Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Salary Negotiation - Learning-by-Doing in our Managerial Communications Course

by Sébastien Leroy, Global MBA Ambassador 2018-2019 | Hospitality Management major

Salary negotiations are an exercise which many find challenging. How do we approach this delicate discussion without being over demanding, and how much more would be considered acceptable? To help us manage such negotiations better, our Managerial Communication professor, Boris Quinchon, organized an interactive role-playing activity for our class today. It is always motivating to take part in such activities because it engages us through active involvement in the course, allowing us to apply what we’ve learned to real-life situations.

For the case, we were split up into groups of four. Each group had one employee and one manager, who were discussing a salary negotiation, as well as two observers who analyzed the exchange and the discussion. This exercise was interesting because both the manager and the employee were given different sets of information. The employee was playing the role of a senior employee in an organization, who was a newly-wed father asking for a raise, while the manager had newly arrived in the company and did not know her subordinates very well. While the employee had high expectations in the negotiation of the raise, the manager did not have much leeway in terms of how much the increment could be.

While certain groups did not reach an agreement in the exercise and ended up in a confrontational situation, others were able to negotiate a common ground and found themselves in a situation of mediation and common discussion. The takeaways from this exercise for MBA participants would include being more mindful and empathetic of both the employee’s and the manager’s position during salary negotiation. An employee may not be aware of the budget restrictions that may be imposed on a manager, perhaps by the board members or the organization, and likewise, a manager may not be aware of the daily difficulties (financial or personal) that an employee may be facing outside of the workplace. Being aware of these biases is helpful in understanding the mechanics of an effective negotiation. 

At the end of class, the observers had the chance to summarize their interpretation of the exercise and the different groups discussed their results. In this Managerial Communications class, we have the opportunity to consolidate the skills and new perspectives, which we have acquired in our other classes, such as in our Negotiating or Management of People at Work classes, which we attended earlier in the year. 

Stay tuned for the next first-hand Global MBA class experience!

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Saint-Cyr Experience and its Relevance

by Anirban Paul, Global MBA Ambassador 2018-19 | Strategy and Management Major


   

One of the first things a Global MBA participant experiences as part of the program is the Leadership Training program at Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan, the French military higher education school located about 200 miles from Paris. The 2018-19 batch had the opportunity to visit Saint-Cyr in September this year, one week after the induction program. After a late evening arrival at Saint-Cyr, we were welcomed by military officers who would also be our mentors for the program. After a quick briefing, we were divided into teams of ten and asked to collect our gears and get ready for an early morning start.
    
What followed was an intense 3-day Leadership training program, where each team had to perform a set of physically-and-intellectually challenging team-building tasks. For each task, our mentor assigned a chief and a deputy chief, who would together lead the task. All team members took turns in managing the tasks as chief and/or deputy chief. Most of us within the team had just met each other and over the first couple of tasks, we got to know more about each other’s personalities.

   

What impressed me was how the Leadership training program was designed to reflect the experiences of the corporate world. Having worked in multiple Consulting projects for over ten years, these were my key takeaways from the program:

Leadership: In today's competitive world, leadership skills are crucial for both personal and professional development. Leadership is an important function of management which helps an individual or a business to maximize efficiency and to achieve goals. Over the span of a career, people are likely to lead teams and work with managers of different leadership styles. 
The ability to adapt and align to these styles contributes significantly to the success of an individual as well as the organization. Saint-Cyr provided a great opportunity for people to lead teams and work with teammates having different leadership styles. The mentors at the program emphasized the ability to adapt and the importance of active listening as key aspects of leadership development. I am certain that we will continue to develop these qualities throughout the Global MBA program and eventually implement them in our careers upon graduation.

Inclusion and Diversity: We live in a world where inclusion and diversity are key to the success of corporations, especially the ones which have a global footprint. For professionals looking to develop an international career, it is also integral to be able to thrive in a multicultural environment. The current batch of Global MBA participants includes a diverse group of people from over 20 countries. 
At Saint-Cyr, each team had a good mix of people from across the globe, which gave everyone a taste of working with people from different cultures and with different personalities. The Saint-Cyr experience, as well as the overall Global MBA program, will provide us with the opportunity to work in an inclusive environment and help us integrate into corporations with diverse cultures seamlessly.

