An interview with Peter Lorange, Dean, IMD

The Quality of the Faculty

Is at the Top

An interview with Peter Lorange,

Dean, IMD

About IMD

IMD was formed through the merger in January 1990 of two renowned international management education centers created respectively by Alcan and Nestlé: IMI Geneva (1946) and IMEDE Lausanne (1957). From this unique history IMD has developed a strong and clear focus on working in partnership with businesses today and for the future. A global perspective, industry-focused and results-oriented.
IMD is one of the world's leading business schools with over 50 years' experience in developing the leadership capabilities of international business executives at every stage of their careers.

Could you give us an overview of your MBA programs? (Full-Time and Executive MBA)

The Full-Time program is an intensive 10-month experience. It includes three streams that run throughout the program: leadership, entrepreneurship and networks. These streams are supported by building blocks (core) courses from January — June, an international management module, international consulting projects, advanced core (electives) courses and the IMD Annual conference.

One important element of the program is a leadership experience trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a European country disrupted by conflict and trying to get its economy back on track. The objectives of the trip are twofold. The first objective is to understand the challenges facing the country and to develop ideas for the government about how it can enhance its approach to attracting foreign investment. Participants are divided into project teams, each assigned to assess a specific sector of the BiH economy. The second objective is for each person to gain a deeper understanding of a situation where, as future leaders, they may take a proactive, broader responsibility for society.

Leaders in the 21st century also must have an understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship. Through venture projects with startup companies, participants “live the startup experience.” MBA teams must deliver a business plan, which may be a full-blown plan used for raising funds or a more specific plan addressing one particular issue, entry strategy, for example. In these venture projects participants learn about the specific needs of entrepreneurs and develop the capability to be entrepreneurial boosters in the companies they will lead.

Finally, IMD has introduced Dynamic Learning Networks: networks of executives collaborating virtually to create knowledge about a topic of importance and interest. DLN project teams facilitate rapid knowledge creation through challenging discussions, experience exchange, third party expert contribution and special events, which help our future leaders develop skills in building and motivating a network remotely.

The IMD Executive MBA gives proven, high-performing managers the skills, tools and confidence to lead their companies. Most of the learning is live, hands on, and immediately useable in the participants organizations. The program begins with two five-week modules that provide a good grounding in all areas of business: the interplay between business functions and their integration into the wider context of global corporate strategy. Leadership, teamwork, an understanding of the functions, business unit execution and corporate strategic thinking are key themes. This is followed by an intense year of work, of which all but eight weeks are carried out while they're on the job. While continuing to work for their companies, participants complete a series of assignments for the program by using their own companies as laboratories. They apply what they've learned at IMD directly in their companies. They spend a week at IMD immersed in strategy and finance. They complete 3 weeks of discovery expeditions to centers of action and excellence around the world, learning about nurturing innovation, managing in the knowledge economy, understanding entrepreneurship, and succeeding in emerging markets. These weeks are lessons in how to investigate new trends and ideas and how to evaluate their relevance for one's own business. The final four weeks of the program are spent together with IMD's full time MBA students in a series of electives that give them the opportunity to go into further depth in areas of interest.

What is different about your MBA programs and your school's approach to business education?

IMD has made a strategic choice to focus on executive development. This means that we solely address the needs of practicing executives, typically within the age range of late 20s up to and including the late 50s. Our MBA and EMBA programs are for such practicing executives, in the case of MBA the average age is around 30 years old; in the case of EMBA around 40 years old. We use the same professorial team to teach in our MBA programs as in all our executive development programs. Our task breaking research (IMD has a higher research budget than most other business schools) constantly leads to new materials being introduced into our MBA and EMBA programs, which are then typically introduced into other executive programs. Thus, much of the innovative trust that IMD is so world renowned for has its basic source in our MBA programs. All in all I should like to stress that our MBA program activities are indeed a central part of our holistic executive development activities within IMD. It is all hanging together.

What is the profile of your participants?

The IMD MBA is based on a unique mix of highly talented and motivated participants, each of who is a key source of learning. It is deliberately limited to 90 young but experienced managers with an average of seven years of work experience — a total of 600+ years per class. In 2002, 54 percent of work experience was from industry, 18 percent from new economy and entrepreneurship, 17 percent from consulting and 11 percent from financial services. On average, participants speak 4 languages and 90% have worked outside their home country.

The IMD MBA class averages 35 different nationalities from Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania. The average age is 30 and the educational backgrounds add to the diversity of the whole: 35 percent engineering, 21 percent business and commerce, 20 percent natural sciences, 10 percent finance and economics, 10 percent social sciences and 4 percent humanities.

