Wednesday 16 July 2014

ESSEC Chair # 3 - Therapeutic Innovation Chair's field trip to GSK Global Vaccine Headquarters in Wavre, Belgium

By Rafaela Echterdiek, 1st year MSc in Management student, Germany

Between January and March 2014 I participated in the Therapeutic Innovation Chair at ESSEC Business School. The Chair is aimed to deepen students understanding of the medical industry and everything which might be influenced by it or which might influence this industry. I did not have any prior knowledge about medicine of the pharmaceutical industry beforehand but I got told that this was not necessary. After the three months I have to say that I actually enjoyed the fact that within the 24 students who participated in the chair a lot of us had very diverse backgrounds. I felt that it often enriched the discussions and allowed us to look at problems from various different angles.

Towards the end of the Chair we visited the GSK vaccine headquarters in Wavre, Belgium. GSK was one of the sponsors of the chair which is why we had the opportunity to work on group projects in cooperation with the company. When we arrived in Wavre, we started with a factory visit. It was very interesting to see how vaccines get actually produced and to asked questions about the production and supply chain which we had talked about in class on a theoretical basis beforehand.

The site visit was followed by a lecture by Luc Debruyne, current president of GSK vaccine and Pascal Lizin, Director of External and Public Affairs at GSK Vaccine. I was quite surprised how openly and willingly both answered also critical questions about their company and the pharma industry in general. GSK provided us with lunch after the presentations at which the project managers of our group works (from the company side) also joined. In a very relaxed and uncomplicated atmosphere we could ask questions about our project as well as work and career prospective at the company. During lunch two former ESSEC students who are now working at GSK also joined and told their story and career.

After lunch we headed straight back to the conference room to start working on our group works. The aim of the session was mainly to talk in person with the responsible person for our project at the company, to present him the current state of work and to discuss the direction of the project. Before this visit I thought that the given projects were not really relevant for the company and that they rather tried to create topics for us to work on. However, during the workshop I realized that our project manager was actually really interested in our findings and that the results would be used within the department to build new projects on. The day ended with a short presentation of each group in front of our students and the GSK employees who were involved in our projects. 

If you want to get more information on the ESSEC Therapeutic Innovation Chair, check out its website at: 

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Student Interview # 8 - Wenjing Feng on French student life and combining work and study at ESSEC

Interview by Rafaela Echterdiek, 1st year MSc in Management student, Germany

Wenjing FENG is a second year MSc in Management student from China. Before coming to ESSEC, Wenjing studied International Political Economics in Beijing. This year she was part of the student board (BDE) being responsible for the international students. Wenjing is currently doing an apprenticeship at Arkema as Business Analyst. 

Why did you join the student board (BDE) and what was your experience?

I joined the BDE because I wanted to really experience all parts of a typical French student life. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know French students. BDE organizes a lot of different events and parties for ESSEC students. Especially in the beginning, language was a challenge for me. However, a relaxed atmosphere like student parties made it easier to get to know people and to integrate. Special association songs and dances helped as well to feel fully integrated in the community. This year has been a great experience to understand and learn about the similarities and differences of studying in France. It also helped me a lot to improve my French.

Why did you come to ESSEC?

After my Bachelor in China I wanted to do a master's degree in business abroad. I searched for the best programs offered abroad and found that ESSEC has one of the best Management Master Programs worldwide. When I read more about the school I was intrigued by the opportunities ESSEC offers its students and by the flexibility every student has to design his/her own curriculum. I also felt that it was a good opportunity for me to learn another language. Hence, when I came to France I started studying French and thanks to my high involvement within the student association I am able to speak it now quite well.

How did you design your curriculum at ESSEC so far?

Well I am now doing an apprenticeship with Arkema, a leading Speciality Chemicals and Advanced Materials company. I hold the position of Business Analyst. So far I have enjoyed this experience very much. It is a good way to gain experience in the working world. I have interesting projects and get to work with low and high level managers. The company has a flat business structure which allows me to learn valuable soft skills. Apart from that I learned a lot of task specific skills which will help me in my professional life. I like the mix between going to university and working in a company because it gives me the possibility to apply concepts I learned in the classroom.

What are your next steps at ESSEC and after graduation?

Next year I am going to do an exchange at Mannheim University in Germany. The university has a very good reputation and I am already excited about living in another European country to see what it is like. I also chose Germany because I can imagine starting my career in Germany and I want to use this exchange to discover more about the German culture and its business practices.

