Agents for change: Inaugural survey tracks graduates’ contribution, across continents.
Ask any member of the community about what makes INSEAD stand apart from other schools and key themes emerge - openness, integrity and tolerance. An international mindset. Global collaboration. INSEAD alumni cross boundaries and cultures to invent new ways of doing business, every day. A creative approach to problem-solving is embedded in the school’s DNA.
Today more than ever, this refreshing perspective is essential. But is the INSEAD community well positioned to make a real difference? Are intentions translating into action? How can we measure the actual impact of this impressive worldwide network?
An inaugural study by INSEAD’s Gender Initiative, generously funded by Dirk Luyten MBA’89J and led by Professor Zoe Kinias with Clarissa Cortland, provides compelling initial responses. Across generations, INSEAD graduates are not only business leaders, but also leaders in their communities. CEOs, board members, entrepreneurs and innovators, a majority dedicate time to pro bono or unpaid work. Many are invested in essential challenges from sustainability and human rights to gender diversity and inclusive leadership. More than half identify as social impact leaders with the drive to deliver real change.
“With an extensive global footprint and impressive reach across industries, our alumni community has the potential to be transformative at scale,” said INSEAD Alumni Association President Sadia Khan MBA’95D. The results of the survey show this to be true.
Of alumni surveyed, 58% hold the highest level of leadership in general management and executive roles, while 69% have regional or global responsibilities in their firm. In addition, nearly a third are active on one or more boards, giving them a unique voice in determining the future of the organisations they serve.
While many are at the helm of international firms, alumni also exhibit a strong entrepreneurial streak. Often fuelled by a passion for positive change, 20% have founded or co-founded their own companies.
Christian Patouraux MBA’03D, felt called to create “a meaningful public service with a sustainable business plan.” The company he founded, Kacific Broadband Satellites, provides connectivity to remote areas, a force for good in terms of emergency disaster relief and education. “INSEAD gave me the confidence, knowledge and network,” he said.
Paying it forward extends beyond the workplace. Worldwide, over two thirds of INSEAD alumni are currently active in pro bono and unpaid work. Among the older generations, this number rises to an impressive 79%. These leaders bring a wealth of experience, as well as a truly global perspective, to the causes they champion.
In addition to lending their time and expertise, INSEAD alumni are generous with their financial resources. Including even the youngest graduates, 80% give to charitable organisations. Over half - a full 57% overall and 73% of older graduates - have invested in start-ups they believe in.
New generations of alumni like Purvi Gupta MBA’15J also believe an INSEAD education instils values that have the potential to alleviate some of today’s most pressing issues. Committed to gender parity, she has become an event organiser, public speaker, coach and blogger – an unexpected journey that has taken her from the UK to Antarctica to India. “I now see leadership as a mindset that each of us can adopt today, in and outside the workplace,” she said.
Large percentages of the INSEAD community are also walking the talk by promoting human rights and community wellbeing. Sustainability, local sourcing and developing talent among under-represented groups attract high engagement from alumni like Marta del Rio Villanueva MBA’91D. Passionate about women’s empowerment, she met Gianina Gandullia MBA’01D at an INSEAD alumni gathering. Together they launched Wasi Organics, a social enterprise in Peru. “Via INSEAD, I realised that I was not an outlier, that there were many like me who wanted to challenge the status quo,” she said. “I hope we will inspire others to work toward a better world – but it starts with us.”
The public sector offers yet another route for INSEAD alumni to contribute where they are most needed. “I want to make a difference through service, as part of a bigger ecosystem of stakeholders,” said Nabila Aguele MBA'14J, a special advisor to the Minister of Finance in Nigeria. “The INSEAD community goes beyond a network, encompassing friendships and relationships with people who value giving back… like a large global family.”
As the survey results affirm, INSEAD alumni are contributing to their local communities and to society at large, regardless of their professional path. Their impact is felt across industries, sectors and types of organisations, at every level of leadership. The implications and potential are huge – as is the responsibility. “What if we mobilized the collective brain, experience, and willpower of more than 58,000 INSEAD alumni worldwide to implement creative solutions to address our most pressing global challenges?” asks Katell Le Goulven, Executive Director of the new Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society.
Dean of Insead Ilian Mihov echoes the challenge: “If we do not lead this change, who will? And if not now, when? This is our challenge, and our moment to transform business and society. I know our community can accomplish this – and so much more.”
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The survey was conducted in October-November 2017. Of 54,932 alumni invited to participate, 5,762 submitted a completed survey, a 10.5% response rate. We would like to thank all our alumni who participated in this survey.