Solvay Executive Master in Management: A holistic, hands-on programme to immerse you in the practice of top management.
Solvay’s Executive Master in Management embodies the case method - an innovative first-person learning method, starting from a key principle: it is in the practice that the makings of a manager are built. The programme is therefore created in a way which places you at the heart of learning. Today we speak with Alexandre Papanastassiou, the programme’s Digital Transformation Course Leader, who explains to us the fundamentals of EMM – and why Solvay Brussels School is the best place for it.
Could you introduce us to the course you lead at the Executive Master in Management?
Karim Chouikri, the Academic Director of the programme, asked me to create a transversal module that deals with digital transformation - and I knew I had between three and four cases, so this was structured so as to maximise the coverage we could provide of a topic that's very large. So what we do is we have four cases that start with the things that people are most familiar with, and then we move from there. The first case we're looking at is Netflix. And Netflix is a great case, because more or less everybody knows what the TV or VOD is – and then we can dig deeper into how Netflix has been a force of disruption in the audio-visual industry. So with audio-visual we are touching several key concepts that that are central to digital transformation. And then we move on to banking, retail banking; again, everybody knows what a retail bank is, but maybe they don't know exactly how it functions, so it's an opportunity for them to see. In that process, of course, because it's transversal, we're calling on their skills in all of the other disciplines, such as operations, distribution, finance, as well as investment and OPEX.
We do want the substance and the experience to mesh together. Everyone in the programme is very committed to that.
What can one expect from the Executive Master in Management in general?
It is a fantastic programme for people who have already been working for a few years, who've been into the reality of managing in real life. And managing not necessarily in commercial businesses; they can be people who've been in working for government, as well as people who work for NGOs etc. It's a great programme because it teaches in a very practical way and it's taught by people who are actually practitioners of what they teach. It provides the fundamentals of general management to people whose own experience may have been more narrow. And I don't mean that in any negative way – they've been more specialised in what they they've been doing. They've been engineers, lawyers, consultants, in charge of an NGO, or working for government in a specific administration, for example. And they aspire to have an understanding for the bigger picture of what running a larger organisation is, which necessarily has other domains to be managed, and how the different main functions relate to one another.
The programme is done very, very well by the folks who teach that at the EMM because they are doing this every day in their lives.
Aside the strong emphasis on the practical side of management, what does the personal development of the participants look like?
That’s an important part that I left for last because I think it's the one that provides the greatest impact at the individual level for people who participate, which is really the leadership aspect. You cannot manage and lead anyone if you're not able to manage and lead yourself. And therefore, that piece of the programme is great because it is making them work on themselves. And the structure of the programme is conceived as an experiential end to an all-inclusive, comprehensive, holistic type of learning that involves them – you know, pushes them to work with different types of personalities, people who come from different walks of life; they will have three different groups during the year. It's built in a way that is actually making them also learn from each other.
It's a programme that I enjoy and love very much because it is brutally honest. So if you want to attend some programme that's going to give you a paper at the end of the year, that's not us.
What is something which you wish every participant to leave this programme with?
It's hard to say whether there's anything in particular, but what makes my day is when at the end of the four cases, I have people saying “I had zero idea that this was such a complex and rich topic”, “We understood ‘walking that thin red line’ that connects all the cases”. And when on top of that, they add that, as individuals, they've been through a learning journey with other people who've become their sort of partners companions in that, then I think we've run a successful year.
Last question: What do you think gives Solvay Brussels School ‘the edge’ on this programme? Why follow it there and not someplace else?
Because it doesn't exist elsewhere. The way it's done, the practitioners it brings together, the spirit, the philosophy – it has the deep commitment of every single person contributing to the programme, their deep commitment to the values of this university, which are very much about free thinking. We are not here to give them the right answer at the end of a case. The second thing is that Solvay is a powerful network in in Belgium and beyond. When you meet people who have been at the School, you will find that they are super analytical, they're hardworking, they are able to learn pretty fast to tackle challenges in fields that they have not touched before. And so for somebody who's coming into this space, because of the level of demand we have, they become part of this spirit. I think that's something that you will not find elsewhere. With all due respect for all the other schools. They're certainly great places and they have their strengths. But none of them is like us.