EUROPE'S BEST BUSINESS SCHOOLS They aren't pale imitations of Harvard anymore. Students come from all over the world to master international business -- and pull down top salaries when they graduate.
(FORTUNE Magazine) – JAYNE BUXTON, 26, was bumping along as a $25,000-a-year media buyer in her hometown of Montreal. Then she went to business school and turned into a hot property. Her best offer among six came from the London branch of a top U.S. consulting firm: $90,000 a year to start, plus a $9,000 reimbursement for part of her tuition and a signing bonus -- or ''golden hello'' -- of more than $15,000. In the end the vivacious blonde accepted a slightly less sumptuous package from the London office of Management Analysis Center, a consulting firm founded by professors from Harvard Business School. Breathtaking earning power for MBAs is hardly new. What makes Buxton's story different is that her degree came not from Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton, but from the International Management Development Institute, or Imede, a Swiss business school that runs just 67 students through a compact 11-month program. Once pale imitations of Harvard, top European business schools are winning high marks for their strikingly original programs and the fat, U.S.-style salaries their graduates command. Europe's best schools offer a pedagogic product that their bigger, older U.S. rivals do not. While students and courses at Harvard or Wharton are largely American, European schools have an overwhelmingly international student body and point of view. Students study, socialize, and negotiate with classmates from Spain, India, Japan, and as many as 20 other countries -- all in English. From that rich cultural mosaic come managers who understand how foreigners think and global markets work. FORTUNE has ranked the top five business schools in Europe using a variety of criteria, including entrance standards, quality of faculty, and success in placing graduates in high-paying jobs with top multinational companies. At the head of the class is the school that virtually invented the concept of international business education, Institut Europeen d'Administration des Affaires, or Insead, in Fontainebleau, France. Founded in 1959 and still growing, the school is a powerhouse driven by big-name professors lured from leading U.S. schools. Tied for second are London Business School, a top purveyor of talent to the City of London, and Imede, which more than makes up for its small size with its rigorous, academic boot camp-like program and superb roster of students. Next comes Imede's neighbor on Lake Geneva, International Management Institute (IMI), which began as Alcan's in-house management training facility. Fifth place goes to Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa (IESE), a comer from Barcelona that's growing fast in number of students and prestige. Several schools that once attracted students mainly from their own countries are becoming more international and may soon challenge these five. Nearly a third of the students in the class of 1988 at Manchester Business School in Britain's industrial heartland are foreigners, almost twice the proportion of non-Americans at Wharton. Rotterdam School of Management, a branch of Holland's prestigious Erasmus University, introduced a popular English- language program three years ago. Two top national business schools, Scuola di Direzione Aziendale-Bocconi of Italy and Institut Superieur d'Administration of France, will soon introduce business classes taught in English. The concept has even penetrated the Iron Curtain. In September, the Budapest International Management Center will start a one-year program for Soviet and East European managers. Indiana University will supply the curriculum; West European, Japanese, and American professors will teach in English. The European schools are developing faculties as cosmopolitan as their student bodies. Professors hail from around the globe -- but usually boast Ph.D.s from top U.S. schools. A case in point is Antonio Borges, 38, the associate dean in charge of Insead's MBA program. A native of Portugal, Borges received his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford in 1980, returning to his alma mater as a visiting professor in 1985. Fluent in English, French, and Spanish as well as Portuguese, Borges is a brisk extrovert who played on Portugal's national championship volleyball team. Picked to head the MBA program in 1986, Borges is boldly expanding the faculty and putting a heavier accent on research. Says he: ''We're driving to become one of the top five business schools in the world in research. It's simple. Professors produce research or are fired.'' The rise of the international MBA marks a fundamental shift in the way European companies hire managers and chart their careers. In the past executives came mostly from prestigious technical or professional schools. The cream of German management earned Ph.D.s in economics, engineering, or law. In France many of the business elite have degrees from the exalted Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school that offers not a single course in finance, marketing, or accounting. The new MBAs are among Europe's shooting stars of business. Sir John Egan, 48, chief executive of automaker Jaguar Ltd., and Iain Vallance, 44, the newly named chairman of British Telecom, picked up their MBAs at London Business School. Javier de la Rosa, 40, an IESE alumnus, is spearheading Kuwait