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.

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