My first week at ESSEC was fun and intense. I had just completed the CRASE course and had started to get to know only a fraction of the whole class. I was greatly pleased with CRASE as I got to know my fellow classmates, their cultures, and their way of thinking in a challenging situation, which was to make a restaurant business profitable. This would set the tone for our next experience: 3 days in Saint Cyr Military Academy, one of the most important military academies in France, created by order of Napoleon Bonaparte! I can honestly say that as an MBA student I never thought I would experience living as a cadet for three days and get to know my peers in these conditions all the while learning to become a stronger leader!
We arrived Tuesday night, quickly met our group mentors, were briefed on the program we would participate in, and got installed in our living quarters. The class was split into three teams and our training would start at 7 a.m. sharp the next day. We functioned together as a team since we woke up. We had breakfast before the sun came out, (I wasn’t too thrilled about this last part) soon after we received a lesson in the importance of team leadership, and were given our first task.
I hate to say it but the first time we attempted to complete our task we failed as a team. But it is in our failures where we learn the most. It was at that moment that we learned not only the importance of having a leader and listening to that leader in order to work as a unit, but also the importance of designing a complete plan to solve a challenge and execute it.
During the next tasks in which we shed, sweat, blood and tears (only a little of the last two) we perfected the abilities taught to us on our first challenge, as well as others such as listening to each other, finding our individual advantages to contribute to the team, and encouraging each other to complete the task. And just as important as learning these abilities are, we got to know each other more, joked around with one another and formed a friendship that I don’t believe we could have obtained in the classroom.
In the end, Saint Cyr accomplished three goals: the first, help us overcome our fears and accomplish tasks we ourselves thought incapable of doing; second, teach us to become strong leaders and make a team work as a single unit, able to overcome any obstacle thrown our way; and last but not least, a connection with our classmates that will only strengthen as we progress in our Global MBA program. I am immensely happy at having had this opportunity and I’m sure my classmates as well!