident as measured by: the salaries of graduates, the percentage of increase in salaries post-graduation and return on investment for the degree. This academic year, Forbes Magazine also recognised INSEAD for having “the highest return on investment of any MBA programme in the world”.

Academic excellence, the foundation of our school, also contributed to INSEAD landing the highest spot in the FT ranking. Our faculty’s impactful research and placement of our PhD students in top-tier institutions were indicators for this achievement.

As for diversity, since its founding, INSEAD has provided students with an international environment unmatched by any other top business schools. Our alumni are known worldwide for the informed global perspectives they bring to businesses and academic institutions.

At the celebration of the rankings, Dean Ilian Mihov congratulated and thanked everyone who contributes to INSEAD’s success: “This recognition is a testament to the efforts and accomplishments of the entire INSEAD community: our successful alumni, our world-class faculty and exceptional staff who deliver a transformational experience for all students and participants. We are grateful to our dedicated alumni, donors and friends around the world, whose contributions and expertise continue to take our school to even greater heights.”

INSEAD is the first business school with a one-year MBA programme to place #1 in the history of the Financial Times Global MBA ranking. Also, our school is one of only five institutions ever to top this ranking. We are proud to share this distinction with Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School and London Business School.

Dean Mihov kicked off celebrations that streamed across our three campuses
Bracket Dean Mihov kicked off celebrations that streamed across our three campuses
Students holding a sign with #1 on Students holding a sign with #1 on

Graduation at the Château de Fontainebleau

For the first time in more than 50 years, MBA graduation was held at the Château de Fontainebleau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and INSEAD’s original home.

Described as a “truly magnificent ceremony”, the graduation of the Class of July 2016 generated much bonhomie and pride. One guest commented that we now have “established a new INSEAD tradition on top of a historic one”.

Graduation began with a procession of faculty accompanied by alumni from the Classes of 1961 and 1966 who wore gowns with gold hoods to signify their alumni status. The MBA graduates also donned gowns with INSEAD green hoods — each ornamented with a Salamander brooch to mark the transition from student to alumna/alumnus. The excitement in the air was palpable at this glamourous event. The class fully celebrated that they were graduating from “the best business school in the world” and about to launch their global careers.

With its emotional link between past and present, graduation also exceeded expectations in terms of social media coverage. More than 5,000 people watched the live-streamed ceremony. Excitement built as graduates, family and friends posted photos with the hashtag #inseadgrad. Close to one million impressions were posted with this hashtag.

Claude JanssenHonorary Chairman, INSEAD
Bracket Claude Janssen Honorary Chairman, INSEAD
Kemi Onabanjo’s valedictorian speech
Bracket Kemi Onabanjo’s valedictorian speech, viewed online more than 125,000 times
Students in their gowns Students celebrating Female Student celebrating with a glass of champagne
Urs Peyer, Dean of Degree Programmes congratulates the class
Bracket Urs Peyer, Dean of Degree Programmes congratulates the class
Students clapping at graduation
Lady with family holiding her graduation pack
The Class of 2016 July gathered on the Chateau’s famous horseshoe-shaped staircase, designed for Henry II
Bracket The Class of July 2016 gathered on the Château de Fontainebleau’s famous horseshoe-shaped staircase, designed for Henri II

Creative Garage

In April 2016, INSEAD launched the Creative Garage on the Asia campus under the direction of Manuel Sosa, INSEAD Associate Professor of Technology and Operations Management. This innovative workspace was adapted to enhance creativity and promote collaboration.

In its first year, the Creative Garage has elevated offerings across the school’s Degree and Executive programmes and established a platform to forge links with the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem in Asia and beyond.

For more than ten years, INSEAD has partnered with ArtCenter College of Design in California — one of the most influential design schools in the world — to educate future business leaders in the “art and science of integrating design and business thinking”. INSEAD’s “Creative-Business Platform” also paved the way for establishing the Creative Garage.

By providing the ideal space to partner creativity with business, Creative Garage helps organisations understand and master the competitive advantage that design can offer, fuelling the innovation they need for sustainable growth.

Constructed with the support of Gary Wang (MBA’02J) and Henrich Baumann (MBA'72) and designed in collaboration with Eight Inc., the Creative Garage is currently used for classes, collaborative research and workshops, and as a space to host clients while co-designing programme curricula.

With its unlimited potential as a resource for innovative education, fundraising, recruiting and connecting with the entrepreneurial community, the full value of this nascent space has yet to be realised.

