Our First Week in Singapore

By Claudia Pumarejo, Global MBA 2013-2014, Mexico

How time flies! It’s been more than a week since we arrived in Singapore. Here’s an update on our latest and hottest (literally) happenings!

We got here on a Thursday afternoon. We were really tired after the long flight with a middle-of-the-night stop in Dubai. Dubai airport is a world class place, with all the facilities we might have asked for and even within our short two-hours stay, we were able to get a glance of Arabic traditions by the clothes some people wore, the indoor mosques (for male and female) and the great food!

When we finally got settled in Singapore, some of us went for a taste of its world famous food courts to try out local specialties, while some of our classmates went to meet their friends, former colleagues or contacts in this city.

The Far Plaza Residencies we’re staying at are in the heart of the city. The building is located within a short walking distance to the bus and the MRT stations and a lot of options for shopping and dining in the famous Orchard Road. We share a three bedrooms apartment with our closest classmates, or those we thought would have a similar lifestyle. Check out the views – Singapore sunset!

The next day, it was administration day. We headed to the immigration office to get our student passes sorted out. Even if it’s a rather long procedure, we witnessed the award-winning efficiency of the Singapore government.

Saturday was Valentine’s Day. Instead of being weepy about our dear ones, we decided to take the chance to explore the night life and headed out to a rooftop bar.

The last day of our long weekend to enjoy Singapore before starting classes was Sunday. On that day, some people still full of energy went to Sentosa Island to finish their reading of “The Adventures of an IT Leader,” a mandatory book for our Managing IT in a Networked World class, which was starting the next day.

On Monday we went back to reality and started classes in the Odeon Building, close to the National Library Building (actually, everything here is pretty close!). We met Professor Yan Li, an expert on the latest trends in IT, including cloud computing, big data, social networks, and media and mobility. We formed teams to present the different topics of the book (CIO leadership, IT cost and value, IT project management, IT priorities and budgeting, Managing IT crisis, Managing Emerging IT challenges and Managing Risk), and to act as a jury challenging the presentations of other groups. The discussions in class were very interesting, enriching and intense.

On Tuesday afternoon we stayed on campus to listen to a Paypal Manager talking about “The Asia Digital Payment Landscape.” We joined the audience, which was composed mainly of Executive MBA participants, who also came to Singapore and now are on their way to India. When we came back home, my Hult team (myself, Naoki Kitabayashi, Richard Huynh and Ingrid Cazalis) gathered for a couple of hours to work on our project for the Hult Prize Competition. We will be leaving for Shanghai very soon!

On Wednesday after classes, we had a talk with Mr. Laurent Pinna, a French headhunter focused on Singapore and Southeast Asia. His insights about the job market in this region were interesting and helpful. Later on we had one-on-one appointments with him to discuss our particular career paths and expectations.

On Thursday we had another career event. We welcomed people from Singapore Connect, who came to tell us more about moving to Singapore as an expat and some of the administrative implications in terms of permits and regulations.

After a long week, here comes the weekend again! Time for us to explore the city – beaches, cultures, gastronomy, night life, you name it!

Hult Prize 2014: Students speak out

Before heading to the regional finals in Shanghai, one of ESSEC's Hult Prize teams sat down to discuss why they're participating in the Hult Challenge and how their MBA studies help them to create a social enterprise addressing health problems in urban slums.

The Value of a Mentor

By Claudia Ordoñez, Global MBA 2013-2014, Colombia

“Working smarter, not harder” is the first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about mentoring programs. Mentors help mentees to gain a clearer understanding of their academic and career plans through exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences. In many cases, the mentor-mentee relationship is just the beginning of a lasting professional and personal network.

