When Kailash Satyanarayan found himself at a career crossroads, he knew he would need an MBA to help propel him to the next level in banking. ESSEC Business School’s Global MBA was exactly the qualification he was looking for.
Prior to the MBA, Satyanarayan, a CPA, was working in accounting in the fast-moving consumer goods and banking sectors in Australia and New Zealand. Within the financial services sector, he took on a number of project-based and transformational roles in two of the top banks.
“I was lucky to have gained a lot of very good experience in my career, but I wanted to take it up to another notch,” he says. “I had good expertise in banking and accounting, but I was lacking knowledge in many other areas, such as marketing and the overall role of strategy as I progressed in my career.”
Satyanarayan decided he needed to do an MBA to help plug this gap, and he soon identified ESSEC’s Global MBA programme as the best one to meet his needs. He first learned about ESSEC Business School at a careers fair, and was instantly impressed with the emphasis the programme placed on finance, as well as the way it treated participants as individuals.
Before he made a final decision, he spent a day on ESSEC’s Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore, talking to faculty and program participants. “This experience really reinforced for me the fact that ESSEC was the kind of school I wanted to be in. They didn’t treat me as a number; they treated me as a person, and they had the expertise I wanted to gain,” he says.
Seven months into the programme, and Satyanarayan is convinced. The programme provides participants with knowledge in core business areas along with the chance to specialise, offering five different majors, namely finance, strategy and management, digital business and innovation, hospitality management, and luxury brand management.
Satyanarayan, who is studying at ESSEC’s campus in France, admits he had a tough time choosing between the finance and strategy & management majors. He explains: “The finance industry is something I am very passionate about. I see myself going back into the industry and growing in it and reaching a senior management level.”
“However, finance and strategy roles are gradually merging, and they both play important roles in companies. CFOs need to have a strategic hat on too.” He was pleasantly surprised to find that although he chose the finance path, many of his courses also covered strategy-related content, giving him a solid grounding in this area as well.
Alongside ensuring participants acquire the fundamental technical knowledge they need, the programme also teaches other skills that are relevant to leaders. Satyanarayan says: “We had courses on marketing and digital strategy, negotiation, and operational strategy.”
“It gives you the ability to see things from a macro perspective and evaluate issues from different angles, alongside equipping you with the specific knowledge and skills which are crucial for your chosen major.”
Digital transformation also permeates all aspects of the programme. In April, Satyanarayan and his classmates will participate in ESSEC’s Digital Week Competition, during which participants will work in teams as consultants to tackle a real-life digital problem faced by a partner company. He also took a module on digital disruption.
“The main idea is that digital is the backbone of every strategy, so we have to make sure that we understand it and how it is impacting the everyday world of finance in order to be able to embrace the opportunities and tackle the challenges it brings,” he says.
Another aspect of the programme that attracted Satyanarayan was the Global MBA’s focus on international markets. With the opportunity to study in both Europe and Asia, along with international business trips tailored to the respective majors, ESSEC was ranked fifth worldwide for International Experience in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2019.
As part of the programme, participants visit different international hubs, with the finance major participants heading to New York. “Being immersed in these environments gives you an understanding not only from a theoretical perspective but also from a practical perspective,” he says.
ESSEC prides itself on the support given to its participants to find jobs and accelerate their careers, and Satyanarayan has been highly impressed by this, particularly in terms of the way it assigns mentors to them. “The Career Services team at ESSEC takes the time to find out what your career objectives are. In my case, it is to break into the banking sector in London.”
“They take you through a five-step process relating to your goal, then they look at their network of people and assign you someone in that field to provide you with guidance.”
He adds that ESSEC also holds regular sessions to help participants hone their skills in areas such as writing cover letters, presenting themselves and their ideas, and using LinkedIn. In addition, it hosts sector-specific sessions, to help participants understand the steps they should take to get into a particular area.
Satyanarayan is only halfway through his MBA, but he already feels he has benefited significantly from it. He says: “Having the ability to learn from a peer group that comes from different sectors and being able to interact with alumni and professors who are specialists and experts has really helped me.The MBA has given me the ability to become a holistic thinker.”
To find out more about the Global MBA you can download the brochure here