Technology, climate change, globalisation… As the business world rapidly evolves and meets new challenges, a renewed approach to MBA programmes becomes increasingly important. How can MBA programmes remain historically relevant and help train the leaders of tomorrow in an ever-evolving context, now changing faster than ever? In a recent interview with Professor Laura Reyero, Associate Dean of the MBA in International Management at ESCP, we explore the different changes in the business world driving this need for adaptation and how ESCP’s MBA programme intends to answer these challenges.
A programme born to evolve along with the world of business
MBA programmes are historically prestigious programmes which have managed to adapt to a variety of contexts and provided managers and leaders with essential tools and knowledge. Indeed, MBA programmes are among the best to gain insights into and keep up with societal, economic or technological changes and disruptions. This adaptability remains at the heart of these programmes’ design even today, and is, according to Professor Reyero, the reason why MBA programmes continue to attract and train future leaders: “The first MBA in history was offered in 1908, 115 years ago, and since then, the programme has managed to remain relevant for future business leaders because it has adapted, year after year, to changing environments. The nature of the MBA programme has been adapted, still is adapted, and will be adapted in the future. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, what new technology or what new social change may appear, so we have to teach our students how to work in changing environments,” says she.
To better prepare graduates for the challenges of the business world, future MBA programmes will emphasise new skills and knowledge. Among these, soft skills such as flexibility, speed in dealing with change, and not being afraid to take risks are crucial skills that MBA programmes must instil in their students. ESCP’s MBA programme achieves this by updating all courses every year and immersing students in real-life situations through experiential learning tools, such as Company Consultancy Projects, simulations, and teamwork. “When training future business leaders or entrepreneurs, soft skills are as important as hard skills,” notes Professor Reyero. “It is not enough for students to simply learn a theory; they must also know the different strategies and tactics available and know when and how to apply them.”
Adaptability is one of ESCP’s MBA programme’s pillars
Regarding the future of MBA programmes in terms of innovation and collaboration with other industries and fields, Professor Reyero stresses that adaptability is key: “It is essential to be aware of the impact of new technologies on the business world and social changes.” While MBA programmes must adapt to changing environments, they must also prepare students for what is likely to come. “Nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow, we only know what is most likely to happen. Hence, when designing the curriculum, we adapt the courses taking into account present circumstances and what we estimate is going to happen,” she explains. “If something disruptive appears, we are committed to including it in the MBA journey as quickly as possible.“
Among the many mutations society at large has to adapt to, climate change is central: “MBA programmes must include aspects of sustainability, not only as ad hoc courses but transversally in all courses.” But other challenges also provide opportunities for MBA programmes to adapt and keep up with modernity: “The impact of AI, Big Data, and other technologies on business management and business at large also have to be taken into account. The way companies hire talent has changed, and MBA programmes must train students to face these challenges. Moreover, globalisation is an established fact, and MBA programmes must adapt according to the new international deal,” explains Professor Reyero.
Keeping close with business leaders through strong industry partnerships
To face these various challenges, Professor Reyero believes in the increasing importance of MBA programmes’ close relationships with leading or trend-setting companies. Relationships which ESCP’s MBA programme intends to strengthen daily through meaningful partnerships, knowing that an important aspect of MBA programmes is fostered through collaboration with industry leaders: “Last year, we formed an Advisory Board in which different business functions from leading companies in various sectors are represented. We are in constant contact with them and make decisions based on their advice. It is also on our agenda to include sponsors for the MBA specialisations. If we want our students to be future business leaders, we absolutely need this contact with companies,” she explains.
Among the meaningful partnerships established by ESCP’s MBA programme, Cartier has agreed to sponsor the class of the MBA in International Management for the third year in a row, allowing students to gain invaluable insights into the industry.
ESCP’s MBA in International Management ranks among the best in the world
Finally, Professor Reyero speaks about ESCP’s MBA programme’s recent ranking. Indeed, the Financial Times ranks ESCP’s MBA 27th worldwide and 8th in Europe. “It was a great joy to enter the ranking at this position,” says Professor Reyero. “Apart from the recognition of our efforts, which is always nice, what is important is that this ranking will help us attract even more talent to our classes and will provide further recognition to our students and alumni’s curriculum vitae.“
Moreover, the ranking of ESCP’s MBA in International Management programme among the best in the world and Europe is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the faculty and staff at ESCP. However, it also serves as a reminder that there is always room for improvement, as Professor Reyero notes that the programme’s high ranking obliges faculty members to work even harder to maintain their position and continue improving the quality of ESCP’s MBA programme: “Just like in sports, the further you get in the competition, the more you have to work. This excellent position obliges us to work even harder, and we are ambitious to keep on improving,” concludes Professor Reyero.
Are you eager to learn more about our programme first-hand? Our team is here to help. Get in touch with our fellow students or our admissions director to see how the ESCP’s MBA in International Management can help you take your career to the next level.
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