Every department head dreams about getting his school or department in the top-X. Many write elaborate strategic plans on how they will achieve that goal.Alas, the harsh reality is that very few succeed.
When I joined EPFL as head of computer science in 2002, like most beginners, I set myself the goal of making EPFL a top-5 department in Europe. I believe that we have succeeded, and arguably wedid even better than that. I will explain what worked in doing so and what did not. In the process I also hope to dispense some (non-conformist) advice to aspiring department heads.