The ESSEC MBA: What You Need To Know
“We don’t create consultants.” That, says French-Singaporean school ESSEC, sets them apart from many of the MBAs out there, which are sometimes seen as a conveyor belt to that profession. Instead, this 12-month full-time Global MBA program is designed to take a select band of 50 students a year — which is 94% international, and 60% of whom are women — and works hard to find jobs that suit their particular sets of skills and temperaments. Many find their post-program positions via ESSEC’s alumni network, which is more involved with MBA students than is the case at many schools.
An MBA at ESSEC — which ranked 44th on Poets&Quants’ ranking of non-U.S. schools, and 81st on The Financial Times’ 2021 MBA ranking list, (though an eye-catching 22nd for value for money) — has a different feel than many. Following the foundational stage which involves core MBA fare like financial management, digital disruption, marketing, accounting, and entrepreneurship, students choose to specialize in one of two tracks: Strategy and Digital Leadership, or Luxury Brand Management. The former can be taken in either Paris or Singapore, while the latter takes place in the French capital — one of the world’s homes of luxury brands, of course.
The Digital Strategy and Leadership track involves visits to companies such as Salesforce, Nike, Amazon and PwC. Courses include Data Visualisation and Coding; Blockchain; Cyber Security Strategy for Business Leaders; and Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age.
Courses on the Luxury Brand Management track include the likes of Design Management; Semiotics and Communication; and Counterfeit in Luxury. Courses focused on particular sectors, including Jewellery, Wine & Spirits, Perfume & Cosmetics, and Watches and there are trips to Rome and Switzerland. ESSEC works closely with a long list of luxury brands, including the likes of Estee Lauder, Moet Hennessy and Tiffany & Co — in fact, it would be quicker to list the brands that are not involved.
Students on both tracks take trips to Luxembourg, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but some, such as those to China and the U.S., will probably be online next year. The careers service involves the usual interview practice, networking, mentoring and CV-writing advice. And in the Luxury Brand track a careers consultant specialising in luxury, access to a database of luxury industry contacts and CVs distributed to 150 luxury HR directors.
During the pandemic, ESSEC added courses on networking and interviewing — including how to dress — and some impressive-sounding virtual reality networking events. (In the virtual world anyone can wear Balenciaga.) Both tracks finish with a three-month capstone which can be a consulting project or an internship.
The events of the recent past — including not just the pandemic, but also the growth of the Black Lives Matters movement — have spurred ESSEC to add some new elements to their programs. New MBA participants will work with a company called Splash Projects to build an outdoor play centre for underprivileged and handicapped children close to the French campus, and with The HopenClass — a new non-profit which aims to bring previously sidelined voices into the classroom — on diversity. Next year’s class is already looking more diverse, the school says.
Intriguingly, these new ideas are also quickly helping shape parts of the programme; a course in the influence of hip hop in the luxury world has been added, as well as an increased focus on empathy and emotional intelligence, which is increasingly crucial for modern management.
Patti Brown, Program Director, ESSEC Global MBA
What do we look for in a candidate? Firstly, that they are nice. You can be ambitious, you can be demanding, and we expect MBA students to be, as long as they do it nicely.
What’s different about our MBA is that everything is made to measure. We have small cohorts and even our study trips are small. We get to know people and the program is crafted around them. We don’t have a group of employers that we go to, we work with the students on where they want to go, and who they want to see.
Our philosophy is you need to get an education that’s going to help you to the next step. The education our MBAs get is shaped around their specific needs.