Ich bin ein Mannheimer !

By Global MBA student Julian Arnaud - France

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As ESSEC Global MBA students, we were offered the opportunity to spend one week in Mannheim University, Germany, to study either Strategic Leadership or International Marketing. Half of the class decided to go. Not only were we amazed by the quality of the professors and their courses' depth, but we were also astounded by the friendly and professional welcome from Mannheim University. From general administration to accommodation services, all the staff members took great care of having our requests fulfilled and questions answered in the shortest time.

As usual, we had to come well prepared and bring our "A" game to meet Professors' expectations and to fittingly represent ESSEC Business School. At the end, the amount of learning clearly justifies this week and I consider it a fantastic experience. Indeed, these kind of exchange programs are not only about studying; they are also about meeting new faces, widening one's network and considering new places as possible workplaces. The Mannheim exchange program is clearly recommended for next years' students!

Luckily enough, we had time to go out with our new teammates and to share drinks and local food with them - some of us are already thinking about going back to Germany to enjoy what makes this country so appealing in summer, biergartens!

A Word from the Associate Dean: Pursuing an MBA during trying economic times

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

While the financial burden of pursuing an MBA might seem even more daunting during difficult economic times, the degree’s value still holds and an economically dark period might just be the perfect moment to build your profile and re-assess your career. Even as our society changes and different economic situations evolve, the MBA is still honored and recognized as a degree that results in well- rounded business knowledge and leadership skills.

An MBA sets you apart from the crowd during hiring processes and recruiting. Having an MBA on your resume makes you attractive to employers, assuring a certain level of experience and knowledge. Additionally, MBA degree holders are more likely to obtain high-up positions in a company, with many employers even requiring an MBA as a qualification for certain positions in upper management. Once in a role with a company, having an MBA makes you a more valuable asset and thus less susceptible to dismissal during lay-offs or other tough periods.

Similarly, an MBA provides you with a launching pad for when the economy rebounds. Once hiring picks up and more opportunities are available, a professional newly equipped with an MBA is more prepared

than ever to embrace them. If big companies aren’t hiring, MBA’s provide the well-rounded general knowledge required to be successful entrepreneurs. An MBA student works rigorously to develop a thorough understanding of accounting, finance, marketing and broader management topics, building a knowledge base that sets the foundation for a thriving business. Many successful ventures have been launched in difficult economic times, including GE (1873), Revlon (1932), and Hewlett-Packard (1939).

Pursuing an MBA during a complicated economic period may even prove to be more useful and interesting than studying when times are “easy.” Classroom curriculum in general will naturally adjust to reflect the challenges of the time, offering experiential learning that will prove valuable in the future, as well as the tools to identify and prevent problematic trends. An MBA equips you with skills and new knowledge that are particularly useful and applicable in crisis times. Students build a skill-set that allows them to be especially successful in leading restructuring or streamlining activities, in maximizing teamwork, and in taking a strategic approach to new policy, products, and processes. An additional benefit that MBAs bring to companies is the ability to share knowledge, and to train other employees in new techniques and strategies to improve overall efficiency. Investing in an MBA is investing in your future, offering a long-term return on interest even if short-term opportunities seem discouraging in a difficult economic climate.

Good schools can open doors to international networks of fellow students and alumni, a major bonus for those looking to move into a globally influential role. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and the contacts you will make in your MBA cohort, through networking and professional events planned by your program, and with influential alumni from your chosen university will be a life-long resource and a major career asset.

And in today’s increasingly globalized environment, programs that give you a global scope and perspective will make you an even more desirable candidate. Currently, we are seeing the remarkable growth of emerging markets. At ESSEC Business School, our Global MBA program is geared towards preparing students to better understand the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly globalized business world, particularly in these emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, and Africa. These markets offer not only opportunities, but also present their own unique risks and complex issues. To that end, we focus our programs on the new frontiers of business, from thinking ‘green’ to considering broader social and political questions surrounding such issues as transportation, access to water, health care, aging populating, poverty, education, urbanization, etc. And we emphasize our students’ ability to think differently, focusing on experiential learning, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation.

