Company Trek: Microsoft

By Ayan Mukhopadhyay, Global MBA Student

The Microsoft Surface, encasing several path breaking features in tablet device architecture, was launched on 19th June. The launch was keenly followed by many eager GMBA students, and so the company visit to Microsoft came at the right moment, when many questions regarding the Surface were brewing. 10 students reached the Microsoft office the sunny evening of  June 20th to get a better insight on Microsoft and ask whatever we had always wanted to know. The team was welcomed by Sandeep Shyamsunder who has been with Microsoft for the last 8 years.

The visit started with a tour of the Microsoft Technical Center, a place where you get to see all the newest stuff that Microsoft is working upon, both software and hardware. We got to see a futuristic version (beta) of Bing maps which can be controlled with gestures that are translated into actions (zoom in, zoom out etc) by hardware embedded on a surface.

Presentations about Microsoft were kicked off by Nicolaz Foucaud, an ESSEC alumnus, who showed us a brief history of what he has done till now and how his entrepreneurial spirit has landed him with a job with Microsoft. Nicolaz spoke primarily about Enterprise marketing and stressed how Microsoft works with its clients to optimize business for the digital economy of tomorrow in the realms of efficiency, cost reduction and innovation that differentiates.

Next speaker was Mathilde Furic who works as HR Manager supporting the Finance department. As expected, Mathilde’s presentation was more on the people aspect of business and she explained how Microsoft looks for persons with values that can make a difference, especially passion and integrity. She also clarified how Microsoft wants to leverage aspects of people management to gain a competitive advantage over its rivals by putting the right person at the right place and at the right time.

Lastly, there was a very small presentation and mostly Q&A session from Ines Kouraïchi (ESSEC alumnus) and Eric Bazin who are from the Finance department working as Controllers. The students came up with all sorts of questions mostly emanating and linked with the recent Microsoft Surface launch. One of the important points regarding Surface that came during the course of the discussion was the analogy drawn with the launch of the Nexus phone by Google. Microsoft Surface follows the same path (reference model) as it tries to show a new direction to the OEMs in terms of innovative use of hardware. As traditional PC makers like HP, Dell, Asus etc. tried their hands at making tablet devices unsuccessfully and went out of the segment, Microsoft stepped in to show what can be achieved. I am sure many of us will wait eagerly how the Surface molds the already crowded tablet market segment.

Our trek ended with a visit to the ideal smart home, a working model built inside the office building that houses almost all the latest Microsoft technologies. After spending some time playing with the Kinect and marveling at its ability to pick up gestures, it was time to return. I'm sure that in the coming days, many of us will be eagerly following the development in the tablet and OS segments that will be impacted with launch of Surface and Windows 8.[gallery columns="2"]

Russia Visit: BMW

By Julie Herbel, Global MBA Student

Russians don’t want to be seen spending money, says Olivier Rademacher from BMW. Therefore, opening a regular car dealer shop would have made no sense. Especially to market the 7 series, a car BMW wants to sell as a luxury item. BMW made a bet: opening a pop-up store in Moscow that looks like nothing ever seen in the automobile industry before, which will surprise the customers and offer new opportunities.

The store, or should I say space, is a white cube. As in many art galleries nowadays nothing can be seen from the outside. You enter the store facing a white wall. Once you get around it a single room space welcomes the visitor. The first thing you see is a round white table with 8 white chairs. Looking to the left, the visitor discovers carefully chosen Pirelli photos with an exhibition-like lighting and a small white sofa to have time to contemplate the portraits. Opposite to that wall is a long white bar serving Nespresso (a.o.) which you can enjoy sitting on classy white bar stools. It is probably only then that you become aware of the BMW 7 series in the very back of the store. For sure you noticed it before. But now you actually take it in. Wherever you sit, the car is there, in the corner of your eyes. Almost like a subliminal message.

BMW decided to rent the space to some of their partners, organizing viewings of movies or opening parties. In a small part of the room a semi-open area offers the possibility to go through books from all BMW partners comfortably seated in silver armchairs.

As for the question of whether they are able to sell cars in such a store, the answer was clear: yes. Shopping for BMW is no longer shopping for a commodity, it is shopping for the experience and for Moscow to show off an expensive car “made in Germany”.

