INSEAD Chairman Dr. Andreas Jacobs On Executive Education, Entrepreneurship And The Middle East
“INSEAD is the business school for the world- the only one; with the most diverse number of students, faculty, on three campuses. My role is to govern the school, to help it growing to the next level- in size and quality,” says Dr. Andreas Jacobs, Chairman, INSEAD. Having taken up this reputable position in January last year from Franz B. Humer, Jacobs admits that a lot has changed since then, and today’s dynamic higher education ecosystem faces several challenges. INSEAD’s game plan, he says, is to focus on executing a digital strategy to get through the hurdles. “This is a powerful tool to complement our executive education,” he says. “It will never replace on-campus experience in any generation, but it will complete programs such as executive education in between the on campus phases.” Speaking about the need to keep innovating when it comes to curriculum of business schools, Jacob says, “At INSEAD, we deeply believe in diversity of culture and languages. Innovation is an equally important strategic pillar for INSEAD. We constantly adapt our programs and courses to new challenges in economics and business.”
Jacobs brings over two decades of entrepreneurship experience with him to INSEAD. Since 1992, he has been an independent entrepreneur along with holding majority and minority stakes in several large corporations- just to name a few, he currently serves as Executive Chairman of Jacobs Holding AG and Chairman of Barry Callebaut. Besides his executive functions, Jacobs has also been an entrepreneur/investor in GENUI, a private investment firm established by a group entrepreneurs, in Hamburg, Germany, since 2014. “We are investing in European classic businesses, where one of the entrepreneurs is taking the strategic lead in each of our investments,” Jacobs explains. “In the past twelve months, we invested in four well known businesses where we believe we can make a difference. With our experience to develop, grow and drive businesses and markets. We have a great network, which allows us to have proprietary access.”
Can you talk about how INSEAD encourages entrepreneurship among its students? Do these programs exist in your Abu Dhabi campus as well?
INSEAD has an enormous nucleus for entrepreneurship. A large number of our MBA’s leave the school as entrepreneurs, starting their own business. I recently came to the UAE to teach our MBA class about entrepreneurship, about developing and using your strength to help your family, your home, your country, the world. I deeply believe in the value of education- never forget, my father and my siblings started our own university in our hometown, Jacobs University; one of the leading schools in Germany. We are committed to help the world through education. My drive for INSEAD is part of it. For me, INSEAD changed my life, and I am grateful to give something back.
How important is the Abu Dhabi campus to INSEAD, and its global agenda? What about the Middle East region has been particularly attractive for INSEAD, and in your personal opinion as a businessman, what are your thoughts on the region's business and entrepreneurship scene?
INSEAD’s strategy is to be the most global, diverse business school in the world. We quickly understood that you have to be local, in regional proximity, to reach out to everyone around the planet. This is why we opened our Singapore campus, which is today equal in size to our Fontainebleau campus. For the same reason we opened the campus in Abu Dhabi. We know, we must be present in the United Arab Emirates, to attract the key talents and companies in the Arab world, to address the needs for business people between Istanbul and Durban, between India and Morocco. For us, the UAE are the center of business in the Middle East and Africa. The support from companies in the region is tremendous. Consequently, we started teaching our flagship program, the MBA, in Abu Dhabi, which is a great success. Consequently, we are discussing to grow our footprint in Abu Dhabi.