Investment Office's $2 billion investment drive in Spain. Lindsay Owen-Jones, a 42-year-old Englishman from Insead, is No. 2 at France's L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company. Last year companies recruited some 3,500 MBAs from European schools, about double the number five years ago. That should leave plenty of room for growth: U.S. business absorbs some 67,000 MBAs a year. For recruiters, the quality that sets European MBAs apart is their international dimension. ''We are offering international careers,'' says Al Fletcher, director of personnel for Ford of Europe. ''Managers can expect to be moved to several countries, so it's a definite advantage to have an international education.'' POWERING THE RISE is an explosion in two sectors with a heavy appetite for MBAs: consulting and financial services. Last year London Business School placed 33 of 84 graduates with financial firms in the City of London. Consulting firms -- among them Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co. -- descended on Imede last fall, hiring one-quarter of its December graduates. Some companies aren't ready for the impatient hotshots. ''They want to become top managers too quickly,'' says Andre Mathieu, head of personnel for & French automaker Peugeot. But his view is becoming less common. British electronics producer Thorn EMI hired 30 MBAs last year. German publisher Bertelsmann never dreamed of recruiting an MBA until five years ago; now it hires about half a dozen annually. For London Business School MBAs, starting pay averages $56,000 a year, above the average at Wharton and roughly equal to Harvard's. The typical Insead grad pulls down more than the Harvard product -- $60,000 -- though that can be partly attributed to the fact that he starts work at 29, two years later than the average Harvard MBA, and has more business experience. To keep MBAs happy, companies cut a fast track through the corporate bureaucracy. Says Eberhard Pfeuffer, assistant director of personnel at Bertelsmann: ''The only way to hold on to MBAs is to move them quickly. A good MBA can expect to start as assistant to a top executive. He could be heading one of our 35 publishing companies five years after joining us.'' Teaching at the schools is a mix of the Harvard case method and hands-on consulting projects. Insead spends about $500,000 a year developing cases drawn mainly from European companies. Students ponder how France's Alcatel went about absorbing the telecommunications business of onetime rival Thomson, the strategy behind L'Oreal's launch of Fiji perfume, and the task faced by Carlo De Benedetti when he took over Italy's ailing Olivetti -- complete with a videotape featuring De Benedetti himself. All the schools require some kind of consulting work. At Imede, teams of six students spend 4 1/2 months working with companies. By following the advice of one such team, French packaging company Groupe Carnaud cut inventories by $35.7 million a year, boosting profits by $3 million in 1987. Getting an MBA at Insead, Imede, and IMI takes less than a year. The pace is relentless, forcing many students to work 100 hours a week. Imede packs 990 hours of classroom and workshop teaching into 11 months, almost as much as Harvard spreads over a year and a half. Says a student: ''My girlfriends didn't understand why I had to check into a monastery for a year.'' But most appreciate the grind as good training for high-pressure jobs. Says Graham Wickenden, 32, an Imede alumnus who is now an executive with British retailer Barker & Dobson: ''At first you go through hell. Then you learn to work smart and organize your time.'' The rich mix of nationalities creates an exciting, sometimes explosive cultural chemistry. ''You spend a year managing diversity, which is what international business is all about,'' says Tidjane Thiam, 25, an Insead student from the Ivory Coast who passed up a chance to go to Wharton. L'Oreal's Lindsay Owen-Jones agrees, ''What the U.S. schools are missing is the melting-pot aspect. If I hadn't gone to Insead, I never would have joined a French company.''
The European schools favor cosmopolitan candidates with a flair for languages. At Insead, all students must speak French and English. More than half are also fluent in German, Spanish, or another language. Evelyne Hollands, 25, a student at IESE in Barcelona, is typical. A Dutch citizen who graduated from the University of Oregon, she worked in Spain and Brazil, and in addition to Dutch, speaks English, Spanish, German, and French. THE SCHOOLS RESERVE plenty of places for non-Europeans. In Insead's June 1988 graduating class of 147 students from 25 countries, there are almost as many Americans and Canadians as French. Eleven students are from Japan. Students are divided into nationally mixed groups to maximize diversity. Says David Thompson, 26, an American student at Rotterdam: ''There are so many group assignments, I began to feel that if I wanted to go to the bathroom I'd have to take someone with me.'' A particularly motley group at Imede this year includes an Australian lawyer, a Pakistani naval architect, a French pharmacist, a Swedish engineer, and a Swiss hotel manager. On each case study, the group must reach consensus, a process that can take hours or days of wrangling. Cultural differences cut deepest in cases involving labor relations. Profit-minded American students don't hesitate to call for quick, severe layoffs. Europeans and Japanese are more concerned with protecting