After I graduate from ESSEC I will probably stay in Europe for a couple of years to gain more work experiences. ESSEC has a good professional network which will help me to find the right job for me. Although my apprenticeship circles a lot around finance I am probably going to look for a job in operations. I followed a lot of classes in this direction already at ESSEC, so I believe that I will be well equipped to start my career upon graduating from ESSEC.  

Friday 4 July 2014

Student Interview # 7 & ESSEC Chair # 2 - Sandra Körger tells us about her international experience choices and being part of the Sales & Marketing Chair

Interview by Rafaela Echterdiek, 1st year MSc in Management student from Germany

Sandra Körger is a 23 year old German student who started the ESSEC MSc in Management in September 2013. Before coming to ESSEC, Sandra studied Politics and Economics at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany. She is part of the Vente et Stratégie Marketing (Sales & Marketing Strategy) Chair at ESSEC. This month, Sandra will follow the Global Manager in Asia track on the ESSEC Singapore campus and then in October 2014 will participate in the Asian Strategy Project before starting an exchange at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad at the end of December 2014.

Why did you choose to come to ESSEC?

When I finished my Bachelor’s in Germany I wanted to continue a Master’s programme in France. I studied French at high school and I always wanted to live in France at some point in my life. When I researched Master’s programmes I was thrilled by the diverse possibilities the Master in Management at ESSEC seemed to offer. During my Bachelor’s in Germany I participated in an exchange programme in Norway. Working together with other students from different cultural backgrounds was very educational and arose my interest to seek further international experiences. ESSEC seemed to offer this internationality with all its partner universities and the campus in Singapore. I looked for a Master’s programme which gives you the most freedom in choosing your courses and going abroad.

How have you designed your programme so far?

Well, I started my Master’s programme in September and joined the ESSEC Vente et Stratégie Marketing Chair in January. It is a 6 month programme focused on sales and marketing strategy. In July, I will go to Singapore to participate in the Global Manager in Asia programme at the ESSEC Singapore campus in order to acquire more knowledge about doing business in Asia. This programme is followed by the Asian Strategy Project, which is a consulting mission. Immediately after finishing the Asian Strategy Project, I will start a semester abroad in India at the end of December.  

Wow, why did you decide to go to Singapore and India?

I want to make the most out of my stay at ESSEC. A couple of years ago, I participated in an exchange in Beijing, China which got me interested in Asia. Apart from my personal interest to learn more about this continent, I believe that Asia will gain more and more importance businesswise in the next decades. I hope that the Global Manager in Asia will give me a first experience in working and living in an Asian environment. The programme will certainly give me more insights into the Asian economy and culture and I ultimately hope that it will enhance my abilities to work in Asia and within an Asian environment. The strategy project afterwards in cooperation with CapgeminiConsulting (see video below) will allow me to put my theoretically learned knowledge into practice. I seek a career in consultancy and thus working on a project in Asia with CapgeminiConsulting will allow me to gain further experience in this direction.

Finally, I will go on a semester abroad to Ahmedabad, India. I have chosen the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad because it has an excellent academic reputation and an academic focus on strategy. Apart from the fact that India is a diversified and culturally affluent country which gains increasing importance within the international trade, I believe that living in India will help me better understand this nation and business philosophy.

What did you do during the chair?

The chair is a 6 month programme in cooperation with several companies such as Michelin, Renault and Xerox. The chair is subdivided into two main parts: university lectures and a project in cooperation with CapgeminiConsulting for one of the partner companies. In the project I am working on, we have been asked to develop a benchmark for the company and to segment and position their product in one European market. Ultimately, the company wants to gain an understanding of which products best fit the market and to which price. Adding to that, we are looking at their overall communication strategy. We meet every two weeks with the customer to discuss the progress of the project and CapgeminiConsuting have been very helpful in guiding our efforts and advising on our work. Because lectures are only given by experts, there is a close link to the “real world”. It is extremely enriching to be able to ask questions to people who have an extensive practical experience.

To learn more about the Chaire Vente et Stratégie Marketing
I think this project is very interesting for me because it gives me a first experience in the responsibilities of a consultant which is a career path I am interested in. It is also very beneficial for my French as I am challenged to communicate on a business level in French. During the Chair we also visited Michelin’s headquarter in Clermont-Ferrand. We watched how they conduct crash tests and learned more about their manufacturing processes and operations. It was a very interesting trip which allowed us to better understand the theoretically learned models and strategies.