A major element in working to achieve these program goals is the active immersion of our Global MBA students in global economies. A five week module in Singapore focuses on geopolitics and how to do business in Asia. A field trip takes students to Eastern Europe. And the experience-based learning project places small groups of students in an emergent country for a five week period, where they work in the field to devise concrete solutions to real problems. This experience allows them to implement multicultural approaches in an environment fundamentally different from their own, while simultaneously developing their capacity for innovation and teamwork in a new economic context. This knowledge and skill set will serve them powerfully when they re-enter what is today a rapidly changing marketplace. Financial crises in developed countries have, if anything, only hastened the shift in global economic power toward emerging economies. This means more opportunities to do business in these economies, and more spending power on the part of these economies to reinvest in developed nations.

This global environment is particularly interesting, particularly challenging, and makes an MBA a particularly valuable pursuit if one wishes to remain competitive and on the side of innovation when the economy is in a constant state of flux and reversal.

Singapore Trek: Louis Vuitton's Marina Bay Island Boutique

By Julie Herbel, Global MBA student - Germany

During our stay in Singapore, we had the opportunity to visit Louis Vuitton’s first Island Maison at the Marina Bay Sands where Guillaume Lhopiteau, the Global Store Manager, welcomed us.

The store sits on the waterfront and has a unique architectural and retail experience concept, which distinguishes it from all other Louis Vuitton stores. The luxury brand asked architect Moshe Safdie and designer Peter Marino to design the store. Inspired by nautical interiors, the architect-designer team delivered a magnificent three-story glass pavilion surrounded by water offering different environments at each level.

There are three ways to enter the store: by the Marina Bay Sands mall through the Louis Vuitton bookstore and a tunnel that leads to the center of the store, by an outdoor bridge linking the store to the promenade or by boat (!) at the Louis Vuitton pier. Our journey started in the bookstore which offers a selection of books about art, design, cooking, travel, fashion and, obviously, about Louis Vuitton itself. The books are carefully chosen and many of them cannot be found in  regular distribution channels.

The bookstore is linked on its left to the jewelry and watch department by a spiral staircase, which shelters a colorful mural by Ruben Toledo. The Cuban illustrator has been working with Louis Vuitton since the late 1990’s illustrating its city guides. In perfect harmony with the eternal traveler image Louis Vuitton is projecting, the mural is dedicated to the theme of travel. Displaying artwork inside the retail area reflects the luxury brand’s deep interest in art. It also facilitates the immersion of the customer in a very unique atmosphere.

Upstairs, the jewelry and watch department seems like a private area with low ceilings and dimmed lights. The department opens up on the second floor of the mall but has no door towards the exterior. Guillaume Lhopiteau explained that the store didn’t want to create any barriers towards the walk-in customers.

Back on the first floor we followed a large corridor with a moving walkway, which takes the customer to the escalator or “travelator” as the store likes to call it, which again takes the “traveler” to the heart of the store: the men and women’s universe. Works of art are on display all along the corridor and the curated exhibitions change every few weeks.

On the second floor, the escalator takes the customer either to the men’s universe on the left or the women’s universe on the right. Both spaces present very different ambiances. The men’s universe is highly inspired by nautical spaces. The ceilings are lower than in the women’s department, the lights are dimmed and the mood is very similar to what you can experience under a boat’s deck: the wooden floors and walls are similar to those used for sailing ships. The dark brown color of the wood adds to the intimacy men usually want to have while shopping, explains Guillaume Lhopiteau. Women on the contrary like to be seen while shopping. Therefore, the space dedicated to them is not only brighter with its gigantic windows offering an incredible view of the Marina Bay, the ceiling is also about 10m high. Under that ceiling a 15m x 8m wooden installation by Richard Deacon (winner of the Turner Prize in 1987) is floating. The sculpture is inspired by the surface of the water and strongly enhances the feel of being on a yacht especially from the mezzanine point of view.