A Tech, Media and Telecoms Club team meeting in the Creative Garage
Bracket A Tech, Media and Telecoms Club team meeting in the Creative Garage
A Tech, Media and Telecoms Club
Part classroom, part workshop, part research centre, Creative Garage helps people feel act and think differently.
Bracket Part classroom, part workshop, part research centre, Creative Garage helps people feel, act and think differently.

Website Revamp

Functional, simple, authentic, appealing and accessible – these were the guiding principles behind the school’s new website which launched in April 2016.

The site, creation of Axel Tagliavini, Director of Digital Communications, and his team, has to showcase multiple aspects of the INSEAD experience to a diverse audience including prospective students, corporations, potential donors and partners. It delivers – the site is now the ultimate shop window and provides visitors with an interactive, responsive and personalised experience.

With mobile Internet usage increasingly outweighing desktop browsing, the site was designed for mobile devices first and foremost, and adopts a highly visual, intuitive lay-out, integrated with social media platforms. Enhancing and streamlining the user experience involved reducing the 20,000 plus pages of the old site down to the 4,000 now displayed.

A robust and modern website is clearly imperative for a school of INSEAD’s calibre. Nevertheless, the statistics are worth repeating: more than 80% of applications to the school are made online and the site attracts over 40,000 views a day.

Screen shot of Insead Website - Open Online Programmes
Screenshot of the Insead Website on a mobile
Bracket Streamlined content delivers a more dynamic and flexible user experience
Screenshot of the Insead website on a tablet

Middle East Campus

INSEAD’s Middle East campus also experienced significant “firsts” this year, by conducting its first full residential MBA period and hosting the Biannual Faculty Retreat.

Held in the United Arab Emirates cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the MBA residential option, launched in January 2016, had 115 applicants competing for 45 places.

For many students, it was their first Middle East experience, while others saw the residency as a chance to deepen their knowledge of business opportunities in the region and become acquainted with the culture. Highly successful, this new offering created novel opportunities for students to build global networks and broaden career options.

During their two-month stay, students worked on “Live Action Projects”, reporting to senior management of prominent organisations in the region. Leveraging knowledge from their core courses, students analysed issues of strategic importance to their client companies. They presented their findings at the Talent Networking Forum, attended by 400 delegates including representatives from 55 Middle East companies, local recruiters and INSEAD students and alumni working in the region.

In February 2016, 80 faculty members attended the Faculty Retreat at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort near the school’s campus in Abu Dhabi. Described by many as “the best retreat ever”, the itinerary included briefings, tours and presentations from external stakeholders to update everyone on the Middle East campus project. Faculty discussed the new MBA curriculum, other Degree Programme initiatives and INSEAD’s strategy in the region.

Global Business Leaders Conference 2015
Bracket Global Business Leaders Conference 2015
Faculty Retreat in Abu Dhabi
Talent Networking Forum 2016
Bracket From bottom:Talent Networking Forum 2016,Faculty Retreat in Abu Dhabi

Sustainability Report

In 2016, INSEAD launched its first public Sustainability Report in accordance with the G4 Global Reporting Initiative’s guidelines. This report reflects the increasing importance sustainability plays in the school’s educational programmes and research output. The report also focuses on sustainability in financial management, governance and day-to-day operations.

By making public key sustainability indicators of the school’s activities and highlighting specific, measurable and time-bound goals for the future, INSEAD aims to raise its accountability and performance to become an ever-more sustainable organisation. The sustainability reporting cycle is intended to become annual and welcomes feedback.

In 2014/2015, sustainability-related output accounted for about one-fifth of our total research output and external research funding. Courses focused on sustainability were a compulsory part of the MBA and Global EMBA curricula and included in the school’s Executive Education portfolio.

Sustainability Executive Roundtables, meanwhile, brought together senior alumni, industry experts and faculty to discuss issues such as “Sustainability as a Driver of Operational Excellence” (September 2014) and “Challenges and Opportunities for Individuals and Organisations” (June 2015).

Operations-wise, the third phase of the Singapore campus development, completed in 2014/2015, was designed around sustainability criteria, while carbon footprint assessments revealed an 8.2% reduction in annual CO2 emissions on the Europe campus. Further reductions are expected as a range of energy-efficiency projects, now being piloted or at roll-out stage, come into effect.

Photovoltaic cells producing solar electricity on INSEAD’s Asia campus
Bracket Photovoltaic cells producing solar electricity on INSEAD’s Asia campus
Green roof Landscaping.
Picture of bicycle seats
Bracket From green roof landscaping to encouraging cycling, INSEAD is striving to become an ever-more sustainable organisation