Accelerating Learning through Partnership: A Business Journey at INSEAD

**Preparing for an AI-Centric Future: Insights from Peter Zemsky, Deputy Dean at INSEAD**

In less than a year, conversations on how AI would replace or empower us have become less speculative and more experiential. Talk of how it threatens the jobs of millions has been contrasted with an entire new industry of Prompt Engineers, Innovation Evangelists, and even Algorithm Alchemists – all real roles.

Many remain wary, and not just of these snazzy job titles. AI could potentially disrupt the labor market, create ethical dilemmas, and pose security risks. Already in question is the intellectual property of AI-generated content. Without such understanding or knowledge, hesitancy has been the biggest chain preventing greater business engagement with AI, with the unknown as its hindering weight.

**Fear tends to freeze people**

Professor Peter Zemsky from INSEAD, a renowned AI enthusiast and tech aficionado, believes that fear tends to freeze people. As the Deputy Dean of INSEAD, Zemsky’s passion for technology has contributed to the evolution of programs such as the MBA, which is currently ranked #2 in the FT’s Global MBA Ranking 2023, ahead of Harvard Business School and Stanford.

“I’m a big believer in focusing on the opportunities – I like to think about them creatively,” he says. “Does it mean to prepare for an AI world? Who knows. What we know is, if you dig into the technology, the implications are already large, and are just getting bigger.”

“What’s happened with AI has just continued to fuel that excitement for me, as an academic, and it leads to lots of issues about how businesses actually get the value out of it,” he continues. Not being fearful of technology does not imply ignoring the potential negative impacts on society. “We have to, there’s no excuse anymore not to be trying to anticipate that.”

**Tech for the Future**

For Peter Zemsky, preparing for an AI-centric future means equipping students with the ability to understand and leverage technology within whichever field or industry they choose to go into. His emphasis on openness references INSEAD providing their students with a framework to balance technology with business acumen, adding that “what we do matters, and we have to do it responsibly.”

Faced with real-world difficulties and opportunities during their studies, reflection is a key component of teaching at INSEAD, encouraging personal growth among their students. Growth is not an individual task, however. Zemsky insists that to really be successful, you must work through other people and engage with them. And this includes with customers and business stakeholders. “Starting with the customer and understanding their pain points is well known but super important. We need to keep working on this aspect of digital transformation to create meaningful value.”

**Partnerships and Collaboration in the Digital Era**

Zemsky also points to a combination of agility and growth that drives success. “Traditional organizations often overlook the importance of scaling. Experimentation and proof of concept are essential, but to truly capitalize on digital transformation, scaling is equally critical.” INSEAD itself continues to incorporate new technology as part of its teaching, including a VR Immersive learning initiative that aims to create a new way of learning for management and business.

“Partnering is crucial in the digital era,” the Deputy Dean continues. “It enables organizations to move faster, leverage external expertise, and navigate the learning race effectively. Building strong relationships and collaborations can open doors to new opportunities and drive sustainable growth.”

Recognizing the rapid pace of change, Zemsky believes that organizations must prioritize collaboration and strategic partnerships. In a highly interconnected environment, these relationships allow businesses to accelerate their learning, stay ahead of the competition, and harness collective knowledge and resources. “Business is a learning race. And you can’t just learn alone… by partnering with the right people, you will learn faster.”

As Peter Zemsky sets off on a sabbatical after 28 years of positive impact at INSEAD, his passion for partnerships and collaboration remains strong. He believes that with the right partnerships and collaborations, organizations can navigate the challenges of the digital era more effectively and drive sustainable growth.


Peter Zemsky’s insights highlight the importance of preparing for an AI-centric future and the need for openness, reflection, and collaboration in order to succeed in the digital era. As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, organizations must embrace technology, balance it with business acumen, and forge strong partnerships to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

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