MBA Admissions Q&A: ESSEC Business School

MBA Admissions Q&A: ESSEC Business School main image

ESSEC is one of France’s most elite business schools. Founded in 1907, it is one of the Grandes Écoles of prestigious schools that count most of France’s top leaders among their alumni.

That makes ESSEC’s full-time Global MBA Program highly selective. So, we’ve canvassed the opinion of Aarti Ramaswami, professor in the Department of Management and director of the Global MBA that is based in both France and Singapore. Read on for his advice on how to get into the leading French Grandes École.

What does your admissions process look like?

Apart from the CV, recommendations, essays and transcripts, the most important stage of the admissions process is the interview with the jury. Here we assess fit with the program and school location, international experience, reasonable clarity of career path, leadership and executive presence, collaboration and communication skills, proficiency in spoken English, to name a few important criteria. The overall evaluation helps us assess the scholarships that the applicants will be eligible for.

What are you looking for in a potential MBA candidate?

The ideal Global MBA participant is one who, apart from having the minimum academic qualifications and three years’ work experience, also demonstrates executive maturity and leadership early on.

They are someone who has effective communication and collaboration skills, which is important as the participants will work in a diverse and multi-cultural environment on a day-to-day basis.

Having prior international experience and being able to articulate why and how it enhanced their career is also a big plus. Being able to also explain how their career goals match with the program offers signals to us that a candidate has given deeper thought to their fit with ESSEC, the Global MBA, and also the specific major of choice.

What is one common mistake you see applicants make that sinks their admissions chances?

Not knowing about the program, their motivations to do the MBA at this career stage, and specifically in ESSEC, are all signals that the applicant may not be prepared to embark on an MBA.

What would you like to see applicants do more often?

Reach out to current participants and ESSEC Global ambassadors to learn more about the program from their perspective. To take every opportunity to work in diverse international teams and broaden your cultural and business perspectives.


Why do applicants come to ESSEC over your closest competitors?

Because the ESSEC Global MBA prepares participants to be innovative and lead responsibly in a digital and hyper-connected world. Our MBA participants come from multiple countries, with diverse educational backgrounds, with most, if not all participants, having lived in more than two countries.

The program offers the additional opportunity to experience at least three more countries through campus swaps, exchanges with other universities, and field trips (to Morocco, Dubai, New York, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Italy,). So, MBA participants are able to learn not only from the faculty but also from each other, thus reinforcing their ability to critically evaluate and challenge business concepts.

In an ever-competitive professional environment, managerial practices are continually changing. Merely being business savvy is no longer enough.

The impact of the digital revolution on different sectors not only requires future leaders to be equipped with advanced digital competencies, but it also asks for intercultural and cognitive skills combined with the ability to adapt in rapidly changing environments. To help our participants meet the challenges of an increasingly digital future, we draw on our educational savoir-faire and close ties with major companies around the globe.

ESSEC is pioneering in the focus on digital transformation and our focus on this subject is another reason people come to the business school. All our participants will be exposed to key topics such as digital disruption and design thinking.


What changes might you make to the application process in the future?

The highly personalized process we have developed allows us to truly get to know our candidates. However, although we intend to keep our various admissions rounds throughout the year, we have tightened up our process for a more efficient response time. 

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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