Going abroad... again!

By Harjeev Sabherwal, Global MBA student 2012-2013, India

The program is almost coming to an end and all of us are excited about our IIP projects. I will be working on a very interesting project in Morocco. After finishing our project, we will come back to France to complete the capstone seminar and graduate as MBAs. But the studying doesn't stop there. ESSEC has provided us with a great opportunity to participate in its exchange program and complete a term at a partner university. As one of the leading educational institutions in Europe, ESSEC has established partnerships with the top institutions around the world.

I will be spending about four months at Rotman School of Management in Toronto. This exchange program provides me with a great opportunity to discover another country and also to meet a lot of new people. It also gives me a chance to pursue some interesting electives at Rotman and meet companies during my stay in Toronto.

During my time here at ESSEC we have completed most of our courses at the Cergy campus, had a chance to study at the ESSEC campus at Singapore, completed a course on International Marketing at Mannheim Business School, spent a week visiting companies in Cape Town, South Africa  in partnership with Stellenbosch University. I am working on my IIP project in Morocco and will also study at Rotman School of Management in Toronto for one term. This truly has been a global learning experience.

The Adventures of a non-IT Person

By Reita Hutagalung, Global MBA student 2013-2013, Indonesia

IT has not been my playing field, even since I was little, as a teenager, even up to now, unfortunately. So when there was an elective of IT Management, I embraced the opportunity to get to know more of the field. In my mind, in my roles further down the line, I have to at least have an understanding of how IT could be beneficial to support the organization.

So it was announced that the Professor, Yan Li, needed us to finish an IT book before the course started. I was pessimistic that I would enjoy the book, until I saw the book when I dragged myself to the Learning Center:

Ok, as a comic fan, I was kind of intrigued by the cover; at least it looked inviting to read. And then I started to read – and hey, it was not bad at all! It was designed as a story instead of the usual course book, telling of a person with no IT background who had to suddenly be a CIO. While the book was very informative and presented the IT management dilemmas and problems in a case situated way, the book was – how should I say it – very “user friendly” for those with no IT background. The course itself was also enriching. We discussed the problems from the book and once did a role play of the board of directors.

It was also interesting for me to understand at least the surface of IT development and systems and the strategic uses that could be perused further. We touched on Big Data, very important these days, and used Microsoft SQL to do the data analysis firsthand; discussed mobile and online shopping opportunities and trends; and the virus and social media threats vs. opportunities. I’m glad I took this course. I’m no IT expert now, but hey, I guess if I ever were faced with the same situation of suddenly being appointed a CIO (which, of course, having a probability of 0.01 – hopefully), I could live and give it a try. IT management is about management.

South African Adventure: Part Three

By Reita Hutagalung, Global MBA student 2012-2013, Indonesia

Among other things, South Africa is indeed known for its wines. So our last company visit was to Backsberg, a wine company. Before getting down to business, we started with a delicious lunch in their beautiful yard, in the good weather we were lucky to have that week.

After filling our stomach with the delicacies, we then continued by getting into two trucks. Yes-- we stood in the back of two trucks.

We visited the vineyards and discussed about wine farming and the types of grapes, climate and specifics of wine farming. But we didn’t end there. We ended it with wine tasting. Now, if we had had our lunch in the open, this time we went into the one of the rooms where the big oak drums of wines were placed. The place was chilly, and there we saw that the table was laid neatly. The wine tasting was led by Mr. Thibault James, and he was a pro. He walked us through the wine tasting graciously– but with a good sense of humor.

He taught us first how to “slurp” air into our mouth after sipping a little wine. By getting air into our mouth and then “slurping” it on the tip of our tongue; we could get the taste of the wine better. It was interesting as it turned out; almost all of us tried “slurping” air over and over again– some with success and some with puzzled faces. We tasted four wines consisting of one white wine and three red wines. Personally, my favorite was the Port Wine, as it had a sweet taste and aroma. For others, some opted for the Pinot Noir or the white wine. The last that we tasted was brandy. Quite different from tasting wine, the way he taught us involved chewing, breathing in and breathing out. Most of us didn’t know about these skill set, so it was very interesting. So he said after sipping just a little amount, by chewing we activated our palette, by breathing in through our mouth and breathing out through our nose we “burst” the taste inside the mouth. The tasting was closed with one great question: what is the name of our wine tasting host? Michael turned out to be the lucky winner who took the wine bottle home; but the others also went home happily with our new tasting skill, feeling one step closer to being a pro – well, at least for show-off purposes ;)





South African Adventure: Part Two

By Reita Hutagalung, Global MBA student 2012-2013, Indonesia

What do you think when you hear of a vineyard? Well for me it’s related to glamour and the luxury industry. As part of our company visits, we went to a place called Fairhills. Turned out, Fairhills is a Fairtrade wine project that has a worker community. Its projects were very interesting as it aimed to help the wine workers to have better lives. Its business model is a mix of wine selling business and donations (to finance the community projects). The proceeds of the sales are used to finance the business operations and also part of the project operations. Fairhills project does not change the wine farmers’ operation and the part of profits would still go the same to the farmers, however there is little premium to the products that then used to benefit the wine workers. The project of Fairhills is like a cooperative where the workers take the initiative: they define priorities of the project and work together on the projects.

We visited two places after hearing the presentation of Fairhills’ business model. The first place that we visited was the baby and infants’ day care. The place hosts the workers’ babies and infants and provides a good and safe place for them to play and learn. Prof. Johann Burger, Stellenbosch’s Dean who had been accompanying us, told us about a baby who was born with an incapability to interact and learn, likely due to fetal alcohol syndrome. When first brought there, the baby couldn’t do anything on his own; however with therapy and treatment, he was one of the first to react to singing. We were very lucky to have the chance to hear them sing for us, and the children sang beautifully.

The next place that we visited was the primary school. The school was equipped with a computer center and library; it also hosts a place for babies who are sick to be treated intensively. Each of the classes were studying at the time of our visit, however we spotted a class that looked like they wanted to take a break. So after asking for permission from the teachers, we kidnapped the children from their study time to play with us (do not copy us please ;P). It’s funny to see these MBA students – us – forget our office suits and formality, and joyfully play with the children. As time was ticking away, we had to leave the place shortly. However, we would always remember the warmth in our hearts after meeting the children. Oh and of course, we left the place buying bottles and bottles of Fairtrade wines. Totsy!