Three years, three languages, three European campuses, to complete a multi-cultural, interdisciplinary Bachelor in Management (BSc). The first step towards a successful international career.
ESCP Europe, the world’s first business school, was founded in 1819. It has evolved over the centuries and now counts six campuses in Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin, Turin and Warsaw. Currently ranked 6th in the world for its Master in Management (Financial Times), the school opened a Bachelor in Management (BSc) programme three years ago, which is already attracting a lot of interest from students and companies around the globe.
Who better to tell us more about the programme than Course Director, Hélène Louit, and three of its current undergraduate ambassadors: first-year student, Wanghuige Chang (Chinese), and second-year students, Maximilian Muennighoff (German) and Arthur Giovanni Cacace (Belgian/Italian)?
The BSc programme was launched in 2015. How did it come about?
Hélène: Our European campuses had been requesting a bachelor degree for some time already, but the Paris campus had mixed feelings about it because of the ‘prépa’ system here and because of the quality of several bachelor programmes in France (at that time) that were not up to ESCP Europe’s standards. So our BSc was launched in London first, to make sure we would have the right positioning with the right students, attracting top German, Italian, Belgian, Chinese… students. After recruiting the two first cohorts, we decided that it was time to open the doors also to top French students as well as to offer the possibility to study on the Paris campus. We now have very diverse cohorts. The class of 2020 for example counts 73% non-French students, with a mix of 50 nationalities, both on the London and Paris campuses. Next year, they will study either in Madrid, Paris or Turin and for their last year either in Paris or Berlin, depending of the track they have chosen.
How do students choose where they’re going to start and where they’re going to go next?
Hélène: At application the student indicates his / her preferred campus combinations and we try to give them either their first or second choice. This is indicated in the admission’s letter.
You recruit the top 10% of high school graduates in A-levels, Baccalauréat, Abitur etc., but those qualifications are so different in terms of the combinations of subjects and depth of study. When students arrive in the first year how do you get them all to the same level?
Hélène: The first Maths course is probably very easy for students who have an Abitur or a French Baccalauréat with scientific section. It may be more challenging for students raised in other systems so we try to help them get over this first difficulty by offering them support courses if they need some.
Why is the programme a BSc and not a BBA?
Hélène: Our programme offers two courses in mathematics, two courses in statistics, three courses in economics because such courses are necessary to prepare for other Management courses in the programme. With this solid background our students will also be able to join a large range of master programmes when they graduate, including finance programmes.
Besides, it is also in line with our other masters, in particular with our flagship programme, the Master in Management Grande Ecole.
So the long term vision is really for students to go on and do the masters afterwards.
Hélène: This was the initial idea as the best jobs are available after a Master in most European countries. Our students nevertheless seem in a position to find jobs after their three-year programme, in particular in the UK, thanks to their international experience and their languages skills.
A number of them seem interested in working for some time before specialising in a discipline that will have proved to be of interest to them.
A lot of our students are also applying for masters programmes. Several of our final year students already have offers with some prestigious universities, such as Cambridge, London Business Schools, London School of Economics and Bocconi. Outside Europe our academic partners are also interested in recruiting our graduates (for instance Cornell University, Melbourne University, Chinese University Hong Kong, Nanyang and Singapore Management University).
Arthur: I think it’s really personal. What I share with Max and some other students is that we don’t really see the value of keeping on studying. Given that I don’t have an exact idea of my path in the future, I would enjoy working a little, potentially in sales and consulting, and to pursue my studies afterwards.
Maximilian: For me it makes no sense to go on directly with a master and specialise. I would rather work first because I think if you work for three or four years and then go back to university, you have a very different perspective of what you learn and what you get out of it. Also, one of the reasons why I chose ESCP Europe was to get to know the European market. With this programme I really get to know it. My target would be an MBA in the USA afterwards and I need three to four years of work experience to apply, so I am eager to work when I graduate.
Wanghuige: I really want to go to an American university to have a master, but right now I haven’t found a specific path I want to pursue. If I find a specific subject of interest within my 3 years here, then I will do a master straight away and start working later.
You study international relations as a part of the course. What exactly does that entail,
Maximilian: For me, on the one hand it is to get to know why countries are how they are today. We already know about countries in Europe, but outside of Europe… It is a different perspective on how countries got to where they are now. So part of it is history, and how does this history influence their relations with other countries in Europe, with the US, with Russia… It’s not just staying in the past, but how history affects the world today and how we can learn from it, to do it better later.
And you do cultural studies as well?
