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!

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