Hasty generalization: European MBAs gain in popularity — really?

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The following article caught my attention because I was curious if they were going to write about INSEAD or London Business School or one of the traditional universities which usually holds onto the high positions of generally accepted elite schools: Cambridge or Oxford for example. However, instead, this article makes a hasty generalization about how more Koreans are getting their MBA’s from European schools when all the article talks about is one University.


What do you think?

‘In terms of genuine diversity, I think Europe is a more interesting place than in the United States.’ ― Pierre Tapie, dean and president of the Paris-based Essec MBA

Foreign MBA degrees, once considered a sure-fire ticket for a rapid ascent up the corporate ladder, have been losing their sheen in Korea since the early 2000s.
A growing inflow of Korean MBA graduates from overseas has inundated the local job market, outstripping demand.
But while the United States has remained the most popular destination for many prospective MBA students here, several Koreans started looking elsewhere.
Students hoping to enter the world of high finance opted for MBA programs in London, one of the world’s most thriving financial hubs. And there’s a new breed of candidates heading to France to learn about the luxury industries.
The MBA school at Ecole Superieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, or Essec, is now emerging as one of the most popular options among Korea’s luxury industry workers.
The school, ranked seventh in the “top business school recruiters’ MBA picks” survey by the Wall Street Journal in 2006, is one of a few MBA schools with special programs designed for luxury industries.
“The idea to create an MBA in Luxury Brand Management meant focusing on areas in which France excels,” said Pierre Tapie, dean and president of the Paris-based Essec MBA in an interview with the JoongAng Daily.
Tapie visited Seoul last week as part of school’s centenary celebrations. “We knew the expertise of French companies in these sectors could give very interesting and unique learning experiences to the students,” he said.
Major recruiters of the Luxury Brand Management MBA, which lasts about 11 months, include L’Oreal, Cartier, Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton SA, and Van Cleep & Arpel.
“France is where you can meet people from the industry and see what’s going on, not to mention that the city itself is a place where you can find everything about the industry,” said Jamie Sohn, a marketing manager at the Korean unit of Ermenegildo Zegna, an Italian men’s wear brand.
Sohn, who worked for Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton for 10 years in Korea, graduated from the Essec MBA in Luxury Brand Management in 2004. “I noticed Korea’s luxury industry is expanding quite fast, and I wanted to learn about the sector more systematically to keep my job,” he said.
In a typical luxury MBA course, students learn about everything from the very basics of the luxury industry to more fundamental aspects of the sector, in addition to covering basic finance, marketing, business strategy and human resources requirements. Students learn where to establish new stores, how to design the interior and exterior of each store, how to train store reps, how to position new brands in the market, how to form a specific image of each brand and even about the history of fine arts.
“Brides-to-be don’t buy Tiffany diamond rings just because they are pretty,” Sohn said. “They buy the experience evoked by the brand’s image and emotional value of the brands, and that’s one of the most important things we learn at the school ― how to compose images and experiences and analyze how each world-class luxury brand forged such image values.”
“It’s something you can hardly learn from anywhere else.”
Among 3,700 full-time students in the school’s MBA programs, about 27 percent of them are non-French students from 80 countries, including 600 students from Asia. And 20 percent of the students get jobs outside of France after graduation. The school is not only operating the MBA for the luxury industry, but also running an MBA in International Hospitality Management for those hoping to work in hotel businesses. The community of Korean alumni is still small, but the group is steadily growing as Koreans expand their presence in high-end consumer companies and luxury houses including L’Oreal, Amorepacific, the Korean unit of Botega Benetta, Shilla Hotel, Cheil Industries and Lotte Department Store.
“More than 95 percent of our graduates, within two or three months after graduation, get jobs, while more than half of the students receive three or four job offers before the graduation ceremony,” Tapie said.
Tapie also urged prospective MBA students in Korea to look beyond the United States to Europe. Seoul is currently trying to strike a free trade agreement with the European Union, which would fan more economic trade.
“If you are taking MBA programs in Chicago, or Boston, the closest country is 2,000 kilometers away, but in Europe the closest country will be only 200 kilometers away,” Tapie said. “In terms of genuine diversity, I think Europe is a more interesting place than in the United States.”

By Jung Ha-won Staff Writer [hawon@joongang.co.kr]

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