All Global MBA students have the opportunity to be put in contact with mentors from various backgrounds and professional experiences. This year we have mentors working in managerial positions, others who are entrepreneurs, bankers, marketing VPs, and CEOs. They work in all kinds of sectors, including consumer goods, oil and gas, banking, health, and beauty and personal care, among others. In January, Ingrid Cazalis, our class representative, organized an informal mentor-mentee reception at the Hôtel du Collectionneur. It was a nice opportunity to build our relationships with our own mentors, to get to know other people’s mentors as well, and to share the good experiences we have had during the program. 

Have you ever thought about the benefits of having a mentor? Have you ever been a mentor or a mentee? Before doing my MBA at ESSEC, I had neither been mentored, nor mentored anyone else. For me, this has been one of the most interesting aspects of the Global MBA and one of the reasons I chose to do the program. The fact that experienced professionals with career goals similar to yours take the time to meet you one-on-one to share their advice, knowledge, and insight to help your professional future is priceless. The Global MBA’s mentor-mentee program has helped us students gain invaluable insight beyond our own education and experience.

Company visits – MasterCard and Orange

By Dhriti Chandrashekar, Global MBA 2013-2014, India

When you are at ESSEC, there are two kinds of events that you are always exposed to. One is career fairs and the other is company visits. Recently we visited two companies in a span of two days.

“There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard”

The first company visit was to MasterCard France. Entering the conference room of MasterCard, I was taken back to my software developer days at EMC. We met with Mr. Regis Folbaum, General Manager of MasterCard France, alum of ESSEC. MasterCard is a global payments and technology company that connects billions of consumers, thousands of financial institutions, and millions of merchants. Regis spoke about technology at MasterCard; he told us that there is a dedicated R&D team, ‘MasterCard Labs’, which serves as an incubator for new ideas. ‘MasterCard labs’ allows them to innovate and grow in the range of products and solutions that they bring to their customers. MasterCard leverages its technology and expertise to benefit its customers, partners, merchants and so on, which is why MasterCard is also identified as a technology company in addition to a payments company. He spoke about Priceless cities, a concept developed a few years ago, where special and unique offers are given to customers. It is meant to help drive preference and affection for MasterCard card holders by offering them an opportunity to enjoy the things they are most passionate about, whether it is travel, sports, shopping or arts. He also gave us a view of the roadmap of MasterCard for the coming year.

“Today changes with Orange”

The second company that we visited was the Orange Telecom. We met with Mr. Jean Pierre Bienaimé, senior VP Strategy and Communications of Orange Telecom, who is also an alum of ESSEC. After a small chit chat with him over coffee, we were ushered into the technocenter. The technocenter brings together marketing, development and implementation expertise to work on all the latest products in a multicultural environment. Paris is one of the only four Orange technocenter sites. Mr. Jean Pierre Bienaimé took us through the best practises of Marketing at Orange and how they have been replicated in other cities. It was good to learn that Orange invests in technology too, although its core competency is the network itself. Orange has around 5000 employees in R&D alone. The company has around 5000 marketers with 57% based in France and 44% of them women. It has the biggest marketing group in France. It has a customer base of over 232 million customers including 175 million mobile customers and 15 million fixed broadband customers and a turnover of 43 billion Euros. Orange’s main focus is to develop people and network, improve cost and international development for the year 2015. The technocenter’s flagship products include Orange TV, livebox play, Orange Money, Orange Cloud, 4G compatible ‘Business Everywhere’ connection kit, Le Block amongst many others. We got to see a demo of each of these products at the end of the session. It was interesting to see a lot of commotion near “Le Block”, a mini projector with Wi-Fi facilities (yet to be launched).

Visit to Orange Technocenter

By Claudia Pumarejo, Global MBA 2013-2014, Mexico

On February 3rd, the Global MBA participants were welcomed at the Chatillon technocenter of French telecommunications giant Orange. Orange, formerly known as France Télécom, is currently present in 32 countries, but actually has networks in more than 200 countries worldwide.

