Insead’s role in Abu Dhabi’s economic life

Insead's new chairmain of the institution's board of directors says collaboration between industry and academia can result in a coordinated approach to nurture new talent.
Andreas Jacobs is the newly-appointed Chairman of the Insead board of directors. Courtesy Carsten Dammann / Insead
Andreas Jacobs is the newly-appointed Chairman of the Insead board of directors. Courtesy Carsten Dammann / Insead

Andreas Jacobs is the newly appointed chairman of the Insead board of directors. He holds a number of directorships in Europe, principally in food and beverage companies. He was previously a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, and has an MBA from Insead plus several law degrees. Here, he discusses Insead’s role in Abu Dhabi’s economic life.

What should individuals with families and children take into account when thinking about business schools?

Business school is, of course, challenging for students who are balancing family life with studies and potentially a career as well. However, by investing in further education, students are ultimately investing in their families’ future. It is by no means easy to manage all of these commitments simultaneously, and a participant must think realistically about their ability to take on additional responsibilities before enrolling in a business school or academic programme. Flexibility and effective time management are needed to take care of a family while studying for an MBA. I am a supporter of continuing education. I pursued an MBA from Insead, which was a life-changing experience for me. In an ever-changing world, everything is about moving forward and exploring new horizons. In such a dynamic environment, business education is vital.

Any plans for further expansion in the UAE?

We continue our distinctive strategy of growing as the Middle East market grows, with no compromise in quality, nor standards relative to other campuses, and without depending on an ongoing subsidisation model. We are expanding our executive education offerings in the Middle East in two areas for which we see increasing demand – governance and leadership. The Value Creation for Owners and Directors programme provides business owners and directors with skills that will enable them to incorporate the concept of value creation in a more systematic, principled and disciplined approach.

Why is the UAE an important market for your institution?

Insead’s campus in Abu Dhabi was established to better understand and contribute to the development of a region, which is growing in significance through in-depth research of important business topics of both regional and global interest. Abu Dhabi has the right mix of openness to the world and economic energy and it is also very well connected. Businessmen travel from all over the world for our executive development programmes held at the Abu Dhabi campus. It is a city that reflects the local culture, but at the same time is very open internationally and on an upward economic trajectory. We have a strong partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, and we’ve found that partnership to be very productive.

The UAE has become one of the most-influential business centres in the world, and has been transformed into a metropolis in a short time. It attracts people from around the world, which makes for a diverse business environment. The future is bright for this young country, and it is likely to grow in prominence in the years to come.

While gaps in workforce skills exist within the emerging markets, the UAE is moving in the right direction. Future prosperity will require greater alignment between government, business and education, but collaborations between industry and academia can result in a coordinated approach to nurture new talent and actually become an incubator for future leaders of the global economy, driving UAE’s continued growth.

What does the future of business education look like?

Business as a Force for Good was the topic of our Global Business Leaders Conference, which took place over a month ago in Abu Dhabi, and there is no better way to describe how I see the future of business education. Business is a force for growth, prosperity and the betterment of society. Business schools ought to learn some lessons from the financial crisis. We should be paying more attention to the purpose of management education, and purpose should come before performance, as the purpose of business should be a force for the better good.

Closing the skills gap is one of the main challenges that business schools face today. They need to align their programmes to meet market needs and lay the foundations of a sustainable platform that can boost business competitiveness. At the same time, we face the challenge of creating an environment that reflects and boosts the aspirations of tomorrow’s responsible business leaders.

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Published: December 30, 2014 04:00 AM


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