ESSEC Global MBA: A programme tailored to your aspirations
Sofia Ramos is the Academic Director of Global MBA and an Associate Professor of Finance at ESSEC Business School (Paris-Singapore). She teaches Financial Management and ESG Investing, International Finance courses in several masters and executive programmes. She is co-chair professor of the “Shaping the Future of Finance” chair and academic advisor of the ESSEC Amundi-Chair in Asset & Risk Management. She is an Associate Editor of the European Journal of Finance. Her research interests are primarily in the area of Mutual Funds, Portfolio Management, ESG Investing, Energy Finance and International Finance.
What is it that attracts experienced managers to the business school and to your MBA programme?
Participants are attracted by ESSEC tools to help them to change and accelerate their career. They know ESSEC’s reputation as one of the world’s leading schools for executive education. ESSEC Business school is among the Financial Times top 10 and the pioneering spirit has always driven us. They particularly like the exposure that the teaching trajectories provide in the areas like digital leadership and luxury. Moreover, the programme is a combination of specific knowledge and close relations with its target industries. Participants know that these are key ingredients to lever their career to a higher level.
How does your programme prepare executives for business leadership in a constantly changing world?
We try to enlarge participants’ horizons and expose them to leading practices. But first we work on their mindset. They need to acknowledge that they have to keep up with global changes and must reinvent themselves. Knowledge is important, but it also it important to develop skills that can help to lead the way. It is our job to try to challenge them and stretch them further.
For instance, our programme includes a digital week competition. During this week, companies bring challenges and participants have to develop innovative solutions for companies in the digital environment. The Capstone project is another good example of the way participants put knowledge into practice, working closely with companies to support them in taking up business opportunities. No less important are the discussions with industry leaders about the cross-cutting challenges in their industries.
Where does your MBA programme place the emphasis in training managers for the complex demands of the business environment today that require understanding of digitalisation, Big Data, data analytics, mastery of soft skills, and responsible leadership?
These are areas that ESSEC has been pioneering for years. They are part of the expert knowledge taught by the school. For years the GMBA programme has offered a strategy and digitalisation trajectory. Courses like Power BI and Tableau are part of the programme, as we believe they provide the necessary skills for managers in the contemporary world of data. Moreover, the curriculum offers courses such as Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age, Big Data & Open Data, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We believe that these topics represent the core knowledge that is in demand on the market.
Responsible leadership is also part of the school’s DNA and the MBA programme: the courses include content on these topics. Course material includes Tech for Good, Sustainable Finance or Climate Change, which are more specific. The sustainability approach in our courses is holistic and is part of our overall approach. In the solutions that participants put forward in the digital week competition or in the Capstone project, these solutions include a digitalisation component and, of course, meet sustainability requirements.
From your point of view, are MBA career paths becoming more diverse?
Definitely! A path involving an MBA followed by a job in a big consulting firm is not what we are seeing now. The attraction of big consultants has largely been replaced by the allure of big tech companies. The new generation identifies more with the values of tech firms than consultants. Millennials and Generation Z people are also looking for job flexibility, inspiring environments, a sense of purpose and ongoing development of new skills.
Tech firms are highly diverse in terms of operations, attracting participants with open minds who want to work in more dynamic positions. The conditions these jobs offer are very appealing to these new generations.
Moreover, as we have a wide diversity of international students, we also see that their career pathways vary considerably. The fact that we have two campuses represents a platform for enhanced geographic diversification.
How can MBA participants customise their individual study experience?
Customisation is the bon mot to describe the approach of our MBA programme. Since the beginning, we have analysed participants’ profiles, addressed their weaknesses and strengths, evaluated their aspirations and worked with them on a successful trajectory. Coaching is part of the MBA experience. Our main advantage is that we work with small groups and the customisation involved is more agile.
In times of rapid social and economic changes around the world, what is the value of Executive MBA studies in a global context?
Education will never go out of fashion. Contents and formats evolve, but knowledge and skills are crucial, so there is always value in strengthening your profile. This is why participants keep coming to ESSEC: they know its value. This is even more important in a rapidly changing world with fast-changing industries. Moreover, when embarking on an MBA programme, you step aside from urgent short-term matters. You take an objective view of what is going on and think more in long term, defining your goals. These programmes force you to do so and help you in the process. Extensive alumni and corporate networks supplement the educational needs.