workers. In a recent group discussion at Imede, a hot debate broke out between an American and a Japanese student over whether to fire workers at an Ohio fertilizer company plagued by overmanning. The Japanese insisted that management should follow the concept of lifetime employment. ''Not in Ohio!'' declared the American, Duke Dean, who finally prevailed. BUT A LITTLE Euro-thinking is rubbing off on Dean too. In a recent case the class was studying, a Dutch company ponders firing unneeded workers at an electronics plant. The problem is that the powerful council of workers, a fixture in Dutch companies, opposes the layoffs, though it cannot stop them. Dean sided with European and Japanese students against layoffs, arguing that the work committee would wallop productivity by sowing labor strife. ''A few months ago,'' Dean says, ''I wouldn't have taken that position. Thanks to the European students, you learn how things work here.'' MBA candidates learn to listen carefully, probe colleagues for good ideas, and express their own views without antagonizing other members of the group. Americans become more diplomatic. ''I have to soften my approach,'' says Richard Thompson, 31, an Insead student who has worked around the world in the oil services industry. A student from Italy, 30-year-old Nicoletta Calabi, has learned to back up her arguments with careful documentation -- not always the Italians' strong suit. ''In Italy,'' she says, ''people have a tendency to talk too much and forget about the facts.'' For Asians an MBA is often a crash course in assertiveness training. ''We're too patient,'' says Hemant Jalan, 31, an Indian student at IMI. ''At first I was overwhelmed by the Latins. Now I jump right into the discussions.'' Akinori Kusuno, a Japanese student at IESE, is working hard to overcome the deferential Japanese style. ''We're not talented at expressing ourselves,'' he says. ''In Japan arguing is by nature seen as something bad.'' As Europe sweeps away economic barriers on its historic march toward 1992, companies will turn increasingly to managers unfazed by linguistic and cultural boundaries. But Europe's unification is just part of the phenomenon sparking the rise of Europe's MBAs. Markets everywhere are becoming more global. To meet the challenge, U.S. business schools are internationalizing. Says Jeffrey Sheehan, associate dean of Wharton: ''As we see it, if businesses and business schools don't have an international perspective, they're going to be left in the dust.'' At the moment European business schools are leading the pack.
BOX: How the Five International Schools Stack Up
1 INSEAD INSTITUT EUROPEEN D'ADMINISTRATION DES AFFAIRES Fontainebleau, France Founded 1959
$16,700 tuition for ten months
$60,000 average starting salary
The Rolls-Royce of European business schools is Insead. Low-slung steel and glass buildings dot the lushly wooded 17-acre campus, once the private hunting ground of French kings, 34 miles from Paris. Between classes, students gather around a crackling fire in the student lounge. Corporate recruiters are big fans, and more than half the students take jobs in a country other than their own.
2 LBS LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL London, England
$14,400 **tuition for 18 months
$56,000 average starting salary
London Business School is the closest thing in Europe to an American business school. A branch of the prestigious University of London, LBS mixes case studies with in-depth textbook teaching. Housed in a yellow brick complex on Regent's Park, LBS has a strong cachet across town in the City of London, Britain's financial capital. In 1986 and 1987 more than 40% of its graduates took jobs in financial services.
2 IMEDE INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE Lausanne, Switzerland
67 students $22,000 tuition for 11 months
$72,000 average starting salary
Small and spartan, Imede is renowned as an academic pressure cooker that transforms engineers and other specialists into cocky general managers in just 11 months. Founded by Nestle as an in-house management training school staffed with visiting Harvard professors, Imede is independent now, but still has close ties to the company. True to its Harvard roots, Imede leans heavily on case studies.
4 IMI INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE Geneva, Switzerland
$24,700 tuition for nine months
$70,000 average starting salary
Situated on a sloping, tree-covered campus across Lake Geneva from Imede, IMI is a no-nonsense training ground for managers much like its neighbor. With just 52 students, IMI is even smaller than Imede and has an even shorter program -- a whirlwind nine months. The school has strong industrial roots, and the curriculum includes both case studies and practical projects, all produced under harassing deadlines.
5 IESE INSTITUTO DE ESTUDIOS SUPERIORES DE LA EMPRESA Barcelona, Spain
$17,200 tuition for 21 months
$32,000 average starting salary
One of Europe's largest business schools, IESE offers a U.S.-style two-year MBA. As the brainchild of the founder of Opus Dei -- the powerful, worldwide organization of lay Catholics -- IESE has deep religious roots. Crucifixes hang on classroom walls. Courses in business ethics predate Boesky. But the atmosphere is anything but grave. Sangria is available at the two bars and students read under palm trees.
*LBS and Imede are tied for second in FORTUNE's ranking. **Students from outside the European Economic Community pay tuition of $21,800.