A Big Day for ESSEC in Singapore

By Priyesh Salunke, class representative 2012-2013, India

February 26th, 2013. A bright, sunny and normal day for some but a big day for ESSEC Business School. Our school conducted the ground breaking ceremony for its new campus in Singapore on this day. Located right next to the INSEAD Business School campus, our campus will serve as a new frontier for ESSEC as it opens its doors even wider for the Asia – Pacific region. Being one of the class representatives for the Global MBA, I had the privilege of attending this ceremony where some of the most distinguished personalities from Asia and Europe made their presence felt. As a proud Indian, I was happy to see that Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys Limited, India was also present.

The ceremony started off with a bang consisting of speeches from the guest of honour, the alumni and the presidents of ESSEC and ESSEC Asia – Pacific. The speeches conveyed what the speakers had in mind. The conceptualisation of this campus was done in the last decade and their dreams were actually coming true. With ESSEC Business School being present in Singapore for some time now and with this new campus here, ESSEC is building a better and stronger foothold in Asia. The architectural model of the campus gave the attendees a glimpse of what would be in store for them. The new campus looks attractive and appealing yet subtle. I could see the happiness and pride in the crowd’s eyes as the ground breaking took place. The moment of glee and excitement. This was a great experience for me and one that I would not forget in the times to come. Way to go, ESSEC!

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The Singapore Groundbreaking Ceremony

By Cassandra Hendricks, Global MBA class representative 2012-2013, U.S.A.

Global MBA students are currently spending six weeks at ESSEC’s campus in Singapore. The timing is perfect as it allows us to escape the frigid and dreary winter conditions in Cergy. Also, it placed us in Singapore when ESSEC held the highly anticipated groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus. This event was the culmination of years of work and preparation towards realizing this goal.

The Global MBA student representatives were among the esteemed guests invited to attend this prestigious event. The ceremony took place on a hot and humid Tuesday afternoon. Guests assembled at ESSEC’s campus in the National Library Building and boarded buses for the short ride to the new site. The mood was reminiscent of a grade school field trip as professors, administrators, alumni, guests, and a handful of nervous students greeted each other. The short ride passed quickly amid excited chatter and laughter. Francoise Rey, in her usual manner, stopped to welcome everyone with a smile and kind word. We saw a few of our professors from Term 1 and wondered whether now would be a good time to discuss our final exams and course grades. We wisely decided against it.

After arriving at Nepal Park, we walked a short distance beyond the INSEAD campus. After rounding a bend, we were greeted by a reception area at the mouth of a large tent. Guests spent a few minutes mingling before being seated for the ceremony. We strategically chose seats under the ceiling fans in vain attempts to keep the rising heat at bay. The ceremony opened with Professor Hervé Mathe and the speakers included alumni, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Pierre Tapie, and Mr. Yeoh Keat Chuan, the Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board. They all expressed their enthusiasm for this project and the future of ESSEC Asia-Pacific. This campus will establish that ESSEC is strong in Asia as well as Europe and that ESSEC has a long term view of the changing landscape of education. And then came the moment we’d all been waiting for: Dr. Pierre Tapie, Professor Hervé Mathe, Yeoh Keat Chuan, and Heah Son Poh were invited on stage to wield shovels and break ground on the new site. The paparazzi and audience snapped photos while the ground breakers posed and reveled in the moment.

Directly following the ceremony, guests mingled and enjoyed light refreshments. The iced lemonade was most welcome as the temperature seemed to have risen drastically in the space of one hour. We mixed with familiar faces and compared experiences with alumni. Every conversation seemed to gravitate towards the future of ESSEC Asia-Pacific and the importance of establishing itself as a permanent institution in Asia.

On the bus ride back, we explored our swag bags and discussed the day’s events. The new campus is not slated to be operational until 2015 and there are many steps to complete before then. It is evident that this project has captured the attention of students, alumni, administrators and supporters of ESSEC both near and far. We were delighted to be included in this momentous event and we will be sure to closely follow the progress of this project. And hopefully we’ll be invited back for the opening ceremonies in 2015.

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ESSEC Business School Advances to Regional Finals of 4th Annual Hult Prize in response to President Bill Clinton’s Food Poverty Challenge

Global top-tier schools will go head-to-head in world’s largest student competition in quest for social good and USD 1 million in start-up funding.

