Preparing to go Abroad: International Immersion Projects

By Ingrid Cazalis, Global MBA 2013-2014, France

Our Global MBA already offers a great deal of diversity, with students of 14 different nationalities. The International Immersion Project, the program’s capstone project, is a strategic consulting mission for a company located abroad, often in emerging economies. We waited anxiously till the spring to hear what missions and tasks we would receive. The 2013 class made us dream with destinations like Cape Town, Djibouti, La Paz…

Finally, in April, our IIPs were announced. The destinations were quite exotic, including Chile, Rwanada, Egypt, China, the USA, working with companies from large conglomerates to SMEs and social enterprises. Concretely, what are the different projects?
  • Market surveys in Africa to develop a new export plan in the FMCG industry;
  • Designing a spa resort/wellness concept that is profitable, practical and innovative respecting local Moroccan culture;
  • Supporting a Rwandan accelerator program for entrepreneurs to advise them on their projects;
  • Expanding a Chilean social enterprise concept from Latin America to Europe, giving 100% of the profits to charities
  • Defining a new marketing and implementation strategy for an Egyptian medical devices company.
After 8 months of MBA studies, we’ve already had to handle strategic projects like the Hult Challenge or the Grameen Veolia sustainability project, and now we’ll have to use the skills we developed on our IIPs. Some groups have already started working on proposals that have to be prepared before they travel abroad in July and August. This is a great opportunity to share ideas with each other and work out some of the difficulties we may encounter on site.

As we travel to emerging countries, I think that we will also need to prepare for and consider the cultural dimensions of working abroad. Some students will be working abroad during Ramadan, others will have to adapt to the food and local ways of doing things. The IIP will definitely be an opportunity to experience business in emerging markets and different cultural contexts, while responding directly to the needs of entrepreneurs in SMEs and the CEOS of major companies.

Looking Back: 2013 International Immersion Projects

As the Global MBA students wrap up their classes, they are also preparing to go abroad for their International Immersion Projects.

In the meantime, take a look at last year's projects in these videos created by the student teams in Bolivia, Morocco, Djibouti, South Africa, India, and China.

Bolivia: Delizia enlisted Global MBA students to develop an action plan to boost milk production in the Aliplanto region in order to meet its parent company's requirements.

Morocco: Global MBA students designed a business plan and marketing strategy for the development of eco-tourism in the village of Mirleft in line with Morocco's Vision 2020 for Tourism.

Djibouti: Global MBA students assessed the potential for development and the promotion of the private sector in various industries contributing to the economic growth of Djibouti.

South Africa: This collaboration between ESSEC Global MBA students, Fairhills, Distell, and Stellenbosch University focused on the process of scenario development and fair trade.

India: As part of the Green Power Market initiative, Global MBA students developed a trading market platform to aggregate buyers' demand and sellers' capacity in renewable energy in order to promote the Indian renewable energy market and provide environmentally friendly power.

China: A team of students studied O2O commerce for The Trendy Group and developed a strategy to help it change its business model to adapt to market and client needs.

Where are they now? An interview with alumnus Karan Mathur '13

Where can ESSEC's Global MBA take you?  Nine months after graduation, alum Karan Mathur '13 checks in and shares his experiences since graduation.

What led you to decide to do an MBA and why did you choose ESSEC's Global MBA?

I was working with an MNC for 3 years prior to joining the Global MBA program and I was starting to feel a little cramped due to the lack of flexibility in my profile. Having a computer engineering background kept me confined to the technical side of a project. An MBA seemed an obvious choice; however, I did not want to do a regular classroom program. I wanted a program with a more practical learning approach and in my research I found ESSEC’s Global MBA to be the perfect match. With its global orientation and compact class size, it provided me with the perfect platform to gain the knowledge and exposure that I wanted.

Please describe your career path since graduation. What is your current position and its responsibilities?