The mezzanine hosts more menswear and accessories. But to create the ultimate seafaring feel, the mezzanine also gives passage to the outdoor “deck” offering a view on the harbor, which left most of us speechless. The deck or loggia presents the possibility to sit and relax while having a drink.

The experience of walking through this store is unique. And apart from all the other things we learned about the company that day, one thing lingers in my mind: the importance of the ambiance a luxury brand is creating. Louis Vuitton is never short of selling dreams, but this particular store sells along with its prestigious goods a dazzling retreat on a luxury cruiser.

Singapore trek: L Capital

By Thomas Wichers, Global MBA student - Denmark

On March 9th members of the Global MBA class, enjoying our time in the ESSEC Singapore campus, enjoyed an afternoon visit to L Capital. After a long day of lectures and presentations we met at the L Captial offices which are located in the World City West Tower in a very nice part of Singapore.

We were greeted by members of the top management, including the VP of Operations, Shantanu Mukerji.

We got an introduction into the history of the company and walk-through of some of their many interesting investments. We also had the opportunity to discuss the future challenges that the luxury industry faces as well as the ongoing challenges and opportunities that the fast-paced rise of Asia present to an industry which has traditionally had their dominant focus on Europe.

Unfortunately all too soon the visit was over, and we had to move on to other appointments in our busy schedules. As Global MBA students at ESSEC we have had the opportunity to meet and be introduced to many of the most exciting companies around the world, but only few have been as interesting as the trek to L Capital.

For me personally, having worked with business development and optimization for years, the meeting at L Capital was very interesting and inspirational. I am sure I am not the only student who will be eager to follow the further development of this exciting company and their impressive portfolio of tomorrow’s potential star brands.

A Word from the Associate Dean: ESSEC Business School's Dynamic Duo

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

Today, educational institutions, including business schools, must be in constant evolution to adequately respond to the complexities of globalization and technology. The rapid leaps in computers and technology that have been made in recent years have changed the way that we teach, the way that we communicate, and the way that we think about doing business. These technologies allow us to maintain a seamless connection across long distances: within business schools as well as dual or even multiple campuses. This changing reality leads us to ask what might be the benefits of dual or multiple campuses in business education.

The evolution of the global economy means that, more and more, business is about the interplay between developed and emerging markets. Cross-cultural understanding and cross-cultural presence are directly tied to a company’s ability to be successful in this dynamic climate. Today, businesses are crossing borders and building their presence on an international stage. It is only logical that the schools that seek to prepare the future leaders of these businesses should do the same. ESSEC Business School has established campuses in Asia and Singapore to address this belief. Studying in Asia equips European students with the skills they need to successfully do business in Asia, much as studying in Europe helps prepare Asian students for careers in the Western world.

Singapore and Paris are both culturally rich and fascinating locations, and both very different from one another. Students have flocked to Paris for centuries to benefit from the unique cultural, economic, and political richness of the City of Lights. Simultaneously charming and cosmopolitan, living in Paris offers opportunities to explore art and architecture, culture and cuisine, politics and history, all in close proximity to major French, European, and International businesses. Singapore, half a planet away, is a dynamic and vibrant city at the crossroads of East and West. It is fascinating and full of opportunity, and an ideal starting point from which to explore the rich culture and geography of Southeast Asia: Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam… the two cities together provide a portrait of both Asia and Europe as coexisting and yet distinct entities. ESSEC students who study in Singapore and in Paris get the unique benefit of combining what Paris does well with what Singapore does well, and we think it’s a pretty winning match.

The Singapore campus of ESSEC Business School is a key factor in the Global MBA program in particular, as it helps our students foster a multi-cultural mindset and opens doors to an economically dynamic region in Asia as they search for careers after graduation. With coursework conducted on two continents, the Global MBA is taking full advantage of all the benefits of ESSEC’s dual campus system. Having a presence in both Paris and in Singapore has been a key component of ESSEC’s international growth strategy, and has concrete, tangible benefits for our students. By studying and living in both cities, students gain rich exposure that complements their educational experience in a way that responds to our increasingly globalized world. This experience is simply not paralleled by traditional programs that take place in one location, or that only offer brief exchange or immersion programs of a week or ten days.