The technocenter is the site for new product development and innovation in the Orange group. There are three other Orange technocenters located in London, Amman and Abidjan. Each pursues a highly localized strategy to adapt to its customers, while also benefiting from exchanges with a wide range of partners. After Europe and the Middle East, Orange’s primary market is Africa, due to historic, cultural, and linguistic links with other francophone countries.

The people working at the technocenter have a very strong focus on marketing and designer. We listened to three different presentations about the company and we were even able to see a product that has not yet arrived in stores. The technocenter was set up like a house with a bedroom, living room, dining room, and TV room, all filled with Orange solutions.

We also saw other interesting products using NFC technology, which allows you to make payments or give commands touch-free. Orange has their own “cloud” with movies, songs, and all sorts of data… And it’s looking forward to exploring the future of big data.

We were pleased to learn that Orange has a foundation working in over 30 countries (primarily in Africa) that focuses on the following issues: autism and healthcare, education and training, music and culture, digital solidarity, and employment involvement.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at ESSEC

By Dingqian (John) Zhang, Global MBA 2013-2014, China

Chinese New Year arrived on January 30th with a big traditional ceremony in China, where people have a one week holiday to gather with their families. For people who live far away from home, this is their once chance per year to go back to visit with no excuses necessary.

ESSEC Chine, the Chinese student club at ESSEC, organized two events for Chinese New Year. The first was to invite all students to make dumplings, which are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve. The second was to watch the Spring Festival Gala Evening Show on CCTV, China’s Central Television Channel. These two events represent the typical Chinese tradition for celebrating the Lunar New Year. A majority of Chinese people will eat dumplings and watch the TV show at home on New Year’s Eve. The dumplings represent a wish for good luck in the coming year.

ESSEC Chine with M. Blanquer, Dean of ESSEC, on New Year's Eve
This year is also special for France because it marks the 50th anniversary of Franco-Chinese diplomatic relations. To celebrate, CCTV invited Sophie Marceau, a famous French actress, to perform a French song with a Chinese singer on the Spring Festival Gala Evening Show in China. She was the only foreign guest invited on this year’s show and people seemed to like her a lot.

Sophie Marceau on the Spring Festival Gala Evening Show on January 30th
 The origin of Chinese New Year dates too far back to be traced. The most common story about the origin of the festival is that a monster started to prey on people during the night before the new year. The monster was named “Nian,” which means “year” in modern Chinese. The legend says that the beast “Nian” had a very big mouth that could swallow many people in one bite and on New Year’s Eve “Nian” would come out to attack people, animal and property. The people found out, however, that “Nian” is afraid of the color red, fire and loud sounds. In order to protect themselves, people began to light fireworks, hang lanterns, and put the color red in front of their houses.

Preparations for the spring festival tend to begin a month before New Year’s Eve, similar to western Christmas celebrations where people buy presents, decorate, and prepare Christmas food starting a month beforehand. People will also do a major household clean up to sweep away any traces of bad luck. The doors and windows are then decorated with paper cut outs and couplets with themes such as happiness, wealth, and longevity printed on them.

Ingrid’s Challenge: Representing the Global MBA

By Ingrid Cazalis, Global MBA 2013-2014, France

After our first month, we organized elections to choose the class representatives. I was selected for the next 5 months to accomplish this task. Being class rep is a real responsibility, because other students grant us their trust and we must represent them as best we can. The role of a mediator is challenging for me, as I am not always the most diplomatic person and I can be very direct, but I like to create connections between students and the administration. Being class rep is a serious investment of time; it’s not just asking questions once students have come to you.

One of my passions is organizing events and taking initiatives. I was therefore very happy to organize some events, like the mentor/mentee get together. This was very interesting because it allowed students to exchange with multiple mentors in different industries and functions.

The temporary position of class rep helps develop three key qualities: generosity towards people and time, dynamism and conviction. One of my leitmotivs is by Og Mandino: Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself."

Please find below a surprise movie dedicated to the class for all the moments we’ve shared as a class representative and classmates.