Taking Care of its Community: The Way IPADE Business School has Handled the Covid-19

IPADE

Gabriela Alvarado and Juan Romero share the IPADE’s actions to cope with the impact of the Covid-19, which can be grouped into two major categories: interaction with participants and alumni; and internal management and governance.

The coronavirus outbreak reached Mexico on February 27, 2020 – approximately a month after it was confirmed to have spread to the US, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France, currently the five countries with more cases of coronavirus outside China. By March 12, one day after the outbreak was labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), sixteen Covid-19 cases had been reported among the 128 million inhabitants in Mexico.

Being sensitive to such a worldwide impact, the following morning, IPADE Business School decided to temporarily suspend face-to-face activities in all its national and international academic programs to safeguard the health and integrity of every member of its community. With the firm conviction that everyone must take part in the fight against the spread of the virus, IPADE implemented this precautionary measure even before the Mexican Ministry of Education decided to suspend all educational activities in the country.

IPADE’s actions to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 virus can be grouped into two major categories: Interaction with participants and alumni; and internal management and governance.

Interaction with participants and alumni

Actions centered on participants and alumni and their learning experience have included:

  • A dedicated channel of communication: Since the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic, IPADE created a microsite to keep participants and alumni of its permanent and temporary campuses in Mexico and Central America informed about coronavirus related topics and their impact on the school’s operations. The microsite is structured by program to facilitate access to relevant information and is constantly updated.
  • Cancel all international academic trips: This measure included the MBA trip to Japan and South Korea, the EMBA trips to Columbia Business School, Kellogg School of Management and London Business School, and the international immersions of Senior Management Programs at HBS, Kellogg, LBS, MIT Sloan and Stanford GSB.
  • Setting up virtual classrooms and “Zoom rooms”: IPADE uses the case method as its main teaching methodology and its offering focuses on executive education and MBA programs. The challenge was to install very quickly the appropriate infrastructure to replicate the learning experience based on the case method through distance education methodologies. A multi-disciplinary team composed of Operations, IT, and Innovation and Learning staff worked hard to transform IPADE’s teaching facilities in Mexico City into virtual classrooms that met the challenge. In less than a week, all degree programs of its main campuses resumed sessions via digital platforms using the case method. Later, virtual classrooms were replaced by so-called “Zoom rooms” to expand capacity and be prepared to serve other national and international programs.
  • Faculty training and creation of a learning community: In three days, the Innovation and Learning team trained IPADE’s academic staff in the use of the virtual classrooms and subsequently on the Zoom rooms through online training sessions. In addition, a blog was created so that faculty members could share recommendations among them based on their recent experience using the case method in virtual sessions and accelerate the learning curve of IPADE’s academic community regarding this mode of delivery.
  • Value-added initiatives: To help participants, alumni, and the business community at large go through these challenging times, IPADE developed a microsite with valuable content on topics such as the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the global economy, its implications for business, decision making in uncertain times, business resilience, corporate social responsibility in times of crisis, how to manage virtual teams, etc. The microsite includes articles, research reports, infographics, and webinars, among others.

Internal management and governance

Main actions have focused on the following aspects:

  • Adoption of a home office model for all IPADE staff.
  • Developing a strategic plan: Ten strategic initiatives were defined and classified into four major groups concerning the school’s current operations, promotion of the programs, value-added proposals, and scenario planning.
  • Continuous analysis and execution: After IPADE suspended all face-to-face academic and administrative activities, the school’s Executive Committee meets every other day to evaluate the prevailing situation, follow up on initiatives and measures adopted, and speeding up decision making.

Individuals, organizations, industries, countries, all have been equally affected by the pandemic. The way we respond and adapt to this critical situation will allow us to emerge strengthened and be able to build a better future. At IPADE, we have decided to face this challenging time with a clear focus on our community, total commitment, unity, and a deep sense of hope.