ESADE Dean: ‘Globalization Is Unstoppable’

Dean Franch is also an associate professor of marketing. He makes certain to teach at least one course per semester. Courtesy photo

What’s next for ESADE in the next two, three, five years? What does the future hold? 

We have just introduced a new Master of Science program with the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce and Lingnan College at Sun Yat-sen University in China, and this has been the first year of this course — students spent four months at McIntire, then they’ve spent too months in China, now they are in Barcelona. They will spend four months with us, and we will have our graduation in June for the first class. It has been a very successful program because it has been built in a way that during all the experiences, students have to do a master project in teams of three, one student from each region, and fieldwork in the three countries they have been studying.

So imagine that one of the master project topics is consumer behaviors in supermarkets. That means that business students have to go to supermarkets in China, in the U.S., and in Europe and interview different consumers and try to see what are the differences in shopping behaviors in those three places. Or maybe they are doing research on incentives for a sales force, so they have been visiting a company in the three regions and talking to sales managers and sales teams and trying to see what are the differences and similarities. And so on and so forth …

The projects have been built in a way that we have been drawing people from the different regions, and they have been doing fieldwork in the three countries. So we are quite excited about this program.

Also next year we are launching a master’s degree in business analytics, and that’s clearly a trend — many schools are launching such programs. We’ve been working at this new master’s for a couple of years now, and there’s a lot of interest. Besides that we are introducing more and more components on business analytics and big data in the majority of our programs, as electives or as majors, because the market demands it.

It will be a Master of Business Analytics with more focus on the business than the analytics. Let me tell you what this means. We’ve been meeting with 25 different companies — consulting companies, banks, other companies — and the majority of them told us, “We have people in big data analysis who are technically very good. But they are unable to have a business vision. They see the trees, not the forest; they don’t see the business of opportunity. We need someone here who can identify opportunities and propose things to the company. A translator.”

University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml, left, ESADE Dean Josep Franch, center, and Xinzhong Xu, dean of Lingnan College at Sun Yat-sen University, after signing an agreement to offer a joint Master of Science program to “train future global executives.” Courtesy photo

That’s the type of profile that we are trying to build. Of course that is a much younger student, because they are pre-experience master’s students, so we need to provide them with the technologies, with the knowhow, the tools, so they can speak technically to the technical experts, but at the same time with a clear business foundation.

One other new feature: Our campus in Sant Cugat has ESADECREAPOLIS, which is an innovation center for startups, and we have already a couple of student facilities there: the EGarage, and the EWorks. EGarage is the meeting place of the entrepreneurs, and it’s managed by ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute, and EWorks is a business accelerator for student projects. Now we are completing three more services there: a facility for faculty to do behavioral research — we have hired in the last few years a number of faculty members from different areas, marketing, finance, who are doing cutting-edge research, and in this position they would be able to do experiments based on consumer behaviors and people’s reactions. This new facility will be known as Decision Lab.

Also creating a Design Factory, a model that was invented by Aalto University in Finland, putting together management students, engineering students, and design students to work on common projects. We are establishing the Design Factory under the permission of Aalto, which has a network of 10 or 12 design factories in different countries.

Next to that we are establishing a “Fab Lab,” which is a MIT concept where students can design a new product, build prototypes, and conduct pre-launch tests; the facility will be stocked with 3D printers. It will be a place where you can do product samples and product prototypes.

All these elements will become what we are calling the “Rambla of Innovation.”

Do you intend to keep teaching, and will you seek a second four-year term when your current terms runs out in the fall of 2018?

It’s an exciting time at ESADE. We have iconic facilties for students in different programs, bachelor’s, MSc, a new Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and also of course the MBAs. I don’t have an obligation to teach now, but I still manage to keep some teaching appointments. I am teaching in the Global Executive MBA, with Georgetown (McDonough), also in the Executive Master of Marketing. I also will be teaching a few sessions of the dual program with McIntire.

I only teach about 50 hours a year, far below what it was when I was a faculty member. But I still like to be in touch.

It’s fun and exciting and I enjoy being dean. The appointment is four years, and I’m in the third year now; it can be renewed for another four years maximum. So far the results are, I think, good — if I am asked to continue I will continue, of course.