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Meet The Team: EDHEC Business School — France

Elite French institution strives to bring students dose of globalization

Mon Nov 30 2015

A 119-year history sets an impressive backdrop for EDHEC Business School, but the elite French institution has strived to bring its students a dose of the current business climate.

One of the foremost Grande Ecoles, the top French schools that count chiefs of industry and leading politicians among their alumni, EDHEC has etched globalization into the fabric of its master and executive education programs. It is a focus that ensures the €41,000 Global MBA, which values work experience over GMAT score and seeks candidates with strong growth potential, is comprised of more than 90 nationalities.

Traditional modules such as accounting and strategy sit adjacent to specialized tracks in the areas of international finance, global leadership and entrepreneurship. The 17% of MBAs who launch their own companies benefit from a trip to Silicon Valley and access to angel investors.

There is opportunity to focus on leadership in Singapore and finance in London. And the entire class travels to South Africa to sample sustainable development in emerging markets.

Closer to home, EDHEC — which has five campuses in Nice (where Global MBAs study), Paris, Lille, London and Singapore — offers students a taste of French culture. MBAs are close to the glamorous French Riviera and often visit luxury center Monaco and other European cities.

Nikki Harle, admissions manager, says in winter students can ski in the morning, have lunch on the beach and go to Italy for pasta in the evening.

What qualities, skills, and previous experiences do you look for in MBA applicants? 

nikki edhec

We are seeking a diverse class of MBA participants so, rather than one specific profile, our aim is to build a class to ensure cultural, sectorial and gender diversity.

When reviewing an application file, we ask ourselves: “How can this candidate contribute to the learning of fellow classmates?” And we analyze the ways each candidate can bring value to classroom discussions.

Essential factors are that a candidate shows strong potential for growth, desire for self-improvement, curiosity and drive.

Experience in top companies is reassurance that the candidate has already gone through a tough selection procedure, but we also value the diversity of experience that comes from within a family business, for example.

Clear career evolution, or a promising start to a younger applicant’s career is a bonus, as is international exposure both in a professional and academic context.

What is more important: GMAT score or work experience?

Our class profile is quite experienced (average of 31 years of age and eight years of professional experience), so we tend to favor the quality of experience over GMAT scores.

As our candidates hail from the world over, the GMAT is not always the strongest indicator of success. However it does give an indication of language and reasoning ability, and is an excellent warm up for an MBA.

We therefore require all candidates to take the GMAT or GRE. And, fully aware that age, educational system background, field of study and cultural aspects can impact scores, we take a holistic approach toward each profile in the admissions process.

What should an EDHEC MBA applicant know about the business school?

EDHEC Business School is 119 years old. It is part of the elite French education system known as the “Grande Ecoles”, which is generally considered a notch above universities and which carries a strong historical reputation of quality.

EDHEC was one of the first schools to become triple accredited by AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, which sets us amongst the top 1% of business schools worldwide. We welcome over 6,200 students on our five campuses in Nice, Paris, Lille, London and Singapore in our full range of programs: Bachelor, Master, MBA, PhD and executive training. 10,000 managers attend our executive programs, seminars and conferences each year. With 91 nationalities represented and 30,000 alumni in 120 countries, EDHEC is a truly diverse, global community.  

How much of a lure is the entrepreneurship track to potential students?

This specialization track stemmed from an already strong entrepreneurship module in our core curriculum. We see around 17% of each class set-up their own businesses at the end of the program.

Budding entrepreneurs often lack confidence or know-how to get their ideas off the ground. This month-long specialization provides the perfect tool-box with courses such as cash management and effective management of firms, plus a week in Silicon Valley to visit incubators and startups, and meet with entrepreneurs.

The track culminates in a Dragon’s Den style presentation of students’ own business plans in front of a panel of real-life business angels. We are fortunate to have our own on-campus business incubator that currently has about 50 projects in development.

What other international experiences are on offer?

The entire class travels to South Africa for a week-long focus on social business and sustainable development in an emerging economy. The second trip depends on the choice of specialization: there is opportunity to focus on leadership in Singapore and finance in London. The cost of these trips are included in the tuition fees, with just the cost of visas to cover.

What does an EDHEC MBA get up to at the weekend? 

I can’t think of a more ideal location! The town of Nice offers an exceptional outdoor lifestyle all year long, with activities to cater to every budget.

There is of course the glamorous side to the French Riviera, with visits to Monaco, its luxury super yachts and Formula 1, and Cannes with its film festival. But there are also the perched villages, vineyards and breathtaking back country of the Southern Alps that are ready to be explored.

In winter our students can ski in the morning, have lunch on the beach and go to Italy for pasta in the evening. There is just about every sport available both on sea and on land.

Because the campus is just a walk away from the international airport, many candidates go city-hopping at the weekends, with most European capitals within a short distance. There’s certainly more than enough choice of activities!