Teamwork: At Saint-Cyr, through the team-building activities, we were able to achieve our assigned goals, collaborate, and synergize. We reflected on how we delegated tasks, influenced each other positively and held accountability as a team. We often faced challenges in completing tasks, but at key moments, many of us stepped up to go the extra mile for the team. This demonstration of team spirit helped us complete tasks and build camaraderie with each other. 
At the workplace too, teamwork plays a key role in the success of a project and most importantly the growth of an individual. The Global MBA program is designed around activities that need to be performed as a team and this experience will most definitely prepare participants to work in teams at the workplace.

   

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Visit to L’École des Arts Joailliers - Van Cleef & Arpels | Luxury Brand Management Major

By Emilia Wilson, Global MBA Ambassador 2018-2019, Luxury Brand Management Major



For this week’s visit, we toured L’École des Arts Joailliers just off the Place Vendôme in Paris. Opening their doors in 2012 with support from Van Cleef & Arpels, the school is bringing the art of jewelry-making to the public sphere with their classes for jewelry enthusiasts & amateur jewelry designers, their monthly lecture series, and the bi-annual exhibitions. Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to learn about four of the six savoirs-faire and the current exhibit, Bagues d’Homme, which consisted of the majority of art- and furniture-collector Yves Gastou’s personal collection of men’s rings.


The first half of our visit was conducted by a lovely gentleman, Art Historian Gislain Aucremanne, who is particularly passionate about men’s jewelry. He proved to be just the person to help us explore the exhibit Bagues d’Hommes. The exhibit consisted of a collection of 669 rings from Yves Gastou’s personal collection of over a thousand, which ranged over seven different themes - Neoclassical, Chivalry, Gothic, Religious, Vanities, Ethnic and Curiosities. From some extremely valuable and rare antiquities to rings Mr. Gastou found in tag sales and along his travels, this exhibit offered an extremely varied view of what men’s jewelry means and has meant for cultures across the globe and across generations. Upon entering the exhibition space, we were met with a large statue of Joan of Arc, a symbol of masculinity and femininity in one and a great inspiration for Mr. Gastou who is trying to dismantle the social belief that rings are only for women. For each of the many cases, Mr. Aucremanne explained the significance of certain pieces in terms of Mr. Gastou’s passion for them, the historical importance, and the stylistic relevance. As these rings were created over hundreds of years, the story also followed the men’s fashion trends. In the past, jewelry was an important way for men, and specifically clergymen, to show their power. Over time however, the popularity of men’s jewelry faded as women took over as the predominant wearers of these works of art. Mr. Aucremanne noted for us that in the 1980s and 1990s, rebellious personalities decided to take back the right of wearing jewelry loudly and proudly. A fascinating insight into one man’s dedication and passion for the art of men’s jewelry, this exhibit demonstrated how important jewelry can be to one’s identity.

After our in-depth tour of Mr. Gastou’s immense collection, Mr. Aucremanne had three last pieces of fine jewelry to show us, which stunned us both in the physical design and their individual stories.


The first was a necklace fabricated in the 1770s in France by a jeweler of King Louis XVI. While it does not currently have any of the original stones, which were unfortunately sold and replaced with glass replicas, the metal elements are completely original. Despite the glass jewels, this is still an unbelievably stunning piece. Mr. Aucremanne was able to tell us about the legend that was sold along with the necklace. During the American Revolution, the owner of the necklace, a Polish Countess, had bid adieu to her lover, a warrior who went to America to help fight for independence from the British. She received word that he was not doing well financially and to that she decided to send the 13 large emeralds, which would have originally been from Colombia, to aid him in him the fight for the 13 colonies. Though as Mr. Aucremanne reminded us, this was of course called a legend for a reason.


