The MMD 2024 Digital Marketing Challenge: A Taste of the Real World

As early as the first semester of the ESSEC Asia-Pacific MSc Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) program, Marco Carini was allowed to test the skills he had acquired in class on digital marketing projects for real companies.

This learning-by-doing approach continued during his time at ESSEC. In just a year, he had worked with brands such as Longchamp, AG1, and Maison 21G for different classes.

But what project made the biggest impression? The Digital Marketing Challenge (DMC).

The DMC, which occurs towards the end of the MMD journey, is a six-week consultancy project in which students help real companies solve a digital marketing challenge.

Participating companies vary yearly from sectors tailored to the cohort’s interests. In 2024, the lineup included a mix of B2B and B2C companies from the luxury, beauty, consulting, and shipping industries.

As someone considering a career in the luxury industry, Marco, who is from Italy, was happy to be matched with a luxury watch brand.

Putting Together Lessons From Across the MMD Journey

For Marco, the DMC stood out for being the biggest that he tackled during his MMD journey.

For example, while other classes focused on just one aspect of digital marketing—a product launch or raising brand awareness—the DMC scope was far broader.

It required his team to work on search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), optimize the user’s website experience, and build brand awareness with high-net-worth individuals in Asia.

“The organization of time, in terms of planning, prioritizing deliverables, and distributing the work, was very, very complex,” Marco recalls, noting that the skills drew from classes taken throughout the MMD program.

“But because of the complexity, I learned a lot about teamwork and managing people,” he says.

His team first focused on the technical aspects of the challenge, conducting keyword research and analyzing the user experience on various competitor websites to answer the brief.

Their hard work paid off, and by the first meeting at the brand’s Singapore office, they were ready to present half their strategy, which included suggested keywords and tweaks to the website.

“The company loved it! They sent our ideas to headquarters and told us they would start incorporating some of our proposed changes to the website,” Marco excitedly recalls, adding that it was encouraging to know the team’s work would have a real-world impact.

Learning from Real-world Professionals

Another way the DMC stood out to Marco was that it felt like a genuine collaboration with the clients.

“We had weekly email updates with the client’s marketing department and around five to six meetings with them to discuss ideas,” Marco says.

He particularly appreciated the company's investment in the project and how they treated his team as professionals.

For instance, marketing, human resources, and even management were represented at the first meeting. In addition, everyone they met was open to hearing the team’s ideas and willing to offer advice.

“Even the managing director was extremely passionate and interested to spend so much time listening to us,” Marco exclaims.

Offering Possibilities for the Future

The open communication channel and regular client feedback gave Marco and his team in-depth insights into how a global luxury brand functions.

This empowered them to refine their proposal and ultimately deliver “one of the best presentations” of their MMD lives.

And as the cherry on top, the client was so impressed that they even approached Marco with an internship offer.

Reflecting on his DMC journey, Marco says, “I believe the DMC is a project that can lead to real job opportunities. It allows us to get in touch with people within the brand, understand their needs, and impress them with what we can do.”

For young professionals, it is a chance like no other.

Career Hacks for Gen Z with Jessie Xia and Joe Peng

In a world brimming with possibilities, the path to a successful career can seem like a complex maze for the ambitious Gen Z. Look no further as we introduce the podcast series Career Hacks for Gen Z, hosted by career and educational experts Alice Yu, co-author of Before The Good Things Come, and Joe Escobedo, CEO of Esco Media.

This podcast series is tailored to Gen Z's tastes and aspirations, providing an invaluable platform for career tips and tricks from seasoned industry professionals. With their fingers firmly on the pulse of the ever-evolving job market, Alice and Joe will delve deep into the intricacies of career planning, skill development, and navigating the competitive landscape.

Drawing upon their extensive experience and expertise, the hosts and their guests will unpack the secrets to unlocking career success, offering Gen Z listeners a treasure trove of insights and strategies. Whether decoding the hidden job market, leveraging personal branding, or adapting to rapid technological advancements, this podcast series will equip the next generation with the tools necessary to seize their professional destiny.