As ESSEC Singapore grows, our school will continue to gain clout and import in the region, meaning that we will in time have an influential network of alumni as well as meaningful connections with the many companies that call Singapore home… or a second home, as it were. Being a major player in two economic regions is instrumental to our goals of recruiting students from around the world.

Certainly, Singapore isn’t ESSEC’s only international presence. We have an extensive array of exchange and double-degree programs with major universities in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Strategically, many of these double degree programs are located in Asia: Beida in Beijing, IIM Ahmedabad in India, NTU in Singapore, KEIO University and Business School in Tokyo, and Seoul National University in Korea, to name a few. But the Singapore campus is a much more definite, determined, and larger scale effort to be a global school. Being in the right place at the right time is key to the success of any institution, and as we look toward the changing economies of the future, Singapore is set to complement our Parisian presence in a major way.

Global MBA hosts Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme

Watch a video of the presentation.

On Tuesday, April 10th, the Global MBA welcomed Accenture CEO and ESSEC alumnus Pierre Nanterme to our campus in Paris-La Défense for a dynamic presentation about leadership in a global company. M. Nanterme started speaking about his ESSEC days by remembering three of his Professors from the Economics, Control and Finance Departments - Professor Frederic Jenny, Professor Florin Aftalion and Professor Patrice Poncet, explaining  that he still uses some of their classroom concepts while leading Accenture, a company with 250,000 employees and a turnover of 26bn$.

Accenture (whose name comes from the combining of the terms ‘accent on the future’) operates in 17 different industries, with offices in 54 countries and operations in more than 100. In just over ten years of operations, the firm has gained a market cap equal to that of HP, and according to M. Nanterme, is probably the most truly global company of its size in the world; they do not have an official headquarters, 150,000 of their 250,000 employees are in emerging markets, and as he explained, Accenture is in the business of moving ideas, not people. Accenture is in a very real sense a virtual company, with its 20 leaders located in 20 different cities around the world. In fact, when Pierre Nanterme was appointed 18 months ago to his current role as CEO, one of the first directives he received (after “don’t screw up”) was “don’t move.”  Finding ways to make Accenture operate virtually, without being tied to a central headquarters and without all of its leadership in one location, is one of the ways in which it stays agile. As he explained, you must be capable of managing a giant in a way that is flexible and nimble. A business of this size in a global economy that is as complex and ever-changing as the one we are currently experiencing must focus on “de-layering,” that is, decentralizing, removing bureaucracy, and creating simplicity from extraordinary complexity.

Leading an organization in the new world requires constant reinvention. There is always something different happening, and as he sees it, we are currently in the midst of a transformation, a messy global business revolution of a magnitude that will be recounted in the history books. Demography, he said, does not lie. There are 7 billion people in the world, and only 1 in both the US and Europe. This should be the primary indicator of a shift in global power, as economy follows population. Today the European market is short of innovation, short of talent, short of skills in math and science; even more than the shift from West to East and North to South, it is the speed of the shift and the simultaneous acceptance of new technologies that is fascinating. China is big now, and it is getting bigger and bigger… faster. When Accenture designed their strategies for Cloud computing, their ten year plan was obsolete in ten months. This climactic speed and volatility needs to be integrated into a company’s approach and the mentality of its leadership. The world is big and uncertain, and when your company operates in 100 countries, you need to ‘get it.’ Similarly, you need to accept that you will be working in ambiguity, recognizing that there is no simple answer. This ‘gray’ world is exciting, interesting, and scary, and there’s no step-by-step textbook guide to getting it right.

