A life changing experience

By Khalid Al-Jalahma, Global MBA student 2012-2013, Qatar

From the moment I crawled through the 30 inch tall, pitch dark tunnel in the military camp Saint-Cyr, finding our way out for an hour and a half, I realized the message ESSEC wanted to send: it will be a challenging and exciting program, but it will be tough, it might be dark sometimes, but there will surely be an exit at the end of the tunnel. So far what can I say…exactly as expected! I was criticized when I decided to halt my career, and at some points I was hesitant, but now, five months after joining the program, it had definitely met my expectations and more. The tools that I am being equipped with, the leadership skills that I am learning, the knowledge I am gaining will definitely boost my career and all those overcome the investment of time, financials, and opportunities.

The program is well structured. In term one, we were looking at corporate strategy, nations’ economics, businesses’ financial performance and evaluations, etc… basically a holistic view of the business environment. Whereas, in term two we are confronted with the core of the business, and the means to reach a business sustainability level. Next, we will soon pull our knowledge together to apply what we learned in theory to real life projects, as we will be traveling to Singapore, South Africa and an emerging country to explore business cases.

Moreover, being surrounded by a variety of more than 10 nationalities from different continents for more than 8 hours every day is an experience in and of itself. Though in my home country of Qatar I have had the chance to interact people from different countries, it feels completely different than having them as peers and students. Here, I get to see the other side of the culture.

So when ESSEC names the program ‘Global’, they mean it! Global students, global professors, global cases, and global projects.

Additionally, living in Paris is quite fascinating. For those who can manage their time, almost every weekend there is something interesting and unusual to be done. Taking a break to refresh after the pressure of academics can always be done here!

An MBA in France: a powerful choice for students from emerging markets

By Ashok Som, Associate Dean of the Global MBA

At ESSEC’s Global MBA, our group of students this year represents 14 different nationalities. That means that in any given class, perspectives and practices are being shared between Asian, American, European, Latin, 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. One of last year’s graduates, an Indian student with an engineering background was able to use his MBA as a platform for changing both sector and location. Taking advantage of a year in France to gain some proficiency in French and maximizing his chances for networking, he landed a consulting job in Belgium. This functional and geographical change was facilitated by his choice to pursue his MBA in Europe.

The world is changing, and becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Having the cultural agility to move between different places, implement best practices from the world over, and evaluate the unique risks and opportunities presented by a volatile and diverse environment are essential skills for today’s managers. Among the changes brought on by globalization is the huge opportunity for business students to attend schools that will widen their horizons, open a world of career options, and give them the foundations they need to operate successfully in any corner of the globe. A post-experience MBA in particular provides a stepping stone for bridging the distance 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 and narrow 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 Markets (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. Global MBA students study in France and Singapore, and visit emerging markets during their 12 month program: last year Russia, this year South Africa, plus the international immersion project which takes them into the field on consulting projects around the globe.

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 BEM countries, for example, who will add a unique and valuable perspective to the whole class. It also means that the participants will understand and be sensitized to working in multi-cultural teams.

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, and luxury businesses. And as multinationals search for growth and profitability they are attracted to these 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.

In short, in addition to equipping a student with best practices from traditional western education and their hands-on experiential learning in emerging markets, a student who pursues their MBA outside of the emerging market that they call home adds a powerful dimension to their personal network. This circle of contacts abroad, be it cohort members, alumni, individuals met through career activities or during a job search, is an invaluable tool for launching an international career.

Going up? Perfecting the Elevator Speech

By Matthew Werner, Global MBA student 2012-2013, USA

Throughout the first term the Global MBA program students enjoyed numerous career workshops focusing on the importance of communicating our strengths, previous experiences and the positions we hope to obtain upon graduation as professionally and succinctly as possible. Essentially, we learned how to sell ourselves to networking contacts and potential employers through short elevator pitches. For those not familiar with the concept, an elevator pitch is based on the idea that an elevator ride is normally very short and one would only have a minute or two to share his or her ideas with somebody else riding in the same elevator. These pitches are quite common for entrepreneurs who are often required to sell their ideas to potential investors in very limited amounts of time.

We first started crafting our elevator pitches individually and then partnered up with a random classmate to pitch our previous experiences and future plans in front of the class. Our classmates then provided constructive feedback on how to perfect our speeches. The next step was to practice in front of a professional videographer. Speaking in front of groups of people is normally not a problem for me and is something that I enjoy, but speaking in front of the camera was a new experience and took some getting used to. For some reason this inanimate object that cannot give any feedback added tons of pressure! Luckily all students received our first videos to review and had a week to perfect our on camera style personalities and our pitches. The next week we filmed the final version that we will be able to share with professional contacts, post on personal websites, our LinkedIn pages or use in other promotional materials.

After all the practice that went into filming the final speeches I felt like I could recite my elevator pitch to anybody at anytime. That is, until I actually had an occasion to use my elevator pitch and completely blew it! Shortly after the filming session I ran into the Global MBA career development manager who was having lunch with a key account manager with  ESSEC’s corporate relations department. This would have been the perfect occasion to use my elevator pitch and explain my professional experiences and aspirations, but when introducing myself I totally drew a blank and just said my name and nothing else. What a missed opportunity!

So for me it was clear that I had to go back to rehearsing my elevator pitch and getting comfortable with the speech in an impromptu environment. I was very pleased when I recently used the speech effectively during several networking opportunities. Networking and making industry contacts are very important parts of the job search and one must be skilled in this area. Thankfully the Global MBA team knows this and has been preparing the students to confront the world of networking with polished elevator pitches that convey confidence and clear objectives for the future.

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