Interview Michel Gutsatz: MBA - an innovative learning experience le 21/08/2014

« I am managing complexity. Organization is key to survival and the search for talent will be key »
Ermenegildo Zegna, CEO Zegna

MICHEL GUTSATZ, DIRECTOR OF THE PART-TIME GLOBAL EXECUTIVE MBA, SHARES WITH US HIS PERSPECTIVE ON DEVELOPING A UNIQUE INNOVATIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT, GLOBAL VISION & PROJECT MANAGEMENT.  IN AN EVER-CHANGING GLOBAL BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT WHERE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMMES ARE NUMEROUS, KEDGE SETS ITSELF APART WITH ITS UNIQUE VISION AND APPROACH AS WELL AS HOW IT ADDS TRUE VALUE THROUGH THE GLOBAL MBA.  

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Q: Why is an MBA so key to successful businesses today?

M.G.: Achieving long-term performance while maintaining a high level of differentiation vs. competition becomes a vital issue for companies. The major driver of this sustainable performance lies in the ability of companies to maintain a high level of commitment with their employees. Recent studies show that improving the level of commitment of employees is closely linked to the managerial skills of its leaders and its managers.

Thus, for a company, achieving sustainable performance depends to a great extent on the quality of its leadership.

Q: How does the Kedge Global MBA respond to the issue of developing managers and leaders?

M.G.: The question for businesses is how to develop the skills of their managers, the future leaders of tomorrow? Like a top athlete, the manager must train and learn from each situation and work to rebound in time to be at his best every day. In this context, classical training methods can only provide partial results on the improvement of managerial behavior because it includes only a small part of the learning scenario and coaching.

To meet the needs of business, Kedge MBA has therefore developed an Executive MBA alternating a traditional learning approach and an innovative approach based on "learning while doing”.

Q: How is Kedge innovative in its learning approach?

M.G.: Not so easy to fully describe, but in short, the Kedge MBA carefully mixes both necessary knowledge acquisition and action learning to develop executives to their full potential.

Knowledge Acquisition consists of developing state-of-the-art management competencies and this is accomplished through fundamental & theoretical courses and case studies.  However, in order to practice and best exploit this knowledge, the Kedge MBA challenges MBA’s through group & individual work sessions as well as by getting out of the classroom environment and traveling the world doing international seminars.

However, knowledge is not all.  Action learning, fully-integrated into the programme, builds essential performance-oriented attitudes & behaviors.  Action-learning involves focusing on personal development while at the same time facing practical situations, developing transversal knowledge, sharing best practices, managing projects.  MBA participants will also experience team and individual coaching.

Q:  What are the key dimensions of a successful leader?

M.G.:  I believe there are five key dimensions associated with a successful leader in business today and we focus on them continuously.  Leadership, managing incertaincy and complexity, innovation and agility, results-orientation and customer-orientation.  None of these dimensions are mutually exclusive.  Our MBA’s must focus on all of these dimensions at once during any given moment in their professional lives to successfully achieve objectives.  The Kedge MBA experience, however, creates successful leaders by stimulating awareness of these dimensions and then training participants to focus on all five of these elements transversally and simultaneously.

These 5 dimensions are assessed & developed throughout the MBA. An initial assessment will take place during a recruitment interview with our assessment Center. During the MBA, participants will undergo self-assessments while doing a Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project and a Leadership Project.  Ultimately, a final exit assessment takes place to evaluate progress with respect to a participant’s capacity to fully consider and respond to these five dimensions.  These assessments are often shared with the participant’s sponsor.  

Q:  What does this assessment process involve?

M.G.: The objective of our assessment process is to create customized Leadership Development Plans with actionable steps and measurable benchmarks to help participants continuously.

Assessment is geared to help identify capacities, such as personality type, listening tendencies, assertiveness in a group, and critical thinking skills. Participants are asked to assume various leadership roles to help determine how they would handle certain situations, all with the intention of helping their coach begin to understand how they communicate, motivate, and direct others. During these exercises, skilled reviewers evaluate and reflect on their behavior across a spectrum of executive competencies, and so that the coaching they receive is fact-based and relevant to actual behaviour in a group.

Cited:  Case Study: University of Maryland EMBA Assessment Center

Q:  How is the Kedge MBA learning approach structured?

M.G.: There are 5 pillars to our innovative learning approach:  Developing leadership, , developing a global strategic vision, reinforcing management knowledge, specialize and be prepared for ? career progression through personal business projects.

Developing Leadership means that a participant truly knows him or herself.  As a manager, MBA’s have mastered techniques and behaviors that generate commitment and motivation.  As a leader, MBA’s can successfully inspire and implement strategic change. Managing Projects means a manager who knows how to move from idea to business project and integrate all the various dimensions of the corporation. Developing a Global Geostrategic Vision involves a leader that has a complex vision of the world and can fully understand and tackle global issues. Reinforcing Management Knowledge involves, through the various methods I’ve mentioned, undertaking a broad range of management areas to assure a thorough understanding of all of the key business areas such as, Finance, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, etc. Focusing on a specialisation permits MBA’s to gain greater in-depth understanding of areas that are adapted to their individual career development.  Specialisations at Kedge are cross-campus and global.  This means that specialising increases the richness and variety of the MBA experience greatly.  The Kedge MBA offers 10 different specialisations across our four campuses.  Most importantly, specialisations gear executives for advancement within their career paths.

Q:  How do Kedge MBA graduates stand out as leaders?

M.G.:  Leaders differentiate themselves through their ability to successfully understand and motivate human talent while keeping a clear vision of business.  Managers tend to focus on issues associated with human talent collectively.  Experts, conversely, focus on the complexities associated with business vision, showing little concern for human talent.  What we strive for at the Kedge Executive MBA is to develop genuine leadership that can consider and handle both sides of the spectrum:  human talent and the “collective” as well as complexity and business vision.  

After many years of working with MBA participants, I can safely say that our programme regularly produces capable and successful alumni who are genuine leaders worldwide.

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