What do you see when you look up at the night sky? Some see stars; others are taken by the clouds’ shape and colors. “You need these different perspectives, and the only way to have that is you have people from diverse backgrounds,” Michelle Diaz, ESSEC Master in Management (MiM) student, shares.

Her words hold weight, as research has found that more diverse and inclusive businesses are more likely to outperform their competitors and capture new markets. Diversity at the team level is also expected to lead to better decision-making.

Having grown up across Dublin and the Philippines, Michelle is an advocate for diversity. In fact, she was drawn to ESSEC Business School because the school holds diversity in high regard.

Creating a Diverse Environment

She shares that diversity is woven into the school’s DNA, which is evident from how ESSEC tries to get to know students during their admissions interviews, its campuses on different continents, and the flexibility it gives students to pursue their academic interests.

“We also have a really international line-up of faculty members and are seeing more and more international students each year,” Birgitta Riani, an Indonesian student who is also from the MiM program, chimes in, adding that the small and intimate ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus size has made it easier for her to develop close and meaningful friendships with her peers from different countries.

Encouraging Cross-Cultural Interactions

Notably, ESSEC also encourages students to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds for group projects to improve their cross-cultural communication skills and enhance their understanding of other ways of operating.

For Yu Qiao Gu, an MSc Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) student from China, this meant working with students from Italy, France, and Colombia. She says this experience challenged her creativity and taught her to express herself more confidently.

Her classmate, Indian national Faiz Yusuf, echoes her sentiments. As someone only familiar with mainstream apps like WhatsApp and Instagram, he was blown away by the omnichannel and live shopping options WeChat had when his Chinese classmates first introduced him to the super app.

“It truly changed my perspective on the power of social media in consumer marketing,” he recalls, noting that having these insights will be crucial for him to succeed as a global marketer and leader.

He adds that the friendships made have also served him well during networking sessions, as his understanding of different cultures has driven him to better connect with company representatives and recruiters from global organizations.

Programmed to Broaden Perspectives

Besides classroom projects, ESSEC Master’s programs offer abundant opportunities for students to work on diverse industry projects that expose them to different sectors and countries.

For example, for the students from the strategic consulting track of the Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) program, there is the Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC); and for MiM students, the Junior Consultant Experience (JCE)—both of which allow students to partner companies in the region to solve real-world business problems.

For Donatas Vabalas, a Lithuanian MiM student, the JCE was a chance to work with a leading French services and payments platform, Edenred Group, and with Malaysian NGO, Dignity for Children Foundation.

He believes this experience of serving as a consultant and working with such diverse companies is part of what helped him secure an internship at the PricewaterhouseCoopers growth markets department in Singapore—where significantly, out of a team of 26, there were 14 different nationalities, and he barely even noticed.

That’s the nice thing about ESSEC; Donatas says: “Diversity is the norm.” “You don’t walk into the room and think ‘wow, there’s a lot of diverse people here,’ it’s expected—and I think that’s a good thing,” he elaborates.

Because to borrow the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “The fact that societies are becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious is good. Diversity is a strength, not a weakness.” And this is what ESSEC Business School hopes its students will live by.