Chronicling our network, one story at a time
In July, INSEAD will hit an incredible milestone: As of graduation day, the number of members in our alumni network will surpass 50,000.
Yet as remarkable as that figure is, it doesn’t do justice to the power of our network. Nor does it capture what makes the INSEAD community so extraordinary. You could sense it at this year’s alumni reunions on 22-24 May and 26-28 June, which drew both our younger and older alumni together in Fontainebleau. There’s something intangible that links us together, regardless of geographic distance, industry, background or even graduation year. Strangers become friends and business associates become allies as a result of their shared INSEAD experience. And those connections last a lifetime.
Though we didn’t intend to focus this issue of Salamander on the power of the global network, it has emerged in an organic way. Each of the stories here offer a glimpse into what makes INSEAD’s community unmistakably unique.
Consider, for instance, a story about how Terua Shinato MBA’83J and Professor Randy Carlock became colleagues as a result of their INSEAD ties and joint interest in family business. Years ago, after reading Randy’s book, When Family Businesses Are Best, Terua advocated to bring the book to a Japanese readership — going so far as to translate it and secure a publisher on Randy’s behalf. If it weren’t for Terua, Randy says, the book never would have been published in Japanese and reached a segment that relies on family business for the growth of its economy.
Other stories illustrate how INSEAD’s network often feels like a small, tight-knit community despite the fact that our alumni span the globe. For example, in this issue, Beth Birnbaum MBA’03J, vice president of GrubHub, and Barney Harford MBA’98D, CEO of Orbitz, tell the story of how they were introduced by Professor Karel Cool and later started dating. Now married with two kids, Beth and Barney have even more personal connections to the school: Barney’s sister, Chloe Harford MBA’04D, is also an INSEAD graduate.
As you’ll read, the calibre of INSEAD’s network continues to earn global recognition. This year, INSEAD placed second on the Financial Times’ FT500 CEO list, which ranks business schools worldwide with the greatest number of MBA graduates who are chief executives at an FT500 company. INSEAD also took the number one spot on Business Insider UK’s list, with 12 of our alumni serving as CEOs of Europe’s biggest companies. Finally, PitchBook ranked INSEAD as number seven in its list of the “Top Universities for Venture Capital Backed Entrepreneurs,” making it the highest-ranked non-American business school on the list. You can read more about INSEAD’s philosophy on rankings in this issue.
INSEAD alumni are also making the short list on an individual level. One of our most recent graduates, Vivian Bertseka MBA’11J, was recently recognised as one of the “40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Private Equity” by the Dow Jones & Company’s Financial News. As a director at Generation Management Investment, Vivian is investing and driving the growth of climate-solutions businesses while promoting a more sustainable form of capitalism. She is truly a game changer in the investment industry, and I hope you’ll read more about her in this issue.
Kevin Ryan MBA’90D, chairman of Gilt, is another graduate who’s garnered widespread attention for his strong leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. Dubbed the “godfather of tech” by Fortune magazine, Kevin is a serial entrepreneur who’s launched or led several top web-based companies, including Gilt, 10gen and DoubleClick. Read about how INSEAD’s commitment to disruptive innovation influenced Kevin’s development as a leader and founder.
Also in this issue, we interview Imelda Dunlop MBA’97D, CEO of the Pearl Initiative, a non-profit organisation that’s focused on raising standards of corporate accountability, governance and transparency in the Arab world. An expert in Middle East markets, she has created a unique model for the private sector that has global relevance and widespread impact. Imelda shares how INSEAD’s international community broadened her global perspective and uniquely equipped her for the demands of her current role.
The strength of our global network wouldn’t be possible without the work of Sven Kado MBA’72, former president of the INSEAD Alumni Association. Sven walks us through his personal journey with INSEAD, which can be traced back to 1961, and explains how it informed his approach to bringing alumni closer to the school. My deepest appreciation goes out to Sven for his dedication to INSEAD and the long-lasting impact he’s made on our alumni community.
In other school news, I’m pleased to announce that INSEAD is making significant investments to improve its career services and provide better professional development opportunities for students and alumni. We recognise the important role that INSEAD must play in your career trajectory — both as a student and graduate — and are working to ensure that the Career Development Centre supports you every step of the way.
This issue may only make mention of a handful of members in INSEAD’s network, but I applaud each and every one of you. Your personal character, professional achievements and commitment to INSEAD have collectively built what I believe is the strongest alumni network in the world. Together, we are truly a force for good.