Through engaging conversations and thought-provoking discussions, Career Hacks for Gen Z is set to empower and inspire young minds, igniting a passion for lifelong learning and career advancement. With each episode, Gen Z will gain valuable insights, innovative ideas, and actionable advice from experts at the forefront of their fields.

Tune in to this groundbreaking podcast series to unlock the secrets of career excellence and join the ranks of the unstoppable Gen Z professionals shaping the future. It's time to embrace the power of knowledge, embrace the future, and unlock your full potential.

Go to Career Hacks for Gen Z to listen to more episodes. The podcast series is co-produced by ESSEC Asia-Pacific and Before the Good Things Come.

Life at ESSEC APAC: Wallet-Friendly Hacks to Cost of Living

Studying at ESSEC Asia-Pacific may offer the chance for adventures around the region, but one cannot help but wonder: How affordable is it to live in Singapore?

As ESSEC Student Ambassadors Abhiraj Verma, Chloe Wang, and Faith Melgar have found, it’s manageable. Plenty of ways to cut living costs daily and stretch the international student dollar a little further. Here’s how:

1 | Dine at the Food Court

First, choose food courts and hawker centers instead of restaurants and cafes, Master in Management (MiM) student Abhiraj declares.

“The quality is good, the taste is good, and you have so much variety that you try something different each day,” he elaborates, adding that he’s found stalls that serve excellent Thai, Japanese, and Chinese food at food courts.

Importantly, food courts are a far cheaper option. Visiting a restaurant, trying a café, or having food delivered will cost at least SG$20 per meal—more than the average cost of having three meals at hawker centers or food courts!

2 | Find a Good Loyalty Program

Of all the loyalty programs available in Singapore, Master in Strategy and Management of International Business (SMIB) student Faith’s favorite is yuu Singapore.

Yuu can be used at convenience stores like 7-Eleven, supermarkets like FairPrice and Giant, food courts, and some dining establishments.

This makes it easy for students to stack points and score discounts quickly.

3 | Shop Just Before Closing

Another tip Faith has is to go grocery shopping near closing when shops are eager to eliminate perishable items.

For example, sushi at supermarket counters can be reduced by up to 50 percent in the evenings, and bread shops also offer discounts on food near closing hours.

She adds, “At BreadTalk, for example, they sometimes have sales where the bread is around just a dollar!”

“Looking at accommodations with friends is great because not only is it fun to stay together, it’s also more affordable because you can share the cost of living together,” she advises.

4 | Take a Trip to Johor Bahru

To save costs, some ESSEC students also visit the neighboring Johor Bahru (JB) in Malaysia for more affordable shopping and leisure options.

“We managed to have a great massage at an affordable price and then went to an all-you-can-eat Japanese sashimi and barbecue place,” Chloe Wang, a Master in Finance (MiF) student, recalls of a recent trip.

Johor Bahru is easily accessible by car, bus, or train, and a trip costs less than SG$5. So, while it might take more time, the cost savings are arguably highly worthwhile! Just avoid peak periods like Friday or Sunday evenings or public holidays.

GBBA Student Ambassador Mohamed Asad: Rolling the Dice on a French Degree and Winning

Mohamed Asad was studying engineering at a top university in Singapore when he pivoted to join the ESSEC Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) program.

He hasn’t looked back since Just a few semesters in; he’s already completed an internship at tech company IDEMIA.

He’s taken on roles as class representative and Student Ambassador. He’s also begun getting experience in consulting through the ESSEC Junior Development Singapore.

The Singaporean national shares his motivations for the switch and how he’s benefited.

What motivated the switch to business and ESSEC Asia-Pacific?

I realized I wasn’t that interested in a scientific degree and felt business might be a good choice as I am more people-oriented.

ESSEC stood out from other schools as its cohort would be more diverse.

