A word from the Associate Dean: the value of an MBA for students in emerging markets

By Ashok Som, Associate Dean and Director of the Global MBA

As the world as we know it changes and evolves on a daily basis, education and commerce provide the means to embrace the opportunities created by globalization. At the intersection of these two routes to global understanding and success is an MBA, a degree that provides the stepping stone for bridging the gap between the Western World and emerging markets.The choice to pursue an MBA abroad is an important decision, one based on a variety of factors including long-term career goals, location and financial constraints, but for participants coming from emerging markets, this decision can have a lasting positive career impact. During an MBA program, students are exposed to international business and cultural practices that will equip and enable them to contribute to the growth of their home economies through the multi-nationals operating in their home economies and to bridge the gap between the developed nations and the emerging markets

Today, business practices are in a constant state of evolution and flux. Globalization means redefining what we do, how we do it, and on what playing field it takes place. Emerging markets especially the Big Emerging Marjets (BEM) such as Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and Kenya have witnessed growth at a rapid pace. . This state of growth and change provides a whole new range of opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and business practitioners, assuming they have the knowledge and the skill-set to take advantage of these opportunities. The broad general knowledge of an MBA, combined with the global focus of a program such as ours here at ESSEC, makes participants more proficient to maneuver these changes as the opportunities for success that they are, instead of confronting them as indecipherable challenges. The more one knows about international business practices and diverse cultures, the easier it will be to grow one’s own business and career in an interconnected and globalized marketplace.
In addition to the obvious benefits of the knowledge and network gained during an MBA, there is also often a financial incentive involved for participants from emerging countries looking to go to well-known Western schools. Schools place a considerable premium on diversity, seeking to build connections among students from different parts of the world. This often incites them to offer scholarships to students from the BEMcountries, for example, who will add a unique and valuable perspective to the whole class. It also means that the pa

rticipants will understand and be sensitized to working in multi-cultural teams, will understand hot to think differently and how to criticallyappraise each other’s potential. During this journey they may fail and in so doing obtain an understanding of a critical element of life-long learning.

In terms of post-MBA career placement, the rise in economic growth in emerging countries, such as BEMs, means a rise in job opportunities, as well, particularly for professionals holding an MBA. Growth is occurring across sectors such as service, retail, manufacturing, luxury businesses. And as multinationals search for growth and profitability they are the one who are first attracted to the emerging countries. These companies require an efficient and competent workforce, adept and fluent in common business practices but also conscious of and conversant in local practices, language, and culture. This means that employers are often eager to hire locally, but from among a pool of local candidates who possess the skills obtained through a world-class MBA program. MBA holders with diverse backgrounds mean more competitiveness on the global playing field for companies with a multinational presence. These businesses are growing in complexity and scope, meaning they need skilled and competent leaders more than ever before.

For entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses in emerging markets, MBAs are an invaluable resource, as well. If companies want to grow quickly and with a strategy and perspective that will build their success in the long-term, MBA’s represent an important pool of planners and leaders who not only would lead them grow in the home country but also in the developed markets where they did their MBA and have built their network.

At the Global MBA of ESSEC Business school, our group of students this year represents 12 different nationalities. That means that in any given class, perspectives and practices are being shared between Asian, American, European, African and Middle-Eastern students. The cultural competency gained through these interactions is an invaluable addition to the already rich curriculum of an MBA program.The Global MBA rises to this challenge of offering a program geared towards high-potentials who are eager to bridge the gap between developed nations and emerging markets.

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