An update on recent – and future – news from INSEAD’s Career Development Centre…
“If there’s one thing all INSEAD alumni have in common, it’s that they know how to cope with change and uncertainty,” says Marie Courtois. “And that’s what the job market prizes above all.” Many EMBA graduates will remember Marie well from her role as their dedicated careers advisor. Now she’s heading up a new team within INSEAD’s Career Development Centre for “Working Professionals”. The aim is to add more structure to the School’s services for alumni and Executive Degree participants, whose needs are very similar – yet very different from those of full-time MBA students.
“Distance-learning” career management
But do alumni with years of experience and a global network really need careers support? “Don’t underestimate the power of career coaching,” says Pam McNeill, another member of the team. “Especially for the all-important self-reflection stage that should precede every career move. It’s not enough just to ring the nearest head-hunter, particularly if you’re contemplating a significant change.”
Hence the service launched last year by the Career Development Centre. Designed to complement National Alumni Association provision, it is built on a distance-learning model.
Components include: an online bank of career management resources, many of them interactive; a range of specially commissioned video interviews with alumni; and access to more than 300 job postings on INSEAD’s CareerGlobe job portal.
Perhaps most important of all, however, is the one-on-one support available. There is now a team of 30 qualified career coaches across the world and all fully up-to-speed with the needs of INSEAD alumni. They offer individual guidance by Skype – including a free consultation to determine the individual’s needs. Those who decide to continue get three initial hours at a specially negotiated INSEAD rate.
A new world of career support
Of course, support for alumni is just one of many advances made in INSEAD careers provision over the years. No doubt, alumni of earlier vintages will remember the small MBA Career Management Services office: a handful of staff in a French basement, largely focused on Europe. But from the turn of the millennium onwards there was a period of dramatic and transformational change, as the Asia Campus grew. By 2014 the renamed Career Development Centre had 30 staff across our three campuses – and was serving 1,300+ students on five degree programmes, as well as close to 50,000 alumni throughout the world. There were suites of video-linked interview rooms and specialist advisors for all industries and geographies. The term “GAFA” (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) had entered the student lexicon, alongside “MBB” (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) and graduates were securing jobs in 65+ countries every year.
Let’s be honest, though. There were still complaints from students.
To some extent, dissatisfaction with careers provision is inevitable. All leading business schools report the same phenomenon. And, if participants could be spoon-fed with limitless advice or hand-held through every twist of their job search, not only would top institutions worldwide go bankrupt; their graduates would also be unemployable. After all, most MBA recruiters are looking for “self-starters”.
Nonetheless, early in 2014, Dean Ilian Mihov, and Dean of Degree Programmes, Urs Peyer, recognised that it was time for a major strategic review of INSEAD’s career provision. And who better to lead the project than Graham Hastie MBA’95J? A former president of the UK National Alumni Association, Graham had previously turned around the careers team at London Business School and worked for many years as an external advisor to other leading business schools.
New investment for a world-leading service
As Interim Head of Career Development at INSEAD, Graham set about canvassing the opinions of students, recruiters, alumni, faculty and staff. He also led a qualitative and quantitative benchmarking exercise with other world-leading schools.
The conclusion was that significant reorganisation and investment was required if INSEAD was to offer a truly 21st century service. And the restructuring is already well underway. Ultimately, up to 17 permanent positions will be created and an additional €1 million will be invested in the annual Career Development Centre budget.
“The good news,” says Graham, “is that INSEAD’s Career Development Centre now has an improved relationship with students and an excellent recruitment record for a one-year programme.” As evidence, a record 98% of the 2014 graduating classes responded to the three-months-out survey and 90% of job-seekers had received at least one offer – which is an excellent result for a one-year programme in today’s MBA talent market. “We also have an impressive list of employer contacts,” adds Graham, “and deep, long-lasting relationships with many of them.”
In practical terms, this means all incoming MBA students will receive personalised support – complete with individual career development plans – from before the programme starts until their first day in a new job. Two-thirds of the new posts will be for fully qualified career advisers, who will put this new strategy into action.
Those alumni who recruit at INSEAD may also notice changes, as other new roles will focus on outreach to employers. “We’ll focus particularly on North America, especially the East Coast of the USA, where we see growing demand from students,” explains Graham. “And we still have work to do in the Middle East, building on our pilot activities there, which include a highly successful career forum in Dubai.”
These are clearly exciting times for the Career Development Centre – and they’re not over yet. Graham has just recruited a permanent Global Director to replace him in September, as well as an additional senior staff member to head up activities in Fontainebleau. “But the final piece of the jigsaw will come from the ongoing MBA curriculum review,” he says. “This should integrate rigorous careers education into the programme.”
As for his own next career move, Graham has recently been appointed to the position of Assistant Dean, Degree Programmes and will be responsible for overseeing further developments at INSEAD in years to come.