In its 2023 Business Masters ranking, QS ranked ESSEC’s nine-month accelerated program, the Master in Strategy and Management of International Business (SMIB) program, second in the world and first in Asia.

With such prestige, it comes as no surprise that graduates of the ESSEC Asia-Pacific SMIB program have a competitive edge when establishing their careers across a diverse range of industries.

But what exactly is it that makes them such a favorite among many of the world’s top businesses?

1 | An Emphasis on People Management

A primary reason is their people skills. In-demand technical skills may change with the trends, but being able to work with people is something that will never go out of style.

And in an increasingly connected world, where generational differences in work ethics and values drive a divide, there is no doubt that the ability to work with a diverse set of people is an asset, especially in managerial roles.

This is something the SMIB program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific aims to cultivate.

“I try to help them become culture managers and understand the skills of hiring managers. To do that, we try to have as many interactions as possible with real people from different companies,” Anne-Flore Maman Larraufie, Academic Director of SMIB, shares.

Part of this is seen in the program’s focus on group students picking up valuable intercultural communication skills for global work by working with classmates from different countries and industries.

But it is also seen through carefully curated events like guest talks and Career Day—a series of talks from professionals at different stages of their business careers.

She explains that hearing about real-life experiences at their jobs and the skills required to excel in their industry enables students to understand people’s perspectives from different positions, making them better equipped for the real world.

2 | Exposure to Industry

This emphasis on real-world exposure has also led to initiatives like the study trip, which gives students the chance to travel to other countries to meet established SMIB alumni and visit offices of top companies.

Significantly, the trip also involves meeting people from the consulate or other government entities to give students an idea of how such organizations can support business.

“The idea is to equip them with the knowledge they need to go international. You need to know which institutions to approach when you want to start a new business or build a career in a country and how organizations like the ambassador, consul, or chamber of commerce can help,” Larraufie shares.

3 | A Practice-Oriented Pedagogy

Arguably, there is no better way to understand the workplace than with hands-on experience. As such, beyond introducing students to different perspectives, they are also taught by industry experts and practice their skills in class on real cases.

“Attending courses taught by industry veterans helped improve my business development abilities, and I found many opportunities to practice these newly acquired skills through class projects,” Channel Development Representative at Fortinet and 2021 alumna Becky Chua testified.

Students at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus also have the opportunity to participate in the Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC). In this seven-month project, they consult with real clients to solve real-world business problems.

“It entails proper consultant work, and I felt like I was no longer a student,” Jean-Pierre Housse, Client Insights Project Manager at Louis Vuitton and alumnus from the class of 2017, recalls.

“Such projects helped me deepen my knowledge and helped me finally create the bridge between my studies and future professional life.”

4 | The Development of Sharpened Critical and Analytical Skills

Larraufie adds that the course is also cleverly “designed to be overwhelming” during certain months.

“It stimulates real life. Because as a professional, you will have moments where you have tons of things to do, and you don’t know where to start—you need to learn to prioritize, make choices, work in groups, and delegate,” she says.

The sum of these experiences trains SMIB students to become versatile and efficient, capable of critical and analytical thought—and to do it fast.

“They don’t just use theories but also critically approach everything they see. You can just hire them and allow them to operate without additional training. When you’re running a company, these things make a big difference,” Larraufie concludes.