M. Nanterme discussed his vision of leadership, and how the role of a leader differs from that of a manager. A leader must be inspiring, they must drive people, they must be reliable, and they need to stay relevant. Leadership is not, he emphasized, another word for management. Leadership is inspiration, communication, and drive in a volatile world. For years, M. Nanterme explained, someone might have been able to run a company like Accenture as a manager. But today this kind of organization requires real leadership: someone to drive, not someone to ride. A leader inspires and mobilizes within a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environment, whereas a manager plays by the rules, runs the day-to-day, and focuses on delivering results. Managers look to the CEO to lead them, not to do their job. They want to know where they are going and how they get there, and these are questions that have to do with vision, communication, and inspiration, not ‘management.’

What does it take to be a CEO? In his own experience, M. Nanterme has found that the key to being a successful CEO lies in a specific set of attributes. He tries things. He recognizes the need for constant adjustment. Progress is a series of sprints, of managing your trajectory through permanent reassessment, having a rolling strategy, stress-tests, asking the critical ‘what-if’ questions. In all matters of shaping and designing your organization, the principal focus should be on nimbleness, agility, and flexibility. An organization needs to be flat, even when it’s big. At Accenture, all of the Global Managers report directly to Pierre Nanterme, without in-between layers to slow them down. In fact, he stated that it is better to create gaps than to create bureaucracy. As he explains, the speed of feedback is essential to the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization, and clear delegation and decentralization are key to this approach.

Another key to successful leadership is holding on to the philosophy and values of an organization. In times of massive change, what remains constant is a company’s way of doing things, their glue or “secret sauce;” the culture and the principal values of the company are what hold the whole thing together. He is one of the people who has been at Accenture the longest, and with employee turnover and planned hires considered, Accenture will essentially be recreated from scratch in the next five years. Holding fast to a simple and clear business model is key to keeping a company culture intact with that kind of change.

M. Nanterme also discussed the concept of the extended company, based on the idea that no company in the world can be successful on its own. They need to leverage an ecosystem of partners in a network of simultaneous cooperation and competition.

Finally, his presentation boiled down to the four essential characteristics for successful leadership in the CEO role, which were:

  1. BE INSPIRATIONAL: have a clear and simple vision. Be authentic. Be a role model; you are being constantly watched. Live your corporate values.

  2. DRIVE your employees. Lead them; don’t manage them. Be on the front lines, not orchestrating things from the office. Be decisive and willing to make the tough decisions; whether it’s good or bad, you need to decide. Your employees will be counting on this, as well as your ability to take calculated risks.

  3. BE RELIABLE. Trust and honesty are key for seamless execution. Not being trusted is a problem. You need to tell the truth, even if you have an issue.

  4. BE RELEVANT. Stay informed, be global, be open, and learn, learn, learn.

Management is an art, not a science, and you have to develop yourself into the best possible artist. One of the most important keys to doing this is having mentors and coaches. He said he has had three in the last 29 years: one who brought him to leadership in his country, another who brought him to leadership in Europe and the world of financial services, and finally the CEO of Accenture, who brought him into the management fold. Some people know better than you do yourself whether or not you’ve “got it;” when these people tell you go get out of your comfort zone, spend less time thinking about whether or not to listen, and more time just saying “yes.”

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Global MBA Trek: Viadeo

By Uday Broca, Global MBA Student - India

Last week we had a company trek to Viadeo, the second largest professional social networking site in the world. Seven of us made it to their Global HQ in Paris and were pleasantly greeted by two huge walls filled with photographs of all the employees at the various company get-togethers in the reception area. Besides these were two fussball tables and we knew we were going to be in for something very different. During the tour of the office, we also saw a beautiful zen room, Playstation gaming room, a poker table and a cafeteria with their own personal Italian chef preparing some wonderful and aromatic food! What else could an employee ask for!

It wasn’t all fun and games though; you could definitely feel a sense of urgency and energy amongst all the employees, a rarity in European offices these days. The campus manager took us through the company presentation and facts and figures. With over 40 million registered users on their various sites, Viadeo is not small by any stretch of the means. They are on a crazy growth trajectory fuelled by the strategy set by the two founders to focus on emerging markets that include Brazil, India, China and now Russia and Africa as well. They have made some strategic acquisitions with UNYK, adding 10 million users in South America, Apna Circle in India, the largest local professional network with 3.5 million users and Tianji in China.

