At first glance, Michelle Diaz and Arcadi Dmitrieff seem like people with worlds apart interests. Candid and straight-shooting, Michelle, who majored in literature and computer science, speaks passionately about her frustration with education inequality and her latest venture set up to break the barriers.

Warm and enthusiastic, Arcadi shares excitedly about the takeaways from his anthropology degree, his love for fashion, and his fulfillment in his apprenticeship at the global luxury brand Chanel.

But despite their different rhetoric, their values are remarkably similar. They are both motivated, open-minded, and determined to take the road less traveled. They thrive in the ESSEC Master in Management (MiM) program, where flexibility is a guarantee and freedom is a given.

A Desire to Take the Road Less Traveled

Reflecting on his guiding principles, Arcadi notes there is value in seeking new ideas and people. “Curiosity is the basis for openness and can lead to new ways of thinking and innovation,” he explains.

That’s why he chose to get work experience after graduation instead of applying straight to business school. His internship at Chanel exposed him to different facets of the luxury industry, and it was from this experience that he narrowed down his options and eventually chose the MiM.

When given the choice of starting the program close to home in France or coming to Singapore, he opted for the latter. For him, it was a chance to experience a new culture and personally share the country’s transformation into an intelligent nation—something he felt was necessary for the digital-first world.

Similarly, Michelle advocates how “it’s important to look at things from different angles.” She says this “can only happen if you have people from different places.”

Her belief in diversity stems from her experience living in the Philippines, Dublin, India, Spain, and Tokyo. As a member of the L’Oreal Leadership and Diversity Chair, she actively seeks experiences with diversity—making ESSEC’s emphasis on it and the Asia-Pacific campus’ almost exclusively international student body a perfect fit.

Driven To Explore and Do More

Arguably, the MiM program’s diversity goes beyond nationality. It also translates across its 47 strategic tracks, over 100 partner universities to do exchange programs with, and the freedom students are given to structure their MiM journey to fit them best.

“Some of the schools lock you in, so you can only do your internship within a specific time,” Michelle observes. “But at ESSEC, if I suddenly get an internship offer after two weeks of classes, I can defer my studies to the next semester.”

She has used this flexibility to her advantage. Just months into her studies, she took on a marketing and business development internship in Singapore and worked with a Venture Capitalist (VC) firm in Germany.

One opportunity led to another, and now that her work with the VC has sparked the development of her current ed-tech start-up, ESSEC’s flexibility allows her to balance her roles of entrepreneur and student while still keeping her dreams of graduating with a double degree alive.

Flourishing Where Others May Falter

Juggling a workload like Michelle’s is no mean feat, but her daily drive and independence are standard for a MiM student. While some may falter with indecision at the abundance of options, they flourish.

For example, although Arcadi had little prior exposure to communication strategy, he leaped at the opportunity to try and eventually succeeded in the 2021 TEDxESSECAsiaPacific event. He admits that being given “free reign” was occasionally frightening. Still, with the lessons learned from his core modules, he found he could conquer—growing both professionally and personally in the process.

“There’s a difference between talking about team dynamics and actually living them,” he muses, adding that working on the TEDxESSECAsiaPacific event taught him volumes about how to leverage the strengths of his teammates and bring a team to success—a skill he has taken with him to his current role at Chanel.

He declares, “I’ve also learned that I love working with people. I’m passionate about managing and trying to understand the dynamics in my team and how to leverage their different skill sets!”

It’s a realization that may have significant implications for his future; indeed, this is the beauty of the ESSEC MiM. When approached with the right mindset, opportunities, and insights await at every corner.