As for the Executive MBA the participants are executives with an average of 14 years of experience and an average age of 39. The current class of 74 participants represents 25 countries, and covers a wide range of industries, functions, and companies. About 15% are at the president/ceo/managing director/general manager level with another 10% who are COO/CFO. They are successful, fast-rising, internationally experienced managers. Motivated, hard working, curious and intelligent.

What is your approach of E-learning in your Executive MBA?

The IMD Executive MBA program is part of the participants daily lives even when they are not on campus or on discovery expeditions. There is a combination of individual and team-based work carried out at a distance, with bulletin boards and chatrooms. The Executive MBA Learning@IMD website is a meeting place for the class while they are scattered around the globe. They share learnings, ideas, best practice. The site is information central throughout the period of the programs, and after classes graduate, they typically choose to maintain the site so that they can continue to benefit from the strong community of learning they developed throughout the program.

Isn't the size of your MBA promotions an obstacle to build a larger network?

On the contrary, we believe that it is not the size of the network that is important but rather the quality, which is fully consistent with our personalized non-mass market approach. We do not limit the alumni network to only IMD MBA. During the year at IMD, MBAs meet, interact and even attend classes along with many of the executives participating in IMD executive education programs. This is a feature unique to IMD and allows the MBA's access to both middle and senior level executives, as well as their MBA colleagues, on a regular basis.

Do you think that your collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management (MIT) will also include a collaboration in the near future at the MBA level?

Clearly the collaboration with Sloan is one which will increase, provided that the present collaborative efforts, which are focused on developing three joint one-week executive programs, are successful. For instance, we are already seeing joint research among Professors from our two schools taking place. The program directors from Sloan and IMD for one of the three executives programs that have been developed are now indeed working on a joint book. This is encouraging. We expect Professors from Sloan to be involved in the various MBA/EMBA program electives on the teaching side, similarly we expect IMD professors to be involved when it comes to selective teaching in Sloan's MBA program. We also expect exchanges when it comes to project work and the e-learning activities. However, both Sloan's MBA program and ours are heavily structured so there is not much time for formal student exchange. This is therefore not in the plans for our alliance. On an overall basis, both MBA programs will of course benefit from the joint knowledge development that will take place as part of the alliance.

Do your students get any type of practical experience during their studies?

IMD EMBA participants are required to perform a series of assignments designed by IMD, tailored by each student to suit his or her company situation, EMBA participants look at their companies from a number of new perspectives, through a process of learning designed to create value for the company before the participant graduates, meanwhile raising the visibility throughout the organization for the EMBA participant. Participants compare learnings across companies and industries (all the while respecting confidentiality), to capture new perspectives and trade best practice as part of the EMBA experience.  

What is your school doing to remain at the forefront of business and management thinking?

We are doing several things. First of all, we have an exceptionally high proportion of our school's resources going into research. Our belief is that an active research behind every faculty member at IMD is necessary, so that they can project “fresh thinking” into the classrooms. Our research tends to be more directly practitioner oriented then what one would typically find in more classically academically focused schools. Much of our research is drawn from our close links with more than 160 leading global corporations, which form our global learning network. This indeed represents another way for IMD to stay on the cutting edge. We have an exceptionally close relationship with leading corporations from all over the world. This learning network is an active one, with learning going both ways. Our professors are indeed part of cutting edge thinking, representing the best of management practice from all over the world. Our faculty of 54 full time professors is recruited from the best sources worldwide. There is a large supply of potential faculty members who want to join our school. We typically only ask a very small fraction of these candidates to actually join. The professors that are part of our faculty are evaluated on an annual basis, and they need to demonstrate their ability to provide value to IMD and its students every year. Professors who no longer provide such value are asked to leave. IMD is the only leading business school which does not have a tenure process in place for its faculty members. A major advantage of this is to ensure that the quality of the faculty is at the top. Finally, IMD's financial situation is very strong. We have no debts and have the resources to undertake what it takes to attract the best professors, carry out the research that is appropriate and also invest in the best physical facilities, including the latest when it comes to technology. All in all, we are definitely positioned in an excellent way to remain at the very forefront.

About Peter Lorange

Dr. Peter Lorange has been the President of IMD since July 1, 1993. He is Professor of Strategy and holds the Nestlé Chair. He was formerly President of the Norwegian School of Management in Oslo. His areas of special interest are global strategic management, strategic planning and entrepreneurship for growth. Dr. Lorange received his undergraduate education from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business, was awarded an MA degree in Operations Management from Yale University, and his Doctor of Business Administration degree from Harvard University. He serves on the board of directors of several corporations including: ISS — International Service Systems, Christiania Eiendomsselskap, S. Ugelstad Shipowners, StreamServe AB, Pharmasoft AB, Intentia International AB, and Preferred Global Health.



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