Student Exchange Experience: Emlyon Business School focuses extensively on group activities, says Ritesh Khichadia of IIM Lucknow

For Ritesh Khichadia, the student exchange programme at Emlyon Business School in France, turned out to be a fun and memorable learning experience. As one of the brilliant minds of IIM Lucknow, he was offered the opportunity to explore the pedagogy and culture at Emlyon along with four of his batch mates from IIM-L. The exchange started from mid September of 2017 as the students embarked on their journey for the programme for two and a half months in France.

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Speaking of the pedagogy, Ritesh says that Emlyon followed a case-based teaching like IIM-L, which made it easy for them to seamlessly join in. He pointed out the one major difference in their pedagogy, which is the extensive focus on group activities at Emlyon and the final marks which rely on it.

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During the short tenure, Ritesh even developed a favorite course called Integrated Marketing Communication. It was also imperative to know the challenges he faced as a foreign student. “Initially, everyone faces problems in figuring out the basic necessities like food, transport and accommodation. After the initial week, all these issues get sorted out with the help of local students, seniors and all the courteous people who are always ready to help you out even if you don’t know French,” he shares. Read on to know more about his exciting journey of the student exchange programme.


Excerpts from the interview:


Careers360: Tell us something about yourself in terms of your academic and professional background.

Ritesh: I have completed my bachelors in mechanical engineering from IIT Bombay in 2015. As someone who has always been interested in science and physics, I was among the finalists of the National Physics Olympiad held in 2011. I have interned with Citibank during under graduation and with Ernst & Young during post graduation and secured PPO for both. Currently, I am working as an Associate in Corporate Finance Strategy team at EY.


Careers360: Which programme are you pursuing at IIM Lucknow? Why did you choose the specialisation?

Ritesh: I was part of the Post Graduate programme (PGP) in Management at IIM-L with specialisation in finance and strategy. My choice was a natural outcome of my interest for both the specialisations and IIM L’s offering of extensive courses on both subjects.


Careers360: Tell us about the exchange programme you were part of -the University and the programme details.

Ritesh: I was a part of the Programme Grande Ecole – the equivalent of a master’s programme in Management at Emlyon Business School in Lyon, France. This programme is attended by exchange students from other European countries, China, Mexico and USA.


Careers360: What was the duration of the programme? In which semester did you visit Emlyon?

Ritesh: I was on the exchange programme during the fifth term of my PGDM at IIML for about two and a half months starting from mid September.


Careers360: What is the total number of students selected from your institute for the programme?

Ritesh: In total IIM-L had 57 students on exchange in 2017 out of which four of us were at Emlyon Business School.


Careers360: What was the selection process of the exchange programme?

Ritesh: According to the eligibility criteria of student exchange programme at IIM Lucknow, all eligible PGP students can apply for the exchange programme by sending a one page statement of purpose and their preference order for IIM-L’s partner universities. On the basis of these and students’ academic performance, the institute allocates the available seats at partner universities to the students.


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?

Ritesh: The student exchange committee holds an “Anubhav” session every year before the application process, where seniors share their experiences of exchange programme and the universities they had visited. This helped me choose my preferred universities, the kind of courses at Emlyon and make preparations for travel and accommodation.


Careers360: What is the pedagogy of the exchange programme at Emlyon? How is it different from that of IIM-L?

Ritesh: Emlyon follows a case-based teaching like IIM-L which made it easy for us to seamlessly join in. One major difference in pedagogy is their extensive focus on group activities. Even the final scores rely heavily on group tasks. I believe this was a very crucial part of the programme as it makes you work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and understand their view points and approach to problem solving.


Careers360: Tell us about the course, the activities and the assignments of the exchange programme.

Ritesh: I remember my favorite course being integrated marketing communication. The course was completely practical with activities where students from teams as clients and marketing team were asked to design a complete marketing campaign for a new product. Then there was services marketing course where we had to make a service blueprint of an organisation in Lyon. In strategic change management, we had active consultants from leading firms as guest lecturers. There was also a unique course that integrated concepts from fields like psychology, sociology and economics on managers’ decisions.


Careers360: Were you involved in any other co-curricular activities apart from the academics?

Ritesh: Since I had travelled extensively to explore Europe during my exchange programme, I did not have sufficient time to participate in co-curricular activities many of which I was interested in at the beginning.


Careers360: What kind of industrial and other exposure did you experience during the programme?

Ritesh: Exposure to other cultures is the biggest advantage of being an exchange student. You have the opportunity to experience food, history, language and life of many European nations. In terms of work experience, the diversity of international students at the exchange programme at Emlyon is similar to that seen in all IIMs.


Careers360: Apart from IIM Lucknow, were there any other university/institute students? Please mention the details.

Ritesh: Emlyon had exchange students from IIM A, B, C, L and XLRI. In terms of international students, we had people from top universities of China, Germany, Spain, Finland, Mexico, USA and Pakistan.


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?

Ritesh: After my four terms at IIML, the exchange term was a fresh take on the MBA for me. Learning the concepts of strategy and marketing from foreign professors alongside international students gives one a global perspective of the previously studied concepts. Collaborating with other international students also instills a sense of confidence of being able to work in cross-cultural teams which I definitely plan to leverage in my career ahead.


Careers360: Were you in touch with your faculty members during the programme?

Ritesh: No, instead I believed in talking to the Emlyon faculty as far as possible for any problems or help that I needed. They were co-operative and helpful enough to guide us and extremely helpful, always open to engage in queries, be it inside class or outside. The students of Emlyon made their best efforts to make us feel at home from day one by regularly organising events like campus tour, city cultural tours, wine tasting sessions and few parties as well.


Careers360: What were the major challenges you faced during the exchange programme and how did you tackle them?

Ritesh: I believe every exchange student initially faces problems in figuring out the basic necessities like food, transport and accommodation. But once the initial week passes, all these issues get quickly sorted out with help of local students, fellow exchange students and seniors. In general, people there are courteous enough to help you out even if you don’t know French.


Careers360: Did you arrange your own accommodation and funds for the exchange programme? Or was it arranged for you by the university?

Ritesh: Emlyon had provided us with a few options in student hostels nearby the campus which could be booked through them. But I opted to stay with other IIM-L students at a flat which we got through Airbnb. Services like Airbnb and Hostelworld are lifesavers for exchange students to find affordable accommodations at all locations.


Also, I financed the trip from my own funds.


Careers360: Any other information or interesting event you would like to share with us.

Ritesh: During my exchange programme, I did road trips with friends in Spain and Iceland. Those two will always be amongst the sweetest memories of MBA life.

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