Shaping Tomorrow's Leaders: Paul Desmarais Jr. on INSEAD's Renewal and Mission

Paul Desmarais Jr. MBA’79 and his wife at INSEAD
Paul Desmarais Jr. MBA’79 and his wife at INSEAD

Paul Desmarais Jr., MBA’79, discussed with us INSEAD's visionary Europe Campus Regeneration project and the enduring mission of developing responsible leaders who transform business and society. Mr Desmarais reflected on his time as an INSEAD student, emphasizing the sense of community and belonging that the campus fostered.

Paul Desmarais fondly recalled his time as an INSEAD student when the campus was a modern architectural gem nestled in the picturesque Fontainebleau Forest. The campus design, with its open spaces and collaborative cubicles, encouraged teamwork and open dialogue, creating a sense of community and camaraderie. As Desmarais put it, "I remember the Camembert area, where people gathered, and it felt like home. This sense of belonging was an integral part of the INSEAD experience.”

As INSEAD has risen to become one of the top business schools in the world, Paul Desmarais recognizes the need for the campus to evolve to reflect this.  Which is why, when INSEAD unveiled a visionary 10-year campus reimagination plan, placing a strong emphasis on excellence, sustainability, and well-being, he was dedicated to supporting the plan. The new campus design prioritises human connections, spaces for innovation, and lifelong friendships. Every detail, from materials to forest integration, contributes to an inspiring learning environment.

 "Our commitment to INSEAD and the Europe Campus Reimagination project goes beyond bricks and mortar. We believe that every detail, from gyms to restaurants and meeting spaces, should be thoughtfully crafted to foster collaboration and empower impactful interactions." – Paul Desmarais

In the face of rapid global transformations, Mr. Desmarais sees INSEAD's role as pivotal. He strongly identifies with INSEAD’s mission: to bring together people, cultures, and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. The international diversity of INSEAD's scholars is vital in addressing the unique challenges faced by various regions. With the campus regeneration project, INSEAD will be even better equipped to foster group collaboration, informal exchange, and intense classroom discussions and debates.

The primary focus remains on the enduring human experience, critically important in an increasingly digital era. Mr. Desmarais stressed the importance of nurturing competent business managers who can adapt to changing landscapes, whether in the private sector, public institutions, healthcare, or other areas. He also underscored the significance of building successful, purpose-driven companies as engines of prosperity and societal well-being.

As INSEAD embarks on regeneration and transformation, it does so with the support and vision of individuals like Paul Desmarais. With the Europe Campus Regeneration project, INSEAD continues nurturing responsible leaders who shape a better tomorrow in business education and leadership.

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