Hult-prizeThe Hult Prize recently announced that ESSEC Business School has advanced to the regional finals of the 4th Annual Hult Prize. The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition and crowdsourcing platform for social good, recently named one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine. In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the innovative crowdsourcing platform identifies and launches disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planets most pressing challenges. Student teams compete in five cities around the world for a chance to secure USD 1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

The 2013 Hult Prize is themed around global food security and will focus on how to get safe, sufficient, affordable and easily accessible food to the 200 million people who live in urban slums – a challenge personally selected by President Clinton. “This particular challenge is interesting for us as it presents a real problem and supports a real problem solving efforts. We acknowledge that finding innovative solutions to this essential humanity needs should be a priority and thus we are eager to pool our experiences and efforts to participate in this event. We’d like to leave an indelible footprint on the world outside the trappings of traditional business” said the team.

Read the Press Release

From Singapore to Dubai

By Leonardo Banegas, Global MBA student 2012-2013, Honduras

“We arrived in Singapore 10 days ago and now we are packing again to travel to Dubai this week, where we will present our social business solution in the Hult-Prize Competition, which aims to guarantee food security in the Urban Slum”

This part of the Global MBA is really exciting; two weeks ago we were in France wearing our heavy winter clothes every day, now we are enjoying the tropical climate of Singapore. It is a dramatic change.  But it’s not just about the change of climate but also about the changes in our daily life activities. Our residences are located just three minutes walking from Orchard Road, which is the main shopping street of Singapore. Some of my classmates can spend the day walking in the shopping malls, others swimming in the pool of our residences, and others just doing outdoor activities that take advantage of the climate.

As you can see in the pictures below, we have a serious problem with our classrooms. It is difficult to stay concentrated in class when we have a spectacular view of the skyscrapers and other modern architecture around the National Library Building of Singapore, where ESSEC is located now.  Our experience in the campus in Singapore is also quite different. We have plenty of options for food, shopping malls close by, and we can easily arrive by metro.

Now after ten days in Singapore, my teammates and I are getting ready to travel to Dubai this week.  We will participate in the Hult Prize, which is organized in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, for creating a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship. For the 2013 Prize, Ex-President Clinton has selected the challenge: “the Global Food Crisis.”

The last several weeks have been intense because the project is in addition to our normal MBA curriculum. We have to coordinate our time efficiently and evaluate all the feedback that we have received from different experts on the topic. But even if the project requires extra time, it is worth it. It really brings us a lot of satisfaction to go beyond the academics and try to make an impact for real global issues, and we feel satisfied from the huge learning process in this topic. Last weekend, part of our team went to Jakarta to explore the urban slums and see the conditions and reality of the slums in Indonesia in order to make sure that our solution responds to the specific needs of food security there.

In Dubai, we will have two demanding days for training, networking, preparation and presentations.  During the second day we will present our social business solution in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and then we will close with the Banquet Dinner and the after party, where we will have the opportunity to network with students coming from the top business schools around the world. 

Finally in our free day, we plan to explore the city and do a safari desert trip, which includes camel rides, dune driving, belly dancing, Hubbllee Bubblee (shisha), etc. All this thanks to the Arabic hospitality and generosity from one of our classmates from Qatar!

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A Word from the Associate Dean: To find a multinational post-MBA job at a foreign location, learn the language there

By Ashok Som, Associate Dean of the Global MBA

Originally published on Pagalguy.com 

When considering an MBA, one needs to first ask themselves what their post-degree career goals are. Do they want to change their location? Their function? Their sector? Or some combination of the three?

For students from emerging markets such as India, there is intrinsic value to pursuing an MBA in Europe as it exposes them to a Western way of thinking and the best practices from another country and culture. In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, business requires managers to be more agile and culturally fluent than ever before. And for students who wish to stay on and work in Europe following their MBA, having a degree from a reputed and renowned European institution can certainly help.

Also at play in determining a graduate’s success in finding a job in a country such as France, is their willingness and ability to become proficient in the local language. Even if the de facto language of international business is English, many French people still only speak French. This means that your customers, your clients, your associates, and your higher-ups risk being separated from you by a very real language barrier.

Overcoming this barrier, and demonstrating a willingness to learn the language of the country you are in, is a major facilitator in becoming employed today. For example, theCAC40 global leaders have French roots and use dual language in their daily business. They are in constant search for talent who can bridge the gap between France and the emerging markets they are operating in.

At a programme such as the Global MBA of ESSEC Business School, courses are taught one hundred percent in English, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities for students to learn French at such schools. Apart from beginner and intermediary French classes, conferences and presentations in the French language are a great opportunity to listen and learn to become comfortable with the language. Students often stay in the homes of French families or meet up with French students for language exchanges, and make every effort to practice their French in daily life.

