A Word from the Associate Dean: Remaining Connected with the Business World

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

It's not a ground-breaking observation to say that today's business world is changing, and as such the needs of businesses are evolving, as well. Companies today are seeking a new breed of managers: individuals who are agile, adapatable, and comfortable in a volatile and uncertain environment. Successful managers today are those who can function in multi-cultural teams, who are sensitive and exposed, and who are capable of solving problems that didn't exist ten years ago. Business schools have traditionally trained managers who have general knowledge to get the 'big picture' in a cilpany and who can both guide employees and guide strategy. Students traditionally read the classic case studies; they learned that the Tylenol recall was good PR, that the Exxon Valdez was not so good.But is textbook knowledge, learned in classrooms from lifetile academics, sufficient training for this complex, globalized, hyper-connected world we are operating in today?

And when current best practices in management are in the midst of revolution at places like Google, Facebook, and Apple, are the articles that were published last year or even last week up to date enough? The answer, obviously, is no. Traditional approaches to business education are too narrow to be relevant in today's business world, and degrees from institutions that have failed to innovate at the pace at which business itself has innovated are producing students who are already behind when they should be helping their employers to be one step ahead.

So how do we bridge this gap between the buginess school and the business world? How do we stay relevant in a climate where something is new one day and obsolete the next?

At the Global MBA at ESSEC Business School, we have designed our program to do just this. Our academics cover business fundamentals, but they focus on the problems, markets, and questions of tomorrow. Emerging markets, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, public policy, environmental concerns... these are just some of the topics that our students explore in depth with faculty from renowned institutions around the globe. Our diverse cohort, too, fosters a multi-cultural and multi-perspective forum for discussion. The GLobal MBA student body is 90% international, representing 14 nationalities and students with six years' average experience across a range of industries and functions. We believe that at this point in their professional trajectory, our students have the real-world know how to make an MBA a truly valuable experience.

But what makes the GLobal MBA unique and what has truly prepared our first cohort of students to become relevant and transformative meaders in the 'real world' is what happens outside the classroom. Our emphasis on experiential learning means that at multiple points throughout the year our students pack their bags, close their text books, and get out in the field. A study term in Singapore punctuated with company treks, visitors from local and international business based in the city-state, and plenty of chances to get immersed in the fascinating and varied culture of South East Asia exposes our students to the opportunities available to them in Asia. A field trip to Eastern Europe this year revealed the inner workings of eight Russian companies to the Global MBA students, an instructive glimpse into doing business in a political and economic climate quite different from our own. In these projects that go beyond mere simulation, the students have learned to navigate and capitalize uôn the diversity of skills in their multi-cultural teams in a hands-on context; langauge, technical proficiency, business etiquette and customs, problem-solving, communication skills, adaptability, and resourcefulness have all come into play in a variety of ways in each location.

Our approach to building meaningful relationships with the 'real' business world happens closer to home, as well. ESSEC's commitment to engaging with the business community has made us the favored school for French recruiters, and resulted in our students reporting the highest level of satisfaction with their post-graduate integration into the working world. The Global MBA frequently hosts noteworthy speakers, both ESSEC alumni and members of the business community at large; individuals like Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, president of the Foods Division at Unilever, Peter Herbel, Head Counsel for Total, and Michele Amièl, Head of Talent Management for LVMH come to mind. These intimate presentations give our students an exciting chance to interact with, question, and connect with today's business leaders.

And for students who want to do business while they learn, internal organizations such as ESSEC Ventures and the ESSEC Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship help students build their own businesses, providing resources and tools, assisting in seeking funding, and even incubating a number of start-ups each year. On an institutional level, ESSEC has partnered with other schools to create the Council for Business and Society, a global ammiance that seeks to build partnerships between policy-makers, academics, and corporate leaders in addressing key issues at the intersection of business and society, encouraging dialogue, disseminating educational materials, and combining expertise to advance important initiatives.

