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COVID-19 Didn’t Stop This MBA Landing A Top Consulting Job At Deloitte
When International MBA students at Emlyon Business School switched to studying online after France’s coronavirus outbreak, Abram Stewart (pictured) used the opportunity to strengthen his network and land a new job.
Before Emlyon, he worked as a product manager for investment strategies at Charles Schwab Investment Management. He was secure in his role, but he wanted a business education that would give him wider career options.
He’s now a senior consultant in the investment management division of Deloitte Luxembourg, and says he’s in a strong position to add more variety to his career. “Before leaving for business school, I thought to myself: When was the last time you took a risk?” he says.
The risk paid off. With his MBA, Abram is already reaping the benefits––and the global pandemic didn’t get in the way of him realizing his career ambitions.
Being an MBA student during the pandemic
After working in the US, Abram welcomed the opportunity to move to France and enroll at a top business school to broaden his skill set and access the European job market.
“For me, business school has given me the opportunity to embark on a journey to live and work abroad––an opportunity I hadn’t had at my previous role due to their focus on the domestic US market,” Abram says.
Emlyon appealed to him because of its internationally diverse cohort, the focus on entrepreneurship, and the flexibility of elective courses, Abram explains. The price point––with an MBA at Emlyon costing a quarter of the average price of American MBA courses––added some incentive, too.
“On a personal note, my wife is French and we had always wanted to return to Europe before our son was in school and we owned a house––things that would make moving more difficult in the future,” Abram explains. “So, with three suitcases (and the cat), we shipped out to Lyon!”
With a young child at home, Abram has enjoyed the increased flexibility online learning has allowed thanks to coronavirus. He was able to fit his study around raising his child.
Abram enjoyed exploring France throughout his time at Emlyon Business School
“My professors understood these are unprecedented times and accommodations needed to be made,” he says. “Besides acquiring the ability to use a wide array of video conferencing software, the biggest skills I’ve carried with me into the workplace from this period is how to stay proactive and relevant.”
Abram says that he now has an increased understanding and appreciation for the value cultural diversity adds to the workplace.
Online networking with Deloitte
Being proactive is a key skill in consulting, and online networking helped him find his current job, he adds. “I don’t expect jobs to find me, so I diligently built my internal network to get visibility.”
Abram reached out to contacts he’d made at an Emlyon careers fair late last year, and stayed in contact with them throughout the pandemic.
“All MBA candidates must understand that the job search is a long and involved processes,” he points out. “My position at Deloitte is the result of eight months of diligent networking.”
It took time to find the right role for him. He admits to dozens of leads he chased as he finished off his MBA qualification. Although these ended in disappointment, his applications grew stronger each time.
“I spoke with Deloitte at the first banking and consulting mini job fair in October 2019 at Emlyon. There, I made a personal connection with one of the reps over their favorite pizza in NYC.”
This innocuous meeting led to them staying in contact, giving Abram insight into the inner workings of the organization––such as nuances in office environments, and potential areas for growth in the company, he explains.
At Emlyon, Abram got the international and cultural experience he was after
Landing a post-MBA job
Over the ensuing months, Abram signed up for multiple mock interviews with different consulting companies, and made sure to attend roundtables and presentations (delivered in both English and French) which were hosted through Emlyon.
“This preparation allowed me to speak knowledgeably and confidently about the industry during the formal interview process,” he says.
His contact at Deloitte was happy to write a referral for him, and that ultimately led to Abram clinching the role in time for his graduation from Emlyon.
“Emlyon was instrumental in both having a close partnership with Deloitte for students like me to gain visibility with them and for providing informal seminars which give us first hand perspectives from industry practitioners,” he says.
9 Harvard Business School Online Courses | Explained
It’s no surprise that online courses have seen a surge in interest this year as professionals locked-down by coronavirus upskill at home. In April 2020 alone, Harvard Business School’s online courses received five times more visits than in the period of January to March.
With COVID-19 making the jobs market more competitive, even for MBA graduates, it makes sense that people are looking for ways to add to their resumes and stand out from the crowd.
Harvard Business School offers a wealth of courses on its online learning platform HBS Online—covering topics like entrepreneurship, sustainability, analytics, and finance—and any one of them could prove useful in reaching the next step in your career.