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The Global MBA in Russia

By Global MBA Student Aurélie Metcheka

The Global MBA has not ceased to conquer the world; this time we discovered the Eastern part of Europe: Russia. This trip wasn’t like the Singapore term, where we spent 6 weeks, had lectures, talks and company treks. The Russia trip was one week in length and the agenda of the trip was company treks and sightseeing, plus an alumni dinner.

Our journey started in St Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia.

Day One:

In the morning, we visited The Petrodvorets Watch Factory in Peterholf, a municipal town in Petrodvortsovy district in the federal city of St. Petersburg. The factory is Russia’s oldest factory and was founded in 1721 by Peter the Great. Since 1962, the factory has been producing watches under the brand name “Raketa” in honor of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Originally, the factory produced luxury objects in semi-precious and precious stones for the palaces of the Tsars. Now, we find these objects in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and also in most of the palaces of Europe, like Versailles and the Louvre. Today, the Petrodvorets Watch Factory is still located in its historical building and is one of the rare watch factories in the world that fully manufactures its own movements including hair spring, balance wheel and escapement. Today, the head of the Design and Creative department of the factory is an ESSEC Alumni: Jacques Von Polier. He is the key-stone of the restructuring and the rebranding of the Russian historical brand "Raketa".
In the afternoon, we had a boat ride on the Neva River. Many, if not all landmarks sights of St. Petersburg are situated near the Neva River. For example: St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Nicholas I Monument, Blue Bridge, Mariinsky Palace, Yusupov Palace, Mariinsky Theater, Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas and the Grand Choral Synagogue.

Day Two:

The day started with a visit to the Hermitage museum. The bus left us on the Palace Embankment, a street in Central St. Petersburg which contains the Hermitage museum itself, the Winter Palace (the former official residence of the Russian Royal Family from 1700 to 1917), the Marble Palace (the interior and exterior of the property features 32 different types of marble. Also, Catherine the Great intended to give the palace as a gift to Count G. Orlov, one of her favorite friends) and the Vladimir Palace. The Hermitage collection includes more than three million works of art and artifacts of the world culture. Among them are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material.
After the museum, some of us went to Petrograd embankment to see Cruiser “Aurora”. Cruiser “Aurora” is considered to be a monument of the Russian shipbuilding because it has seen much in its life. Aurora took part in three wars (the Russo-Japanese war, the First and Second World War), revolutionary events in 1917 and forged many naval officers of the Russian Navy.

After the long day of sightseeing, we took the night train to go to Moscow.

Day Three:

We arrived in Moscow at 6:30 AM. Our journey in St. Petersburg was much easier and less tiring because we had a bus at our disposition. Moscow is big city and it is a nightmare to drive a car there. The subway is the best mean of transport. Every 3 min you have a subway, it is regular and always on time. At 9:00 AM, we had a company trek at Dior and at 1:00 pm another company trek at Globus, an international chain of discount hypermarkets represented in Germany, Czech Republic, and Russia. Globus supermarkets provide products of unique freshness and quality at low prices, with a European level of service and qualified personnel.

Day Four:

We visited the Economic Mission of the French Embassy in the morning and in the
afternoon, we went to Philips. Philips has an interesting concept in its office in Russia. Based on the nationality of their employees, they decorate their break rooms with the scenery of their countries. We were all amazed when we saw that. The company really does everything for their employees to make them feel at home.

Day Five:

We started the day with ABBYY. Abby is a Russian software company, headquartered in Moscow, which provides optical character recognition, document capture, document conversion and language software for both PC and mobile devices. Their applications can be found on Android and in the Apple Store.
The second trek of the day was at BMW and the last one was at Rezidor Hotel Group. The
Rezidor Hotel Group is one of the world's fastest growing hotel companies. Their portfolio features well- segmented hotel brands: Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson, Hotel Missoni and Country Inns & Suites. Their objective now is to well known in Russia and Africa. In Africa, they are only present in South Africa. We ended the day with the Alumni dinner. Many of the ESSEC alumni living in Russia were there and also some prospective Global MBA students. We took advantage of the trip to hold some interviews and recruit some students.

Day Six:

No company trek today! Let’s make room for tourism. This time we had a bus at our disposition. The agenda of the day was the Kremlin and a boat ride. The Kremlin is a historical walled complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River, Saint Basil's Cathedral, Red Square and the Alexander Garden.
Later on during the day, some of us went to Arbat Street to buy some souvenirs. Arbat Street is a street full of souvenir vendors, tourist cafes. The prices of the souvenirs vary from reasonable to rip off. Vendors offer a very high price but can be talked down if you speak Russian, but unfortunately the only words I learned while there were spasiba (Thank you) and Dobroe utro (Good Morning).

