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Announcing the 2012 ESADE Innovation Summit!

This month ESADE hosts the 2nd annual ESADE Innovation Summit, an all-day conference with the theme of Design Thinking. Top design consultants will explain the Design Thinking process and attendees will have the opportunity to work on exciting business cases challenging companies in financial services, urban planning, healthcare, and more. One of ESADE’s most beloved professors, Kenneth Morse, will deliver a keynote speech called, “Critical Success Factors in Managing Innovation Projects and Processes in Major Firms.”

This is an exciting event because Design Thinking has become such a buzzword in business, with publications like the Wall Street Journal and The Economist gushing about firms innovating by making products more intuitive and envisioning new use case scenarios for them. There are opportunities for MBA students who have both left brain and right brain skills in these kinds of firms.

In addition to the Innovation Summit, ESADE offers an elective called Creativity and Innovation and has strengthened recruiting ties with design firms like Claro Partners, Smart Design, and SY Partners (all of whom will be present at the EIS). Endeavoring to make Design Thinking a forte for the MBA program is a good fit because the new Creapolis campus has several Google-like spaces designated for ideation. And the creative heritage of Barcelona – home to Gaudi, Dali, and Picasso in their day – doesn’t hurt.

To find out more, visit the event’s website at

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ESADE Creates Opinion

ESADE faculty have a tradition of contributing to Spanish newspapers of reference. This output is archived at the ESADE Creates Opinion Page.

As the international community takes more interest in Spain due to the European Financial crisis, faculty are also contributing to papers abroad. Below are a few recent examples in the Wall Street Journal, Guardian UK, Financial Times, and the New York Times. These articles either quote or are authored by an ESADE professor.

Click the images to read the original article.

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Internship Roundup!

As the academic year comes to a close, my first-year classmates and I will soon be off to summer internships. Given the economic climate, the internship search is tougher than ever for MBA students across the board. Nonethless, looking at a recent survey among my classmates, there are some fantastic destinations.

The most frequent companies for ESADE students this summer – drum roll, please – are Credit Suisse (6), adidas (5), Infosys (5), Amazon (4), and Votorantim (4). The high penetration in these companies (our cohort is only 180) speaks to a positive track record of past interns and hires. Adidas, as detailed in a previous post, runs a case competition each year at ESADE which usually leads to internship offers.

In terms of the elite management consulting companies, results mirror the global economy. German-speakers and emerging market candidates placed well, securing internships at BCG and McKinsey in Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, and Mexico. All of these candidates are returning to their country or origin, which indicates that these companies are opting for low-risk hires at the moment.

Demand from large Spanish corporates is weak, again in line with the global economy. Apart from a few posts in Madrid (Deloitte and Gas Natural) students wishing to stay in Spain have been looking instead at the thriving startup scene in Barcelona and at BBVA’s Momentum Project, an incubator for entrepreneurial ventures across Spain that have a social value.

The situation in Spain has been compensated by appetite in emerging markets. Here there are two constituencies. The first is emerging market multinationals who bring in foreigners to provide diversity and professionalism. Samsung (Korea), long a member of this group, is now joined increasingly by Votorantim (Brazil) and Infosys (India). The second is the nonprofit sector. This summer, three ESADE students are working for CHAI (Clinton Healthcare Access Initiative) – two in South Africa, one in Cambodia – and two are working for Endeavor in South America.

Other exciting positions include investment banking in Oman, external relations at the United Nations in Rome, strategy for Airbus in France, hospital management in Switzerland, procurement for Apple, and debt/capital markets at Banco Santander in New York. From these examples, ESADE’s global reach is quite evident. None of these students are going back their home country.

What about me? I’ll be working in San Francisco for Fair Observer, a business and politics magazine started by three MBA graduates. Given my interest in financial journalism and my desire to observe a startup in its early years, this was a good choice for me. There is plenty of work to be done on both the editorial and busines side, and I’m excited for it.
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The MBA Gets a Dose of China

Ties between Barcelona and China have become more evident lately given events like last year´s China at Barcelona Summit and the emergence of Chinese Catalan entrepreneurs like Didac Lee. But as firms here intensify their search for new investors and markets amidst the deteriorating financial situation in Western Europe, China remains an enigma – the biggest prize yet the most difficult nut to crack.

There are vast cultural differences that make it hard for Western firms to do business with China, explained recent guest lectures from the ESADE China Europe Club in my Global Marketing class. Some have to do with product preferences. The Chinese ideal of beauty is pale, white skin rather than tanned, olive skin; Chinese brides wear red dresses, not white. Then there are differences in social norms. Chinese people tend to be direct where Westerners would be discrete, yet they can be passive when Westerners would speak their mind. In view of these differences, experts propose several maxims to Western companies itching for a piece of China´s exploding middle-class market.

  • Establish a local team to manage operations and negotiations. Without them, relationships suffer and it is difficult to ensure that suppliers and customers follow through on their commitments.
  • “Achinar” or “Chinafy” products and trademarks to fit local tastes, as Nivea and Haagen-Dazs have done. Sales of Haagen-Dazs’ Mooncake ice cream have grown 25% annually for the last 14 years, according to General Mills.
  • Consider sacrificing margins for volume, even on luxury goods. The middle class aspires to buy status symbol Western brands, but with middle-class incomes topping out at 1500 Euros per month, they are still price-sensitive.
  • Be prepared for copying of intellectual property (though Chinese reverse-engineering experts prefer to call their work “homages.”) Ask Apple, whose iPhone 5 has already been pirated in China ahead of its official release, or Microsoft, which loses four computers to pirates in China for each one that it sells legitimately. Companies can combat counterfeiting by maintaining production in home markets or working with last-generation technology in China.

ESADE faces some of the same challenges in creating its brand in China. The school is currently conducting focus groups to determine the best way to translate both its name and brand meaning into Chinese characters, as Coca-Cola has done so successfully. Another dilemma is what to do about competitors’ banner ads being displayed in forums that are ostensibly about ESADE, as in the screencap below. (It could be as easy as ramping up display advertising spend.)

But ESADE appears to be doing things right in China. It has created a localized landing page, it posts on Weiboo and bulletin boards to expand its reach, and it hosts small roundtable chats in Mandarin with the Admissions staff’s resident linguist, Mary Granger. The biggest challenge is to find qualified students and convince them that Europe is the best place to embark on an international MBA.

For my classmates and I, the time is ripe to join the China boom. As many of us are headed on exchange to Asia next fall (Including me, to Hong Kong), perhaps we will.

Paying homage? The forum is about ESADE but the banners are for local business schools

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