Elevator Pitch – You’ve got a minute to win it!

By Dhriti Chandrashekar, Global MBA 2013-2014, India

What would you do if you’re stuck in an elevator with Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or the CEO of your potential employer?

Last week at ESSEC, Global MBA students participated in a workshop conducted by Career Services where each of us had to “sell” ourselves in 60 seconds, talking about our background, professional goals and aspirations. The term “elevator pitch” comes from a scenario in which you accidentally meet someone important in the elevator. The idea is that you should be able to deliver a quick summary of yourself in the length of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. The goal here is to get your point across quickly to that important person. It is the perfect opportunity to make people want to know more about you, especially when you are trying to land a job.

All of us have a lot to say about ourselves, it comes easy to us, but putting the pitch together in only 60 seconds is a lot harder. The workshop took place over two sessions. Mr. Tim Robinson took us through the first session covering the framework of elevator pitch. In the first session, we learned to be introspective, to identify our unique individual selling points and to articulate our goals. By the end of the session we had our elevator pitches ready and rehearsed.

Next came the most dreaded part. We were told that our pitches would be recorded and aired in front of our classmates during the following session. Every one of us came dressed elegantly (not that we don’t dress elegantly on other days) to put on a brave face for the camera. Mr. Philippe Tinet helped us ease our nerves in front of the camera. In 60 seconds, we made our best pitches. Phew!

After it was over, we reflected on the recorded pitches. What we saw took us by surprise. The videos gave us startling insight into our distinctive traits. Some of us came across as friendly, some came across as confident, some very professional, and some spunky. This was one of the most enriching experiences for us (well, not everyone, it terrified me – I’m not too good in front of a camera).

After this experience, I can fully say that I’m well-equipped to reel off my elevator pitch at any time, from a job interview to a cocktail party conversation. All that I’m hoping for now is a casual encounter with Bill Gates in an elevator. :-)
All suited-up for our pitches!

Three Secrets for Creating a Cohesive MBA Class

By Ting Ting Zeng, Global MBA 2013-2014, China

I was asked to write about being a double degree student to share my studies and life at ESSEC. But after thinking about it, I found that I didn’t feel like a double degree student (an outsider or somehow different) at all. I think this is the greatest part of ESSEC’s Global MBA; we integrated with each other so well that we feel like a whole, no matter what your background, nationality, or if you are an exchange/a double degree student who normally feels like he or she doesn’t belong at the host school. I believe the two exchange students from Mannheim feel even more strongly about this than me.

How did the Global MBA manage to achieve this unity? What is its secret? One of the biggest reasons was the leadership boot camp. During that time, we stayed together, ate together, and even slept together (don’t get me wrong, I mean in the same tent!). Our last task was to carry Ingy, tied to a log, across a deep swamp in one hour. After this exercise, some people commented that it was quite dangerous because if we got so tired carrying Ingy that we dropped her, she might have drowned. But I know that wouldn’t happen, because our guys would be willing to break their shoulders to protect her from falling, because we are inspired by the greatest trust in each other.

The second reason is our French colleagues. We have a small class, of which one fifth is French, and they
are always very warm to those of us who came a long way from different continents across the world. Arnault made homemade cakes for each person’s birthday (a different type of cake each time, mine was orange with cream and pastry). Ingrid invited us all to her home town in Normandy, where we visited Mont Saint-Michel, which I think is the most beautiful island in the world. We stayed at her mom’s and aunt’s houses, which was the first time I got to be so close with a French family and was an amazing experience. I would also like to note that Ingrid, as our female class representative, is a great listener and good adviser, no matter what problems I have (some are really crazy ones).

The third reason is all 22 of us. I don’t know if ESSEC is particularly good at selecting people or if I ended up in a great class by chance, but even though we are all different nationalities, there is no discrimination (something that worried me a bit at the beginning). People are all very funny, knowledgeable and helpful: my “Chinese” friend Claudia (from Mexico), nature leader Jon, charming leader Ingy, Gabriel (who convinced me that Germans are so darn clever), our calm male class representative Charlie, and Santi the economics expert… I can’t describe everyone here, but each person makes up an important part of the whole class. I remember the speech by Peter O’Connor, Dean of Academic Programs, on our first day, when he said the most important resource you have are the people in your program.

Last but not least, I wanted to share a story from my studies at ESSEC and how they impacted me personally. During a career workshop, we took a test to determine your top five most important values. I found that “health” was number 2 for me! After that I started jogging 8-9 km every other day and I’m now in the best shape I’ve been in since I was 18!

This is ESSEC; it’s a journey of discovering yourself, other people, and the whole world. This is just the start and it won’t be over when we graduate, so let’s enjoy it!

Diwali at ESSEC

By Dhriti Chandrashekar, Global MBA 2013-2014, India

ESSEC India organized an event to celebrate Diwali this week. What simply started out as an idea to celebrate Diwali ended up being a colourful event at ESSEC! Diwali was marked on the 3rd of November this year. We, at ESSEC, were a few weeks late in celebrating Diwali. Nonetheless the enthusiasm always stayed high. This was one event which witnessed students in traditional Indian attire.

The event was started with what is called the Tika Ceremony where every guest was welcomed with Kumkum (red tika powder) on his/her forehead, which was followed by a customary prayer, “Gayatri Mantra” (Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rig-Veda). This hymn is chanted as an earnest and heartfelt appeal to the Supreme Being for enlightenment and peace. Thereafter a clip of “Incredible India” was played. Watching the video and singing our national anthem transported me back to my home. I have never felt more patriotic. The event was filled with tight performances from students. A few students took the stage to sing Hindi songs. If you ask any Indian, he/she’ll tell you that Bollywood (Indian Cinema) is known for three reasons – entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. This was clearly evident in the rehearsed group dance by the students of ESSEC. The group performance saw a lot of participation not only from Indian students but also from international students.

There was also a section set up by some of the Indian students where guests could have Sarees draped and Henna (Indian tattoo) painted on their hands. In the very end, everyone got onto stage and started gyrating to popular Bollywood numbers. My GMBA friends attended and participated in the event with full enthusiasm. A big shout out to them for supporting the event in full spirit!! The event ended with an elaborate Indian dinner. But, for us, the GMBA students, any eventful day has to end with a drink at Foys!

The one thing I always get asked at any such event is “what attire we wear” back home in India. So while I’m at it, I thought it would be nice to demystify India:

1. No, we don’t wear Sarees to college/school. Although I think it is the most comfortable piece of clothing. To the Indian schools and colleges, here’s a thought.
2. I suddenly feel the need to revisit geography. Asia is a continent and India is a country that is part of Asia. As logic has it, we are ASIANS too!
3. Our native language is not Indian, it is HINDI. Or is it? I’m not sure myself!
4. Yes, we have an accent. Sure it is funny. But it is an “accent” just like any other. I can picture Russell Peters (Google him!) smiling somewhere in Canada.

I could just go on and on about all these myths on India being the land of snake charmers, ashrams and gurus. But let me save some for the future events.

While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning behind it is "the awareness of the inner light". Here’s hoping that we all have a wonderful year at ESSEC seeking that inner light.