Being proficient in the language of the country in which you work is key for successful communication, competent collaboration with other colleagues and companies in B2B settings, and also an important indicator of your respect for the people that you work with and for. Even if your French isn’t perfect, simply being able to exchange basic pleasantries such as “hello,” “how are you,” “thank you,” and “have a nice day” go a long way toward making a favourable impression, essential when face-to-face in networking, recruitment, or work situations.

Many students from emerging markets look at the difficult economic situation in Europe and become discouraged from studying here, thinking that jobs and work-permits in limited supply would mean a sure trip back home post-MBA. At the same time, graduates who do find employment within a multinational organisation early on are likely to experience higher career mobility than those from previous generations.

As multinationals search for growth and profitability, they are attracted to emerging countries. They 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 offer more competitiveness on the global playing field for companies that have a multinational presence. These businesses are growing in complexity and scope and have to adapt to local environments, meaning they need skilled and competent leaders more than ever before.

Last year, for example, one of our graduates was employed by an international consulting firm. While he returned to India for six months at the beginning of his contract, he is now being relocated to Belgium in a more permanent move. Another student made a move from managing a family run construction business in Greece to becoming a wealth consultant in Russia. Companies today want managers that are comfortable in their home economies but can also bring their local expertise to the global stage. Learning the right foreign language is akin to building the bridge that will take you there.

Arrival in Singapore

A week ago tonight, the Global MBA students boarded their Emirates flight and flew to Dubai aboard the spacious A380.  During a short layover in Dubai, students got coffee, shopped duty free, and sat down to an Arab breakfast before lining up for flight number two to Singapore’s Changi airport. They arrived in Singapore on Thursday night and were greeted by the shuttle service that would take them to their residences, apartments off of Orchard Road. Unfortunately, the shuttle driver got a bit confused and accidentally took them first not to the residences, but to a luxury hotel owned by the same company. A short change in style and a few blocks away, the students were able to get unpacked and settled in at what will be their home for the next six weeks.

The Chinese New Year holiday made the first weekend a long one, with no classes or activities scheduled for Friday. With three days to explore, some spent time taking care of business, getting phone cards and metro passes and stocking their refrigerators. Others set out to see the sights in this dynamic and unique Asian city state. At Marina Bay, the Singapore Flyer takes thirty minutes to rotate, giving riders an impressive view of the skyscrapers along the Singapore River and the island’s edge. At a slightly more dramatic elevation is the Marina Bay Sands hotel, a giant ship on three towers rising high above the water. Here, guests can relax in the world’s tallest infinity pool, or visitors can gamble, dance, and admire the view into the wee hours. In the same neighborhood, but perhaps more tailored to those with a fear of heights, Clark Quay along the river’s edge provided enough restaurants and people watching to make a Friday night entertaining, and the picturesque colonial architecture stands in striking and quaint contrast to the modern high rises that make up the downtown backdrop. Dotted with parks and museums, statues and opera houses and outdoor amphitheatres, palm trees and the scent of flowers, Singapore retains a tropical feel despite being a big city.

What is perhaps the most impressive here, especially for a group of visitors from Paris, is the cleanliness. The sidewalks are immaculate. That combined with the orderly, law-abiding, and courteous conduct of the Singaporeans (no jay-walking and no line cutting) has made for a definite change of scenery. You just always have to be certain to look both ways before crossing the street; as a former British colony, Singaporean traffic comes from the right.

Venturing away from the modern façade of the city, students spent time exploring the smaller neighborhoods that make Singapore’s heart beat. Chinatown was a fun and hectic blur of red lights and steaming food stands, where dinner consisted of fried rice, dumplings, satay, Singaporean “carrot cake” (which is not really a carrot cake at all) and juice from fresh coconuts.  The small steets showcased the colorful colonial architecture of old Singapore and housed a plethora of noisy, overflowing restaurants and shops.

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Not far away is Little India, where many immigrants from the subcontinent have traditionally made their home. Just as busy as Chinatown, Little India’s  hustle and bustle is of a different flavor, with people drinking pulled tea and lassi, vendors selling different vegetables and spices, vibrant scarves and tapestries hanging in storefronts, and Bollywood music ringing out of CD and DVD shops. The huge and densely packed Mustafa Center sells everything from cell phones to shampoo, from chocolates to watches, acts as a money exchange and a travel agent and takes up a whole corner of the neighborhood. It is a totally unique retail experience, very different from the slick, air-conditioned and abudant Singaporean shopping malls.