Arthur: We’re studying the intercultural skills course right now. So there is not only management and mathematics, but also more humanitarian subjects. If anything happens within the three years and if we change our minds on a management career, we still have the chance to learn broader subjects, so I really like this idea of intercultural skills, international relations, psychology, sociology…
Wanghuige: Cultural relations is very interesting for me, because I’m not European, so I get to know the history here and am learning new things I never studied before, like the psychology classes. We have different cultures mixed together here and it’s very interesting. That’s why I really wanted to come to Europe and to learn this.
Is the teaching the same whichever country you’re in?
Hélène: The philosophy in this business school is that there should be a local flavour. The way of teaching in Berlin will not be exactly the same as in Paris or Turin but the knowledge and skills acquired by the students should globally be the same.
Coordination and harmonization are therefore very important.
Maximilian: During a job interview when people see London, Paris, Berlin on your CV they think ‘Wow’. This international exposure has a great impact, not just on future employers, but also friends from home or anybody. Not just the language skills, but the intercultural skills, because of working in intercultural teams.
What would you say are the highlights of what you have studied so far?
Arthur: I really appreciate the collective projects which span over the 1st and 2nd years. During the first year it’s something social related to ESCP Europe and it’s a project which you take on for eight months. It is a bigger challenge than what we have all done in high school, which lasted just for 2-3 weeks. Then during the second year we undertake a new project, working with start-ups based in our city. Here we’re working with Parisian start-ups to develop programmes with them and I think this really gives us a chance to implement our knowledge and to see what it’s really like outside the world of studies.
Wanghuige: I really enjoy the language courses. In class we study the grammar, but we also learn to talk and communicate in the languages of the countries where we are going to study in the following years. Those courses are especially important for me because I don’t speak any other European language than English.
Maximilian: I’m a bit split between accounting and economics, but I would go for economics I think. In the first semester we have microeconomics and now in the second year we have macroeconomics. I didn’t have this in high school before and I really like reading news and understanding the implications of tax increase, import increase etc. Economics show how the world functions, especially macroeconomics, and these courses have really opened my eyes.
Arthur: We can now read the Financial Times.
Maximilian: …And we can actually understand it!
Arthur: It’s funny, but it’s really true. Now, when I read it, it makes sense!
Changing countries and adapting to a different culture every year must be challenging. How do you find that?
Maximilian: A very good thing here is that everybody has the same problem. So in the first year you all arrive together, nobody knows anybody, and you become like a very big family. You try to find new friends. It’s very interesting actually how fast you can get very close to people and have friends in one year because you are in the same situation – you don’t know anybody! Personally I have not been homesick, and I don’t remember anybody who was. The good thing is that everybody grows so close together that you are basically one big family which travels together.
How about the practicalities of finding lodgings? Does the school help with that?
Arthur: It’s up to the students, but with help from the school. I think we all had some difficulties finding housing in Paris. That was a challenge where we learned a lot. Luckily ESCP Europe put in place a housing platform. Alumni and flat owners can post on it. In the end you always find something, but Paris, for me was tougher than London.
Maximilian: In England, it was also easier for us because we speak English so we can communicate. In France the communication is always a bit different, especially if you’re not native, so that makes it a bit tougher.
You select candidates by their results, but do you also take into account the candidates’ personality and their motivation?
Hélène: We like interviewing the candidates. I think it’s a good opportunity for candidates to understand if they will fit here. For us also, it’s the opportunity to see if there is a match between the person we think we have understood through transcripts, personal statements and so on, and the real person. It can go both ways: sometimes we have average transcripts, but candidates have a lot of energy during the interview. We understand that they may not have worked to their full capacities at school, but have a lot of potential anyway. Sometimes candidates with very good transcripts do not seem interested in what the school can bring them and we are probably not a good fit for them.
Arthur: They really try to find out if you have this international interest, if you like international exposure and also if you are mature enough to change country every year.
So Maximilian and Arthur, you’ll spend your final year together in Berlin?
Maximilian: It will be interesting to see everyone again, we actually have quite a lot in common. We made all these friends in London the first year, we can now travel to Turin or to Madrid to visit them. And they can come to Paris as well. I always have my door open to my friends from Madrid or Turin.
To provide more information about ESCP Europe and this Bachelor in Management (BSc) course, the school regularly organises live information sessions and has on campus meetings every month. Future candidates are encouraged to contact current students with any questions they may have about details of the course, the campuses and the practicalities of this challenging, but enriching programme. The email addresses of the ambassador undergraduates can be found on the school’s website at