Here’s nine Harvard Business School online courses to take during lockdown:
1. CORe (Credential of Readiness)
Duration: 10-17 weeks, 8-15 hours per week
HBS’ flagship online course, CORe, is a full introduction to business, consisting of three courses in Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. This one is marked by its flexibility, allowing you to complete the required three-hour final exam any time, as well as offering different durations and start dates throughout the year. The course is assessed by online coursework alongside case studies centered on companies including Walt Disney, The New York Times, and PepsiCo. The course is aimed at college students, those considering graduate school, and mid-career professionals with business fundamentals.
2. Entrepreneurship Essentials
Duration: 4 weeks, 6-8 hours per week
For anyone looking to get a head start with building your own business, the Entrepreneurship Essentials course from HBS is the perfect way to begin. This short, intensive course covers evaluating ideas and assessing the market, raising capital, and identifying risks, with multiple start dates each year so you can pick it up at any stage of your business journey.
3. Sustainable Business Strategy
Duration: 3 weeks, 7-9 hours per week
This innovative course is perfect for anyone considering a career in sustainable business—always a timely topic. Taught by Rebecca Henderson, a HBS professor and research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the course dives into corporate social responsibility, examining industry disruption, business as a catalyst for change, and how to be a purpose-driven leader. Case studies are taken from Unilever and Walmart among others, and the course ends with students developing a personal plan for the action they can actually take to create change.
(©fizkes / via iStock)
4. Alternative Investments
Duration: 5 weeks, 6-7 hours per week
As the global economy is expected to shrink 3% this year, plenty of people will be looking for ways to make their money go further. HBS’ Alternative Investments program is the ideal starting place for exploring investing, and explores opportunities as diverse as hedge funds, real estate, private equity and private debt with the ultimate aim of giving students confidence to assess investments themselves. The course is taught by three finance professors at HBS, so you know be getting a rigorous course, and offers two start dates in October 2020 and January 2021.
5. Negotiation Mastery
Duration: 8 weeks, 4-5 hours per week
This short course offers budding managers the chance explore negotiation strategies with Michael Wheeler, who has taught negotiation at HBS since 1993. Each of the four modules explores a different aspect to negotiation, with interviews with company leaders complimenting the syllabus. The course is built partially around personal goals, which you’ll set at the beginning of the course, and includes reflection at the end on how you will utilise your skills in future negotiation opportunities.
READ: Is Udemy Worth It?
6. Management Essentials
Duration: 8 weeks, 4-7 hours per week
The perfect basics course for anyone looking to move into graduate business education, Management Essentials, part of CORe, aims to turn students into skilled management professionals. Alongside intensive case studies exploring events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 2010 Chilean Mining Rescue, students will explore decision making, successful change processes, and how to manage growing businesses. Whether you’ve just moved into a management role or aspire to be a CEO one day, this course will teach you all the basics.
7. Disruptive Strategy
Duration: 6 weeks, 5 hours per week
The Disruptive Strategy course was created by Clayton Christensen, a New York Times best-selling and one of the world’s foremost innovation and disruption experts, and could be the ticket for succeeding in today’s ‘new normal’. Students will explore how to identify threats, develop a strategic mindset, and how to innovate, with industry case studies diving into entertainment, healthcare, and digital innovation. The course includes a team project component as well as a final paper and one-on-one interview.
Harvard Business School Online Courses
8. Business Analytics
Duration: 8 weeks, 5 hours per week
With data becoming an increasingly important component of everyday life, HBS’ Business Analytics will give you the skills to be confident in interpreting data and making decisions. The course is taught by one of Harvard’s own MBA professors, and introduces concrete skills such as exploring data sets, analysing variables, and implementing analytical skills in Excel. Examined through short quizzes throughout the course, you’ll mainly learn through practical analysis and through exploring case studies.
9. Global Business
Duration: 4 weeks, 6-8 hours per week
In today’s ever-changing business environment, thrown into sharper focus by Coronavirus, understanding the global economy and varied social and political factors affecting business could mean the different between success and failure. The Global Business course examines these issues and helps build a solid foundation in macroeconomics. You’ll learn in part through interviews with company leaders, exploring the effects of environmental change, political risks, and government spending on businesses.
Applying for HBS Online Courses
All Harvard’s online courses require the completion of a brief application where you’ll be asked for some personal background information and which varies slightly for each program. The majority of applications are accepted.
