Faculty Voices: Franz Heukamp, Dean of IESE Business School

Faculty Voices: Franz Heukamp, Dean of IESE Business School main image

Professor Franz Heukamp was appointed Dean of IESE Business School in September 2016, and previously held the positions of Associate Dean for MBA Programs and Secretary General of IESE.

Heukamp is a professor in the Managerial Decision Sciences department, and his specialty teaching is in decision analysis and forecasting methods.

He has taught on the MBA, EMBA, and other executive programs at IESE including the Advanced Management Program directed at senior business leaders.

How long have you been with the school and what attracted you to the role?

I joined IESE in 2002, first as a faculty member and then later combining that with roles as Secretary General, and later as Associate Dean for MBA programs.

I was interested about the prospect of combining academic roles with institutional building ones and IESE checked all the boxes.

Academically, the school is rigorous, challenging and inspiring, so that was very attractive. From an institutional standpoint, the school´s entrepreneurial spirit and increasingly global footprint was very intriguing.

Since its beginnings, IESE has always had an international outlook, but when I joined, the school´s international presence was really taking off. Since 2002 we´ve opened permanent campuses and programs in New York, Munich and Sao Paulo, in addition to those in Barcelona and Madrid. The school is constantly evolving; it’s an exciting, invigorating place to work.

How do you describe the school to people who’ve never stepped foot on campus?

If I could sum up IESE in one word, I´d say it’s 'transformational.' Our alumni and students often talk about how IESE has had a profound effect on them professionally and personally. I think this reflects our highly personalized approach to training business leaders with lots of coaching and mentoring, as well as challenging old assumptions and ideas. We want each participant to graduate having gained new perspectives and horizons.

Often, people consider going to business school because they want a boost up the career ladder. While that’s fine, it can, and should, be a much more powerful experience than that.

What do you love most about working at the school?

I love seeing the positive impact the school has had globally, whether that´s helping create jobs through supporting new businesses, or promoting the importance of sustainability among the next generation of business leaders. At the heart of everything we do at IESE, is this idea of wanting to train leaders to have a positive impact and seeing that is enormously fulfilling.

Business has been criticized on occasions. However, if done well, it can also be an enormously positive force for social good.

How would you describe the school’s culture?

There are two things that stand out. First, it’s the emphasis on diversity and facilitating a rich, open exchange of different views and ideas. The school is very international; both the student body – our MBA is comprised of over 80 percent international students – and faculty, but also the program content and way of approaching things.

Daily, you’ll brush up against a myriad of different viewpoints and perspectives, which helps you question and challenge your own arguments and thought processes. It’s a very stimulating environment for growth.

Second, IESE has a collaborative, close-knit, community feel that can be hard to find at other schools. People are very willing to go beyond what’s expected to help others out. This permeates every aspect of the experience here. Students work in teams from day one, which help people form life-long bonds with classmates, as well as an open-door policy with our professors and an active alumni community.

What is the unique approach your school takes in shaping future business leaders?

For us the idea of responsible business isn’t a fad, but something we live and breathe. We take a “people first” approach to business, that means recognizing businesses are a collection of people who interact with and affect their wider community. So, instead of having standalone ethics or CSR classes, in every subject taught at IESE (whether finance or marketing), participants are challenged to think and consider what impact a certain decision will have on others, the environment and society.

What are your favorite things to do in the local area?

I love to cycle, and Barcelona is a fantastic city to explore by bike. You have the beach, rolling hills, world-renowned architecture, great food (I could go on...) all at your fingertips. In my time off, you´ll often find me navigating the streets or hills surrounding the city on my bike soaking up the atmosphere.

What advice would you give someone considering applying to your school?

Try to speak to as many of our alumni and students as possible. Also try to visit one of our campuses and/or events, this way you can see if the school is the right fit for you.

For those certain they’ll apply, I’d advise bearing in mind we take a holistic approach to looking at each candidate. It’s important to be clear on what is unique about you as a candidate, and make sure your whole application reflects that. We think deeply about the make-up of each class, so it’s important we really get a sense of who you are from the beginning of the admissions process.

Where do you see the school in five years?

I see the school deepening its global presence, offering new innovative programs and expanding its research activities at our campuses in Barcelona, Madrid, Munich, New York and Sao Paulo.

I also see IESE taking the lead in helping business leaders tackle the ethical and practical challenges thrown up by the rise of AI, the changing nature of work, etc. We’re experiencing a moment of rapid change and uncertainty in the world, and IESE has a crucial part to play in helping leaders adapt and thrive in this new reality.

Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Assistant Editor of TopMBA.com, creating and editing content for an international MBA student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of the business world.  

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