What do we learn in our Strategy course?


By Jennifer Thomas, Global MBA Luxury Brand Management major, 2019-2020
Strategy without process is little more than a wish list – Robert Filek
As future managers learning how to identify critical issues in a situation, acknowledging the challenges, making best use of your organization’s resources and implementing a focused and concentrated course of action are some of the key expectations that any organization will have from us after we join them. Often, we tend to overlap what we want to achieve (goals) with what we need to do (strategy). But like Professor Maciej warns us, goals are NOT strategy. So, how and where do we learn these nuances?

What does strategy really mean?
Welcome to the Strategy class at ESSEC Business School, one of the many essential subjects that form a part of the pedagogy. The sessions are conducted by Professor Maciej Workiewicz and as he puts it, strategy has become a buzz word in today’s world. People use this term to skillfully put across some plan of action that is to be implemented to hopefully bring out a positive result. However, as we have understood from the sessions we have had so far, there is more to strategy than meets the eye. Rather than being about what you are going to do, strategy is about what you aren’t going to do. It is a way of getting in to the nitty gritty of the issue at hand and not just superficially reading the symptoms.

While we have had only a few sessions on this subject, it has become evident that strategy is no longer a word that can be thrown about in meeting rooms. Rather it is an in-depth understanding of a situation, a way to identify and analyze the obstacles and then come up with a plan – a smart plan. 

A learning-by-doing approach
Professor Maciej conducts our lectures in a way that allows us to apply both practical and theoretical knowledge. Each lecture requires us to prepare the assigned case study and related questions in advance. This means reading and understanding the case thoroughly. The previous step is a requisite because each session includes an intense discussion that is imperative to the learning process. These case studies not only allow us to learn about real life situations that companies have faced, but also give us the chance to apply our grey cells to answer those questions. We learnt how Coca Cola and Pepsi have strategically kept ahead of each other while both continue to dominate the Carbonated Soft Drinks universe. We have done an in-depth analysis on what makes IKEA – a furniture retail store with humble beginnings such a success story. We have also delved deep into the analysis of the e-scooter industry and the various factors that influence this new and growing industry.

Till date we have learnt about several concepts like the Product Lifecycle Curve, SWOT Analysis, Porter’s Five forces etc.  These are terms we have come across at some point but during these sessions we have been able to understand on a deeper level what each of these concepts mean, how they are relevant to industries even today and the case studies help us to understand how these concepts applied to organizations, to work those grey cells better and to move us a bit closer to understanding what makes Strategy so important.

Get in touch with Jennifer to find out more about the #ESSECGMBAExperience.

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