IBM & Louis Vuitton: First Company Visits

By Constanza Barrena, Global MBA 2014-2015, Chile

Something that caught our attention from the beginning of the Global MBA was the program’s strong corporate relations, which will enable us to maintain a connection with the business world while we improve our skills through the MBA. Throughout the year, several activities are planned in order to strengthen our understanding of diverse industries. Among these activities are company visits, which we began during the third month of the program. We have already visited the IBM France headquarters and the Louis Vuitton warehouse for Europe… Two completely different sectors, but both equally interesting and exciting to learn about.

First off, we visited IBM a few weeks ago. We were received by a manger who shared not only information about the company with us, but also discussed the company’s culture and the career challenges we could face as part of their team that would enable us to thrive and grow as professionals. We also learned more about the different roles and employee policies, were are very innovative; you can work from home or from various regions of the world, so if you need flexibility with dynamic and interesting tasks, then maybe IBM is the right fit for you. Furthermore, the managers were really open to talking to us, personally or in a group, and you could tell they were passionate about their company and interested in engaging us ESSEC students in their vision.

Our visit to the Louis Vuitton warehouse was completely different… it was all about looking at how things were done. Something that immediately caught our attention was how everyone greets you with a nice “good morning” or “Bonjour,” which immediately shows this company’s strong culture. We learned about the system for processing orders, the importance they put on service (no surprise, as it is a luxury brand), and the focus on detail and quality in every step of the process. At Louis Vuitton, every single order is processed with an attention to detail as though it were the only order… and they process over 8,000 units per day! Impressive!

This is just the beginning of the business immersion that will take place throughout the year, and I can’t wait for more of these experiences!

Where are they now? An interview with alumnus Chen Peng '13

Where can ESSEC's Global MBA take you? A year after graduation, alum Chen Peng '13 checks in and shares her experiences finding a job in France.

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

Before coming to pursue my MBA degree at ESSEC, I was working as Sourcing Manager for the purchasing office of an international shipbuilding group in Shanghai. I wanted to bring my career to the next level by having a solid international work experience and I believed that pursuing an MBA degree was the logical next step to take to achieve this goal.

In my previous job, I worked frequently with France where one of our largest shipyards is located, so when it came to choosing a business school, I was more interested in top French business schools.  Among the MBA programs offered in France, ESSEC’s Global MBA really stands out with its strong emphasis on international exposure. Finally I chose the ESSEC Global MBA based on these two main criteria: an MBA program with strong focus on international experience offered by a top French business school.

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

I looked for a job in France after graduation and I received two offers: one from Technip for a purchasing position, the other from Schneider Electric for a project manager role related to inter-group financial flows for an integration project of their latest acquisition. I finally chose Schneider Electric's offer: First of all, I’m very impressed by its truly international culture and ambiance. Second, the role is totally different from my past working experience, but I believe it’s a very good opportunity to work on new domain after my MBA and I decided to take this new challenge.

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

The diversity of the Global MBA program helped prepare me for my current position. There were 14 different nationalities in my Global MBA class and I had opportunities to work with most them as team members for different courses and projects. Schneider Electric is one of the most international companies in France and in the world and my job requires me to work with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds.  My MBA experience with teamwork in an extremely diverse environment is truly an asset.

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

I have two main pieces of advice. The first is to have a good self-analysis of your post-MBA career goals and your own strengths and weaknesses, then try to leverage your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses.  For example, if your goal is to work in France after the MBA, not speaking French could be a weakness.  You can try to target international companies, so good networking skills will help.  The second piece of advice is to to stay open-minded.  Every learning experience, every networking opportunity matters, you never know when they will lead to something.  You need to stay open-minded and keep trying (while adjusting whenever necessary) until you achieve your goal, which will be the start of a new journey!