Executive Director, IDEA Lab, Imperial College Business School & Academic Director (Experiential Learning), Imperial X
As part of Imperial College London, consistently ranked amongst the top 10 universities in the world and a global leader in science and technology, Imperial College Business School drives global business and social transformation through the fusion of business, technology, and an entrepreneurial mindset. Imperial College Business School’s vision is to be at the forefront of digital education and innovation—a globally excellent business school that is recognised amongst the best in the world and one that delivers a cutting-edge student experience.
The IDEA Lab is the next iteration of what was previously known as the Edtech Lab, Imperial College London’s very first digital learning and education group, established in 2001. Imperial globally forged the path in technological innovation within business pedagogy for over 20 years, combining innovative thinking and insight with new technology to develop solutions to real-world issues, benefiting business and improving society.
The award-winning IDEA Lab plays a critically important role in achieving the Imperial College Business School’s vision by building new capabilities in innovative degree delivery using all methodologies and formats, identifying new market opportunities, developing innovative new programmes and learning approaches, evaluating analytics and emerging technologies (including AI, AR/VR, blockchain, and the metaverse), influencing industry practice, and designing processes and policies that can be leveraged across College.
The Global Executive Search Mandate
Imperial approached our Head of the Innovation in Education practice at Spencer Group, Dr Micah Coston, as the new Executive Director of Innovation, Digital Education, and Analytics (IDEA) Lab was a pivotal appointment to continue their evolution of digital pedagogical innovation, making bold and strategic initiatives and accelerating Imperial’s development and adoption of emerging technologies and tools. The purpose of the role was to develop and deliver a compelling strategy to ensure that Imperial College Business School continues to be positioned amongst the best business schools in the world in this field.
Imperial commissioned Spencer Group with a mandate to identify and engage a new Executive Director, who would be a visionary and strategic leader and who would identify and exploit new market opportunities. Spencer Group’s specialist Innovation in Education executive search practice is dedicated to identifying and engaging cross-sector talent capable of delivering groundbreaking advancements in education. With a focus on digital and tech innovation, the practice employs proven search methodologies, extensive cross-sector networks, and over two decades of experience placing senior leadership in EdTech, Commercial Education, and Higher Education contexts.
Spencer Group recommended a global and multi-sector approach with EDI at the heart of the search strategy.
A Collaborative Approach
Spencer Group worked in close partnership with Leila Guerra, Associate Provost for Digital Lifelong Learning at Imperial College, Vice Dean (Education) at Imperial College Business School. Micah and his team took a detailed brief to gain a deep understanding of the institution’s context and needs, consulting with Leila, David Lefevre (former Director of the EdTech Lab), and Sarah Grant, Interim Executive Director, IDEA Lab & Director of Digital Education, Edtech Lab.
Instead of relying on a ‘little black book’ of contacts, the Innovation in Education team meticulously mapped the global market in Business Schools, HE, EdTech, Consultancies, and Big Tech, ensuring a comprehensive search.
A Notable Appointment
The successful candidate was Monica Arés,formerly Head, Immersive Learning & Head, Education Partnerships, Meta.
Given Monica’s deep expertise, she was not only appointed as Executive Director of the IDEA Lab, but Imperial also appointed her as Academic Director (Experiential Learning) at Imperial X.
“As we expand our strategy in innovation and digital education, I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Monica Arés as our new Imperial College Business School Executive Director of the IDEA Lab. Monica is a strategic and visionary immersive technology leader, who has developed the next generation of AR and VR educational experiences, created interactive learning tools and other impactful initiatives in companies such as Meta and Amazon, and is a thought leader in immersive tech for education. Monica will be leading the IDEA Lab and further strengthen the pioneering work we’ve been doing up to now, engaging with the new, complex challenges in the sector and the new technologies that are emerging… I could not be more excited to start working together!”
Leila Guerra, Associate Provost for Digital Lifelong Learning at Imperial College, Vice Dean (Education) at Imperial College Business School
“In today’s fast-changing professional landscape, executive recruitment demands a visionary touch that aligns excellence, innovation, and genuine dedication. Dr Micah Coston of the Spencer Group embodies this approach, considering not just skills but the distinguished nuances of values and culture. The end-to-end journey, from the initial interview to transitioning into the new role, is marked by Micah’s unwavering professionalism and meticulous white-glove service. His genuine care for both the candidate and the employing organization ensures a synergy that extends beyond the initial placement to a match that is deeply resonant, cultivating strategic alignment for the future of education and innovation.”
Monica Arés, Formerly Head of Immersive Learning & Head of Education Partnerships, Meta. Appointed as Executive Director, IDEA Lab within Imperial College Business School.