Kristina Rallu, Global MBA 2014-2015, United States
With an increasingly connected global economy, training in international business practices is becoming a staple of any forward thinking MBA program. Whether it’s global supply chain management or an understanding of different financial accounting norms, an international perspective is essential in today’s business environment. In the ESSEC MBA program, Global is more than just part of the title. The entire program was designed around an international business perspective, and this permeates every aspect of the program.
It’s one thing to learn about cultural differences in business practices from a textbook, but it’s another thing to experience these differences firsthand. Our first course of the MBA program was a negotiation workshop, and I was paired with a Chinese classmate for our first exercise. She was tough, and I remember feeling uncomfortable with how aggressively she negotiated. Imagine my surprise when she described her negotiation technique as soft during our debriefing. This is just one of many examples of the cross-cultural learning that takes place in our program. The way we negotiate, run meetings, establish trust, and even write an email is profoundly impacted by our culture. Being part of a multi-cultural student group adds value to our program and enhances our learning. My cohort was small (only 21 students) but we had 12 nationalities represented in our class.
Our professors hail from all around the globe, both in terms of their home countries and their professional experiences. To illustrate, our Business, Sustainability, and Society course was taught by an Australian with extensive professional experience in Asia, North America, and the Middle East. Besides being experts in their fields of study, our professors help us by challenging our assumptions and reframing issues through multiple international viewpoints.
With one term in Singapore, a field trip to an emerging market, and consulting projects scattered around the globe, there’s no shortage of international immersion in our program. Wherever our program goes, we always have company visits and personal connections with leaders in various industries. Students exit the program with a global network and plenty of stamps in their passports.
The Consulting Mission
The International Immersion Project, or IIP, is the culminating project of the Global MBA program. During the summer students spend anywhere from a few weeks to two months on a consulting mission, putting into practice everything we've learned throughout the school year. The list of cooperating companies changes somewhat from one year to the next. This year’s class will have projects in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Qatar, along with a couple Paris-based assignments in international companies. This is an exciting opportunity to gain professional experience while being immersed in a foreign culture.
In September I’ll exit the Global MBA program with more than just the knowledge and tools that I need in order to make the next step in my career. I’ll also have first-hand experience on working across cultural boundaries, with a deeper understanding of other cultures and new perspectives on own. Just as importantly, I’ll have a global network of friends and fellow alumni that I can call on for anything ranging from career support to vacation advice.