You can also get tuition assistance for the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program, as well as the Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting certificate programs.
Online courses are cheaper than going to business school, but are they worth the investment? For your next read, check out our article:
COVID-19: Business Must Meet Demand From Conscious Consumers
Most consumers today care where their products come from. They want to support ethical, sustainable, and environmentally-conscious businesses wherever possible––even if this comes with a bigger price tag.
This behavior, called conscious consumption, is an example of altruism: the willingness to help others, even if that incurs personal costs or lack of pay-off for yourself.
Professors Jay Simon and Ron Hill at American University’s Kogod School of Business are working to make altruism and conscious consumption a key part of every program they offer, encouraging MBA students to be part of the movement.
The idea of aiding others without benefitting yourself goes against the core of capitalism, centered on generating revenue and outperforming your competitors. In the context of COVID-19, however, Jay and Ron argue that businesses need to step up and meet the demand for altruistic products and services.
The slow introduction of altruism
Altruism isn’t a new idea. In the 1990s, Nike sales took a huge hit after stories emerged about unethical labor conditions for Nike employees in Southeast Asia, explains Jay (pictured), who focuses the majority of his research on consumer behavior and sustainable business practices.
The scandal prompted consumer outrage and forced Nike to improve production transparency in order to rebuild its public image.
Faced with the darker underbelly of the commercial world––sweatshops, child labor, environmentally damaging factories––modern-day consumers are put off from brands altogether. Therefore, from a business standpoint, it’s vital that companies are marketed as ethical and humane to avoid being boycotted.
Consumers are looking for a more concerted effort to make a positive change. Adidas, for example, has introduced a line of trainers made entirely of old recycled materials, with a public pledge to use only eco-friendly materials for all products by 2024.
“The more people are aware of disparities in labor and environmental practices, the more they’re going to factor altruism into their consumption decisions,” Jay continues. “There’s an opportunity for companies to get value from behaving responsibly.”
Altruistic corporate social responsibility goes beyond donating to charities on an annual basis but rather makes a long-term commitment to projects or behaviors that don’t benefit them monetarily, he emphasizes.
The limits of altruism
In an ideal world, you would probably like to be an altruistic consumer, but the reality is that it costs more. Not everyone can afford it long-term.
“There is a cost or pain threshold,” Jay explains. “If people are struggling, they’re only willing to sacrifice so much.”
We’re seeing this happen with the global coronavirus pandemic. Towards the beginning of lockdown, there was a willingness to support more local businesses. Consumers were choosing to support their immediate community rather than investing in bigger international brands, despite the extra cost. This was an abrupt reversal of the modern-day trend of shopping conveniently and cheaply.
Months down the line, consumers are returning to convenience. Economic strain caused by furlough, job loss, and ongoing expenses means that the more expensive (and more ethical) options are no longer viable for a large percentage of consumers.
This altruistic limit is why corporate responsibility remains a niche subsector of the business world. It’s still a growing market––and there’s a growing expectation from consumers for international companies (particularly those rooted in developed countries) to do better, but where consumer capability stops, businesses aren’t picking up the slack.
Companies need to balance ethics with monetary gain, Jay argues, before they get left behind. “These companies will be willingly losing some market share if they just focus on cost and efficiency above all else.”
Conscious consumption & the responsibility of businesses to plug the gap
While there’s a limit to the average consumer’s conscious consumption, businesses have the resources to change that. Businesses need to make it easier for consumers to be altruistic, Ron states (pictured).
“Huge corporations that make tens of billions of dollars every quarter still operate like their competitor is nipping at their heels,” says Ron, who is a professor of marketing and public policy at Kogod and widely recognized for his years of research around socioeconomic disparity and ending poverty
“They may claim corporate responsibility by giving $10 million a year away to various charities, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what they could give,” he continues. “These companies need to rethink their responsibility to humankind. They have a responsibility that’s larger than just sending out products and collecting the revenue.”
One of the main problems Ron sees is the unfair distribution of resources. Developed countries are monopolizing resources for their own gain––buying them cheaply from poverty-stricken communities and benefitting from a big profit margin.
The issue of disparity goes beyond businesses, Ron says, but the solution could be provided by them. For example, the issue of overpriced healthcare in the US has directly led to a higher number of deaths within impoverished minority communities during the pandemic.
