Master in European Business or Business as Art
From May 15th-17th, 2012, Jérôme Bon, a recognized guru of the international market of business education, Emeritus Professor of ESCP EUROPE (№1 in Financial Times Ranking), founder and director of EMBA, Deputy Director General of ESCP EUROPE, President of the French Association of Business Schools, and member of several editorial committees of leading international journals, visited the HSE. He told us about the launch of a unique, new cutting-edge Master in European Business program at the HSE.
— Dr. Bon, how would you describe the main specialization of the program? What differentiates this program from other business administration programs?
— I can see two aspects to this program. The first is rather traditional, related to management education – this is what makes it comparable to the MBA programs of leading global business schools. On the other hand, we are convinced that improved learning outcomes are achieved if students work in multi-faceted groups including people from different educational, professional and cultural backgrounds. In this respect our program is exceptionally cosmopolitan and relevant. Participants work a lot in teams, solving real-world business cases. Some people may bring their personal experience of their own businesses into the program. Among our participants we do not have any predominant profile in terms of country, sex or previous degree. Everything is balanced and frequent turnover and group reshuffling is a must, so everyone can share experience.
Moreover, MEB students study in two different countries. They can have their internship in any country in the world: in their own enterprise or abroad. For example a French student would study in Moscow in English with the International Institute of Administration and Business (which is franchised for the 1 st semester in Russia) during the first semester and in one of ESCP EUROPE campuses during the second semester, depending on language and country preferences. Finally, compared to traditional MBA programs, our program is aimed at students and graduates with little professional experience (up to three years). That is why the average age of our students is 25 and the maximum age is 35. And by the way, all of them are proficient in English.
— What kind of students would find this program most interesting?
— This is not only a question of background, but also a question of vision. We are looking for ambitious, open-minded students willing to study, work and use their competencies in the international context. Regarding educational background, for us it is important to bring together very different people – engineers, economists, mathematicians, financiers, sociologists, marketing experts and others. At the same time, we do not accept students with a previous diploma in management or students with extensive professional experience in management.
— Which managerial competencies and skills will your, let’s say, engineering graduates develop?
— Graduates will master theoretical approaches to management. However, our program is still primarily practice-oriented. One of our tasks is to transfer knowledge and skills which allows our students to independently solve issues which their businesses face. And here we are talking not about the mechanical copying of success stories, but about intellectually driven solutions. That is why two real-world company projects are an integral part of the program. Students will elaborate on cases which will then often be implemented, so that they will assume responsibility for what they do and how. Then they will see if what they suggested actually worked. This is a challenge with a high level of involvement. Such an exercise would also improve their creativity and inventiveness in management. Our additional challenge is the success of our alumni. That is why we are here. That is why we achieve high results which then feed into high international rankings and accreditations.
— What about the teaching corps of the program?
— We tried to attract both professors with a high academic level (we have still an important academic component), as well as practitioners and experts sharing lots of applied cases. Gathering together such a team is itself a challenge. However, together with Higher School of Economics, we have succeeded and I am convinced that the first semester in Moscow will also be a success.
— The program has a so-called full-time format. However it is still a year-long program, an interesting and new format.
— Exactly, our format is also challenge. Students will have only one year to acquire the competencies and skills necessary to take on leading positions and responsibilities in the business world. They will have to study hard. We have 500 classroom contact hours in this program. However, our courses will never be monotonous. We want our students to interact, to discuss, to be creative, curious, to nurture a team spirit in a diverse environment. This is a truly focused program.
— What is the format of your program? Russians associate it with a Master's, however judging by the content I can feel a strong MBA flavor.
— We are the golden middle. By the way, regarding the flavor, as a Frenchman, I like the metaphor of a bottle of wine. Outwardly, label is familiar: a full-time program, marking for each course, average age of 25 years, strict selection process. However, take your corkscrew and open the bottle in Russia. You will discover a whole range of flavors, aromas and opportunities. Doing real projects, high-stake business contacts in a wide range of industries, flexible format, the opportunity to combine study with some working experience and a cutting-edge executive education. I would say that we are kind of a grand cru supérieur in the world of business education. Somebody may even well notice notes of V.S.O.P… In other words, it is like buying foie gras in a box for pâté. This is a question of priority: some would prefer taste, others – packaging.
— By the way, what can you say about the aftertaste? What about future career opportunities?
— The aftertaste is exceptionally pleasant. It is rich. Let me give you some statistics. The average annual salary for graduates is €41,416. Every fifth graduate earns more than €50,000 annually, and this is not the ceiling: 44% work abroad, 89% found a job within 6 months of graduation, 61% work in companies with more than 2000 employees, 81% of graduates’ jobs are related to international experience. Every fifth graduate works in consulting/auditing, finance/accountability or in marketing and communications. Many work in the banking sector, in retail, in the pharmaceutical industry, in transport, or carry out their own internet/IT projects. Some work in supply chain management and sales. Eight percent of graduates become general and executive directors. Many create and develop their own businesses.
— The statistics are really impressive. How much does the bottle cost?
— Now as for the price. It is only €17, 500. Consider this as an investment – which is exceptionally profitable.
— But why did ESCP Europe choose Russia and not, for example, China as its next international partner?
— Frankly, we had the opportunity to choose. However, we had to be sure that our institutional partners met certain standards and were able to provide experienced leading teaching staff. That is why we chose the National Research University Higher School of Economics. This was not a spontaneous decision as we have been working with HSE for many years and know many of its professors. We’ve been following HSE’s development over the last decade.
— The program implies an intensive student exchange. Thus, European and Russian students can do their first semester in Moscow and the second, say, in London or Paris. Why will foreigners be interested in coming to Moscow for their first semester?
— First, Moscow is Europe. You are not a member of the EU, but you are still European. Many interesting things happen here related to the specific local cultural background. The process of transformation and development is still unfinished, and students are often interested in studying the experience of developing economies, especially when one has an opportunity to become a true “insider”. Also, many European countries, like Italy and Spain, are now experiencing an economic downturn, whilst Russia demonstrates stable economic growth indicators and is thus attractive to businesses as an island of ease and prosperity amidst the flooding unrest of the global crisis. This is why, I am convinced, that for foreign students this trip to Moscow will not only be interesting, but also exceptionally promising.
— When does the submission start if I want to study in Moscow during the first semester?
— Starts? It has already started! It’s better to say when it closes: July 2. So, if you are late, you will miss the train going to Moscow and be waiting until 2013-2014!
Your task is easy: don’t hesitate, and grasp the chance today! I am sure that only visionaries and true leaders will have the courage to do that. These are exactly the people we want on our program.
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