For many international business students, choosing to study in France would already feel like a confident, bold step; but for those who come to the 7,260-student emlyon business school, their outlook is certain to become even more dynamic, forward-thinking and global. Located less than 20 minutes’ drive from central Lyon, its main campus opened in 1872, and is today one of the oldest and most-respected business schools in France.
TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON | PHOTOS: ROMAIN ETIENNE
With its Executive MBA (EMBA) reaching 55th on the prestigious Financial Times EMBA ranking – a jump of eight places in just one year, up from 63rd place in 2018 – the school builds on the city’s strong culture and heritage to offer a truly world-class option for students seeking to study and work in Europe and beyond.
“There is real expertise in Lyon, in biotechnology, healthcare, the environment and the digital sector,” explains marketing officer Emma Patrone. “Plus, Lyon is well known for its gastronomy, cultural scene and strong entrepreneurial spirit, which attracts ambitious professionals looking to do an MBA.”
Indeed, all students can benefit from the school’s global reach. Undergraduates can even choose to change campuses each year, moving to the school’s other sites in Paris; Saint-Etienne; Casablanca, Morocco; Shanghai, China; and even the new location of Bhubaneswar, India. “We offer a real international dimension,” explains marketing officer Elie Krawczyk. “We are in a diverse world, and the students have that advantage, which truly maximises their adaptability and employability.”
A further example of this is the flagship International MBA programme itself, which is taught entirely in English, is comfortably rated at number 80 on the Top 100 of the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking, and rated third in France on the same list. An intensive, 12-month, full-time programme, it welcomed students of 31 nationalities last year, including from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, China, Egypt, Ghana, Angola, Cameroon, the Philippines, Thailand and Azerbaijan. Candidates must demonstrate high potential and existing workplace experience to enter, including total fluency in English, and a minimum of three years’ professional working experience. And, unusually for often-male-dominated MBA programmes, last year the course enrolled 42 per cent women.
Alongside the school’s centuries-old heritage, emlyon now offers some of the most high-tech, future-facing methods in the field, of which the IMBA makes full use. This ethos is built on the school’s signature ‘early makers’ concept, a ‘manifesto’ that encapsulates its multi-disciplinary, cooperative, experimental and entrepreneurial state of mind.
In practice, this has led to the development of the pioneering ‘makers’ lab’ laboratories, which allow students easy access to the real-life resources they need to put business ideas into practice, including 3D printing, coding and more. “The labs allow real co-creation,” explains Krawczyk. “It’s crafting, sharing, testing, project management, prototyping. It’s learning by action; going beyond theory.”
This focus underpins the vast majority of the IMBA course, which offers various Action Learning Projects, and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Project (ELP). This enables students to take on challenges such as pitching start-up concepts to a panel, learning to predict future business trends, and even working in consulting roles with existing companies or NGOs. Previous collaborations have included global giants such as Renault and Airbus. “We really push them as much as possible,” explains Patrone. “This is the ‘early maker’ spirit. The aim is that they become successful managers and entrepreneurs in any global sector.”
This approach also translates into the workplace; 86 per cent of students find employment within three months of graduation, and many are snapped up by business leaders even before they leave. This is in no small part due to the programme’s emphasis on careers, via coaching, weekly workshops and highly-connected networking events.
Jobs of tomorrow
The course’s super-practical focus also means that emlyon students are highly adaptable, as technology and societal demands continue to shift and evolve. Current hot topics include Artificial Intelligence, sustainability, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
As the school’s director, Professor Tawhid Chtioui, said in a recent interview: “There has been a paradigm shift in the new generation. How can businesses contribute to society? Our future graduates are far more aware of environmental and social impact.”
“We know that most of the jobs of tomorrow have not been invented yet,” explains Krawczyk. “But we can train our students to be ready. It’s about questioning what you know, adapting, and understanding the evolution of technology, business and design.”
With 54 per cent of IMBA participants last year choosing to remain and work in France, and 11 per cent in Europe, this school is directly nurturing bright minds that will go on to contribute not only on home soil, but further afield, too. In today’s 24-hour, global world, in which Europe and beyond has recently appeared wracked by division, economic uncertainty and political upheaval, it’s clear that emlyon business school graduates are still forging an innovative, practical, compassionate, multi-connected and, ultimately, hopeful path ahead.
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