Our strategy and approach is to give students not just the knowledge but the tools and experience they need to be able to think on their feet and provide innovative, timely, relevant solutions to the companies they will enter after graduation. By focusing on hands-on and experiential learning, we push our students to test their classroom knowledge and build upon it, becoming truly global managers for a business world that needs them.

First Impressions: Arriving at ESSEC

By Priyesh Salunke, Global MBA Student 2012-2013

Listening to “Drive” by Incubus in the laundry room at my residence in France, I cannot help but think over the last year of my life in India. I say this because I was in a stagnant position in my career and I needed a change. “What change?” one may ask. In India, the “change” in such situations is mostly academic, in terms of the pursuit of academic knowledge. Being in India for the last 8 years, having a bachelors’ degree in chemical engineering and then 4 years of work experience, my next logical step was the masters’ degree.

I started looking at various MBA programs all over the world and a couple of friends from France told me about the ESSEC Global MBA program. I was truly surprised when I looked at the course curriculum and the structure of the program. My first reaction was, “How are they going to fit so much into one year’s time?!”, but they did and it has worked out perfectly up to now. Being a highly selective program, I was ecstatic when I got the news that I was admitted. Completing my formalities in India, I set foot on a flight for Paris. The Charles de Gaulle airport and the city welcomed me with open arms but in a different language. Very few people spoke English and my cab driver was definitely not one of them. I came to France in the 2nd week of September and life has not been the same ever since.

The campus and school life is exciting and challenging. The main entrance to the ESSEC Business School building is small but one will not believe how the big the campus actually is. One has to see it to believe it. The campus, composed of various buildings connected by common passageways, is like a maze. Collecting the keys to my residence at the ALEGESSEC office and then finding the main gate of ESSEC was a herculean task. I love the campus, in spite of the complex nature of finding my way around here.

My MBA class is comprised of 14 nationalities. When I met my class, I thought I was at a global convention. There were people from all around the world. The ESSEC Global MBA class is truly global. I started to get to know them better during my integration week and I realised that there are vast culture differences between many of us, and that is good because there is so much to learn about these cultures.

The integration week taught us how to be more creative in our lives and how to push our limits and take the risks that we do not normally take. It helped us realise that it is sometimes needed to take that one extra step to achieve our goals. It made me realise that creativity is not just a natural trait but can be developed over a period of time if one is willing to work on it. It taught me to think “out of the box” and the implications of that.

The second week here took us all to the Coëtquidan at St. Cyr to test our mental and physical limits. This course was a leadership and team building exercise and the army school or Ecole at St. Cyr had formulated a plan or a series of exercises that would test our leadership capabilities and skills. Certain tasks required physical prowess whereas others required logical thinking. My team and I bonded over common victories and failures. I got to know my teammates better over a period of 3 days and this, in turn, helped me understand them. It also made me recognize the people that I am good at working with. I was able to learn a lot more about myself and there were certain times that I wanted to give up and there were others when I undoubtedly surprised myself.

As the chorus of the song goes “Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah”, I know that I am ready now and know that my time at ESSEC will be an experience that I am going to cherish for the rest of my life.

International Immersion Projects

This summer, our Global MBA students took off to consulting projects all over the globe: the Philippines, Egypt, Venezuela, Uruguay, India, South Africa. They spent a month on the ground, working with teams on projects as diverse as microfinance, youth education, and sustainability.

Check out the four videos below for a glimpse into what the projects were like for the Global MBA students!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw118vP9trA]

IIP Egypt

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ1X-IkxGLI]

IIP Philippines

IIP India

IIP South Africa

Are you inspired yet?

Upcoming Events: MBA Fairs and the London Master Class

We know you keep up with us online, but how about meeting in person?

Our recruitment manager Sarah is a regular participant in the QS Top MBA Fairs, so make sure to keep an eye on our calendar to see when she's coming to a city near you.