It was also an advantage that exchange programs are part of the curriculum as I would get to travel.

As I’d like to pay for my studies, it was also more financially sensible to stay close to family first and be able to travel further down the line.

How does studying at ESSEC compare to your previous schools?

It’s more practical-based, and we have many opportunities to practice our skills during projects or competitions the school organizes.

For example, my friends and I signed up for the ESSEC Case Competition for Future Leaders 2023.

It was our first semester in school, and we knew little about business, but through the different workshops and conversations with our mentors, we learned so much!

Also, we must do an internship in our first year. I did mine at a tech company, IDEMIA, and it helped me understand how companies operate, what office environments are like, and how a business is structured. It was a great learning experience.

Having experiences like this is very important in business school because you won't understand the impact of what you're learning until you go into the real world and understand how things are being handled.

What other opportunities are there to grow personally or professionally?

I’m helping set up ESSEC Junior Development Singapore, which entails getting clients for us to consult.

Besides learning about consulting, the experience is like setting up an honest company.

ESSEC also offers many opportunities for leadership roles.

As a student representative for my cohort, I present issues that students have or improvements they hope to see to the administration.

As a Student Ambassador, I work with the school’s marketing department to help “market” the program.

Best ESSEC memory so far?

During our induction week, we had a fantastic race across Singapore.

Even though I’m familiar with the country, I was able to explore it again and experience it with people who had never been here before.

We went to places like Chinatown and Little India—places locals go to for errands but don’t explore.

It was great to see it from the perspective of my peers.

How have you changed since joining?

I’ve developed my critical thinking skills and can now analyze things faster.

I’ve also improved my presentation skills. Before coming to ESSEC, my parents and I had a long discussion about the significant change I was making, but having seen me flourish over the last few years, they’re very proud of me!

Why should other Singaporeans consider the GBBA at ESSEC Asia-Pacific?

The diversity. At some point, you’re likely to be working with someone who is not Singaporean, and you need to understand how to interact with them and what might be a faux pas.

When you grow up meeting people from different cultures, it becomes ingrained in your mindset to be more open-minded and quickly adapt.

How the ESSEC MMD Program Makes Learning Practical and Relevant

Student Ambassadors Manon Portha, Mingyue Ma, and Patsachon Niyomthai were barely one semester into their ESSEC MSc in Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) journey when they were tasked with developing a marketing campaign for perfume brand Maison21G.

It is worth noting that this was no classroom exercise—they were also expected to present their ideas to Maison21G management afterward.

They say such opportunities for learning by doing are characteristic of the MMD program's pedagogy and one way the program will prepare students for the real world.

Opportunities to Apply Lessons

“The hands-on approach at ESSEC is genuinely distinctive, and it sets the school apart from my previous educational experiences. We don’t just learn the theories, but also put them into action in the real world,” Manon, who comes from France, shares.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to contribute to the learning process actively.”

Patsachon, who comes from Thailand, agrees. She shares that for the Maison21G project, students were also invited to the company’s workshop to speak with employees and learn more about the brand and work processes—getting an insider’s view of the industry that no textbook can offer.

Learning from Industry Professionals

All three students believe they have exclusive access to companies because many of their professors are industry professionals with connections in the field.

Mingyue, who hails from China, cites Gautam Kiyawat, their marketing professor, as one such example.

Having run media and content-driven businesses across Asia and the USA, Prof Gautam brings a wealth of experience into the classroom.

“His unique teaching style blends rigorous academic theory with practical business insights. I particularly appreciate how he encourages critical thinking and fosters a dynamic classroom environment,” Mingyue explains.

Manon agrees wholeheartedly. “I like how he connects with students and shares key insights and real-world examples that resonate with us as Gen Z. This relevance makes the class educational and incredibly engaging.”

As an added perk, Gautam also brought guest speakers to the classroom to help illustrate concepts to the students.