Everywhere, there is food. From the hectic hawker centers, dishing up chicken and rice in a variety of sauces and styles, to upscale Western restaurants and familiar chains for a taste of home, there’s something here for everyone and plenty of opportunity to be adventurous. Dishes both new and familiar are available on every corner, and from any Asian cuisine you can think of:  Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Singaporean, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean… there aren’t enough meals in the day to try them all. Singaporeans spend more time eating out than in, and it’s evident; the street-side eateries are packed and lively all day long.

To catch a breath of fresh air outside of the concrete jungle and the flashy shops of Orchard Road, the Botanic Gardens have proven to be a lovely oasis for joggers and zen-seekers alike. Just ten minutes along an embassy and mansion-lined street from the students’ apartments, this collection of gardens and ponds and tropical plants is a green haven, fragrant with the scents of jasmine, populated by turtles and koi and swans, buffered from the road by towering banyan trees.

The students are now halfway through their first week of courses, which include Critical and Analytical Thinking, Geopolitics in Asia, and How to Negotiate Business Deals in China. For those who don’t speak Mandarin, a beginner class is offered twice a week, as well.  Throughout the term, classes are supplemented by regular conferences and speakers, visits to companies, and career-oriented workshops and events. Between the academic content, these hands-on activities, and the traveling and exploration the students will be doing in their free time, they should return to Paris at the end of March with a nuanced and thorough understanding of living and doing business in this region… and maybe a tan, too!

Reflections on an MBA

At their September graduation ceremony, the first batch of ESSEC Global MBA alumni was interviewed about the year behind them: friendships made, challenges overcome, adventures undertaken, and lessons learned. Check out these interviews to get their take on what they're taking away from their MBA.

Graduates' Perspectives: Looking back on the ESSEC Global MBA

Holiday Travels

By Priyesh Salunke, Global MBA student 2012-2013, India

5 Cities, 15 days. That was the target a friend and I set before we left for our winter break. The single digit temperatures (sometimes dropping below zero) in Cergy motivated me to get out and travel. We started off the journey on the night of the final day of the first term. I had to miss out on a friend’s party (Matthew, please accept my apologies) to go home and pack. I had not packed anything for the 15 day trip until the last moment because the term was quite exhilarating. Our first stop was Amsterdam. I was quite excited about the whole trip (or so called "euro trip") because this was my first holiday in four years. We reached Amsterdam on a cold and clear morning. It does not take a lot of time to explore Amsterdam and three days later, I felt that a two day stay in Amsterdam would have been sufficient. The city was small; people spoke English (one of the best things about Amsterdam) and were friendly. However, the weather was bad and it was raining most of the time.

Next stop: Berlin

Berlin turned out to be really great. I love berlin and wish I could move there in the long term. I took a walking tour of the city and I realised that the city has a long history which, definitely, could not be covered in 3 days. Berlin has a great party culture too. I had a great time in Berlin. I picked up souvenirs and wrote postcards. I felt like a lone traveller with no end goal, a different feeling altogether.

Prague next!

Holiday-PraguePrague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, or so I had heard. What they say is true. When you travel in Prague, you know it is not “Modern Europe”. It has a medieval feeling to it. Many of its castles and historic monuments are still intact and very little of it was actually damaged in the wars that it has witnessed. There are lots of walking tours in the city for a person who interested in history and architecture. I clicked lots of pictures and my camera battery ran out all the time. I spent New Year’s Eve in Prague and it was the best time ever.

Four days later, I was in Vienna. The city was quite different than Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague. We were staying in the city centre and we were put up at a hostel which was quite different than the ones I had stayed at earlier. Make your own breakfast and washing your own plates! I had never expected that. I made new friends here and we had a good time. We went out for dinner and there was a lot of cross cultural exchange.

Holiday-ViennaLast stop: Milan

Holiday-MilanI was both happy and sad to be here. Happy because I had looked forward to coming, and sad because our holiday was coming to an end. Milan is a place which is very similar to Paris; the only difference is that people spoke Italian. With winter sales going on, people were going crazy shopping. An interesting story in Milan was that I watched TV after 4 months! I never thought that I would miss watching TV but I spent an entire afternoon watching TV. You may laugh but 4 months into the MBA, you start missing some things. I was missing home (now Cergy) and couldn’t wait to get back. We took a flight back to Paris and the travel time was spent reminiscing about the holiday.
The second term was going to start the next day and I could not believe that the 15 day break was actually over. The grass is always greener on the other side, I guess. I had to gear up for the strenuous term ahead.

Happy New Year!