07 Mar 2017

From Harvard to INSEAD: Change Management in a Disruptive World


In a wide-ranging interview for the St. Gallen’s Symposium, published by the Huffington Post, Dr. Olivier Giscard D’Estaing (MBA 1951) talks about the deep roots of HBS within the foundation of INSEAD, the European business school where he served many years as founding dean and general director. With a lengthy career in industry and politics as well as academia, Giscard D’Estaing is a former mayor and member of the French Parliament and is chairman of the Committee for a World Parliament. He is also honorary chairman of the INSEAD Foundation.

On being selected as founding dean of INSEAD:

“It actually started five or six years after my return to France, in 1956/1957. Professor Georges Doriot, a French-born American WWI-veteran and one of the star professors at Harvard back then, and who wanted to create in France a school comparable to HBS, had convinced the Paris Chamber of Commerce of the value and the opportunity of such a project. Quickly, the question of the leadership emerged: who to coordinate the construction work and eventually lead this new institution? It was clear from the beginning that the ideal profile would be someone from the industrial sector, familiar with private enterprise and with strong ties with the business community, rather than a traditional academic. That’s how it all began, and the reason why they reached out to me.”

On the value of the case method:

“The case-study method helps us draw on intellectual resources in order not to feel too weak and naked when disruptions come out. It’s a support, a strong one, but surely not an answer. The rest is up to each of us to shape and create.”

On the qualities of leadership:

“The great leaders of tomorrow will be people who will have actually managed to decompartmentalize their lives and experiences, their skills, and their knowledge. It is often striking to see how quickly and easily we allow ourselves to get confined and enclosed in one world, which is extremely noxious, especially for someone who aspires to leadership. Living in a close circuit like that, closed on ourselves with people from the same professional or cultural kin, hinders and eventually kills our capacity to think freely, and therefore to act freely.”

Read the complete interview.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1951, Section E

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