The second piece was a tiara that was first crafted for the wife of Russian Tsar Alexander II. It is stated that the heiress who inherited the piece sold it to a Romanian Queen during the Russian Revolution. Again, as we saw with the first necklace, the stones are now all fakes. It is unknown whether it was sold with fake stones or whether they were replaced after the purchase, though it is known that the Romanian Queen wore it with almost entirely fake stones. 



The third and final piece presented to us was a masterpiece set, the acquisition of which Mr. Aucremanne coordinated for L’École des Arts Joailliers. Purchased from a private collector in the United States, this 1830s set, consisting of a modular necklace (that is, various elements could be added or removed), bracelets, hair comb, modular earrings, and a brooch which has since been transformed into a ring. The gold is of very high quality and the stones are amethyst, which at the time of creation was viewed as a more common stone. While it is not sure who exactly would have worn this, it has been determined that it was very probably made for a lady of the court of Queen Marie Amélie. In the piece, we were able to see specific techniques, such as granulation and variations of polishing from matte surfaces to those which were highly polished. Minute details, such as setting designed as fleurs de lis and small flowers separating each of the stones, showed the care and precision that was taken when designing this incredible set of jewelry. 

Mr. Aucremanne departed from us as we enjoyed a coffee and some small treats before we ventured into the second half of our visit - the savoir-faire workshop.


Sporting a L’École des Arts Joailliers lab coat, we entered the classroom, which was set up with four jewelry making stations, for a short presentation on the school & the classes they teach. We then got to work on trying our own hand at a few of the many elements that go into creating the works of art, such as those of Van Cleef & Arpels.


The first of which was forming a wax mock-up, which would then be used to create a mold to cast the initial shapes of jewelry. Our professor showed us a gorgeous wax sculpture of a ballerina and it is clear the absolute attention to detail that is required of this phase of the process.


Next we were given a piece of silver to cut along a traced line with a jeweler’s saw, which proved to be more challenging than one would think. The saw looked somewhat like a small hacksaw with a very thin, string-like blade. We were taught about the angle to apply when cutting a straight line versus that which we would use when making turns or curved lines. Given that this would be one of the first steps in the creation of a piece of jewelry, this is a crucial skill to have, which demands a fine hand and an exacting eye.


After learning of the wax sculpture and metal cutting techniques, we moved to the next station where we delved into the art of polishing and stone setting. We were given a silver chaton setting, or in English a basket setting, which we had the opportunity of polishing. We used thin strips of cotton and two different waxy materials, one more abrasive than the other, to bring the silver to a lustrous shine. A time-consuming element of the process, the exercise yet again demonstrated to us why some pieces of jewelry can take 800 or 900 hours of work from ideation to completion. Our professor noted something that stood out in particular to me - at Van Cleef & Arpels, they polish not only the visible parts of the work, but every single surface, even those that will never see the light of day after other layers of metal or jewels are added.

To close the workshop, the Master Jeweler who taught us about the polishing process described to us his life’s passion - stone setting. This was something that I already knew fascinated me, mainly for the precision it takes on the part of multiple jewelers. The jeweler who creates the metal base must first provide the stone setters with the initial layout of where the stones will be placed. The polisher must do so without taking away so much material that the stones no longer fit. And finally the jeweler handling the settings must then work with the metal base, all the while being extremely careful not to damage the work that has already taken up to hundreds of hours to create. There are many different fashions of setting stones, one of which is particular to Van Cleef & Arpels - le Serti Mystérieux, the Mystery Set - which was patented in 1933. This remains one of the most iconic techniques used by Van Cleef & Arpels today.


Looking back on this experience, it was a fabulous way for our class to be introduced to the wonderfully talented and eloquent members of L’École des Arts Joailliers, some of whom we will be working with again during our visit to Dubai next spring. We were encouraged to come back to the school any time we are available to continue learning about the very delicate art of jewelry making. I would like to dearly thank all of the members of the school who made this visit possible. We were astonished and incredibly grateful to be welcomed so warmly to L’École.



