Mar. 16, 2020

Franz Heukamp


Franz Heukamp

Dean, IESE Business School

“We interact with the private sector in our role as a provider of executive education to senior corporate executives.”


Franz Heukamp is the Dean and a professor of management at IESE Business School, where he was previously associate dean for MBA Programs. He graduated from MIT with a PhD in 2002. As a scholar, he studied decision making from a behavioral and neuroeconomics perspective with a special emphasis on risk and decisions under uncertainty. In this context, he regularly works with a wide range of participants, from MBA students to CEOs.

Can you tell us about IESE Business School's origins and evolution since 1958?
IESE Business School was established in 1958 and was among the first of its kind. We started with programs for senior executives. The first program we offered was an advanced management program for owners and senior executives of mid-sized, family-owned businesses in Barcelona. IESE Business School has grown since then, and today we have campuses in Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, New York, and São Paulo. We have grown from offering senior executive education programs to MBAs and master's management programs. In fact, we started the first MBA program in Europe in 1964, and today our MBA program has students from around 60 countries—25% from Asia, 35% from Europe, 17% from North America, and 23% from Latin America. We have 115 full time faculty members from about 30 countries. Spain is in a completely different situation than when we started. Today, the country is a flourishing democracy, and we have been able to grow from being an educational start-up in Barcelona to a broad multinational operation in the education space.

What is your strategy for attracting international students and do your collaborations and offices in Asia play a role in this?
Our offices definitely play a role. With people on the ground, we are able to better explain our offering to students. Our MBA program is international. This is attractive to prospective students. Through our programs, we provide students with opportunities to start their own businesses. Students are also interested in the strong emphasis we put on purpose and values. From the beginning, IESE Business School has had a clear purpose to play an important role in society. We believe that business leaders need to understand what their responsibilities are.

IESE Business School's MBA program was named the top full-time MBA program globally by The Economist in 2018. Is there something specific about Spain that attracts international students?
Spain has been able to develop world-class institutions over the past 60 years. Some other comparable economies in Europe have not been able to do this for many reasons. When you combine Spain's sights with education and business experience, it makes Spain an attractive proposition for international students.

How does IESE Business School interact with the private sector?
We are close to the private sector in several ways. We help companies find talent. At the same time, we interact with the private sector in our role as a provider of executive education to senior corporate executives. At the corporate level, we also offer customized executive education. We are one of the biggest providers in this space. We have a good sense of what is going on in various sectors. At our Madrid campus, we also offer a program for senior civil servants.

IESE Business School has had a collaboration with Harvard Business School for over 50 years. What role does this collaboration play?
At the time, we were trying to improve our ability to teach through the case method, which Harvard was already using. Several Harvard faculty members were part of the academic team that launched our MBA program in 1964. We currently offer two senior executive programs jointly with them. One is at our Barcelona campus, and the other is run in different parts of the world.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in the near future?
Technology is bringing changes in the workplace environment and new companies and business models are being built. One of the clear trends is that people will need to educate themselves even more than in the past. Education will become more flexible and lifelong learning will become a need and reality. This is a great opportunity for the education sector, because it is there to meet these kinds of needs.