For Europeans, the next three major stops are:

Paris, France
Saturday September 29th, 2012
From 3 to 6pm
More info

London, England
Saturday October 6th, 2012
From 3 to 6pm
More info

Frankfurt, Germany
Saturday October 20th, 2012
From 3 to 6pm
More info

Sarah will also be participating in the Connect 1:1 events that take place before the fairs in each of these three cities, so register in advance if you'd like a chance to meet with her individually to discuss the Global MBA.

In conjunction with the London fair, ESSEC is also hosting the second in its new series of Master Classes.

The class will be led by Ayse Önçüler, Professor of Marketing Management and Negotiations.

During the presentation, she will introduce the topics of managerial decision making and negotiations.  Participants will be able to take part in interactive games, ask questions, and get involved in the discussion. The class will be immediately followed by a cocktail reception.

This event is the second in a new series of Master Classes, led by ESSEC professors, which aim to bring together prospective students and ESSEC alumni.  During the presentation, prospective students can get a hands-on experience in a real master class and afterwards, they can talk with alumni about their experiences at ESSEC and what they are up to now.

Come find out how you can save the lives of thousands with 1000 oranges!

For more information about the Master Class in London
To register for this free event

When: Saturday, October 6, 2012
5:15pm – 6:15pm

Immediately followed by a cocktail reception with ESSEC alumni and representatives

Where: The Lancaster Hotel
The Park Room
Lancaster Terrace
London W2 2TY

The Council on Business and Society: A Global Alliance of Schools of Management

In November, ESSEC will host the first conference of the Council on Business and Society.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLCVSiZMWSU]

Recognizing the enormous role that businesses can play in helping solve large-scale problems, five of the world’s leading business schools came together in 2011 and forged a unique international partnership: The Council on Business & Society.

The partnering schools — ESSEC Business School; Keio Business School; School of Management, Fudan University; Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth; and the University of Mannheim, Business School — were selectively chosen for their stature in the international community and the common vision they share of fostering academic excellence and the importance of a broad view of the role of business in society. Their goal: To marshall their substantial intellectual and professional resources in the pursuit of knowledge and ideas that will make an impact both in the world of management education and in the messy, complex world of daily life.

Their collective impact and reach are impressive. Together, they represent countries generating 50% of the world’s GDP. In addition to broad institutional and corporate partnerships, the schools are connected globally through the joined resources of some 600 full-time faculty, 20,000 students, and a network of 90,000 alumni.

The Council on Business & Society will convene an annual forum that combines the expertise of faculty members from each of the partner schools with that of representatives of business, government, and non-governmental organizations from around the world. The inaugural forum, held in Paris in November 2012, will focus on Corporate Governance and Leadership. The multi-faceted, multi-cultural event will introduce a new, collective voice to the conversation — and inevitably lead to new insights and unique initiatives. Subsequent forums will be organized by partner schools on a rotating basis and focus on such issues as health care delivery, responsible innovation, sustainable development, and financial regulation.

First International Forum : a unique, timely, international dialogue

The Council is breaking new ground with its multi-cultural, multi-level focus on societal issues. The approach combines the latest and and most creative ideas  from the diverses worlds of research, business, and nonprofit and governmental institutions. The synergy enhances the intellectual debate with dramatically increasing the odds of generating practical, solution-based recommendations.

Join us for this unique event!

  • Theme: "Corporate Governance and Leadership"

  • Date: November 16-17, 2012

  • Location: Salons de la Maison des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France.

  • Inspired by keynote speakers, challenged by expert panels and guided by first rate business school faculty members.

For more information or to register for the conference, contact Céline Leroy: leroy@essec.edu

Visit the website

Graduation Video

On Friday evening, the Global MBA students celebrated their graduation ceremony and officially became the first ever graduating class of the Global MBA at ESSEC Business School. Photos and videos of the event are still to come, but you can watch the video that student (or graduate, I should say!) Ayan Mukhopadhyay created for the evening. Thanks, Ayan, for all your hard work!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfa69n9hdUE]