Top business schools are taking note of this trend. EDHEC Business School’s Global MBA program is well placed to train students to succeed within the realm of digital transformation. The school’s digital innovation specialization—co-produced by IBM—aims to help students capitalize on the potential of digitalization across business.
Pranjali Apurva, a digital innovation expert who’s held several digital business roles, was a member of the first cohort of the IBM-partnered MBA specialization in 2018. It led to her sparking a new career in innovation.
Enrolling in a cutting-edge program
“I don’t think as retailers we really knew what would happen over the next five years at that point,” she says.
Pranjali’s role required her to oversee digital implementation throughout the business across a range of business units. As the company began to implement new tools and software, Pranjali saw the potential for change. “I realized that this is not just another tool or another plugin which is coming in, this is going to be transformational for the industry,” she says.
She’d considered pursuing an MBA before and decided a program which specialized in digital would help build her career within the digital space. With the announcement of the new digital track at EDHEC, Pranjali felt the school was the perfect fit.
“Everything fell into place; at that point nobody else was really offering digitalization and digital transformation as a track in Europe.”
A digital-focused MBA track in partnership with IBM
The EDHEC Global MBA is a 10-month program, taught at the school’s campus in Nice, on the French coast.
Along with the program’s core curriculum which covers business fundamentals like finance and marketing, students can also choose from four specialization tracks in Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Global Leadership, and International Finance.
There's also a month-long elective period, where students can choose from a wide range of modules covering topics from advanced corporate finance to agile thinking.
The digital innovation track is delivered in partnership with multinational tech giant IBM, which co-designed the syllabus. Industry experts from IBM also deliver classes and lectures within the four-week specialization.
“It was very industry focused,” Pranjali explains. “They didn’t make it very theoretical or academic, it was very much a hands-on approach.”
The specialization begins with an introduction week, where students learn about cutting-edge technologies including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.
Subjects during the specialization cover digital transformation, managing innovation, and digital change management. Focus areas also include blockchain, the internet of things (IoT), and the cloud.
Later in the track students are taken on a business trip, where they’re introduced to companies working within the digital innovation space. Pranjali’s cohort was taken to Paris, while students enrolled in the current MBA program visit IBM’s headquarters in New York.
“They took us to the real core of innovation in Paris,” Pranjali explains, “it meant when later I started working, I’d already seen what was happening in the market.”
EDHEC also has a close connection with Station F, the world’s largest startup incubator which partners with over 1,000 startups and 150 venture capital funds.
“A lot of the innovation startups in Station F were actually from EDHEC, so they were very open to collaborate and partner with us in different projects,” Pranjali says. “The network helped us to build the new digital innovation start-up pretty quickly."
The track gave Pranjali an insight into digital innovation across sectors, helping her develop the kinds of specialist skills and knowledge she’d set out to learn when looking for a program.
“I think I found just what I was looking for,” she says.
Accelerating a digital career
Pranjali used her new expertise to secure a role as chief innovation officer with BLVCK PIXEL, a digital innovation consultancy in Paris, after graduation.
The company consults on many of the cutting-edge technologies covered throughout the EDHEC digital innovation track. Pranjali’s role involved providing consultancy services and implementation while creating awareness among business leaders through workshops and publications.
“Digital innovation is changing the way we do business, and unless you understand the possibilities of today’s digital capabilities you won’t be able to analyze your business and change the way you work,” she explains.
Along with developing her digital skills, EDHEC also played an important role in securing Pranjali’s role through the career service, which introduced her to the BLVCK PIXEL CEO.
In 2021, Pranjali made use of the career service again when she left BLVCK PIXEL to take on another innovation role with retail giant Zalando. The EDHEC careers team helped tailor her résumé to the new role.
“It’s been a couple of years since I graduated from the program, but they’ve always been prepared to help me out,” she says.
Now, in her new role as senior business manager, Pranjali is tasked with improving efficiency across the business, utilizing technology where possible. Whether it’s drawing on the lessons she learned from IBM industry experts or tapping into the latest tech trends, her innovation-focused MBA helped spark the next stage in her digital career.