How ESCP’s European Outlook is Preparing Managers of the Future

How ESCP’s European Outlook is Preparing Managers of the Future

Today’s business schools are facing a new world, where issues of sustainability, ethics and technology are just as important as traditional areas of study like finance and operations management. One school that is facing these challenges head-on is ESCP Europe Business School.

ESCP Europe are a uniquely European business school with permanent campuses in six cities: Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Turin and Warsaw. Students on postgraduate courses study at all the campuses, gaining a global outlook on business education.

Last week, we sat down with Professor Javier Tafur, Director/Dean of ESCP Europe Madrid and Miguel Palacios, Professor of Management and Associate Dean of Executive Education at ESCP’s Madrid campus to discover more about the trans-European nature of the school and their thoughts on the future of management.

A truly European perspective

One of ESCP’s greatest selling points for students is that they will study in multiple locations across Europe. Javier Tafur emphasizes how this diversity enhances both the student and faculty experience:

‘When your family is dispersed, they’re still your family. Even in Madrid, a small campus, there are so many languages, cultures and backgrounds. The school isn’t only focused on business, we have different backgrounds like engineering, philosophy and the humanities which enriches the experience.’

Miguel Palacios agrees: ‘We believe you should be trained and live internationally, something the school has had in our DNA from the outset.’ Originally founded in Paris 200 years ago, ESCP pioneered the concept of a multi-campus business school in 1973.

Despite campuses spread across Europe, ESCP keeps a cohesive sense of school identity, with students feeling just as at home in Berlin as in Madrid or London. Tafur explains what benefits students gain from rotating around campuses:

‘On one hand it’s the same institution, it’s European, it’s providing the same service, but we also give students the opportunity to experience local cultures, for example, living in Spain and working with Spaniards.

‘We guarantee students will leave the school speaking not only their mother tongue but also English and a third European language, so they are normally trilingual professionals which is very in demand.’

Palacios highlights this sense of identity is consistent on an academic level as well as in student experience:

‘We guarantee a certain level of continuity, in that master’s in management students across the campuses have the same syllabus, the same exams at the same time, so the learning experience is homogeneous regardless of which campus you are at.

‘It’s very interesting because a cohort will generate an identity, but the identity is not associated to a particular campus.’

Of course, with politics in Europe in a state of flux, ESCP, with a London campus, has Brexit on their mind. TopMBA.com previously spoke to Simon Mercado, dean of their London campus, and Tafur also has some strong opinions on how Brexit may affect ESCP:

‘This is a topic that’s heating every reunion! For most people it’s a nightmare, but once we overcome the negative part of Brexit it could be an opportunity for the school. We could be the one European higher education institution based in London where Europeans would pay affordable fees.’

However, despite the possible benefits of Brexit, Tafur can appreciate the significant administrative headache it may cause:

‘The truth is, for some people there is a risk because they feel unstable not knowing if they can stay in the UK. We have faculty and staff members who feel anxious due to this uncertainty.

‘For students it could be difficult to get a visa to study in the UK, but as our programs make students rotate every single semester or term, the visa issue may not be an obstacle because students aren’t staying in the UK for the duration of their studies.’

Looking to the future

In late June, ESCP Europe’s Madrid campus hosted the Designing Tomorrow’s Management forum for their Executive MBA students. The forum hosted keynote speakers and panels on sustainability, the internet of things, and industrial relations, encouraging students to think about how to adapt to these issues in a business environment.

ESCP is endeavouring to help shape students into the managers of tomorrow, adept at dealing with a changing business landscape. Tafur shared his views on what he believes is most important for managers:

I think keeping the current status quo is a mistake because society is evolving so fast, and is so dynamic that managers must be adaptive, and the sooner this adaptation happens, the better. Future leaders need to learn how important it is to focus on a whole perspective, not only on pure, quantitative business.’

ESCP has also seen a shift in the career paths of applicants due to growing interest in areas like sustainability. Tafur emphasizes how their position as a business school gives ESCP a special insight into changing trends:

‘I think that we are in a perfect position to benchmark how generations are evolving. Sometimes I’ll ask students how many of them could be interested in working in investment banking or in private consultancy, and what was a huge trend previously isn’t interesting to the same proportion of the class.

‘The spirit of becoming an entrepreneur is becoming more popular, they are more independent and don’t want to join a very large company because they want to rule their own lives.’

ESCP are integrating new trends into various modules to prepare managers of tomorrow for the business world, as issues of sustainability will affect, for example, both finance and consumer behavior. However, Palacios specifies the management of the future is often near-impossible to foresee:

‘It’s very difficult to predict the future. At the end of the day you can pick the trends, but you never know if they are going to be the right ones. Honestly, we don’t know how our business school is going to be in the next five to ten years.

‘The best thing we can give the students and build into the curriculum is ensuring that they are good listeners, flexible and adaptable people that do good for society and humanity because there are many challenges on the horizon.’

Written by Julia Gilmore

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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