An American, Dutch, Bangladeshi, Italian, Chinese and Israeli walk into a bar… sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, right? Well, if it is, INSEAD, the world’s #1 business school for 2016, must really like such jokes. Here, these people don’t only walk into bars together, but also to finance classes, business lectures, language trainings and cultural dinners. Diversity on steroids? Multiculturalism in its extremity? Call it what you will, INSEAD insists it is a key to success in a 21st century global world. And they have the record to prove it.
Let’s start with the facts: each INSEAD promotion is comprised of more than 90 nationalities; studies are conducted in three truly global campuses across France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi; exchange programs enable students to also study at Wharton or Kellogg in the US and CEIBS in China; students are required to be able to converse in 3 languages by graduation; upon graduation, students join an alumni community of more than 50,000 across more than 170 countries. It shall therefore come as little surprise that no other business school in the world matches this level of international outreach.
Why does international education matter? A couple of points to consider:
- For once, we live in a “G-Zero World”. A term coined by political scientist Ian Bremmer, it describes “an emerging vacuum of power in international politics created by a decline of Western influence and the domestic focus of the governments of developing states”. In such a world, where US influence is declining and regional powers are rising, it is becoming ever more important for business leaders to have a nuanced international perspective, coupled with cultural sensitivity.
- Secondly, international education opens a window of diverse employment opportunities across the globe. Suffices to look at post-graduation employment statistics of the 2015 cohort at INSEAD, who went on to work in 57 countries, with 45% of alumni working in Europe, 28% in Asia Pacific, 12% in North America, 10% in Africa and 5% in South America. What’s more, working in multinational companies and organizations also becomes easier, as many of them value cross-cultural experiences.
- Finally, studying in an international setting is also super interesting. Curious about the Trump-Clinton elections? Take an American student out for a drink! A devout viewer of “Narcos” on Netflix? Grab a Colombian for a chat over lunch! Want to hear the latest news from the Middle East? Well, here you can talk to natives of all countries!
As for me, several weeks into this immensely diverse program at INSEAD, I already feel to have learned volumes, not only about the world outside, but also about me. Whether it is getting a cup of coffee at the cafeteria, walking back from school or taking a seat in class – almost every moment offers an opportunity to make new friends of different cultures. And the American, Dutch, Bangladeshi, Italian and Chinese from the first paragraph? Well, they are in fact my own study group!