How the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific Offers You a Cross-Cultural Experience


A cross-cultural Executive MBA program is an asset to those who wish to accelerate their careers and lead in the globalized world.

The future of work is one that is increasingly digital and connected. As businesses go global and workplaces become increasingly diverse, demand is rising for leaders with international exposure.

This is because international exposure offers a fresh perspective of different countries, which equips professionals to better understand diverse teams and take on leadership roles in international organizations. In addition, as companies expand into different markets, the need is for those who are able to navigate through complex global environments, know the best practices in different markets, and, even better, have a network of contacts to smoothen the working relationship.

Undoubtedly, there are many ways to gain this international exposure, but cross-cultural Executive MBA (EMBA) programs like the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA at ESSEC Asia-Pacific are an option with significant advantages.

Global Learning with a Pan-Asian Focus

Global study is woven into the program DNA, and the faculty, comprising 146  permanent professors representing 37 different nationalities, ensures participants have a broad view of how people from different cultures and sectors approach common topics. Coupled with how classes at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore are taught with a focus on the region, students gain a bird's-eye view of Asia from an international lens, and a solid understanding of the local customs and cultural nuances that impact business.

To further build international exposure, participants also attend week-long residencies in the United States—in institutions like Georgetown University in Washington as well as a partner university in Asia—where participants network with prestigious key speakers, familiarize themselves with new business styles and develop invaluable insights to a new culture.

Importantly, the program also devotes significant focus to helping participants understand the impact of geopolitics on businesses worldwide. “If you want to become a general manager or a CEO, you must have knowledge of political culture because you will be exposed to geopolitical problems,” Cedomir Nestorovic, Academic Director, ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific, explains. “It is important for our participants to have this kind of training because they will face this kind of risk.”

Entrepreneurial Experience In Asia

To give participants a taste of doing international business, part of the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific requires them to test an entrepreneurial idea by creating a new business, or by helping an existing company develop a new product or market. Besides allowing participants to practice their innovation, management, and leadership skills, this is a valuable opportunity for them to explore new sectors, enter new markets, and even address social issues in the region.

Stephanie Sng, from the class of 2019, used this opportunity to start a luxury wines distributorship business in Myanmar with her classmates. “It was great to be part of a start-up and put our learnings to the test,” she recalls, noting that the lessons learned have been transferrable and valuable for her role as Area Director for Marketing, Loyalty, and Partnership at the leading hospitality hotel group Accor.

Connections with an International Community

Notably, this emphasis on group work is also how the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program cultivates an international mindset. As there are over 15 nationalities in each cohort, participants gain a significant understanding of different cultures and perspectives simply from working with their classmates.

“My classmates had a completely different way of looking at challenges and dealing with things,” Wesley Alves, alumnus, APAC VP, and managing director at French industrial company ARMOR says. “Even if you think you know something, there’s always a different perspective and a lot to learn if you go in with a humble mindset.”

Peer learning is only enhanced by how the intimate cohort size at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus fosters the development of deep and lasting connections. That said, thanks to the integration of the ESSEC and Mannheim business schools, they still gain access to the wide global alumni network of over 65,000 and connections with more than 3,500 companies—truly giving them the best of both worlds.

This is perhaps why alumna from the class of 2019 and Asia-Pacific Regional Lead of Medical Affairs at pharmaceutical company MSD Pharma, Aileen Dualan describes the EMBA experience as “more than just learning new skills. “ You also expand your network and learn leadership behaviors from others.” And if this learning occurs in a cross-cultural context, there is no doubt that one graduates more than equipped to find success in the ever-changing world.

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