The 12-month ESSEC Global MBA (GMBA) is ranked 2nd in Asia by QS. As a testament to this, more than half of its graduates successfully switch sectors, change functions, or move to a new country for work. Yet, with the uncertainties brought by the pandemic, committing to a global program can come with risks. We speak to the current Global MBA Student Ambassadors – who will graduate in the unpredictability of 2021 – about why they boldly took the plunge.
The ESSEC Global MBA (GMBA) cohort at the Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore is an exclusive and intimate-sized group. Within its ranks are innovators and change-makers, people who both dare to dream and have the drive to make things happen.
“I want to empower the youth and show them that nothing is unreachable,” GMBA student Stephane Andrianasolo proclaims.
For him, the Strategy & Digital Leadership track of the GMBA program is a catalyst to a successful tech career, taking him a step closer to starting a company in Madagascar that can provide jobs and opportunities.
Others, like 27-year-old Armand Louis Paul Thieblemont, lament that sustainability issues “are not tackled enough, because we don't know exactly how to manage them, or we don't care to manage them.”
His four years of experience in the hotel industry in Indonesia have demonstrated that sustainability and productivity can come hand-in-hand. For example, he shares that each will have around four disposable shampoo bottles in a small hotel with just 200 rooms. This adds up to 800 plastic bottles, which are discarded every day.
Passionately, he explains: “This is not efficient in terms of cost. It's not efficient in terms of labor because you need more people to refill them. And it's especially not efficient in terms of sustainability, where you just create a huge amount of waste.”
His hope? “For ESSEC to train us to become more sustainable managers that bring solutions to these big companies.”
THE GMBA PARLAY
ESSEC’s stellar reputation, coupled with how the GMBA curriculum weaves in sustainability, made it the perfect course for Armand.
Although participants are all equipped with a macro view of core business functions, they also specialize in one of two industry-specific tracks: Luxury Brand Management or Strategy & Digital Leadership. Armand chose the latter because “tomorrow's managers must be aware of the new digital trends.”
This balance between general and specialist skills was a significant pull factor for Catherine Aliana Asuncion Villarosa, who hopes to grow her tech career vertically in a global company. The 27-year-old Filipina hopes that the combination will help her better understand each business function, and in turn, her employees, so she becomes “a better manager and leader.”
She shares that the diversity of nationalities at ESSEC was also a draw. Her experience with participants from varied backgrounds offered both a network and lessons on how to “manage stakeholders from different cultures,” a skill she believes is essential in the global world.
Stephane, who already completed a master’s degree before embarking on his GMBA, agrees: “The value of an MBA depends on the people you experience the MBA with,” he says.
For one thing, it is an advantage to be able to tap on the valuable work experiences each person brings, 31-year-old Brazillian student, Mariana Possari Goncalves, adds. Having worked in a large hotel chain for six years, she noticed that entrepreneurs have “a more agile and nimble kind of thought process” which can help inspire one to think differently, and come up with better solutions.”
Ultimately, diversity has led to the “creativity and will to innovate and create something that doesn’t exist. None of us are reluctant to change or innovate,” Armand continues, adding that this culture both inspires and motivates him.
MAXIMIZING HARD AND SOFT SKILLS
Armand has also been challenged — just two months into the GMBA program, he has already participated in a pitching competition, where participants were given only one minute to sell an idea to a panel of investors.
Catherine also recalls a career services workshop, which gave her a framework for tackling case interviews. Despite not planning on pursuing a career in consulting, she found this useful in helping her understand how to “break down the big problem into smaller issues that can be resolved.”
These workshops complement ESSEC’s GMBA highlights like having a dedicated mentor, international business trips, and the Digital Competition Week in France, where students work in mixed teams on a consulting project for real companies, just to name a few.
Mariana looks forward to these experiences as she believes they are “very valuable not just for the connections that you make, but also as a practice to apply some of the concepts that you've learned during the year.”
Although she hopes to use her newly acquired skills to help the hospitality sector bounce back from the impact of COVID-19, she remains cognizant of how paper qualifications alone will be insufficient.
Instead, success is made possible because ESSEC provides the tools and the means for her to pursue her dreams along with the initiative and courage to use them.
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