Leadership Lab - Lee Newman

In this captivating Leadership Lab episode, Susanna Kempe and Lee Newman, Dean of IE Business School, dive into innovative leadership, blending the worlds of storytelling and strategic decision-making to navigate the complexities of modern academia and business.
Leadership Lab - Lee Newman

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Join us in our latest episode of the Leadership Lab series, where we have the pleasure of hearing from Lee Newman, the Dean of IE Business School. In conversation with Susanna Kempe, CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation, Dean Newman delves into his fascinating journey. From his early roots in engineering and policy to the innovative integration of psychology and computer science, his path has been anything but conventional. Today, he leads one of the world’s most forward-thinking business schools, bringing a fresh perspective to the academic world.

Dean Newman’s extensive background includes a BSc in Engineering from Brown University, an MBA and Masters in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a PhD from the University of Michigan. Before joining IE in 2009, he founded and sold two tech startups, and worked as an engagement manager with McKinsey. His time at IE has been marked by significant achievements, including the founding of the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology in 2010, where he launched a comprehensive portfolio of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, pushing the boundaries of traditional business education.

During his conversation with Susanna, Newman shares, “You have to seek diverse input and feedback to make your decisions... knowing when to heed it and when to chuck it in the trash can is the heart of leadership.” He lays bare his blueprint for fostering a culture of innovation among his students, encouraging them to embrace both confidence and a healthy sense of paranoia. Newman also gives us a peek into his efforts in online learning and his commitment to fostering diversity of thought within IE’s community.

Dean Newman also shines a light on the power of storytelling in leadership, touching on the delicate dance between making data-driven decisions and tapping into our innate love for stories. He shares, “I think leadership requires evidence-based arguments but sometimes those just fall flat because human beings like stories. I think a good leader needs to combine both--but few people are able to do both well. Those are the things we teach our students.” This fusion of analytical depth and genuine empathy has been a hallmark of Newman’s impact at IE, illustrating how he nurtures leaders who not only think sharply but also connect deeply.

Dean Newman’s story is a testament to the power of blending academic excellence with real-world entrepreneurial spirit. This episode is an invitation to be inspired, to challenge the status quo, and to embrace the multifaceted role of a leader in today’s complex world.


00:25 | We talk with our Scholars about leadership being a journey, not a destination. Where did it begin for you?

02:04 | You joined the faculty of IE in 2009. What made you stay for so long?

04:20 | What are the organisational benefits of employees growing alongside the organisation?

06:57 | Having been at institutions like Brown University, University of Michigan, and MIT, how would you compare the worlds of US universities to European, particularly Spanish, universities?

08:45 | If you were to recommend a country for pursuing business education, where would you suggest?

10:58 | Leaders at US universities are facing increasing scrutiny and pressure to address geopolitical issues unrelated to education. What do you think?

13:44 | IE started as a business school and expanded to add a university. What are the strengths and challenges of this model?

16:08 | Why do you believe an entrepreneurial spirit is essential not only in business education but also in broader educational contexts?

19:37 | IE's brand promise, "The Best Next You," emphasises not only career, but also impact and purpose. What inspired IE to prioritise these aspects?

23:47 | We have recently announced that we are partnering to launch the Laidlaw Women's scholarship at IE Business School. What are your hopes for this programme?

25:57 | How do you anticipate the Laidlaw Women's scholarship programme impacting the wider IE community?

28:04 | IE has been a pioneer in online education. What drove IE to embrace online learning ahead of others, even before the COVID-19 era?

29:30 | Are there any big things that you personally owned/delivered that you are particularly proud of?

31:10 | Reflecting on the recent loss of your colleague Norman Kurtis, are there any aspects of him as a leader you'd like to take this moment to remember or celebrate?

35:11 | Has the increasingly complex and polarised world made leadership more challenging compared to as recently as five or six years ago?

37:52 | Apart from embracing ambiguity and taking risks, what other traits do you believe are crucial for effective leadership?

40:00 | What's the hardest decision you've ever had to make?

42:20 | Can you tell us about a leader whom you admire, even if they might not be an obvious choice?

45:30 | What brings you joy?

50:00 | What question would you like to ask our next guest?

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