During the program, I received immense guidance from the Career Development Manager, Ms. Claire Gaudissart, who helped me understand exactly what profile would suit my competencies. Having already worked for a big corporation, I realized that, for me, the job profile was more important than the company. I therefore focused my research on roles. I recently joined a US-based organization, Provana India Pvt Ltd., which provides management consulting to small and mid-sized companies. My current position is of a Senior Associate and my responsibilities include providing consultancy to our clients in the domain of process improvements. Our company has a software product that helps law firms ensure compliance in their debt collection process. Currently I have been given the responsibility to spearhead a project, from its inception till its implementation, to take our product to a wider audience. This involves working closely with the IT team and translating the business requirements into software modules.

I remember when Claire first asked me what I really wanted to do, and I had said I wanted to be a bridge between IT and business. That’s exactly where I am right now. I have the flexibility that I wanted, which even includes being involved in the selection process of the candidates for this project. So I feel extremely content with where I have arrived after my MBA.

Was there anything in particular about the Global MBA that helped prepare you for your career path or qualify you for your current position?

 I was the youngest participant in the Global MBA program and, apart from the knowledge gained in the class, I learnt a lot from my fellow classmates as well, who were much more experienced than I was. Along with that, the leadership activities that I took part in at ESSEC helped me gain a lot of confidence in my own leadership abilities.

As I mentioned, my current company has given me a lot of responsibility by letting me spearhead a strategically imperative project. Thanks to my experience at ESSEC, when the VP of my organization asked me whether I would be up for this challenge, I didn’t hesitate for a second before accepting the responsibility.

What advice would you give to current students in the program?

I am guessing that this is the time of year when current students are heading to different parts of the world for their International Immersion Projects, so I first of all wish all of them the very best for their IIP.

From my own experience, I would advise current students to make the most of the career activities organized during the program. Also, to be patient with the job search process, because it can take time, so it’s important to be positive and stay motivated during this period. Finally, I wish all the best to everyone and I hope, like our cohort, you will also achieve your desired career goals. 

Because We're Worth It: Visit to L'Oréal Headquarters

By Claudia Pumarejo, Global MBA 2013-2014, Mexico

On Wednesday April 9th, we had to jump out of bed even earlier than usual to be at 8:30 sharp at the doors of the Parisian headquarters of the huge conglomerate L'Oréal.

Who does not know L'Oréal? They are present in over 130 countries. Only Coca-Cola and maybe a couple of other companies have been able to achieve such global penetration. L'Oréal covers all aspects of the beauty business, from make up to perfumes, hair and skin care. Their research and development centers are core to the business, and expanding.

One of the first things we saw (and liked) were the ads promoting women in sciences (a collaborative program between L’Oréal and UNESCO) and the green around the offices. We proceeded to have some much needed coffee along with fresh French pastries, offered very kindly by our thoughtful host. Then, the company's MBA talent recruitment manager in flesh and blood talked to us for around 2 hours about opportunities, strategic targets and career development. She was very successful in spreading L'Oréal’s vision and approach to beauty.

Beauty has always been a good business, and L'Oréal is currently targeting developing markets, which have offered the company double-digit sustained growth in recent years. In our first term at ESSEC, we studied a business case about the company’s “universalization” strategy, which is very unique to L’Oréal. Thanks to their policy of inclusion, they believe in universal beauty and their research and development specifically focuses on creating products for all features and ethnicities.

While we had this rough idea before going it, we learnt much more about L’Oréal and its values thanks to the visit. For instance, I did not know the large number of successful brands integrated in their portfolio – Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent, Biotherm, Ralph Lauren, Cacharel, Diesel, Maybelline, Vichy, Estée Lauder, Garnier, Giorgio Armani, ... just to name a few.

I believe one of the most important things to do when pursuing an MBA is to keep an open mind. Not to say things like: "I'm not interested in this company/region/industry/topic.” Many MBA candidates take this year off to write a new page, to look for a fresh start without preconceptions or assumptions, with an open heart and mind about the possibilities ahead.

To make it clear: many people would perhaps think that a company like L'Oréal would be looking for marketing and business development professionals. The truth is, they are actually recruiting people for finance and supply chain functions. We even got a new summer project proposition from our visit to L'Oréal, which was very much worth it.