After such an exhausting day, we all went back to the hotel to prepare our departure the next day.

The week spent in Russia was very enriching! We got the inside view of eight companies and still managed to do some sightseeing. The ESSEC Global MBA’s aim is to form Global managers for that we need to have a global mindset. Guess where we will be in the month to come …

Company Trek: Philips in Russia

By Vineet Sahaya, Global MBA student

What name comes to  mind when we think of reputed and renowned electronics companies in the world??

Philips would probably be the first.

Philips is a 121 year old Dutch multinational electronics company headquartered in Amsterdam. It was founded in Eindhoven (Holland) in 1891 by Gerard Philips and his father Frederik. Philips is a colossal giant in the electronics business with Euro 22.6 Billion in revenue and  117,000 employees across the world.

During our field trip to Russia, we were invited to visit the Philips Moscow office to get an inside view of the company to understand what helps it to be recognized as one of the most innovative companies in the Electronics business.

As we made our way in the evening for a trek to the Philips Moscow office, we wondered how the visit would turn out. We were in for a pleasant surprise.

We were welcomed by the Customer Experience Leader and the HR Recruitment specialist at the Philips office. Our trek began with a visit to the customer welcome lounge. The lounge resembled more a drawing room of a house, with all equipment manufactured by Philips installed, to give us an idea about how the company is involved in everything that touches our day to day life. It was an innovative approach to welcoming people.

Next to follow was a floor walk. While being led around the company floor, we observed a few things that struck us. People were working in a very open environment where anybody could sit at any place. This was a little odd for us till we were introduced to the Philips Workspace Innovation program. The Workplace Innovation Program is a corporate initiative which provides Philips employees guidance and tools to support a new way of working. The Workplace Innovation Program establishes a new era for Philips, enabling employees to work in ways and in locations which best suit their business needs and most importantly demonstrate to Philips customers that Philips is an innovative company with advanced real estate and technology solutions. Employees are encouraged to work in a more collaborative manner within a more innovative environment, 'choosing' where they want to work and what 'type of workspace' they work in, according to their daily requirements. The company also had multiple breakaway areas designed like coffee shops or a lounge, with each of them representing different themes, reflecting a freshness rarely seen at companies. The breakaway area looked more like the inside of a sports bar than an office. The energy of the office environment was infectious.

A presentation about Philips and its history followed next. It was interesting to know that Philips is #1 globally in 10 product lines with over 1 million customers served. It is also the largest manufacturer of lighting in the world with 25 % of lamps used in the world belonging to the Philips brand. We were given an overview of the business and its three main divisions; Philips Consumer Lifestyle (formerly Philips Consumer Electronics and Philips Domestic Appliances and Personal Care), Philips Healthcare (formerlyPhilips Medical Systems) and Philips Lighting. This was followed by a Q&A session. All our queries
ranging from its overall practices and strategy to its experience of doing business in an emerging market like Russia were answered to satisfaction.

Finally, the presentation was over and it was time for an informal chat. Our two Hosts joined us for a free-flowing conversation over coffee and made us feel at home. It was a chance for networking and exploring opportunities. The Client Relationship Leader and the HR Recruitment specialist expressed their happiness to host the ESSEC Global MBA program. We were invited to connect with them and discuss future career opportunities. We thanked our hosts for their time and bid them goodbye.

As we made our way back to the hotel, we could not hide our happiness at having had such an excellent opportunity to get an insight into a company culture which breeds innovation.

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Russia: Visit to ABBYY in Moscow

By Global MBA student Julian Arnaud

What if you are stuck in a meeting where your counterparts have a limited command of the English language?

ABBYY's full range of softwares might be useful and help your VP Sales to secure this big contract he's been chasing.

ABBYY is part of these discreet, successful companies final customers don't necessarily know the name of while at the same time they use their products or are very familiar with their technology.

During our trip to Russia, we had the chance to visit this multinational software company based in suburban Moscow. GMBAs were thrilled to put their hands on smartphones equipped with ABBYY's apps.

From direct translation to business card instant reading and recognition, the class enjoyed and positively reacted to the workshop and the presentation !

Thanks again to the Abbyy staff !![gallery columns="2"]