A BUSINESS SCHOOL WITH 70 STARTUPS ON SITE
The unique situation – ESADE has about 70 startup companies on site– creates equally unique learning opportunities for both the companies and the school’s 170 full time MBA students, explains Melissa Handley, associate director at ESADE. “To be accepted at Creapolis, the companies must show they are innovative, and they must agree to share info with the other companies and the students,” the UK-born South African director explains.
Having such open-minded companies literally on board, enabled ESADE to set up its Action Learning Consultancy Project. The ALCP is a three-month, hands-on chance for students to analyze a real-world business challenge from an ESADE Creapolis company and propose a consultancy-style solution. It’s credited as one of the MBA students eight possible electives, and 102 out of 170 students signed up for it last year, Handley says.
The ALCP projects are done in teams of four to five students and are supervised by faculty and a group of tutors. This past year, for example, one e-commerce company was looking for a consulting team to help manage a five-fold sales increase over the coming years. The idea was to develop a workable plan that makes the company scalable in operational terms. It is just one of the many projects the students undertake.
FINDING REAL WORLD APPLICATIONS FOR SCIENTIFIC INVENTIONS
In another recent initiative, the school set up a cooperative agreement with the Swiss-based CERN institute, best known for operating the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Teaming up with design and engineering students, as well as with CERN researchers, ESADE MBA students get the chance to work on what the school calls a “Challenge Based Innovation,” finding real world applications for scientific inventions.
These and other innovations in the curriculum made ESADE decide to give its students the chance to decide during the course of their studies how long to spend at the school, with an option of 12, 15, or 18 months, depending on a student’s choice of electives, internships, and exchanges (with schools such as CEIBS in China).
The results of this entrepreneurial focus can be seen in the school’s employment reports. In 2014, 9% of total graduating class started a company, up from 4% in 2013 and a mere 2% in 2012. In most U.S. schools, startup activity is typically half that level at 5%. At INSEAD, in comparison, 6% of last year’s graduates started companies. Aside from the MBA entrepreneurs, ESADE says that its graduates increase their pre-MBA pay by 65% with 88% of the class employed three months after graduation. The average starting salary at graduation was €68,489 in 2014, or $77,727 (the school has not yet published a 2015 employment report).
A TRULY INTERNATIONAL COHORT GUARANTEES A TRULY GLOBAL EXPERIENCE
That becomes apparent as well in the diversity of ESADE’s student body, explains Mary Granger, a regional director of admissions, herself American and an alumna of the school. In all, 95% of its students are international, with 12% coming from the U.S and Canada. 20% from Europe, and just 5% from Spain. Beyond that, the countries best represented are India and Japan, with also students from China, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and others.
With an acceptance rate of 25%, ESADE remains among the most selective European schools. About 170 students are enrolled each year, making for what dean Franch called “a boutique MBA rather than a mass MBA.” “Such numbers make people feel more comfortable than elsewhere,” he says.
But for Gale, the international setup remained the number one selling point. “My friend at Harvard said he knew what I meant with an international group. He had Indians and Chinese in his class too,” Gale says. “But here it is at another level. We have 40 nationalities.”
Gale used his ESADE experience to fully embrace the school’s international makeup. He spent his last semester abroad on exchange at CEIBS Business School in China and now lives in London where he helped set up a business startup. “The world is global,” he says. “At ESADE, you understand what that means.”