Peter Crosby, the Chief Sales Officer - a hardcore sales professional coming from the cut throat advertising sales business, laid out the strategy in more detail. He explained how Viadeo could not only compete but co-exist very easily with Linkedin without much trouble as they believed in adding a localised flavour to their sites rather than going for the broad brush approach used by Linkedin. This was evident from the subtle nuances felt between Apna Circle which provides astrological advice on the home page (very important for Indians) while Tianji has a very different colour scheme and layout in red (considered auspicious in China). They have also recently opened an office in Morocco and added a strategic partner in Russia, all parts of the overall strategy of growing and reaching a critical mass.

Peter also explained another major difference, Viadeo does not want to become just a job board through a social network and they are taking some major steps to achieve this. They would like to keep the website as a tool for building your network, finding a job, recruiting university candidates, connecting with sales contacts and much more.

After the presentation and discussions, the floor was opened for questions which ranged from threats from Branch Out and Yammer, opening up of the API, controlling SPAM, brand differentiation to possibility of IPO etc. All the speakers answered the questions in great detail, with room for some cross questioning as well.

Overall, the trek lasted nearly 3 hours and the ESSEC Global MBA students were highly appreciative of the time taken out by all the employees. It will be very interesting to see the battle between Linkedin and Viadeo transform in the coming years with most social networks being dominated by one large player. In this case we have two very strong yet completely different companies going head on, but could they co-exist? Will it result in one buying out the other? Will one just fritter away like Orkut did under facebook pressure? Or will we see the emergence of new giants like Google+ coming into the fray! Maybe it could be a few ESSEC Global MBA students joining Viadeo and making the difference? Only time will tell.

For now the class will concentrate on the strategies for growth (JV, M&As) elective starting this week and possibly come up with a few more answers to all the questions above.

A Word from the Associate Dean: an MBA: is it worth it?

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

What is the job of a manager? Simply put it is to plan & execute, organize & set objectives, staff & develop people, motivate & communicate, direct & control. If it was so easy why does one need an MBA? It is because the main job of a manager is also to take decisions under uncertain environments for which (s)he expects to be paid a premium. These days, in the midst of an economic recession and with the proliferation (and expense) of MBA programs climbing, many skeptics are questioning the value of the  MBA and whether the degree actually teaches or atleast enhances the decision making capability of a manager. Is an MBA really the ticket to guaranteed career success? Is it really necessary to get into the executive level? And is all that time, effort, and investment going to pay for itself within a few years? Well, the answer is not in black and white.

What is an MBA? An MBA provides you with the well-rounded management skills and knowledge that will serve you well in capitalizing on various opportunities that present it to you, depending on your background. A student with an engineering degree may not have a solid grasp of business theory. A person with several years of experience in marketing and sales may be well served by a deeper understanding of basic finance and accounting. Learning about operations at a strategic level may help you understand why things weren’t working so well at your old company, or may help you make better decisions going forward. An MBA provides this knowledge and training that are essential for a successful career in management, as well as coursework in topics like negotiation and decision-making that are complex and not necessarily intuitive.

And perhaps the most valuable element of an MBA, the word that you can hardly assign a dollar value to because it’s so priceless? Network, network, network. The people you meet in your MBA will be lifetime career contacts, whether they are fellow students, professors, or members of your school’s alumni community. At ESSEC, we have students representing 90 nationalities on our campus, we have professors from the most prestigious institutions the world over, and we have a robust international network of 40,000 alumni in key positions with major companies. That’s a rich resource, and as the adage goes, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. The people you meet through an MBA will enable your success, and you, in turn, will help other members of the network be successful. This is why choosing a high-caliber school, a school with character, heritage and those that has proved itself for over a century, is so important.

