MBA student and Mother-to-be

Delphine Lau, Global MBA 2014-2015, France

How do you manage when you learn in the same week that you are pregnant and you are admitted in prestigious program offered by a top international business school? I asked to myself that question in May 2014 when I, a 32-year-old woman, held in my hand the Global MBA admission letter from ESSEC and put the other hand on my belly where something so little was happening…

My delivery would be around February 2015 exactly when MBA students would leave the French campus to the one in Singapore for 6 weeks. How to combine these two events ? And in general picture, now pregnant, how will I deal with the classes, the homework, the commute between home and campus and, of course, my family life and my first 5-years-old daughter?

I usually stress very little and am always convinced that each problem has a solution but I felt now that things would be different. Defer the MBA to next fall? Impossible! One year ago, I decided to request an academic leave to my employer who agreed after a six-month-notice: I was not able to come back on my decision. So I wanted to do the program that fall 2014, pregnant or not. I knew that I had all the help and love of my family and my husband who could take care more of our first child because I needed to rest a lot in order to stay in shape.

I warned the Academic Managers about my particular situation during summer. I received wonderful support as they proposed me to do the MBA over 2 years, in particular they proposed me to report the Singapore term in 2016. I was so happy but I knew it was only the beginning of big adventure!

I started the MBA during my 4th month of pregnancy. I really enjoyed meeting the other students and I felt their encouragement ! During the week-end, I used to bring my daughter to the park when, sitting on a bench, I both kept an eye on her and studied my strategy or accounting management courses. I did all my pregnancy medical care during the few hours off during week. Worked hard, slept a lot. All my life was planed around the classes and the family care and it worked out pretty well!

At the time I am writing these article, my new little girl is now 3 month and she is such a lovely baby. I have been back to class since April now and I made my big daughter visit the campus. From the beginning of my MBA adventure, she has always been very surprised that mummy could go to school like her. But she was quite disappointed when she saw in Mummy’s campus there was not any play equipment!

I have decided to do the International Immersion Project in Paris this summer to stay close to my family. Of course, I would have prefered to travel and work in an emerging country.  But I never wanted to choose between a great career and a happy family with kids. In conclusion, I would to say to the young ambitious women  : Doing both is hard but it is not impossible!

UNESCO Business and Climate Summit

Subhajit Biswas, Global MBA 2014-2015, India

Being an MBA student in a top university means being attuned to the changes happening around you. What could be a better experience than being able to listen and discuss with the top business and political leaders of the world how to take a more active role in the world de-carbonation process? Last week, I had the chance to be a participant at the UNESCO Business and Climate Summit held in Paris, where a variety of topics were being debated and discussed. The central theme- the effect of businesses on our climate cannot be ignored any longer. The keynote speech addressed the same, with the honorable president of France - Francois Hollande and the General Secretary of OECD, making a passionate call to action.

The summit as expected was attended by the business heads of many businesses from various sectors and industries. The keynote speech alone was attended by the CEO of Fibria and Carrefour, while the discussion was moderated by a broadcaster from BBC. There was a focus on a variety of issues and there was a recognized urgency to invite pledges and measures, in order to achieve a low carbon economy. During the speech, one thing was apparent to the observers, the days of viewing businesses as a separate entity to the rest of the world are over. Industries have to understand their role in society and act accordingly, the measures or policies whatever they maybe should reflect that.

Apart from the regular companies, the summit also hosted other non-profit organizations like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD) and the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC). These organizations provide support for individuals and organizations looking for information on implementing policies dedicated to various climate issues facing the planet. 

From the keynote, we moved to a thematic session on modern cities. The topics under review were mobility, infrastructure and technology. For this session, we had the opportunity to listen to the CEO’s from Michelin, Vinci and SNCF. The general discussion was based on how to meet the climate challenge and develop innovative solutions with a goal to keep temperature increase to below 2 degrees. The session explored the emerging opportunities for cities to lead the way to low carbon prosperity. The speakers mostly spoke about the measures initiated by their companies in various cities like Mexico City, Toulouse, Hyderabad and Chengdu which has resulted in significant carbon emission savings and created awareness about the issue.

Being a part of the summit, one cannot help but understand the fast changing nature of the business climate. However, being a business school student one cannot help wondering, while there is a focus on saving the environment, are we being viewed only as consumers? Currently we are only creating standards and conforming to them, however there are no actions on ensuring that our future generations are also being included in the entire idea generation process as well. The present communication appears rather top-down than being an exchange of ideas on how to preserve the environment.

Mannheim Exchange Week

Nishtha Sharma, Global MBA 2014-2015, India

In the third term of Global MBA at ESSEC Business School, you have an option to select courses from a wide catalog. Along with all these elective courses, you also have an option to select one of the two courses offered by Mannheim Business School in the holiday week at the end of April. This year the courses offered by Mannheim Business School to ESSEC's Global MBA students were: International Marketing and Innovation & Creativity Management. Though, the seats in these courses are limited, I had the opportunity to take International Marketing, taught by Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuester.

It was an intense course, in which the classes were held at the Mannheim Baroque Palace. The class was a mix of students from Mannheim Business School (Germany), ESSEC Business School (France) and Warwick Business School (UK), and of course the various nationalities. If anybody had doubts about the intensity of the course, they didn’t after it ended. We had longer classes but the time went by and we hardly noticed. But when we had to work on two cases studies after class, then the time seemed too short. In the span of first 3 days we officially did 4 case studies and discussed numerous incidents from around the world.

During this course, two guest speakers also graced us with their experience. Mr.Wilfied
Bartz, Heat of Marketing, BASF who enlighten us about the various challenges of entering the different African Countries. Mr.Thomas Kipp, CEO, DHL eCommerce who share his experience of the demands in the eCommerce industry in the various emerging economies of the world. The course touched all the current edges of the marketing industries and also helped us understand that although there has been much globalization but still every region every segment has their own perspective of seeing things. The course was concluded by an 8 hours simulation game called Country Manager. In this game we learnt a lot about being in a herculean situation where you have too many options and there is not one correct way of doing your work.

I personally had a great time with all my new classmates, learning from their personal experience and having the late night dinners after the hard day’s work. I also learnt so much about international Marketing from Prof. Kuester, which I hope to put into use as soon as possible. Oh, and when in Mannheim do try the German Doner and Apple juice with fizze and definitely visit Heidelberg.