“Hearing from guest speakers from Meta and TikTok was insightful for us, and I liked that we got to connect with the companies when they came down to speak,” Patsachon testifies.

Emphasis on Collaboration and Inclusion

A final feature of the MMD program that Manon, Mingyue, and Pataschon have found value in? Diversity.

“Being surrounded by diverse students from every corner of the world enhances creativity and turns our classes into vibrant idea-sharing spaces,” Manon says.

“We are required to work in teams for each module, and I feel this diversity prepares us for the future as most of us will be working in international settings with people from various backgrounds and cultures.”

Mingyue echoes these sentiments. “I believe this exposure to diverse viewpoints and problem-solving approaches is invaluable and has equipped me with the skills needed to thrive in today’s global business landscape,” she concludes.

Why Experienced Professionals Choose the MiF Program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific

Aamey Mehta and Michel Verhasselt found their way to the finance sector immediately after finishing their undergraduate studies.

Aamey, who is from India and has a degree in commerce from Christ University in Bangalore, secured a role as a portfolio associate at Wells Fargo, a US-founded financial services company.

Michel, who is from Belgium and studied language interpretation and translation at Université Libre de Bruxelles, joined insurance broker WILLEMOT.

These experiences convinced them finance was the place they wanted to grow their careers, and they turned to the ESSEC Master in Finance (MiF) at ESSEC Asia-Pacific to help carve out their careers.

A Top French School, But Based In Asia

“Doing the MiF at ESSEC Asia-Pacific will allow me to work and study in Asia and Europe. This would expose me to two markets, compared to what I’d get with other programs,” Aamey explains of his choice.

In addition, with the MiF program consistently being ranked as one of the top in the world year after year and Singapore’s reputation as a global financial center, joining the school would offer them the advantages of world-class European education while tapping into opportunities in a growing region.

The Appeal of a Two-year Program

Aamey and Michel are in the early stages of their careers, so they saw the two-year MiF option as an advantage. “I would have the opportunity to do two internships and explore different fields of finance,” Aamey says.

True to this, in his first year, Aamey found a role at Motion Ventures, a venture capital and private equity firm. He supported deals in the maritime and supply chain industries there, gaining valuable experience in making investment decisions and managing client relationships.

Michel, too, scored an internship in his first semester in Singapore at AI solutions firm Selendis Technologies.

“Although I was interning in the business development department, I was able to speak to more senior employees who gave me real-world insights into what it means to be a hedge fund trader,” adding that these conversations helped him shift his focus from private banking to trading.

Opportunities to Learn About New Pathways

Michel explains that one of the key benefits he has found at ESSEC Asia-Pacific is learning about the different finance roles available through alumni events, company visits, and guest talks from industry professionals.

“Through these events, I met traders from places like BNP Paribas. I contacted them on LinkedIn and asked for coffee chats—it was extremely enlightening,” he says, adding,

“Overall, the program taught me much about finance roles. I realized I could have confidence in becoming a trader instead of worrying that I didn’t study engineering or math.”

Aamey agrees, noting that despite his work experience, he, too, has found the insights shared about finance roles and how to improve one’s chances of finding a role extremely useful.

Gratefully, he says, “The career services advisor gave me tips to improve my LinkedIn and CV. He taught me how to rephrase areas to make them easier to understand and explained how to curate my cover letter using keywords from the job description.”

Looking back at his time in Singapore thus far, he has no regrets.

“There are many opportunities to experience cultures, make friends, and leverage the knowledge of top-tier professors. These will all improve your profile for when you join the working world,” he concludes.

The Best of East and West: Three Reasons Why SMIB Students Choose ESSEC APAC

Giorgio Zambon, Ksheera Rangarajan, and Zhelin Yu took different paths to the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus. Giorgio, who is from Italy, recently graduated from Bocconi University with internships at L’Oreal and Mazars.

Ksheera, who hails from India, has two years of work experience as an engineer at Google, and Zhelin, who comes from China, has a master’s degree in finance from IE Business School.