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Capstone Consulting Field Project - African Entrepreneur Collective in Rwanda

by Himanshu Pundhir, Global MBA participant 2017-2018, Strategy & Management major


 

As part of the MBA Capstone Consulting Field Project, I travelled to Rwanda in July with two other Global MBA participants. The three of us reached Rwanda with lots of excitement, and we were looking forward to exploring the culture and the business environment in Rwanda. We discovered that we can get almost any cuisine in Kigali and were never short of options to eat. The ‘motos’ (two-wheelers) provide an easy and quick mode of transport in hilly Kigali and are very easy to get. Also known as the country of thousand hills, Rwanda is blessed with beautiful landscapes and has sweeping views of valleys and hills wherever one goes. There are some wonderful places around Kigali to visit on weekends such as Lake Kivu, Volcanoes National Park (where one can see Gorillas), and Akagera National Park.

 

While working with the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), we got the opportunity to work with many local entrepreneurs – the three of us worked with ten clients in total. We started our engagements with these entrepreneurs by researching on the company and the industry sector in Rwanda. We then spent time with our clients to understand their business, analyze their business models, and identify the challenges in different areas such as sales, finance, operations, and marketing. After completing the analysis, we presented our assessment (the good, the bad, the ugly) to our clients with some business recommendations. Then, we worked with those entrepreneurs to select the recommendations to be implemented as part of the consulting phase based on priority and  the available time frame. We then implemented the recommendations for the client working with AEC Analysts so that the Analysts could continue providing support to clients after we had left.

The consulting work that we did varied from client to client – online marketing, sales/pricing strategy, developing online presence, streamlining operations, website development, etc. In the consulting phase, we worked with our clients to implement the selected recommendations. We were amazed by the can-do attitude of these entrepreneurs. When they started, most of them did not have detailed business plans and had to learn on the go. They started something that they were passionate about and dealt with the problems as they came, running their business in an extremely agile manner. Several of these businesses were not highly structured and had an ad-hoc approach to pricing, sales, discounts, and data. The agile nature of their businesses gave them an advantage in the initial phase and they could quickly enter in their desired markets.

However, as they grew, and as operations and revenue increased with customer growth, the lack of structure became a bottleneck to profitability. With a lack of systems to manage data, they faced problems in making sense of their costs, sales patterns or customer habits, and faced difficulties in interpreting the unit economics or contribution margins on their individual products. Our consulting efforts as part of the Capstone Consulting Field Project helped them with exactly this. Through carrying out analysis and assessments, we helped them develop insights about their own products, customers, and costs.

The learning, however, was not one-sided. We learnt many valuable lessons of entrepreneurship from our clients. Our business education and concepts were supplemented with real-life practical approaches to business. We learnt that even the best business plans and market research cannot prepare us for all the challenges and scenarios one faces in real-life. Tackling problems with an innovative mindset and being open to new ideas is a skill that is indispensable for anyone who is aspiring to be an entrepreneur. Many entrepreneurs we met started the business without a detailed business plan and had to pivot their business models and offerings with changing customer requirements and as they gained a deeper understanding of their markets. Their journey was inspiring for us and had many lessons.

We are happy to have chosen Rwanda for our Capstone Consulting Field Project. It gave us the opportunity to work in Rwanda and experience the culture and business challenges in the country, along with the opportunity to put into practical use everything we learned during our MBA year. Seeing the impact of the work reflect on the business in real/short-time was exciting and rewarding, and we left Rwanda with experiences and learnings that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Visit to L’Oréal Luxe | Luxury Brand Management Major

by Emilia Wilson, Global MBA Ambassador 2018-2019, Luxury Brand Management Major



Last night, the participants from the Luxury Brand Management major of the Global MBA program attended a presentation at the L’Oréal Luxe offices. Once we had settled into our seats in their lovely auditorium space, Mr. Rémi Lugagne, L’Oréal Luxe’s Global Senior Vice President of Human Resources, warmly welcomed us to their offices. Before he began his presentation, Mr. Lugagne asked us to chime in with comments, questions, or disagreements (though none of us had any), creating a very interactive and comfortable environment for all of the participants.

The presentation was organized in five sections: a focus on the entire L’Oréal group, the Luxury market, L’Oréal Luxe specifically, “New Luxury” & upcoming trends, and a section on Talent Acquisition to close. A significant portion of the presentation offered us a concrete understanding of just how much gravity L’Oréal and their Luxe division holds within the worldwide Cosmetics & Fragrances industry.

