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Daniel Velásquez

Executive Director Central America, ADEN Business School

Enrique Bolaños

Rector, INCAE Business School

Business schools are highly popular in Costa Rica, prompting the country's schools to be leaders in the region.

What is your history in Costa Rica?

Enrique Bolaños INCAE Business School was established in 1964 at the request of the presidents of the Central American countries and then President Kennedy at the time of the formation of the Central American Common Market. Nicaragua was the location chosen for the first INCAE Business School, which opened in 1969. Due to the political changes that occurred in Nicaragua in the mid to late 1970s, INCAE Business School decided to move to Costa Rica in the early 1980s. We have grown our operations and now have a campus in Costa Rica and have reopened our campus in Nicaragua as well. We offer MBA programs at both campuses in addition to executive training and education. Between our specialized and global MBA programs, we have around 220-240 MBA students. In total in Costa Rica, we have around 5,000 to 6,000 executives a year coming to train with us. We have 120 students in our executive MBA program in Nicaragua and another 90 MBA students there. In total, over both campuses the number of students is more than 400, which is a good number for a region of this size.

Daniel Velásquez Costa Rica is perhaps the most important country for education in all of Central America because of its educational strategy. In the 1950s, the country restructured its education budget, and as a result years the education system here has continually improved over the last 60 years. There are more schools, universities, and think tanks here than in all the rest of Central America. Costa Rica does not have an army, but it has a lot of schools. Costa Rica has a highly skilled workforce that gives the country a competitive advantage within the region. We currently have around 100 students taking a variety of classes with us. We have small class sizes of around 20 students. We also hold different programs for the largest companies. Our company programs are tailor-made; therefore, we adapt the content and structure of our programs to fit what each company wants in terms of the length of the course, number of participants, and so forth. We provide on campus, e-learning and blended programs for all of Central America in addition to public sector training courses.

How does ADEN Business School stand out from other educational institutions?

DV The principal value that ADEN Business School adds into education is innovation in terms of the results that this brings. For example, our graduates go on to become company executives and managers, and in these senior positions they need to consistently produce results in a timely manner. Thanks in large part to our methodology ADEN Business School produces graduates who achieve successful results in their business endeavors. This is because we take a practical approach and we embody the attitude that our students will go on to become the future CEOs of the largest multinational corporations. Every day, we expect our students to apply what they learn in the classroom to obtain measureable results. All of our classes have tailor-made action plans for our students to follow up, which encourages constant improvement on the part of our students. We have been particularly successful as a result of applying this practical methodology backed up by sound instructive theory.

What are INCAE’s main priorities for the next year?

EB We have several things going on such as our new entrepreneurship program. We are working on our Women’s Leadership Center because society and the business community would be better if there were gender equality. We are trying to ensure we have an equal balance of men and women in our classrooms. We are trying to launch our Social Progress Index (SPI) throughout the region. Internally, at INCAE we have embarked on a major renovation of our campuses, as they are 40 to 50 years old and students today require different standards. As our students live on campus we have to ensure we have all the proper facilities. We are focusing all our executive training in Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua because there is a strong business community here as well as good communications and air transport links. We are trying to grow the area of executive training.

How would you characterize higher education offerings in Costa Rica?

DV Students enrolled in higher education in Costa Rica study for three years for their bachelors’ degree and then for another two years beyond that in order to earn their specialization. This is essentially the same system as is used in the US and Spain, and it gives graduates a competitive advantage over those from countries like Colombia and Nicaragua.

Does INCAE have plans to expand beyond Costa Rica and Nicaragua?

EB We have no intention of growing our number of campuses beyond two. That said, if there is a need in our executive education program to hold specific training in another country such as Peru, Ecuador, or Panama, we do that. Our professors go there for short-term training courses. Our MBA programs are offered either in Costa Rica or Nicaragua, and nowhere else.



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