The questions are answered by the Program Director and a student of the Advanced Master’s in Digital Business Strategy during one of the previous years’ Campus Channel videos.
That’s ubiquitous-commerce. So, you have e-commerce which is online commerce, then you have brick-and-mortar, and u-commerce is commerce everywhere- both online and offline. We are interested in bringing innovation in our courses. Hence, we bring a new angle and not just talk about e-commerce the way it was done before.
We have a corporate partner called Tessi, which is a software service company and they’re hiring, and everybody knows in the class that they are hiring. So basically, they are sponsoring the program, they are helping us with the live business cases and are also supporting the students with their questions. Last year, they even hired a student from the program. Also, students get a chance to meet many people and talk to them and exchange contacts. They are not actually corporate partners, but people that you can contact after the course and maybe start working with.
A student worked on an Air France project concerning airport digitization. There were three Air France projects, along with others, within the class last year. It’s basically a project that students do every year. They work in a group, which can have three to five or six people, and they are in contact with someone from the company who they work with. It’s like their client. You start this project at the beginning and work on it all the way till the end of your studies. We also have ten live business cases from big companies like Air France and Credit Agricole, to mention a few. These are real business cases that these companies are trying to find answers to. So, the students are actually helping them throughout the year and they will submit their report in June next year. But, they also have deadlines throughout the year. We have had some pretty good decision-making after some of the business cases last year. This experience can be validly listed on a CV once a student graduates. For instance, working for Air France does count for something.
Three days of classes per month doesn’t seem like very much. How in-depth can we really get into the topics in such a short time?
Before getting into the course, as a student, I actually asked myself the same question. You can definitely dive deep into a topic in three days, because the three days are quite intensive. We sometimes don’t get even a lunch break because there’s a guest speaker coming, who is someone specialized in digital, and we have to attend his session. Also, the speakers make their class a discussion, so whatever question you might have, you can ask. You also have to create presentations, which makes these three days really challenging. That’s because you basically have one day to create a start-up in this area by doing all the campaign on digital, and then you present it. Students are actually quite impressed at the end by what they actually managed to do within one day, as they see how much they have learnt. Moreover, everything you learn is applicable straightaway.
This program is based in Paris, a city booming with startups and digital companies. Are there any notable guest speakers that visit?
Yes, there are many. For the induction seminar, we invited CDOs from five big companies including Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and AXA. And, we invite startup owners too. We had a Googler for two sessions and the students found the experience really insightful and interesting. It’s a real opportunity to have someone from Google come to talk to you for three days in a row, non-stop, and to actually have his contact afterwards. He is an influencer, a blogger and a GEM alumnus as well. Students can ask him questions whenever they want to.
Many programs offer similar academic content. How does GEM cultivate qualities in students to make them stand out on the job market? In what ways do GEM graduates stand out from the crowd of jobseekers?
I think it’s all about doing things differently. We work differently; we do a lot of what we call the GEM Learning Model. We actually teach our students how to learn. We don’t just teach them digital, but we teach them how to learn because if you don’t learn how to learn, then you can’t learn digital, because you have to learn every day.
Also, there’s the international side of the course and the fact that there are executives studying alongside young students. You actually learn how to work with professionals in the digital sector.
Can you tell me more about the class structure and teaching methods. Are there MOOCs or blending learning?
The teaching method is very interesting. Our teachers are mostly professionals who have been working in the digital world for a while. For example, once we had someone from Google. I would say that they have quite high profiles and what we have had until now is basically in the first day, there is a lot of teaching, i.e., learning in lectures; the second and third day is preparing a presentation about a real-life case. So, the students are presented a company, its challenge and problematic, and they have to solve this issue by Saturday two o’clock in the afternoon. It’s great because they change groups all the time, and that forces them to learn how to work with people from different cultures. Blended learning is something that we do all the time: we get people out there and they have to learn by themselves. That’s very much like this in live business cases. We give them some instructions and the deadlines. By this time, they have to talk to their counterpart at the business and then come up with the minutes, etc., and then we give them comments and tell them about what’s right and what needs improvement. It’s very much like a consulting engagement. We also have flip teaching. We allow the students to step-up on the stage and become teachers for one day.
We are working on distance learning. MOOCs, I think are passé, because there are very few people who are able to learn something by themselves.
We keep making changes every year, and even within the year, because digital changes every day. So, there’s new things to include on a daily basis. We have our ‘masterclasses’ wherein the students really enjoy, because there are so many experts coming from different areas and they know their job. It’s straight from real people working in real businesses doing digital on a daily basis. I’m testing new stuff all the time and trying to test new people as well. We evolve based on the feedback that we have from the year before.
The advanced master’s is just one notch higher than a master’s. It’s really top-notch. Let’s say a master’s is about five years, which is equivalent to the French Baccalaureate or A levels in the UK, but the advanced master’s is six years. So, it’s the next level.
So, we had a teacher from Google who visited us for three days. The students worked on Google AdWords as per his advice. He explained a lot and they had to do a presentation including some work about Google AdWords, and then they had a week to take this certification. So, you have in place your lessons, you can reread what you’ve done for three days and what’s quite amazing is that the students are still in contact with the teachers after the session. If you have a question or anything, you actually have their personal emails; you can ask them if you have a problem and they’ll answer pretty quickly. The students had a week to do that and they also did some online courses. Then they had to take a test to get this certification. It’s an online test that gives you the score straight away.
You were talking about Google Analytics and getting certifications. Please tell us more about some of the certifications that students get through this program.
We have the Google certification and in 2018 we also have one for Facebook ads; and there’s going to be more things next year. So, we’re trying to give our students as much abilities as possible to enable them to find a job and put more strings to their bow. What we intend to do is provide our students with the basics.
I’m currently working full time in a digital creative consultancy in Paris. Would I be able to continue my job while doing this program?
Yes, definitely. It’s actually made for similar kind of profiles because we have classes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; so, you can carry on working. The courses take place over three days every three to four weeks every month (approx.). These three days are, however, very intense. Our classes start at 8:45 and finish at 6:30. But it’s definitely doable and manageable. It’s all about being well-organised.
How much professional experience do you require for an application? What’s the typical background of your students?
The professional experience of the students is quite varied. In this program, we have two kinds of audience: we have the students per se and we have executives or professionals. We have students who work for some time and then come back to school for a specialized master’s. We also have people who are a lot older actually, maybe 40 or 45 years old. The age-range typically varies from 20 to 50 years. It’s a great mix.