Mr. Lugagne’s background in various roles and markets during his time with L’Oréal clearly gave him a vast knowledge in regards to the company and the industry, both domestically and globally. There was one element of his presentation that particularly stood out to me - when Mr. Lugagne showed us the career trajectories of a set of current L’Oréal executives, I noticed that most of them had been with the company for 10 years, 20 years, and more in some cases. I’d say this is all we needed to see that L’Oréal is a true community, a family.

After the presentation, Mr. Lugagne invited us to join him and other members of L’Oréal Luxe Human Resources for a glass of champagne and some canapés, when we were able to have free-flowing conversations with his team. 

This incredible opportunity was made possible through the very close relationship between ESSEC Business School and L’Oréal which dates back 23 years as they were, a founding partner of the Global MBA Luxury Brand Management major. We look forward to growing our connection to such a world-renowned leader in the Luxury industry. Merci beaucoup to L’Oréal, Mr. Lugagne, and the rest of the Human Resources team!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Visit to Champagne Collet | Luxury Brand Management major



On Tuesday, October 2nd, the Managing Director of Champagne Collet, Olivier Charriaud, was kind enough to organize a tour of the Coopérative Générale des Vignerons (COGEVI) production facility in Oger, as well as a lunch and a tour of La Cité du Champagne in Aÿ, for the participants from the Luxury Brand Management major of the ESSEC Global MBA. While the tours at La Cité du Champagne are open to the public, it was through our special relationship with Mr. Charriaud, a graduate of the ESSEC Grande Ecole, that we were able to get an in-depth walkthrough of the production facility.

At the COGEVI site, Mr. Sébastien Walasiak, Chef de Cave Champagne Collet, explained the processes that are undertaken to transform the juice received from the cooperative’s wine growers into champagne. Champagne is produced through a double fermentation process - the first, done in tanks, creates the alcohol content of the wine, and the second fermentation, done in the final bottle, produces the effervescence that is so distinctive to this very special variety of wine. It is after this second fermentation cycle that the neck of the bottle, which at this point contains all of the sediment, is frozen. The frozen sediment is then expelled and the bottle is corked. The bottles are then sent to the caves to age. Champagne Collet ages their product for a minimum of 3 years, and up to 7 years.


Once we had an understanding of the process, Mr. Walasiak handed us tasting glasses before we ventured into the production area. We had the exquisite opportunity to taste the wine that had only been through its first fermentation cycle, referred to as vin clair. The first sample, made from Chardonnay grapes, was very acidic at the young age of 3 weeks. Mr. Walasiak helped us recognize the lemon and citrus notes in this wine.

The next two samples were from Pinot Noir grapes and were distinctly more palatable on our taste buds. The second of the two Pinot Noir vins clairs, we were told, could have been bottled and sent to market if they wanted, though it was of course going to better serve as champagne for the year 2026. The two samples were pinkish in color, which is a result of using the grapes as well as the juice; the skin of the grapes is the element that gives color to the wine.

Our final taste of vin clair at COGEVI was made with Meunier grapes, which are notably less acidic and highlight tropical fruit flavors, such as pineapple and mango. As this wine ages quickly, it is best used for Brut Cuvée, rather than a Vintage Cuvée.

After a warm thank you to Mr. Walasiak, we boarded the bus en route to La Cité du Champagne for lunch and a taste of the final product.


We arrived at La Cité du Champagne and found ourselves in the Champagne Collet Maison, one of three buildings in the complex. The other Maison is specifically dedicated to COGEVI; the final is a museum, which we were able to tour after our lunch.

