The MBA Is Not For the “Faint Hearted”
An interview with Christophe Bredillet
Director of International Postgraduate Programmes, ESC Lille
About ESC Lille
The Lille Graduate School of Management (ESC Lille) is one of the ‘Grandes Ecoles' of Management, accredited by the ‘Chapter', and located in the ‘Nord-Pas de Calais' region. ESC Lille is located close to five major European countries, and with its campuses in Lille and Paris meets the demand for multinational management education.
Could you give us a brief overview of your MBA programme?
The principal objective of the MBA is to provide solid foundations and competencies for students' futures in general management in:
- Instilling a spirit of excellence, professionalism, and responsibility among our students;
- Selecting excellent faculty and scholars who focus on management theory and practice from a global perspective;
- Updating instructional materials continually to reflect state-of-the-art knowledge and best management practices;
- Employing advanced technology in delivering courses;
- Benefiting the local community and society by promoting modern management knowledge and practice;
- Providing the opportunity of a truly global education.
Based on the integrative concept of the Balanced Scorecard, the MBA programme is organised around cutting-edge and interconnected subjects such as decision-making, management, finance, economics, business process management, change management, knowledge management, information systems management, organisational design, business dynamics & complexity, communication skills, and personal, entrepreneurial potential and leadership development.
The program is a dynamic framework and system, in which all aspects of competencies — knowledge and cognitive; personal and behavioural; functional; values and ethics; and transcompetencies (such as Communication, Creativity, Problem solving, Learning / self-development, Mental agility, Analysis, Reflection) — are developed for current and future utility.
The international dimension is incorporated in the content of the lectures, the profile of the participants, the lecturers, and in the use of English as the teaching and communication language.
What type of candidate are you looking for?
Management today is a global undertaking. It is carried out in a wide variety of settings. Successful managers understand and appreciate the implications of diversity in the areas of culture, gender, language, value systems, religion, politics, economics, and business practices. Today's brutally competitive environment demands excellence. There is a Darwinian process at work, where only the fittest survive. Effective management education conveys to students the importance of being excellent, professional, and responsible. Knowledge is ever changing and today's news may be ancient history by tomorrow. In this context, the life span of novel ideas and practices is shrinking rapidly and effective management education keeps up with current dynamic practice.
Beyond proven academic excellence, demonstration of significant career progression, and solid intellectual ability, we are looking for students with a strong international interest, tolerant, and committed, with an agile mind and a capacity to work both individually and as part of a team. We do not wish to recruit students with a “one best way” thought or “politically correct” attitudes. We consider that the ability to think critically and independently is a very important factor in career progression
What makes ESC Lille unique amongst business schools?
ESC Lille has always been innovative in the launch of new programs (GSUP — GSPE, IMiM, DESC Lille in Continuing Education… to quote a few). Faithful to this entrepreneurial spirit, we have chosen to create this MBA program which meets the international standards like AACSB and EQUAL/EFMD, as well as bringing other dimensions. For instance, half the program is composed of business topics, as described above, and the other half by our MSc Programs electives. Thus, students get two degrees: MBA and MSc. in the area of their elective. It seems to us that it is important to propose not only an in-depth management training but also the way to implement it through a specific framework. This process of specifying clearly each student's learning path avoids any temptation towards dispersion in having too many electives.
Does your school have any plans for the future?
The MBA has formed a partnership with foreign universities and organisations in Australia, the United States, Japan, China, India, England, South America, and Canada. The students have the opportunity to attend a part of their program abroad with our partner universities.
We plan to offer in 2003 a special international curriculum where the students will attend part of the program in Europe, in North America and in Asia, thus reinforcing our strategic partnerships by focusing on select partnerships. Through taking this different perspective, and in order to meet an international demand, we are implementing online courses. But we think that face-to face periods are fundamental…. even in and perhaps because of the era of virtuality!
Lastly, we are launching a doctoral programme in Project & Program Management and Entrepreneurship in September 2003, focusing on applied research focusing on the understanding and improvement of strategy implementation and management of complex systems.
What type of firms employ your graduates?
The type of firms employing our graduates are located in the following sectors: Finance (6%), Auditing Control (10%), Consulting (22%), IS / IT New Economy (22%), Industry (17%), Mass Retail (8%), and others (15%).
The Job Functions held are mainly: Finance (3%), Project& Programme Management (13%), Marketing (5%), Consulting (21%), Production / Operations (22%), Corporate Planning / Control (13%), General Management (10%) and others (13%).
Both type of firms and functions held generally depend on the students' background.
What advice would you offer to a person who is thinking about getting an MBA?
Candidates undertaking the MBA need to be clear about their personal and professional motivations for undertaking the MBA. The formal course of study is two years, however it continues and grows for the rest of graduates careers and lives. The candidate must enter with a level of experience, qualifications, skills, attitudes and behaviours that enable him/her to plan strategically in anticipating market changes and needs, and then act to operationalise the planned business process changes. The MBA is not for the “faint hearted”. It is continuous, it is hard work, it may entail work in new and often challenging subjects in a language which may not be the mother tongue. Yet, its rewards are many and the MBA, of all qualifications, has retained and grown its elitism that is envied by candidates and companies alike.
About Christophe Bredillet
Professor Christophe Bredillet, CPD — Level A IPMA, CCE, PgD in Project Management, MBA, ESC Lille, has been the program director of the International programs MSc. in Project and Program Management, MSc. in Supply Chain Management, and the MBA for the past 12 years. He is strongly involved in PM Professional Associations.