Soulaymane Kachani Named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader

May 14 2013 | By Melanie Farmer

The World Economic Forum has inducted Soulaymane Kachani, senior vice dean of Columbia Engineering and a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, into its 2013 class of Young Global Leaders. The new class represents top leaders under the age of 40 who hail from 70 different countries and a wide range of sectors, including business, government, civil society, arts and culture, academia, and media. Kachani is one of six academics selected this year. 

Soulaymane Kachani

“I am thrilled to join this distinguished group of individuals,” says Kachani, “and excited to represent Columbia and further promote and raise awareness about important educational issues, particularly global collaborations in higher education and the future of online education.”

The World Economic Forum, an independent international organization, is perhaps most widely known for its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. Through the years, numerous business, government, and civil society leaders have made their way to the Swiss Alpine resort to consider the major global issues of the day and to brainstorm on solutions to address these challenges. Every year, the World Economic Forum reviews thousands of nominations to select the most accomplished and inspiring young leaders to comprise the latest Young Global Leaders community to contribute to this ongoing dialogue. The nomination process is rigorous and ultimately screened by a selection Committee headed by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

As part of this impressive class, Kachani, who will serve a five-year term, is expected to participate in the Annual Meeting in Davos as well as the regional conferences of the World Economic Forum, and research and initiatives, representing the views and interests of young global leaders.

At the Engineering School, he has a proven track record of successful leadership. As senior vice dean of the School, Kachani oversees academic programs including undergraduate, master’s, and PhD programs. He is leading initiatives to build undergraduate study abroad opportunities and dual MS, BS/MS, and executive programs with top universities and governments in Asia, Europe, and South America. He also oversees Columbia Video Network, the online/distance education arm of the Engineering School.  

This semester, Kachani spearheaded a University-wide effort to offer three engineering courses as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) via The engineering courses offered achieved a combined enrollment of more than 300,000 students. Kachani is actively involved in discussions about the future of online education at Columbia, as well as the opportunities and challenges new technologies and platforms have on higher education and its future.

Kachani joined Columbia in 2003 and served as the director of master's programs and the director of executive education at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. Prior to that, he worked as a senior consultant at McKinsey & Company. He holds a Diplôme d’Ingénieur in applied mathematics from Ecole Centrale Paris and a Master of Science and a PhD in operations research from MIT.

His additional honors and awards include the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, the Avanessians Diversity Service Award, the Kim Award for Faculty Involvement, and the Egleston Distinguished Service Award.