For Manvi Arora of IIM Lucknow, the student exchange programme at Emlyon Business School, France was a life-changing experience. She was offered the opportunity to experience France as part of a foreign exchange programme during the fifth term of her PGDM at IIM Lucknow. During her three months at Emlyon, she became part of the which laid a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Manvi and four of her batchmates from IIML took off to France for three months and learnt that the pedagogy at Emlyon and IIM Lucknow are partially similar. There was similarity in terms of the 30-hour course durations and evaluations comprising of quizzes, assignments, individual and group projects, and written exams. The differences between the two B-schools, according to Manvi, lied in the system followed by the teachers. IIM-L follows a case-based approach with a standard system of teaching, attendance and evaluation, whereas at Emlyon, that is not quite the case. “The teaching system at Emlyon is very flexible and professor-specific, for example some courses do not even have a written exam or even compulsory attendance”, she adds.
Adding value to the industrial exposure of Masters in Management programme, Manvi was one of the lucky ones to get a chance to visit some French companies and obtain useful insights on the ways global businesses work. With a little help from her seniors and faculty, she managed to tackle the language barrier challenges and make it a great learning experience.
Excerpts from the interview:
Careers360: Tell us something about yourself in terms of your academic and professional background.
Manvi: I have done B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering from MNIT Jaipur, in which I secured the gold medal. I have work experience of one year in Tata Motors as a Project Manager. I did my summer internship at Accenture Strategy last year, and was awarded a pre-placement offer and will be joining the same this June.
Careers360: Which programme are you pursuing at IIM Lucknow? Why did you choose the programme/specialisation?
Manvi: I am pursuing PGDM from IIM-L in Marketing and Strategy. Marketing as a specialisation has tremendous opportunities in all types of businesses, and e-commerce has opened new avenues for marketing managers these days. Strategy courses are my favourite, as they inculcate the skills to create and defend the complete business strategy of any venture, and lay the foundation for solving case studies.
Careers360: Tell us about the exchange programme you were part of - the University and the programme details.
Manvi: As a part of the student exchange programme, I went to Emlyon Business School, France. It is a leading B-school of Europe which is ranked number 4 in French B-schools. It has a Masters in Management programme that has a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, which I was a part of.
Careers360: What was the duration of the programme? In which semester of your programme did you visit the foreign university for attending the exchange programme?
Manvi: The duration of the programme was three months, and it was during the fifth term of my PGDM at IIM Lucknow.
Careers360: What is the total number of students selected from IIM Lucknow for the foreign exchange programme?
Manvi: Total number of students selected from IIM-L for student exchange programme was somewhere between 60 to 70. For my particular university, four students were chosen from IIM-L.
Careers360: What was the selection process of the exchange programme?
Manvi: For exchange programme, applications are invited from interested students in the Third Term. The students are selected on the basis of their CGPA mostly, but other factors like extra-curriculars are also required in the application form, and a cover letter is also part of the application.
Careers360: How did you prepare yourself for the exchange programme? Were you given any guidelines by your university as such to be followed during the programme? If yes, please tell us briefly about them.
Manvi: IIM Lucknow has a student exchange committee comprising of students from both years. It works in coordination with student exchange office to prepare students for the exchange by giving them a clear idea of the requirements for the programme. Also, seniors are a great help in this regard, and the exchange committee organizes a session ‘Anubhav’ in which seniors discuss their experiences, preparation guidelines, and general rules on choosing the right university for you.
Careers360: What is the pedagogy of the exchange programme? How is it different from that of IIML?
Manvi: Pedagogy in Emlyon Business School was partially similar to IIM Lucknow. Here are the similarities between the two B-schools-
Every course was of 30-hour duration
Evaluation comprised mostly of quizzes, assignments, individual and group projects, and written exams.
At IIM-L, there is more focus on case-based learning, and a lot of case studies discussed are from Harvard Business School (HBS) etc., whereas in Emlyon Business School, less number of cases are discussed, and mostly teachers discuss the cases written by themselves instead of Ivy standard cases.
Also, in IIML there are some standard systems in teaching, attendance, evaluation for all courses, whereas in Emlyon, everything is very flexible and professor-specific, for example some courses do not even have a written exam.
Careers360: Tell us about the course, the activities and the assignments of the exchange programme.
Manvi: In Emlyon Business School, a lot of courses are offered in Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and IT, in both English and French. Teaching system is flexible, so some courses do not have compulsory attendance, and some courses are half-classroom and half-online. Assignments and projects are of different style in different courses, some individual, some group and some field projects.
Careers360: Were you involved in any other co-curricular activities apart from the academics?
Manvi: Generally, most exchange students at Emlyon Business School did not participate in co-curricular activities as mostly those activities were in French. However, we had an International Day for all the exchange students in which we all represented our country and university.
Careers360: What kind of industrial and other exposure did you experience during the programme?
Manvi: As a part of the curriculum, I had a few projects in which we had to visit some French companies, and many cases discussed in classes gave useful insights on the ways global businesses work. As a part of one marketing course, a professor discussed a live project from the industry, which was very contemporary and insightful.
Careers360: Apart from IIM Lucknow, were there any other university/institute students? Please mention the details.
Manvi: In Emlyon Business School, there were exchange students from all around the world. From India, there were students from all major B-schools- IIMA, IIMB, IIMC, XLRI, IIM Ranchi, IIM Trichy, IIM Indore etc. There were students from Mexico, Prague, China, Japan, USA, UK, Denmark, Pakistan, Singapore etc.
Careers360: How according to you has the exchange programme enriched your overall MBA experience? How do you plan to utilise it in your programme and career?
Manvi: For me this exchange programme was a very crucial part of my MBA, and was instrumental in my personal and professional development. I got a chance to experience the education system of European universities and study with some of the brightest minds from around the world.
Personally, exposure to the beautiful countries in Europe inculcated in me a better understanding of the cultures, traditions and lifestyle of European countries. I met people from diverse backgrounds and different nationalities, and made some lifelong friendships.
In future, if I ever plan to work in Europe, or anywhere outside India for that matter, I am confident that this global experience will be very valuable asset on my resume, and it will facilitate the transition.
Careers360: Were you in touch with your faculty members during the programme? How did they support you?
Manvi: The academics at Emlyon Business School were less rigorous as compared to IIM Lucknow. So, I did not need academic assistance from my faculty members as such.
Careers360: How cooperative were the foreign university faculty members and students?
Manvi: In Emlyon Business School, all the faculty members were extremely supportive both in classroom and in person. For all my courses, professors were from different countries- Japan, France, UK and Italy, and hence they brought diverse experiences in their classrooms.
Careers360: What were the major challenges you faced during the exchange programme and how did you tackle them?
Manvi: One challenge in many countries in Europe is the language barrier. For example in France, many people do not understand English. However, I prefer to consider this as a motivating factor for us to learn basics of those languages. Other than that, I did not face any challenge as such. People are very friendly and cooperative there.
Careers360: Did you arrange your own accommodation for the exchange programme? Or was it arranged for you by the university?
Manvi: We rented an apartment by Airbnb for the exchange programme. My university provided an accommodation, but a rented Airbnb apartment was much more conveniently located and affordable.
Careers360: How did you plan your funds for this trip?
Manvi: By self-funding, although it is very easy to get a loan from the banks on IIM-L campus.