STEPS TO BECOMING SUPER
Masini cites the steps to creating the MBA super program — to successfully challenging the paradigm in which graduates leave business school being known for just one strength, rather than being prepared in multiple fields, and boasting a host of abilities. First, a mastery of the fundamentals, what he terms “deepening our quality,” and differentiating HEC Paris from its peers, continentally as well as globally.
“Deepening means, obviously, providing more advanced, more up-to-date, more relevant fundamental courses, even in collaboration with outstanding academic partners from all over the world,” Masini says. “It means improving the operations and the delivery of our services, not only academic services but everything which is around that, including career support, including accommodations on campus, including providing mobility solutions to our students who want to get into Paris as quickly as possible. And differentiating means being at the forefront of knowledge creation and leading in certain areas that are absolutely important for the economy of the 21st century — one of which is digital transformation, another is clearly social innovation sustainability, a third one is entrepreneurship, both in terms of how you create a startup but also how you bring innovation into a large corporation. These areas of differentiation will help us shape the leaders of the future
“Again to emphasize the concept, it is deepening our academic quality and our quality of service delivery, and differentiating the program.”
‘THE MOST FASCINATING YEAR OF MY LIFE’
2016 is a year in which many major events shook the world of politics and business, and business schools, too. The first goal of an MBA program, Masini says, must be to prepare students to understand the world in which they will soon work and lead. Brexit shatters decades of European unity and injects uncertainty into markets and geopolitical realities? Trump’s election shakes post-war alliances and signals an opening for a return of Russian dominance in European affairs? The most important thing is to figure out what happens next, Masini says.
“I think that, first of all, we want to make sure that our students appreciate the world in which they operate, and that’s why we have a lot of courses that help them understand geopolitical context, that help them understand how industries will be disrupted or at least will evolve as a function of major geopolitical changes but also technological disruptions,” he says. “So we like to think that our students do not have to get the skills that are needed today to be successful but the skills that will be needed in five, 10, 20 years — in the years to come.”
Since taking over the MBA program at HEC Paris in January, Masini has experienced “the most fascinating year of my life,” he says. “It’s very interesting when you move from being a professor who has direct contact with students and the responsibility to teach them on important topics, to becoming a dean where you have responsibility for their placement, for the way in which the whole curriculum is designed and implemented. It changes completely the calculus that you have, but at the same time you also have the impression that you have a much greater impact on the success of your students.
“It’s a huge responsibility, but it’s a great feeling and when you have students succeeding like we saw over the last 12 months. It is a great satisfaction.”