Reflections on the Alumni Forum

This weekend I was in Geneva to attend my fifth INSEAD Alumni Forum! It is always a pleasure to connect with our vibrant alumni community, business leaders and academia and learn about the latest trends. This year’s theme was “Leading with Purpose”. Here is the Forum Agenda

The forum gathered +500 participants and +50 speakers at Hotel President Wilson. During the networking break, one of our alum (a Swiss lawyer) emphasised the historical importance of this place and said:

Big ideas are cooked in Geneva and served in UN in New York”.

We were enjoying the sunshine and looking at boats on the calm lake– little did we know that most would be ravaged by a deadly storm within hours.   

This made me reflect on climate action, part of the Social Development Goals (SDGs) of UN, which are vastly discussed at the Forum. Here are the SDG's.

Climate change was also an important part of the Forum’s closing speech of Dean Ilian Mihov.  A macroeconomics professor himself, Ilian referred to William Nordhaus who received the Nobel prize in 2018 "for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis". Here is the home page of Nordhaus. Here is Wikipedia

The Dean also emphasised the need for a new social contract and new norms as well as the need to accelerate the impact and pace of change. Here is my key takeaway:

INSEAD is uniquely positioned to reach out to +1000 young people coming from +100 countries every year. INSEAD values tolerance, inclusion and diversity. We believe that education should be global; we do not want to be a national business school. We would like to increase awareness to provide a concrete framework for management. Innovation mostly comes from the middle management and not from the top. All managers need to change their minds to do business in a different way and react with empathy to societal change.

Otherwise, it is like the myth of Sisyphus, where one leader is trying to push change management and when he is replaced, everything starts from zero all over again. That’s why INSEAD launched Hoffman Global Institute for Business and Society with the leadership of André Hoffman (MBA alum)”. 

I am looking forward to welcoming the next generation of INSEAD talent to our campuses where SDG’s are an essential part of their impact model and purpose!

Zeynep Flouret is a member of the Employer Engagement team in the Career Development Centre in INSEAD covering the Financial Services and Fintech in Europe and Americas. She has worked as a lawyer advising international clients in the M&A and project finance space before joining INSEAD.