Articles - Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Social Business
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In a recent article published in the Developing Leaders magazine, Peter Todd, Dean of HEC Paris, outlines the key strategic orientations and his vision for the future of one of the most prestigious Schools of Management in the world.
Based on an interview with Peter Todd, Dean of HEC Paris.
In 2014, HEC Paris was granted affiliated status. This new independence opens up great opportunities for the school’s future development and Peter Todd is clearly relishing the challenge. His vision for the future evolution of HEC Paris revolves around three key areas - digital transformation, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility - that are all underpinned by a focus on internationalism and delivering value to the business community worldwide.
For Peter Todd social responsibility is not only about the role the school plays in helping to develop the community, it is also about the work of HEC Paris in building ethically responsible companies to boost economic change and social good. In practical terms, this has led to the launch of new executive education programs such as ‘Inclusive Business and Value Creation’, run in partnership with Danone, Schneider Electric, and Renault, to create effective social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who can add value for low income consumers ‘at the base of the pyramid’.
Another key focus for HEC Paris are the challenges of digital transformation. Peter Todd is cautiously optimistic about our digital future. He suggests that although the tech giants may continue to grow, the balancing benefit will be a significant growth in the opportunities for individuals. Major established organizations are right to be concerned about the ways technology is disrupting the business environment.
As far as digital transformation is concerned, Peter Todd plans to lead rather than follow as be believes “Now is not a time to be too conservative.” The school has appointed two new digital officers to develop its technical capabilities and has also taken the big step of creating the first ever fully online international degree program, the online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in partnership with Coursera.
Creating the next new thing is more accessible today and so there is now a lot of bottom-up innovation. If we consider the profound changes seen over the past 20 years the next 20 will see even greater change and disruption.”
Entrepreneurship will play an essential role in opening up opportunities for individuals and meeting the challenges of the future. HEC Paris has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs. This emanates from its original ties with the Paris Chamber of Commerce and its culture of learning by doing and working closely with companies. In recent years, initiatives promoting entrepreneurship have multiplied – from the HEC Incubator for start-ups to mentoring entrepreneurial ventures for stock market floatation.
The school runs a range of programs and workshops on innovation and entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship is now a core part of its EMBA program, which includes a module entitled ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’. This resonates with the broader start-up ambitions Peter Todd says he sees today. He notes that:
Ten years ago only 10% of students said they aimed to be entrepreneurs – now it’s 25% including almost a third from the EMBA program,” and that “When the school launched its business start-up incubator in 2016 it had room for 20 – and had 100 applicants. This year there have been 200 applicants.”
Although the digital era will undoubtedly bring new and more diverse entrants into the executive education market, Peter Todd believes that business schools are well placed to face this new competition, due to their access to knowledge through research. “In the context of digital development schools that are research intensive are going to have certain advantages,” he says.
Research and our knowledge production has to be increasingly a source of differentiation. The technology can commodify the teaching – so our talent and intellectual capacity become more and more important to produce what is unique. ”
As the first non-French dean of HEC, Peter Todd comes exceptionally well qualified to take this highly respected international institution through the next exciting stage in its development, to help it take on the challenges of our disrupted business age, with the ambition to deliver real value to business, to society, and to the global economy.