Integration Week in France | September 2019

Current participants Sarah Chen and Chitra Birole reflect on the Global MBA Integration Week in Chablis and share their key takeaways.

Sarah's Reflections on the Integration Week

This year, the cohort beginning their MBA at ESSEC's France campus, along with some of the alumni, spent 4 days at the scenic countryside of Chablis, Burgundy, in east-central France, a famous region for producing white wine. We felt immensely privileged to have been able to visit the Abbaye de Reigny, the Caves Bailly Lapierre, and the Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard to understand the wine industry more in-depth as a semi-formal introduction to the luxury industry as well as to get to know the French culture better. 

Even more exciting was having Station F professionals join us on our last day for a Sustainability Leadership seminar, where we learned about the triple bottom line and how sustainability impacts all sectors, and gave team presentations on strategies of how to handle PR issues in the luxury industry in connection with sustainability.

Fund Manager & Global MBA alumna Theany Bazet teaching us about
how sustainability plays a role in finance and economics.
The Caves de Bailly Lapierre and the Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard offered us first-hand insights on how the wine industry in the region was developed and how it is run today, the most interesting aspect being how they’re combating weather instability due to climate change and the strategies they’re implementing to stand out in the market (i.e. organic wines, biodynamic wines). We came to learn and appreciate the art and process of winemaking.

Tour led by Julien Brocard at the Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard
The Abbaye de Reigny is a beautiful and historic monument constructed in the 12th century by Cistercian monks as a refuge for other monks coming from neighboring regions; at one point, it hosted over 300 monks and it was them who developed this wine region. Most of our activities took place here, from learning how to play P├ętanque (a game/sport born in Provence) to participating in play-pretend auctions, group activities (i.e. strategy games, blind-folded challenges, and barrel rolling competitions), and where we undeniably embarrassed ourselves by performing songs we wrote on the last night we spent at Chablis! All in all, it was a very memorable and fun experience where we got to know our peers better and we can’t wait to see how the year ahead of us unfolds.

Chitra's Key Takeaways from the Integration Week

1. You need to understand the person more than understanding his/her language.
During the week, I had the opportunity to work with people from several nationalities with whom I have never had the chance to interact with before. Initially, it was a little challenging to understand their thoughts and approach to certain problems. However, as opposed to many networking events I attended in the past, this experience made me realize how taking the time to understand the person is so important in exchanges with others. This practice also made us aware of everyone’s natural leadership style.

2. Focusing on improvement
When we were given tasks such as barrel-making and blindfold driving, all we had to do was focus on giving our 100%. We learned the power of unity. It taught me how we could make a great team of completely different people work just by understanding the objectives of the task and the strengths of each individual. Even in our victories, we could have done some things better.

3. Look out for each other
Working as a team through several activities, we learned that we all had our individual strengths and weaknesses. We leveraged our strengths to the advantage of the team but we also ensured that we covered for each other. For example, some from the team were great in creativity and some were stronger in analytical thinking We made sure that every team member is encouraged and supported. We learned that every individual is answerable to the sustainability of environment. We must work in a team to create the beautiful world for our next generations.

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