Managing Director Olivier Charriaud warmly welcomed us to the property and graciously took time out of his schedule to describe the history of COGEVI, Champagne Collet, and the revival strategy he implemented in 2011. A dying brand upon his arrival, Champagne Collet was in need of a creative marketing plan and he was just the one to take on this task. Mr. Charriaud introduced a three pillar operation strategy: Legitimacy, Visibility, and Profitability. In an industry of long standing giants, such as Moët & Chandon, legitimacy was not easy to come by, though there was a backbone; COGEVI is the oldest champagne collective in France. However, that wasn’t necessarily strong enough to bring Champagne Collet to the luxury side of the industry. To combat this challenge, Mr. Charriaud thought up an extremely creative solution - le Prix Champagne Collet du Livre de Chef. This competition consists of a jury of critics of haute gastronomie and media that decides upon the winner, a chef who’s written a book of their own recipes. The challenge requires these chefs to cook a meal with pairings of various cuvées of Champagne Collet for each course. This, in my opinion, was a genius way to tie Champagne Collet to an image of luxury.



After Mr. Charriaud’s discussion of the transformation he implemented, we enjoyed a lovely lunch paired with their Brut Art Déco and their Brut Rosé before delving further into the history of the Coopération and Champagne Collet. The museum furthered our understanding of the societal context of the origins of COGEVI and Champagne Collet, while also letting us view the final phase of the process - the aging of the bottles.

With a new wealth of knowledge about the entire champagne production process, the history of the appellation of ‘Champagne,’ and the long-standing & withstanding significance of Champagne Collet, we departed Aÿ en route to Paris, though we couldn’t take off before stopping at the gift shop to buy some champagne to enjoy in our own homes.

If I may speak on behalf of the participants of the Global MBA Luxury Brand Management major, this visit offered all of us an incredible insight into the challenges and creative solutions this brand of champagne has seen and withstood. We all send our dearest regards to Mr. Charriaud for this truly unique experience!


Watch a highlight video of the visit:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Industry Leaders Conference - Mr. Michael Levie (H83), Founding Partner and COO at citizenM


On 2 October 2018, we were pleased to welcome Mr. Michael Levie (H83), ESSEC alumnus and Founding Partner & CEO of citizenM, for the 1st Industry Leaders Conference of the 2018-2019 Academic Year. The conference provided participants with a valuable opportunity to hear from Mr. Levie, a respected thought leader within the European hospitality technology community.

During the conference, Mr. Levie spoke about the distinct difference between the Hospitality industry in the US, Europe, and the rest of the world, giving Global MBA participants and MSc in Hospitality Management students a clear overview of the key characteristics of these markets. 


Career Advice
Sharing career advice from his rich experience in the industry, Mr. Levie emphasized that it is paramount to understand the organization and the purpose of the organization which you are looking to work for. If your values are aligned with the company, you will never work a day in your life.

Mr. Levie encouraged participants to start the exploration phase right now, contacting people and asking them questions to understand if the culture and values of the company aligned with them, as it makes a big difference if you can contribute to something which you like. 


Trends in the Hospitality Industry
Mr. Levie also spoke about how distribution and technology in Hospitality are going to change dramatically. 

In terms of distribution, recent developments have changed the way people sell, and distribution is likely to move from segmentation towards channel management, where the focus is on selling inventory most effectively.

Mr. Levie also highlighted 3 aspects of technology, namely:

Hotel Systems

These are systems that we need to operate a hotel, eg. Property Management Systems (PMS), Point of Sale systems (POS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

Technology that deals with distribution

Mr. Levie encouraged participants who had an affinity with distribution and technology to explore careers in this area, as this is where the biggest changes are going to be in the coming years. 

For Mr. Levie, technology is not exactly changing the world, but it allows him to move very differently. 

Guest-facing technology

Mr. Levie elaborated on how APIs have been used for mass customization, and highlighted the importance of data in decision-making.

Using citizenM as an example, Mr. Levie illustrated how guest-centricity drives their decisions, from the first moment when they decide where to build the hotel. To Mr. Levie, if you go into a niche and do what the niche market expects well, you will really be able to do well.


People
Lastly, Mr. Levie highlighted the importance of the people in the organization, and explained that one of the key hiring criteria for him is having an individual whose values overlap greatly with the company’s values. To Mr. Levie, being nice, being down-to-earth, and being human, is of utmost importance, and when you treat people with respect, they will treat you with respect as well.