Seán Meehan was recently named Dean of IMD’s MBA program and will take up the role on January 1st, 2018. Seán is the Martin Hilti Professor of Marketing and Change Management at IMD. At IMD for the past 20 years, he was previously Dean of the MBA program from 2002 to 2005. In recent years he has been the Director of IMD’s Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives. His research focuses on the nature and effectiveness of market orientation and customer value creation processes. He is co-author of Simply Better: Winning and Keeping Customers by Delivering What Matters Most (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) which was named "Marketing Book of the Year" by the American Marketing association. His most recent book is Beyond the Familiar: Long Term Growth Through Customer Focus and Innovation (Jossey Bass, 2011).

Seán recently spoke to the MBA-focused publication Poets & Quants about what sets IMD and its MBA apart from the rest. Here are the highlights from the podcast:

Poets & Quants: What are some of the most unexpected things that an MBA student might discover about IMD?

Seán: It’s probably the first time in their life that they’ve been in an environment where everyone – no exceptions – has an amazing amount of different things to contribute to this extraordinary group of 90.

It is this truly unique environment which enables them to unlock their real potential, discover their true capacity for dealing with complexity, and the incredible pace of change in our world today. They emerge with a very different vision of themselves as leaders, themselves as people who can play an important role in our society through the leadership of corporations and organizations.

Poets & Quants: At IMD, students tend to bring more work experience than the more conventional MBA student – right?

Seán: Yes. That can mean six or seven years’ work experience. We’re generally hoping to get people with experience outside of their home country because we place a premium on global. We have finance specialists, consultants and marketing managers. We have managers from traditional industries, including those that have participated in organizational transformations, high-tech startups and in the tech world more generally. So it’s also a tremendous diversity of experience.

Poets & Quants: What do you think are some of the more exciting developments in the program in the last couple of years?

Seán: The number one thing I want to stress is that the IMD MBA is a gem; it has a very specific identity in the MBA world. We think of it as a transformational leadership program. And there are a few signature touchpoints that will never change and have never changed, and those form the basis of the experience.

But, we will always seek to keep it contemporary, with a mission for developing leaders who have a desire to have an impact in our world. That’s always been the case. That will continue to be the case.

Given all of this uncertainty in the world, we believe that our MBA program, across the entire portfolio, is absolutely critical for delivering into society people who can cope with – and not just cope with; master, lead and play an important role in the shaping of our society.

Poets & Quants: What do you love most about IMD?

Seán: I think, above all else, I really value the open-mindedness and the globality, the global nature of our community here. The MBA class is “One Best Group of 90” – 44 different nationalities represented in that, 12 nationalities represented in our MBA office. We have 34 nationalities represented in our faculty group. We have 8000 executives that we’re doing business with every single year – they come from 98 countries.

Sometimes people talk about diversity in a very glib way and in quotas and so on, but that’s not really what we value. We value the global nature of the conversation and where, yes, it’s because people are diverse, but it’s what that diversity brings to the table that’s so valuable. And really, there’s rarely a day that you walk away from a classroom or walk away from an interaction where you don’t feel enriched by the colleagues and the participants that you’re working with.

Listen to the full interview on Poets & Quants.