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Build your future with new skills

ESSEC Business School’s MBA programmes reiterate the importance of an entrepreneurial spirit

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Assoc Prof Yong says creativity, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship are critical skills for employees.

CHOOSING a suitable MBA programme is not an easy task for prospective postgraduate students. Besides researching potential schools, they need to consider other factors such as fees, curriculum and even prestige.

Associate Professor Kevyn Yong, dean at ESSEC Business School Asia-Pacific, recommends deciding what knowledge and skills they want to develop first - then consider how these will contribute to their development as entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders. They will then learn and co-create value with their classmates and the faculty.

Rather than picking an MBA programme in the same field or one that is complementary to their undergraduate degree, they should consider their preferred career trajectory, he says.

Explains Prof Yong: “If the candidate wants to deepen his or her expertise in a specific field, it makes sense to pursue postgraduate studies in a similar field.

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"If the goal is to diversify skill sets, then consider other fields such as those focusing on entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. This is especially useful for those whose career goal is to take on leadership roles or be an innovator."

He also cautions against pursuing a programme in a “hot" or upcoming sector.

"The exceptions would be if the candidates are intrinsically interested in developing the knowledge and skill sets from that sector, or if they determine that the sector is set to disrupt and transform their industry and profession," he adds.

Embracing the right traits

The ability to attain soft skills, which are increasingly critical in the workplace, should also be a deciding factor. Prof Yong highlights creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership as crucial skills for employees.

He says: “Entrepreneurship ranks the highest. It is not about starting a new company, but identifying an opportunity to create new value that will impact the economy and society at large.

“This can take the form of a product or service created within an existing company, or through the formation of a new company."

He feels that leadership is the next most crucial skill because it affects the people and culture of an organisation. Getting these two aspects right will help identify good opportunities and build the best possible innovation.

Next comes creativity, which is essential in identifying the best insights with the highest potential, the ability and will to transform them into an innovation.

Innovation built from an average idea will always create more value for the economy and society, more so than the most wonderful ideas that are never built or carried out.

Demands of the modern economy

Employers today expect much more from MBA graduates than just a prestigious degree.

A Financial Times survey that was published in August states that one in three recruiters struggle to find business school graduates with the complete entrepreneurial skill sets they seek. These include the ability to work with different types of people, an understanding of the digital impact on businesses and the capability to solve complex problems.

This, Prof Yong says, is something ESSEC Business School can address, given how its programmes are designed to focus on developing participants’ entrepreneurial skill sets in several ways.

Leadership, innovation and creativity skill sets are part of the core curriculum or required courses. These skill sets are further developed through project work in collaboration with industry partners.

For instance, the Executive MBA programme requires participants to apply the leadership, innovation and creativity skills that they have learnt to a yearlong entrepreneurship project. This can take the form of a real business case proposed by industry partners, or a new venture that they create.

In addition, the business school’s Global MBA programme requires classroom application to a three-month capstone project involving real business cases from industry partners. It also incorporates other “learn-bydoing" initiatives such as participation in activities relating to ESSEC Digital Competition Week, a corporate challenge involving teams of students that is held annually at the business school’s campus in France.

Besides offering full-time degree programmes such as the Executive MBA, Global MBA and Global BBA, ESSEC Business School also provides specialised master’s programmes in Finance, Management of Health Industries, and Advanced Master in Strategy and Management of International Business

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