If you’re a finance professional considering your MBA options, you face a bewildering array of choices across hundreds of universities around the world. Not all MBAs, though, are specifically designed to advance your career in financial services – and that’s what makes ESSEC Business School’s Global MBA stand out from the crowd.
Alongside compulsory core modules covering key business functions and management topics, participants can choose to specialise in Finance as their major. The option to major in Finance was introduced last year during a revamp of the Global MBA, says Sofia Ramos, an Associate Professor in the Finance Department and the Finance Major Coordinator of the Global MBA program at ESSEC.
“Other MBAs offer finance-related courses, but ours is a unique approach,” explains Professor Ramos. “It’s a structured, in-depth and career-focused Finance major, and isn’t just a few generic finance courses tacked onto the end of an MBA.”
The Finance major is taught over all three terms of the one-year full-time Global MBA, with each term focused on different themes. Term one includes courses on Entrepreneurship, Business Law, and Statistical Analysis for Management, while term two teaches Firm Valuation and Financial Analysis. The final term features a deep-dive into specific parts of the finance sector, including Equity and Debt Markets, Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Project Finance, and FinTech.
But why study finance within an MBA instead of, for example, taking a Master in Finance? “Our programme is designed for professionals who want to enhance their technical finance skills and concurrently gain the management expertise they need to take their finance careers to the next level as senior leaders,” says Professor Ramos. “This combination gives you the best of both worlds.”
The wide range of finance topics taught during the Global MBA also makes the degree relevant if you want to move into a new part of the finance sector. “It can certainly help you make a career change. The finance industry is competitive, and to get ahead many people want more in-depth learning in areas they’re not so familiar with,” says Professor Ramos.
Participants who choose the Finance major begin the program at ESSEC’s campus in France, and have the option to spend at least 1 trimester at ESSEC’s campus in Singapore. Many of the participants choose the programme because they want to work overseas after graduating, says Professor Ramos. “We call it ‘global’ for a reason. Not only is it based in two major financial centres – something that many other MBAs don’t offer – but the content of the degree is also very international.”
The Global MBA “helps you to bridge the gap between Western and Asian business models”, adds Professor Ramos. “Our Finance major includes Asian case studies alongside European and US ones. And we invite Singapore-based guest speakers from the finance sector – from banking to private equity and energy markets – to talk at our campus.” Singapore has been consolidating its role as an important financial hub in Asia, including its position as a fintech hub.
ESSEC’s own faculty also brings an international perspective to the classroom. “The professors come from more than 30 different countries, while the MBA participants are from a diverse mix of nationalities and backgrounds, too,” says Professor Ramos. “This creates a global environment and leads to interesting and rich discussions in class. The participants are open to challenging you and being challenged. They’re not afraid of sharing their opinions, and this contributes significantly to more active learning in the classroom,”
This open sharing of ideas comes to the fore during the case-study discussion groups that MBA participants take part in throughout the programme. “You’re assigned a complex problem based on a real business scenario. There’s no one correct solution, so you need to work together closely as a team,” says Professor Ramos. “These groups are a key element of the ESSEC teaching methodology as you typically learn better when interacting with others. These experiences also improve your time-management and relationship-building skills as you have to divide up tasks efficiently.”
Both the management and finance courses within the ESSEC Global MBA are designed to link academic theory to the realities of the modern business environment. “This is a very hands-on programme because we take into account that the participants already have a few years of work experience,” says Professor Ramos. “We lay down the theory, but our main goal is that you understand the practical application of it – that you know how an M&A deal works in practice, for example.”
The digitalisation of business, including financial services, is also “at the heart of the Global MBA”, adds Professor Ramos. “The programme prepares you for the digital revolution and even includes a Digital Week Competition, during which participants work in consulting teams to provide a solution to a digital-related issue faced by a company. Furthermore, a FinTech elective offered during the program allows participants to go even deeper into this emerging business area.”
The ESSEC Global MBA is geared to prepare you for the workforce. Through the 1-2-1 Mentoring Program, participants in the Finance major will be paired with a mentor possessing knowledge and experience in line with the participant’s areas of interest in the Finance sector. Through regular interactions, mentors would be able to provide them with career advice and guidance. ESSEC’s Career Services unit, meanwhile, guides participants on optimising their résumés and LinkedIn profiles, refining their interview and salary negotiation skills through interview simulations, and runs a variety of job-focused training and networking events. “Our careers team and mentors know the key trends in the finance industry, so they can steer you in the right direction for your career based on a comprehensive understanding of your professional aspirations,” says Professor Ramos.
The first batch of Finance majors graduated at the end of August and many of them went straight into new jobs or internships. “For example, one has joined IBM in a Fintech role, while another is consulting in cyber security for financial institutions,” says Professor Ramos. “These are both areas of high demand within financial services.”
The intense mix of both academic and professional activities during the Global MBA means that a strong degree of commitment and skilful time management is required. “It’s a challenging but exciting one-year journey, so you need to manage your time and energy well,” advises Professor Ramos. “Above all, come with a positive attitude and open mind, ready to learn new perspectives from people from different backgrounds to yourself.”
For more information about the ESSEC Global MBA Finance Major, please go HERE