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Learning business through Asian lens

Two French business schools aim to give executives from around the world insights into doing business in Asia.

One unique feature of INSEAD's Global Executive MBA programme is a schedule of group coaching, 360-degree assessments and team activities, designed to develop a leadership style for the students.

Ms Joseph enrolled in the ESSEC-Mannheim Executive MBA in Singapore to gain a better understanding of doing business in Asia's different markets.

AS a senior executive in a global pharmaceutical company based in Singapore, Annie Joseph was keen to gain a better understanding of doing business in Asia's different markets to stay ahead of the competition.

This was despite having 20 years of experience in an award-winning career. Earlier this year, she received the Women Leadership Excellence Award 2015 from CMO Asia in Singapore. The award recognises outstanding women professionals who have demonstrated excellent leadership and management skills in an organisation.

"Many organisations have marked Asia-Pacific as a region of growth. Having said that, there are still a lot of misconceptions about how multinational organisations that are either US or Europe based can be successful in Asia," said Ms Joseph, who is commercial marketing head, Asia Pacific - hospital products, at Baxter Healthcare (Asia).

She decided to take up a postgraduate programme to help her do this and enrolled in the ESSEC-Mannheim Executive MBA in Singapore. ESSEC Business School, a Paris-based business school in Europe with over 118 years of heritage, has been running postgraduate programmes at its Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore since 2005.

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"Mastering the know-how of how you deal with Asia, the nuances of understanding the marketplace, negotiating with a sound appreciation of the cultural differences, and deciphering where and how to compete in Asia while being cognizant of how you develop people and talent, are areas where I have benefited from the program," said Ms Joseph.

Indeed, the ESSEC-Mannheim EMBA has caught the eye of executives working in MNCs who are seeking a pan-Asian view of business. The 2014/2015 instalment of the programme also saw 50 per cent of the cohort promoted at work since they started the course.

Said a student of the 2016 class, Abbas Meerani, a senior manager at German chemicals giant BASF: "I was attracted to its pan-Asian core curriculum. Over the last decade, Asia has become very interesting to many intra-regional businesses. I want to learn how Asian growth is influencing multinational businesses.

"Another key reason is the location of the programme. Singapore is one of the most vibrant economies in the world. Being here gave me an opportunity to be part of an EMBA programme which is very international and diverse."

ESSEC-Mannheim Executive MBA is a 15-month programme delivered one week every month at the Singapore campus. It offers residencies in two countries at partner universities worldwide. Mr Meerani's cohort had a chance to visit Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and Babson College in Boston, US.

Subjects included new business models in Asia, innovating and managing business growth, leadership and personal development, harnessing the digital tide and a group entrepreneurship project at the end of the course.

"We maintain a stringent process of selecting the right high quality candidates for our programmes throughout all our campuses worldwide," said Professor Cedomir Nestorovic, director of ESSEC-Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific and teaching professor in management at ESSEC Asia-Pacific.

He added: "Through their EMBA journey with us, students benefit not only from our distinctly crafted Asian core curriculum; they are also exposed to the latest business trends and benefit immensely from peer learning through strong interactions in the classroom."

Students of the EMBA programme come with a minimum of eight years of working experience and are currently holding management positions from senior managers and directors upwards.

Another leading French business school, INSEAD, has also had its Asia campus located in the republic since 2000. The school's Global Executive MBA was ranked No. 7 in the Financial Times Executive MBA Ranking 2015, and is conducted across its three campuses: Europe (France), Asia (Singapore) and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi). One unique feature of the 14-17 month-long programme is a schedule of group coaching, 360-degree assessments and team activities, designed to develop a leadership style for the students.

INSEAD also offers the dual-degree Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing. According to the school, this programme helps students "develop an in-depth understanding of business in China, from both international and domestic perspectives, which can also be applied to other emerging markets across the world".

This dual-degree programme was rated No. 1 in the FT ranking. To be considered for the ranking, business schools need to be accredited by either international accreditation bodies EQUIS or AACSB. Rankings are based on school and alumni surveys. Salary increase and salary today are the biggest factors, each accounting for 20 per cent of the ranking.

INSEAD also partners with other prestigious business schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.