So why an MBA? Many successful MBA’s today agree that the degree alone is not a guarantor of success; that comes from hard work and your own drive and abilities and a little bit of luck. But they do agree that it is a key in getting started, and as with most journeys, the first step is often the most crucial in establishing a career path, both in terms of starting salary and the sort of position in which you begin. Aside from the strong well rounded knowledge base, aside from the classroom learning that will make you an asset to a company, the MBA as the excellent tool, resource, and building block that it has proven itself to be over time, this degree will prove to be an investment both lucrative and invaluable. That starting point has a ripple effect over the rest of your career trajectory.

Pursuing an MBA, as with other graduate degrees, demonstrates that you are dedicated, and value continued growth and learning; these are important traits in the eyes of potential employers. People want to hire people who are ambitious, who are motivated, and who are willing to work hard to grow their knowledge, expand their skill set, and who recognize that a job requires life-long learning.

An MBA is just one building block in that process, but it’s an important one, and this is one of the less tangible assets of having an MBA that makes you a more appealing candidate when you’re looking for work.  And things are improving. After several lackluster (to say the least) years in the job market, hiring is picking up. According to Forbes, 57% of business school grads already having a job offer in hand several months before graduation, as compared to 40% in 2010.

At ESSEC, we also believe that classroom training is made more valuable by alternating it with experiential learning. This accrues further more value if one already has worked and with management experience. Learning abstract academic concepts is one thing; having the firsthand knowledge and understanding that comes from real practice to apply to classroom learning and bring to class discussions creates a rich, varied, and ultimately more powerful learning experience. This is why we require that our students have four to six years of work experience, with two in a managerial role. When they come from that environment into school, they are ready to reconsider the experience they’ve had, to learn to think differently, and that is exactly what our MBA program aims to help them to do.

We are a school. We believe firmly in the value of education. We have been doing that for over a century. An MBA is an investment that will be rewarding, that will have returns, and will open doors for you, but as with anything, what you get out of it depends very much on what you put in. Need some visual convincing? Check out this infographic that illustrates the ROI of an MBA : http://www.knewton.com/gmat/mba/worth-it/

Global MBA hosts Unilever Foods category President

Yesterday, the Global MBA hosted ESSEC alum Antoine de Saint-Affrique, the President of the Foods division at Unilever, for a presentation about his career in consumer goods at our Cergy campus. M. de Saint-Affrique discussed Unilever’s international nature, as well as their ambitious plans for growth as the wealth in the global economy expands between now and 2020. He discussed at length both his personal commitment to sustainability and Unilever’s dedication to this principle, founded on the belief that companies that are not focused on sustainability will not last in the long-term. This principle is tangent to the belief in the capacity of a company to do well by doing good; focusing on sustainability improves Unilever’s efficiency and its image in the minds of consumers in the long run. In this way, making conscious efforts to reduce the company’s negative impact on the environment and increase its positive impact on the lives of individuals affected by its various products and projects ultimately has a positive effect on profits.

In recent years, Unilever has made major shifts to address company culture, and M. de Saint-Affrique stressed the importance of leadership and of people in making these changes; you can’t change culture without changing people, he said, and cynical employees are toxic in an organization. In terms of personnel, he also discussed Unilever's 70-20-10 philosophy of employee development. This ratio means that an employee learns 70% of what they need to be successful in their role on the job, 20% of this knowledge comes through company-driven trainings (including training and interaction directly with the top management of the organization, an initiative that the company holds dear), and 10% comes from the formal classroom setting.

Unilever is a company that is defined by its international presence and the diversity of its employees. This presents both challenges and opportunities for individuals, and ultimately contributes to the richness of the human fabric of the company; individuals carry elements of their culture with them wherever they go, and at the same time are constantly learning through their interactions with other cultures. M. de Saint-Affrique discussed the various experiences he had working in Eastern Europe, in Russia, in the US, and now in London: in all, an excellent representation of the type of globalized career the Global MBA students are looking forward to.

His most critical piece of career advice? Have a strong moral compass, and follow it. A lot of hard work and a little bit of luck don’t hurt, either.

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Snapshots of Singapore

Check out some photos taken by Global MBA student Michael Paraschos (Greece) throughout the Singapore Term

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