To all three, a master’s degree was the solution to accelerate career growth. The ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) stood out because QS ranked it second in the world and first in Asia among Master's in Management programs.

It is also more affordable than an MBA, does not require years of work experience, and has a campus in Singapore.

1 | Exposure to Business in Asia

For Ksheera, attending ESSEC Asia-Pacific was a chance to have the “best of both worlds.” She would enjoy the European style of education from a top institution and improve her knowledge of how business is conducted in Asia.

The Asia-centric lens is seen in the case studies focused on the region through networking sessions and initiatives like the Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC), which allows students to work directly with an Asian business to solve a real-world challenge.

Ksheera explains that these experiences are essential because “working in India, China, Singapore, and the Middle East is all quite different. The program helps us understand the subtle differences and how these can affect the working culture.”

Zhelin hopes to join a private equity firm in Asia in the long run, and she agrees that this knowledge is crucial for those who want to work there.

Speaking from his experience interning at a financial institution in China after his master’s program in Spain, he says: “I found the financial markets to be very different and that I couldn’t use what I learned effectively.”

Like Ksheera, he hopes that attending ESSEC Asia-Pacific will help him bridge the gap between the East and West and open doors to opportunities in more countries.

2 | A Global Profile To Attract Recruiters

With Asia’s growing influence, knowledge about the region can only make one more attractive to recruiters, Giorgio, who hopes to start a career in strategy consulting, adds.

“I saw coming to Singapore as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to live in Asia. I felt this would be a good opportunity to evaluate if I could reside in the area in the future,” he says.

And even if he chooses not to, by the end of the SMIB program, he’ll have studied in three different continents—France, Singapore, and the US.

“This will give me a global perspective so I understand how different markets work and how to approach different stakeholders, which is valuable for companies,” he says.

3 | Campus, Services, and Cohort Size

Having been at the Singapore campus for a semester, Giorgio observes that a more intimate cohort size is also an advantage.

“Students are given more attention, there is a strong sense of camaraderie, and there are more chances to connect with alumni and fellow students,” he says, explaining that these interactions can lead to fruitful future connections.

Ksheera feels similarly, sharing that she has had positive experiences with the career services.

“I aspire to become a product manager at a startup, and the career services team has supported me in building a personalized plan based on this goal,” she says.

To those still deciding which campus to choose, as Giorgio aptly puts it, there is nothing to lose.

“If you don’t come to the Asia-Pacific campus and get a glimpse of Asia, it’s hard for you to find a job in the region. But if you come, you can look for a job in Singapore and still find one in Europe.”

Diversity, Community, and More Reasons Why ESSEC APAC Is the Place to Be for MiM Students

Lucas Le Brazidec developed an interest in Asia while studying in Hong Kong. So when the French national could choose where to start the ESSEC Master in Management (MiM) program, the answer was obvious: Singapore.

“It was a chance to learn more about the region, explore and travel,” he says.

He acknowledges that a move abroad is often a huge step out of one’s comfort zone for many. But in his experience, there is plenty to be excited about—especially if one chooses ESSEC Asia-Pacific.

Enriched by Diversity

One of the first things that struck Lucas and fellow MiM Student Ambassador from India, Nikita Masurkar, was the sheer diversity of the student body at the Singapore campus.

This is firstly seen in the countries they hail from—France, India, China, and more—but also in the countries they’ve lived in.

“You might meet someone who is French but who has lived in a different part of the world for some time, and they carry that culture with them as well,” Nikita explains, adding that this opens the door to new connections and perspectives, especially during group work.

Lucas agrees. “I find it beneficial to learn from people who have worked in different fields and countries because we see things differently. When we work together, we learn from each other. It’s super interesting to see our skills come together,” he says.

Encouraged by the Community

Lucas adds that it also helps that almost everyone in his cohort is also an international student. “We don’t know anyone, so everyone is in the mood to meet new people, and we have lots of activities to do with each other,” he says.

