• Alumni testify how the ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business program brings them closer to their goals.
  • Diversity at the Asia-Pacific campus strengthens communication skills.
  • Opportunities for real-world experience add to one’s credibility and portfolio.

Pauline Grimault from France and Charlotte Ysebaert from Belgium graduated from university with big dreams to chase.

Pauline was set on entering the world of gaming as a project manager, while Charlotte’s goals lay in the luxury sector. Both wanted to equip themselves with the relevant business and management knowledge to make the leap.

Within slightly over a year in the Asia-Pacific, they have closed in on these goals—Pauline is a management trainee at global video game development specialist Virtuos.

At the same time, Charlotte is an execution planner at luxury beauty brand Estee Lauder.

They stand precisely where they had hoped to be, with employment opportunities they credit to their time at ESSEC Asia-Pacific’s Master in Strategy Management and International Business (SMIB).

The Strength of the ESSEC Brand Name

“ESSEC taught me how to position myself and spotlight my strengths,” Charlotte declares.

She describes her job application process as smooth—in part because of the support and advice from the ESSEC Career Services coach and in part because “the experiences and soft skills I gained during my time in Singapore were factors that the Estee Lauder Companies were looking for, and made me a good candidate for my job.”

On the other hand, it was alumni networks that paved the way forward for Pauline.

She had responded to an ad on an ESSEC Facebook Group for a marketing intern when the marketing director, also a SMIB alumnus, noticed her potential and recommended her for the management trainee program instead.

Their experiences beg the question: What exactly are these SMIB program qualities that recruiters look for?

Picking Up the Keys to Effective Communication

Definitely adaptability, Pauline says, adding that the ability to adapt and work with people is one of her biggest takeaways from the SMIB program.

By working with students from different disciplines and cultures, she learned to balance between pragmatism and creativity.

“There is no one way, and what’s important is to be able to adapt and understand,” she explains, adding: “To communicate well, you need to know when to pause and make sure you’ve given everyone in the room a chance to express themselves, even if that’s not the natural way you would do it back in your country.”

These experiences have equipped her to connect with people worldwide and easily bridge the gap between colleagues at Virtuos’ Asia and Europe offices.

Charlotte agrees, reiterating the importance of tailoring one’s approach to different cultures and personalities to succeed.

While working with the wide range of stakeholders in her role today, she, too, found her ESSEC experience has put her in good stead to negotiate and navigate their needs, she says.

Real-World Experiences Build Workplace Credibility

She adds that the SMIB program has also gone beyond simply honing her communication skills and afforded her the experience and credibility to stand her ground in the workplace.

This is because of the school’s learning-by-doing approach and opportunities like the Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC), offered only at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus, where students consult companies on real-world problems.

Working with the Heineken company on a sustainability project taught Charlotte volumes about the inseparability of the planet and profit and equipped her with valuable data analysis skills.

Today, she uses these skills regularly as she manages large quantities of data to coordinate and forecast demand and supply activities for multiple brands in the Estee Lauder group.

Pauline, whose project was with Singapore-based beauty brand Supernova, similarly picked up transferable skills in strategy planning, operations, and vendor management—all of which she has taken into the gaming world.

Postgraduate Reflections on Asia

Reflecting on her time in the SMIB program, Pauline muses that the main difference between an undergraduate and postgraduate degree is the mindset one has.

Although in her younger days, she and her peers were primarily focused on securing a qualification, during the Master’s program, the goal was acquiring the experience and skills for a specific type of career.

She advises future SMIB program students at ESSEC Asia-Pacific: “Don’t hesitate to learn as much as you can and gain all the knowledge possible!”

“I will look back to ESSEC as one of the most valuable experiences of my life. If you ever have the opportunity to take on a challenge like this and live abroad for some time, I would certainly recommend it,” Charlotte chimes in.

“You learn to be bold, learn much about other cultures, make friends, and be independent. Combined with a program such as ESSEC’s, this is certainly worth it!”