The social project… the reason why I chose ESSEC for my EMBA - Sandrine Martin
Environmental challenges and current health and social issues have forced us to rethink our organizations, our economic systems and our management models. In order to provide a well-rounded education experience to our EMBA participants, ESSEC incorporates CSR training in the curriculum. The program is not only about improving soft and hard management skills, it’s also about business ethics and social responsibility. As a result, ESSEC requires its EMBA participants to complete a social class project.
The class is responsible for the project from start to finish by conceptualizing and choosing an idea, defining major milestones, tracking KPIs, and ensuring the success of the project even after the program is completed. Many participants choose ESSEC mainly for the Social Class Project. In the EMBA Class of 2021, the project consisted of partnering up with the NaturDive Association to help save the Mediterranean Posidonia meadows through awareness and fundraising initiatives... let’s find out more with Sandrine Martin, EMBA participant:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sandrine: As an active and sportive woman, I enjoy travelling and discovering new horizons. I am a Scuba diver and one of my passions is nature.
I am a project leader working as a Global Project Manager in clinical research, mainly for oncological international studies for a service provider company in the pharmaceutical industry called PPD.
What was your source of motivation to start the Executive MBA program at ESSEC?
S: I have been working in clinical research for 17 years and even though I love my job and am lucky enough to evolve regularly, I was looking for a new challenge... I wanted to challenge myself and acquire new skills and before I knew it, I was starting to apply to the ESSEC EMBA program. It was unexpected to me, as I never thought I’d return to school!
Why did you choose this program at ESSEC?
S: I went to an EMBA exhibition. I met with some alumni and really enjoyed the working spirit at ESSEC Business school. What impressed me most was the Social Project being such a big part of the program. This was what confirmed my decision and I really didn’t need to apply to any other MBA.
Did you join the ESSEC Executive MBA with a specific idea of where you wanted to go after?
S: I had different ideas, I wanted to do some coaching in project management, or switch toward a more strategic position in my company, but mainly, the idea was to challenge myself with people from different horizons, to develop new skills and to earn a diploma that would confirm the experience I had gained already...
If one of the reasons you chose ESSEC is related to the Social Class Project, could you tell us more about the one you're working on?
S: Sure, we called our project “Mission Posidonia”. This is the social project I proposed to the class and that I was lucky to have selected by my peers. The class’s project was partnering up with the NaturDive Association to help save the Mediterranean Posidonia meadows (seagrass) through awareness and fundraising.
What dimension has this project taken? Do you think you could have had this impact if you were not pursuing an EMBA program at ESSEC?
S: I was not expecting the team to be so involved. We have been launching a lot of great projects over the years (example : see the booklet below) and creating a nice relationship with the NaturDive association we are working with to help save Posidonia. Samuel, the president of NaturDive, and I organized a weekend meeting that allowed the class and the association to meet. We are coming back to the “iles de Lerins'' in June to celebrate the fantastic work (Article in FeminaBio, activities for children, collaboration with various NGOs, booklet for boatmen etc;) that has been done and that is still ongoing.
The fact that the Social Project is part of the ESSEC MBA program meant that a lot of people were truly involved and ready to participate. It makes all the difference.
Best moment(s) in the program?
S: I would say the Leadership camp in Vercors and doing exercises outdoors, building bridges, saving people all together. We laughed a lot and at the same time learnt a lot about our own leadership style. With the pandemic going on, this moment was crucial for us. Another best moment would be the first time we met face to face. We were like children, back to school and excited to finally meet each other after such an intense and weird time (Covid-19).
What is the biggest challenge you overcame during the EMBA?
S: Pitching the Mission Posidonia Social Project, because it was an important environmental issue for me, and it happened on the day that the class first met face to face. I was thrilled to have the group working together. I remember thinking “we can do something concrete for the planet and fight against global warming”... because, as you may know, Posidonia is a crucial element in the Mediterranean Sea and it works as a lung for our planet.
On the 5th of June, we will be celebrating World Environment Day, what does this day represent to you and does it feel to make a difference in the world you are living in?
S: It should be a world environment day every day in fact. However, having a day where people recall the importance of our planet and the need to preserve it can help change mentalities.
I always felt so useless in this matter. At first I was donating to associations to preserve the environment and the animals, and I tried to reduce my trash but that isn’t enough. When we learn about all that Posidonia does for the planet, and how people think about it as a useless algae, I am proud of all the work that we have accomplished. More and more people are starting to be aware about this pearl, so crucial for the Mediterranean Sea, that people destroy with the use of boat anchors.
We can’t just keep witnessing the earth’s slow destruction, we need to make a difference and leave a better world for future generations of sea lovers like us.
What is next for you?
S: Next, I would like to start a sustainable collaboration between the NaturDive Association and ESSEC. It would be fantastic and a great achievement in addition to all actions taken. Also, I will take time to digest what I learnt and apply my consolidated skills to my current company.
Your advice to future applicants, willing to pursue an EMBA at ESSEC?
S: Be ready to invest your time at 200%. Do not do it partially and enjoy your time! Take everything you can from this experience and be ready to encounter great people.
Any book/author or inspiring leader you would recommend to read/follow?
S: Simon Sinek is inspiring, to get some pitching tips, Present Perfect is funny and makes you progress a lot. I love the “theorie de la veste” by Annabelle Roberts.