ESCP Europe’s Executive MBA program is a reflection of the school’s intrinsic values – truly European in every way, flexible with a human dimension, innovative and diverse. “In a multi-faceted economy, one-size-fits-all solutions are irrelevant,” says Frédéric Fréry, dean of the program. “In order to overcome the most recent business challenges, our curriculum solves the global/local dilemma in an unparalleled way.”
Any Executive MBA candidate’s first instinct when choosing a program is to look at the various rankings delivered by media around the world. ESCP Europe’s European Executive MBA (EEMBA) ranked 15th in the 2010 Financial Times Executive MBA ranking and first in the same ranking for career progression. But beyond such rankings and a candidate’s budget, how does one choose a program that is not only a good fit personality-wise, but also meets the individual’s requirements in terms of schedule, class experience and variety of learning?
The European Executive MBA program’s structure was built taking not only the demanding timetables of busy executives into consideration, but also the landscape of today’s complex business environment where mastering the core curriculum of an MBA program is good, but certainly isn’t enough.
The ever-changing requirements of doing business in a constantly evolving world implies being conversant in many different fields, ranging from corporate responsibilities and ethics to idea management; from CRM to business and competitive intelligence; from hedging strategies to performance measurement. And that’s part of the ESCP Europe experience.
Based on convenience of travel or desired experience in another learning environment, participants first choose their “track” from a choice of six: Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid or Torino, or a sixth track known as the “Itinerant Track”. The Itinerant Track is just that - it gives participants the opportunity to study at all five European campuses of the business school throughout their EMBA.
There is then the elective portfolio for students to choose from. In effect, ESCP Europe’s EMBA enables participants to choose 12-14 elective courses from a portfolio of 34, allowing them to develop a unique element to their individual program. These electives complement classic MBA core modules in corporate strategy, finance, operations, organizational behaviour and so on – thus making ESCP Europe’s European Executive MBA curricula one of the most varied among its competitors.
Daphne de Charrin, a French national living in Switzerland who is preparing to launch her own life and career coaching consultancy, chose to pursue her EMBA at ESCP Europe for its reputation, and the diversity of the school’s courses and electives. “Too few electives would have discouraged me as well as too many,” the class of 2010 alum says. “In the latter case, I would have been worried about the ability of the school to provide quality classes. The way the program was designed was perfect as I only had to commute to Paris, on average, once a month.”
The choice of elective courses is divided into three clusters: leadership and management with a special focus on personal development; strategy and marketing; finance and control. A comprehensive course description manual, presenting the syllabus of each course, and feedback from alumni posted on the intranet, help participants define their choice, thus giving them the unique opportunity to build a specialization within the structure of a classic general management-dedicated MBA. This also gives students the opportunity to dive into more specific detail on subjects they followed during a core module or, on the contrary, diversify their skill set to bring new competences not only to their companies, but also their résumés.
Meanwhile, the leadership and management electives give executives a chance to step back and dedicate some time to personal development, introspection and leadership honing, a much welcomed opportunity in today’s fast-paced world.
The vast array of elective choices, which circulates between all five campuses, also enables EEMBA participants to network with fellow classmates from other tracks, enhancing the overall learning experience. It is thus possible to change class environments on a regular basis and work with different groups during the course of each elective, giving each one the feel of an off-site business seminar.
Moreover, the five European campuses offer networking opportunities with ESCP alumni based in each city, as well as visits to local companies. Elective courses are also popular with alumni who regularly attend to keep up with current business trends, stretching the networking experience even further.
The Itinerant Track, tailored for executives who want to allot specific weeks dedicated to intensive learning, offers the EEMBA in a modular format (rather than the weekly or monthly formats of other tracks). Core courses, which are condensed into six modules throughout the 18-month program, are taught from Tuesday through Friday morning. Participants can then choose to complete the week with elective courses, which take place from Friday to Saturday afternoon.
This format suits the schedules of executives who want to spend the least amount of time out of the office during their Executive MBA. As such, particularly relevant to self-sponsored candidates, courses can be completed during annual leave periods. The Itinerant formula also allows candidates to dedicate time solely to study, rather than juggling both office and school commitments.
Johann Boukhors, branch manager at GDFSUEZ in Belgium, says he found it more convenient to travel away from work for one full week or month, rather than two days a week. “I chose the Itinerant Track for the diversity offered and because it [the EMBA] wasn’t in my home country,” the 2010 alum says. His fellow classmate, Brian Daly, VP for Project Commercial Management at Siemens AG in Germany,
agrees. “I choose the Itinerant Track as I liked to have more intensive training weeks with the possibility to sandwich electives on either side,” he says.
The European focus of the program is by no means its limitation. International seminars are an integral part of the program and focus on pushing the boundaries beyond Europe, plunging executives into completely different environments with new and unique business and management issues.
Selina Leong, class of 2008 alum and Channel Strategy & Business Optimization for Western Europe at Lenevo, is a Singaporean national now based in Paris. “I worked for American MNC's (IBM, DELL, Oracle, etc) for most of my career and am familiar with Asia, so I wanted a program that would help open up a different view of the world for me.”
In addition to enhancing their knowledge of Europe and its governing institutions via a dedicated seminar in Brussels, participants are also required to attend a Regional Leadership seminar in Shanghai, New Delhi or Rio de Janeiro, with courses delivered at local partner business schools. An Innovation Management seminar in Austin, Texas also exposes executives to the different business cases of North American companies, as well as providing a basis of comparison with European issues in the area.
“The EMBA is more than a European MBA,” says Daly. “While the European flavour is given from the diversity of the participants, the locations and an emphasis on European businesses and managers, many of the topics covered are global. Therefore, the program is global. That said, the interesting differentiation factor to other global programs is the European emphasis – and that makes it a European MBA program,” he says.
“ESCP Europe’s Executive MBA is a European program that thinks global,” says class of 2010 alum, Virginie Cheng, owner of Schanabelle de Paris, a company dealing in hair extensions and related products. “Our roots are European, but the program taught us to be global thinkers. As an entrepreneur dealing with suppliers and clients all over the world, I feel like I now have a broader vision that enables me to make wiser decisions.”
Choosing to pursue an Executive MBA with ESCP Europe allows candidates to take a step back and re-evaluate their executive careers. Being able to build one’s own curriculum not only adds a unique slant to a general management degree acquired by thousands of professionals each year, but also opens new opportunities. What’s more, with ESCP Europe’s distinct structure and its commitment to providing a combined European/global outlook, graduates of this program are already one step ahead of the rest.