Change is the only constant in life, as the events of the past year have reminded us. The Covid-19 pandemic has forever altered our ways of living and working, ushering in a new reality that brings both promise and uncertainty.
Change can be unsettling, but it can also lead to better outcomes. Consider, for instance, how the pandemic has shaken up the legacy model of higher education. As I recently wrote in INSEAD Knowledge, the rapid shift to virtual learning has opened doors to new modes of teaching and raised questions about how we should educate the next generation of students. One of the takeaways from this experience is that face-to-face interactions still matter, and that Zoom lectures can complement but not replace the informal learning that happens between people in impromptu ways. At INSEAD, we are currently exploring how we can leverage new content delivery options to reconstruct how we teach, striking the right balance between vertical learning (e.g., via faculty lectures) and horizontal learning (e.g. via conversations among students).
As you’ll read in this issue of Salamander, we are already making great progress in this space. Moving classes online has encouraged us to take risks and experiment with technology, work that has both accelerated our digital transformation and elevated our digital expertise. Long term, our ambition is to blend the best of in-person learning with the best of online learning, creating a hybrid model that positions INSEAD as a leader in tech-enabled management education.
We have experienced many other changes this year, some of which are highlighted in this issue. Sadia Khan MBA’95D, our longest-serving and extraordinarily dedicated President of the INSEAD Alumni Association (IAA), announced that she would pass the baton to Frans Blom MBA’90D after six years of service. The National Alumni Associations (NAAs) adapted to the pandemic by changing how they engage with alumni, offering online activities such as cooking lessons, career webinars and wine tastings. INSEAD and the IAA teamed up to launch iLink, a peer-to-peer advising and mentoring platform that will help alumni and students support one another on their career journey.
Of course, the pandemic has not just been a lever for change. It has also brought pain and hardship. Our community has suffered great losses this year, with both INSEAD alumni and family members of alumni passing away due to COVID-19. One of these alumni, Cees van Lede MBA’67, was among our most respected and loyal supporters. As former Chair of the INSEAD Board, Cees was an inspiration to his classmates and colleagues, someone who was always willing to share advice and lend a hand to others. To Cees’ family, and every other family mourning the loss of a loved one, please know that we extend our deepest condolences and grieve alongside you.
These are challenging times, but none of us have to face them alone. Please remember that, as a school and as a community, we are here for you—in this season of change, and always.