Across the Atlantic, MBA programs in Europe are often shorter—the HEC Paris MBA is 16 months, as opposed to the traditional two-year US MBA—offer increased classroom diversity, and an immersion into a pool of different business perspectives that help when it comes to launching international careers post-graduation.
The last point is exactly why Zack Savarie, a US student in the HEC Paris MBA class of 2019, decided to enrol in business school in Europe. He is one of a number of American MBA students who have upped sticks and moved to Europe for business school in the last few years—HEC Paris alone saw a 21% rise in US demand back in 2017.
“I wanted to be able to be mobile throughout my career,” he explains, “to go between the US and Europe. Whereas a European MBA would work well in getting me what I wanted in the US, if I went to a US school it would be a little bit harder to then go to a different continent.”
Before the MBA, Zack spent eight years in active duty for the US Army. His final three years were spent in Italy, and he says he wanted to leverage the manifold European operations he led during his time there.
He’s an example of the diversity on offer for students who study their MBA in Europe.
Coming in from the military, Zack’s classmates can learn from a skill set that revolves around understanding people, getting groups to work together, and making decisions under pressure. “That carries over really well into the business world,” he asserts.
Zack advises prospective US MBA students looking at Europe to consider if their impassioned by a desire to set themselves up for an international career between continents.
Not many Americans go outside of the US for business school, he says, and if you want to be an American who works outside of the country you must show you are willing to move and immerse yourself in an environment that offers a totally different perspective on how business works.
More bang for your buck
Born and raised in Montana, Danielle Herring then moved to New York City for university, where she studied politics and French at NYU, graduating in 2014. She moved to Paris in 2015 to work for a US law firm as a paralegal, and her attachment to Europe has remained intact ever since.
Her wish was to move from law to business, and she identified an MBA as the key to unlocking this door. Especially, if she ever wanted to move back to the US.
Geographically, she wanted to stay in France, and after looking around she finally found the MBA at HEC Paris.
“It was super diverse,” she says, “much more diverse than I’d had at NYU in undergraduate. All my study groups have people from different countries and professions. I’ve learned so much from being around different types of people.”
The reason she swapped the US for Europe in the first place, Danielle explains, is that she loves the challenge of being in a completely different environment, of being immersed in a culture other than her own.
But, moving to Europe also comes with a plus in the form of a shorter, more financially viable option.
“I wanted the international experience, but also the European [MBA] was significantly cheaper than the US,” Danielle explains. “and that made a big difference in my decision.”
Around the world in MBAs
Jonathan Wiedeman (pictured below, right) fell in love with the European culture during university—he minored in French and studied in Grenoble for six months. He then moved back to the US to graduate, and worked there in the subsequent years, eventually landing a role within IBM’s market insights division.
The time for Jonathan to study an MBA eventually came around—he wanted to career triple jump, changing function, company, and region—and to confirm he wanted to do this abroad he asked IBM to place him on assignment for a few months. He ended up assigned to a post just outside of Paris.
It seemed that the HEC Paris MBA beckoned, and soon enough Jonathan joined the class of 2020. He’s now revelling in the international atmosphere cultivated in the classroom.
“The diversity of the students, and the level of internationalism on some of the MBAs in Europe is on another level,” he explains. The HEC Paris MBA is made up of 93% international students, and 60 nationalities.
“Those perspectives and experiences, and the connection they bring to the table, is something that is really foundational to launching a career in another location.”
It’s why he swapped the US for Europe for his MBA. Since joining HEC Paris, Jonathan says he has gained a more robust perspective on how to approach business problems and decisions; can better understand the different perspectives people bring to a discussion; and can more comfortably assess how to communicate and present himself in a business setting with people from different cultures.
“Getting that experience of how people come to work and expect to be managed and led is a great experience for becoming a great manager and leader wherever I work in the future,” he concludes.