“No one in the program is omitted, and who doesn’t have someone to talk to,” he adds.

Nikita chimes in that this is partly because of the size of the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus. Compared to if she were in a bigger school, here, “I know everybody by name, and I have a relationship with everyone.”

“That’s the benefit of being a small group in a small country. I’ve easily made friends from different cultures. We have regular hangouts, and there’s always an opportunity to network and speak to each other,” she says.

Excited by Student Life Activities

Nikita elaborates that these opportunities to network extend beyond the MiM cohort through various student life activities.

For example, she recalls how the Indian Club brought students from all programs together on a dance night to share their culture.

As president of the BDS (Bureau des Sports) and a fitness enthusiast, she is eager to bring new team-building activities to the rest of the school.

Lucas, too, is excited about the prospects of participating in the Finance Club and Climbing Club and joining ESSEC Master in Strategy and Management of International Business (SMIB) students to work on a strategy consulting project for an NGO.

Their time at the MiM program is still in its early days, but they are certain they have no regrets about starting in Singapore.

“I’ve understood the city and feel familiar with the people here. It's almost like I’ve been in Singapore forever, and that comforts me,” Nikita says.

Lucas agrees. “If I had to choose again, I’d still 100 percent pick Singapore.”

MMD Graduate Antoine Habay: Fulfilling his Luxury Dreams

French national Antoine Habay was determined to land a career in the high-end luxury world. To achieve this, he knew he had to spread his wings and fly, living in different countries to amass global experience that would help him become a savvy luxury professional.

His travels led him to Singapore to pursue the ESSEC MSc Marketing Management and Digital (MMD), and it was at the Singapore campus that his luxury career took flight.

Today, he works at one of the most well-known luxury brands: Louis Vuitton, a French fashion house.

We chat with him to discover how the MMD has pushed him to the next level in his career.

Congratulations on finding your dream job! Tell us what you do at Louis Vuitton.

As a Client Relations & Experience Assistant at Louis Vuitton in Singapore, my primary responsibility is to improve client interactions. I proactively create sales opportunities and foster client relationships.

I also oversee cross-functional projects, help manage the regional gifting plan, and coordinate hospitality arrangements for regional and international events.

How has your time at ESSEC helped you in your current role?

The program equipped me with invaluable tools, concepts, and a work ethic that prioritizes precision and persuasiveness, which I have seamlessly integrated into my professional life.

For example, learning how luxury brands are established, nurtured, and safeguarded has helped me craft compelling marketing strategies aligned with the brand’s DNA.

The experiences gained through group projects, presentations, and the Digital Marketing Challenge (DMC) have honed my communication skills.

Any inspiring mentors?

The first is Professor of Management Practice Gautam Kiyawat, who led my Social Media and Mobile Marketing class. He was deeply invested in our learning experience and went the extra mile by bringing in guest speakers from various industries.

I was also inspired by Associate Dean of Faculty Sonja Prokopec, who taught classes in the luxury sector. Through her lessons, I gained valuable insights into the industry's workings.

I also benefited from the meetings she facilitated with luxury players such as Dior, Longchamp, Sephora, and Macallan.

Diversity is the new normal in today's global climate. How did you learn and live this as an MMD student?

The MMD cohort comprised students from more than ten different countries. This exposed me to people of other cultures and backgrounds, mainly when we interacted during group projects.

In addition to being a student ambassador, I joined various clubs at ESSEC. I attended many events on campus, which allowed me to widen my networks both within and outside the school.

Connecting with these people, all of whom come from different backgrounds, has helped broaden my horizons and prepared me for the global workplace.

Advice for anyone who might be considering joining the MMD program?

Get involved in as much as you can. Look out for presentations and networking sessions to attend, roles to apply for, and activities organized by students’ clubs to participate in—grab them all!

These will help you integrate into campus life more easily and also help widen your social connections, which will go a long way in eventually securing a job.