Josep Franch is the Dean of ESADE Business School, and also a professor of MSGC’s Global Brand Management Strategies class at ESADE. We sat down with him to find out how this program came to be, and to learn what he thinks is most valuable about the MSGC degrees. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Sierra Prochna: Could you provide an overview of your background, and how it led you to being the Dean of ESADE?
Dean Franch: I am a 1984 graduate of ESADE. I worked for a couple of different companies after graduation, but while I was working I kept in contact with the marketing department. I went to some sessions with them and worked as an assistant professor. In 1988, I was invited to join ESADE as a junior professor. I’ve been here since, for 29 years.
I’ve worked in both administration and academics, on and off. For 6-7 years in the nineties I was director of the full-time MBA (note: ESADE’s MBA is ranked in the top ten in the world by The Economist!) and between 2004-2011 I developed the portfolio of master’s programs that we have today. We started with two masters in 2006 with 60 students, total, and we now have 540 in seven different programs. I managed the MSc portfolio until 2011, and then four years later they asked me to take over as Dean.
SP: You’ve had extensive experience with all the different master’s programs, then. How did you and ESADE become interested in setting up the MSGC program with McIntire and Lingnan?
Dean Franch literally draws out his vision for the master’s programs at ESADE for me. Imagine a neoclassical building with pillars, a base, and a roof.
DF: When we developed the master’s program portfolio, I had a vision. Imagine a neoclassical building. The base of the building is for a pre-master’s program, for those students who don’t have a background in business or economics. That feeds into our core programs (Master’s in Marketing, Finance, Business Analytics, etc), which make up the pillars of the building. On the roof, you have the CEMS programs (note: CEMS programs are one or two-year double degree agreements between different top-ranking business schools. They started as a network between ESADE, Universita Bocconi, HEC Paris, and the University of Cologne. They’ve now expanded globally.) And, what I anticipated 7-8 years ago, was to have the “jewel of crown,” at the very top: the joint degree, like the MSGC program we have today.
SP: So we’re the jewel in the crown!
DF: Definitely. What we wanted was something exclusive; something that was more challenging, more demanding, and better positioned for students.
SP: What do you think is valuable about our degree?
DF: I think that living and working in three different parts of the world is very valuable. As a student, you can always have an exchange experience, but that experience can vary in intensity depending on where you go. We do have a long experience of exchanges in our bachelor’s degrees, but the fact that you have to live and study in three different environments is one of the added values of this program.
The other advantage is that you’re working in a global group. Our portfolio of master’s programs is very international- we have more than 82% of international students in any given program- but they’re mainly Europeans. They provide very European experiences. Compare that with our MBA, in which more than 90% are international students. However, in this case, we have 30% coming from Asia, 30% from Latin America, 25% from Europe, and 15% from the US. The profile is much more global. So, a big change with the MSGC program is introducing a global profile to the student class at a younger age, which is something that we wanted.
SP: What makes an applicant competitive for this program?
DF: We typically look for someone with very good analytical skills. We also look for someone who is open-minded, willing to work with people from different countries, comfortable with diversity, and willing to learn from others. A cross-cultural sensitivity should be in the profile. We also look for someone who wants to pursue an international career afterwards. Of course, the career path out of the program is up to each one of you. The program provides you with competencies that will allow you to develop an international career; how international this might be depends on each student.
SP: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for someone who is considering doing this program?
DF: This is probably one of the best programs you could do as a young graduate with a business background who is willing to have an international career. It’s an awesome experience in that you’ll be living in three countries. In one year you’ll earn two degrees that are conferred by two world-class universities. Very early on in your life, you’ll have a truly global experience through the program. The international faculty, engagement with businesses, and the practical approach help make it great.
-Interview by Sierra Prochna, M.S. in Global Commerce 2017