Thoughts from a New Dean

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Audencia Nantes

Interview with the New Dean of Audencia Nantes

The following interview was conducted three weeks after Frank Vidal took up the position as Dean and Director General of Audencia Nantes School of Management. Dean Vidal is a graduate of the prestigious Sciences Po university in Paris, and earned advanced degrees in business administration and law from HEC Paris and the University of Aix-Marseille. Prior to his appointment at Audencia, Dean Vidal served as Dean of Advancia, a business school in Paris, where, under his leadership, a successful merger with the NEGOCIA business school was executed, expanding Advancia’s presence in the national and global arenas.

What are your first impressions of Audencia?
In my first few weeks, I have been able to appreciate how much the school has its own character. An international perspective is firmly embedded in its values and it prides itself on excellence. It is both solid and innovative. My aim is to pursue and reinforce the growth strategy by implementing the strategic plan that aims at expanding our international presence and partnerships, academic and corporate. This will be coupled with the hiring of a high number of faculty coming from research institutions from all over the world.

How would you characterize your style of management?
An institution thrives on the richness and diversity of the individuals that work within it. However, what matters even more is that these individuals form a cohesive “ensemble.” My goal is to manage the school in such a way that this collective dimension serves Audencia’s commitments in areas such as global responsibility.

What key qualities should a dean possess?
You must have a desire to develop and evolve, but not alone. While the dean has to make the decisions, listening is also a key aspect of the job. It is important to nurture networks with other deans, companies, and organizations based on mutual trust.

What are the primary challenges faced by deans today?
The challenges I face are probably those faced by the large majority of the world’s academic institutions. One major aspect is how to attract the best faculty and students. To this, we can add the question of stronger international alliances with strategic partners and the challenge of financing the future. This last notion cannot be underestimated as deans are also fundraisers.

On a more national level, deans at French business schools also have to manage a higher education landscape in flux. The changes happening in the world of the French universities and business schools is positive, but this means that we must always keep abreast of the evolution of the French higher education landscape—in addition to global trends.


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