Corporate responsibility in healthcare could involve pharma companies providing cheaper services and support to their customers. This might lead to the company logging fewer profits, but it’s about doing what’s right.
Being able to market your business as humane, altruistic, and supportive, Ron argues, will go a long way toward securing these new, more altruistic consumers in the long-term.
“Businesses need to ask themselves: How do we demonstrate more moral maturity?”
The Value Of Remote Internships During A Global Pandemic
With the global spread of COVID-19 disrupting companies, changing travel plans, and forcing thousands to work remotely online, what kind of work experience is available this year?
At Cranfield School of Management, internships are offered as part of the Management MSc program. Hannah Piazza, the school’s internship and project manager explains master's students’ internships haven’t been as impacted by social distancing measures as you might think.
“They’re still working on the same things they would have in the office. And they’re actually gaining additional skills when learning to work online as part of a team, and building their networks,” she says of the school’s shift to a virtual internship model.
Hannah’s job at Cranfield is to navigate ‘the new normal’, ensuring the school’s master’s students are still able to benefit as much as possible from the various internships on offer, and to support them throughout the summer months when the internships take place.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen some companies scale back their hiring plans, making getting real-life work experience during your business master’s all the more important.
So, are remote internships worth it?
Introducing: Virtual internships
While the pandemic has shaken up the traditional internship model, the opportunities for work experience are still there, Hannah says. Even before COVID-19, Cranfield offered internships where students work on company projects online.
Remote work means you aren’t bound by your geographic location––you could apply to a top tech firm in the US or a consultancy firm in China, provided you were able to work with the time difference in mind.
For local companies working in tandem with Hannah, the pandemic required some reframing, as these placement options weren’t initially designed for online. “Because no one anticipated COVID-19, we had to go back to the drawing board and rethink how remote internships could benefit our students,” she explains.
"Now, our remote internships are almost identical to if they were in an office,” she continues, “but instead of having a physical desk and meeting rooms, they use Zoom or Teams.”
The shift to online hasn’t impacted turnout for these virtual internships either. “We’re working with a lot of online retailers, digitized companies, and tech startups that are all keen to take on interns in a remote capacity from Cranfield,” Hannah says.
Students enrolled on internships are expected to dedicate their thesis––which makes up 40% of their overall grade––to a project they undertook at the company they worked for.
What’s the virtual internship experience like?
MSc in Management student at Cranfield, Roisin Christodoulou (pictured), is almost midway through her three-month internship with London-based robotics and AI company, BotsAndUs.
As a social media manager, she’s creating a social media marketing plan for the company to use going forward, introducing the company to new online platforms.
Roisin applied for the role because she was interested in robotics and AI and wanted to see what marketing opportunities there could be for her in the sector.
Drawing on the theory she’s learned throughout her time at Cranfield, she’s been able to introduce new topic areas for BotsAndUs to consider when marketing their products. Cross-cultural management, for example––the importance of having a diverse workplace and advocating for diversity on public platforms.
When her three months are up, Roisin will be expected to write her thesis on the overarching project she has been working on for BotsAndUs, integrating her practical skills with the theory she learned in the classroom.
“Creating content is harder because I’m not in the office. I can’t take photos of videos of people at the company for the social media,” Roisin explains. But the virtual internship experience has taught her the importance of adaptability, and how working as a team transcends face-to-face communication. Through technology, we're more connected than ever before.
Roisin has been in regular contact with Hannah, as well as members of the BotsAndUs team, and has been enjoying putting her theoretical knowledge to the test. She's been learning a lot more about the robotics industry, she says, and wants to continue pursuing marketing and social media management in the industry going forward.
"I hadn't known that robotics has such a stronghold in Europe," Roisin adds. "It's a really interesting field to market."
Is a virtual internship worth it?
While some things can’t be recreated in a virtual environment, real-time work experience is essential, regardless of whether it’s completed online or offline.
Even when offices re-open, remote internships will likely remain. As well as giving companies a wider talent pool to choose from, they give interns more international options too.
“[The virtual internship] has been given a great opportunity to prove I can put together a marketing plan by myself and present it to a company,” Roisin concludes. “And it’s giving me the experience and confidence I need for my future roles.”