Thank you so much to Marie-Laurence Lemaire, HEC Paris Senior Development Manager, Jeroen Verhoeven, ESADE MBA and Executive Masters and Associate Director of Admissions, and Lisa Piguet, IMD Assistant Director of MBA Admissions and Marketing for an outstanding panel discussion about the European b-school experience.
In the following excerpt, our panelists discussed some of the benefits of pursuing a European MBA.
Linda Abraham: Diego asks "Why choose a European MBA instead of a U.S. MBA? What is the main difference/advantages?"
Marie-Laurence Lemaire: Yes, this is a tough one…Well, a simple question, what do you want to do after your MBA? If you want to work in the U.S. and be happy with your job…stay in the U.S. and you will be happy. You will get a great education, because you have great schools there, highly ranked and so on, so that's fine. But if you want to have a really strong diversity, get mixed up with different cultures, people coming from all over the world to have a very rich sharing of experience from people coming from countries that are so remote, sometimes you don't even know where they are on the map, an MBA in Europe is really the place. I'm sure in Spain, in Switzerland, as well, this is happening, but really the major difference between doing an MBA in Europe or doing an MBA in the U.S., [is] if you want to make that jump into becoming international and to have that experience, an MBA in Europe would be the big difference that it will make on your CV.
Lisa Piguet: Sure. I'm American, I actually can relate to the person who asked that question….The one thing about the U.S. is that you have a different kind of…education process there. But [regarding the] international focus of Europe, the programs here, it's very different…for example, I would be sitting in a class of 90…but everybody spoke like me. They might have considered themselves Mexican, for example, or Argentinean, but in fact, they were born and raised in the U.S. just like I was. But in the European schools…you'll actually see the true international diversity that is represented worldwide. So in our program this year, we have 46 nationalities with 90 MBAs, and they're true…we have one Swiss….There are still a lot of multinational headquarters here and a lot of people want to work in those companies, with the hopes of going elsewhere. I think Europe is one of those places you can do that. Like Marie said, if you really want to stay in the U.S., you're probably going to attend a 2-year program and you probably will end up staying in the U.S., more likely than not….If you want a global career, my advice is to go to Europe.
Jeroen Verhoeven: I'm completely in line with Lisa and Marie…but I would also link that somehow to back home in the United States, [you] somehow have a differentiating factor. There are a lot of top, top schools in the U.S., but there's also a lot of different people who go to those schools. If you can present yourself in front of a group to having said, "Okay, I've done my MBA in Switzerland, in France, in Spain," it is definitely something different. It will make you stand out. Standing out, I think, is very important when you're looking for a job….Competition comes from anywhere, anytime.” So in order to be successful in that fast-changing, interconnected world, having that cultural savviness, hopefully with some additional languages, as well, that can really give you the added advantage to land a job also back home, not even including all the interesting options that we might offer in Europe…I think there are a lot of additional advantages, apart from the cultural richness that you can have, studying here in Europe…from a business perspective, there's also a clear added value to considering European options.
For the complete discussion, please see the 2013 European Virtual Panel transcript and mp3 audio file.
Still not sure where you should apply, or even if you should apply at all? Check out our B-School Zones for detailed info on individual MBA programs (in Europe or anywhere else) and our Why MBA special report for tips on answering the big "Why MBA?" essay question.