MBA students at France’s EDHEC Business School have just returned from a mid-April trip to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, where they met some of the tech world’s most influential entrepreneurs and cybercrime experts.
The week-long sojourn to one of the world’s main hubs for technology and innovation is part of the 10-month Global MBA program at EDHEC. MBA students – on both the EDHEC MBA’s entrepreneurship and economic crime management tracks – were divided into two groups for the trip.
MBA students on the entrepreneurship track visited companies at varying stages of development – from startups to global brands like IBM, Facebook, and Google.
After an information session hosted by the French-American Chamber of Commerce, the group also spent time with venture capitalists and incubators in the Bay Area to see how upstart businesses in San Francisco grow into successful organizations.
EDHEC’s budding entrepreneurs came prepared with business ideas of their own, and were able to bounce them off of seasoned professionals in a series of networking events and panel discussions.
“It was a very exciting and intense time for us,” says EDHEC MBA candidate Maria Popova. “It was a great eye-opener on how things are done,” she continues. “It was also inspiring because you could see the energy of the people who really follow their ideas and work on them.”
At the same time, EDHEC MBA students on the economic crime management track, explored how the threat of cybercrime can impact modern business.
As technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning gain increasing prevalence in business today, executives must be certain that their information remains protected from dangers posed inside and outside a company.
Nelly Copaver – an MBA student at EDHEC – was particularly impressed by the two-day session on cyber security held by Jim Bourie, an EDHEC alumnus. Jim challenged many of Nelly’s theories about cyber security, and shed light on the very real challenges facing tech companies working at the frontier of the digital world.
“It was fantastic,” she says. “As businesses grow, it’s important for us to understand how, by using social and digital tools, criminals can damage the company.”
“We live in a world where everything is black and white, and where there are good companies and bad companies,” Nelly says. “But, at the end of the day, even your employees can be a threat for you.”
Learning how to identify these threats and how to combat them was one of the main highlights of Nelly’s experience in California.
The visit also marked her first time in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley—in fact, the trip was one of the main draws that led her to enroll in the EDHEC Global MBA program. Now enamored by the city’s charms, she says she would welcome a job in the area after graduation.
Maria echoed that sentiment, adding that the contacts she made during her time in Silicon Valley will prove invaluable after graduation. She’s also considering moving to the area in the future. Both students aim to take the skills and information they gleaned from their time in California into their future careers.
San Francisco is not the only trip offered by the EDHEC course. Recently, students from the leadership track of the EDHEC Global MBA traveled to Singapore and the finance track travelled to London. In November, EDHEC MBAs will travel to a conference in South Africa.
“These sorts of trips make a huge contribution to an MBA program,” says Maria, who will complete the EDHEC Global MBA program in December this year.