With a background of nurturing international leaders and promoting globalisation in education for 30 years in December 2018, the CEMS MiM (Masters in Management) is one of the most important and notable programmes in international management higher education.
So what exactly is CEMS and why should you care? It is a global alliance of academic and corporate institutions. In a nutshell, enrolling in a CEMS Masters in Management enables students at top universities to transfer to one of the partner institutions of the Alliance for their second year of studies. It is often referred to as a dual degree since graduates receive a diploma from the business school they were initially enrolled in for their Masters in Management as well as a CEMS degree.
The CEMS advantage
The essence of the Alliance goes far beyond a mere school exchange programme. “A partnership of academic and corporate institutions dedicated to educating future generations of business leaders, CEMS helped to pioneer the new, globalised world of the 1990s and 2000s,” emphasises author Thomas Nugent for BusinessBecause. It brings together 31 member institutions across all continents including ESADE Business School (Spain), HKUST Business School (Hong Kong), the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and Ivey Business School (Canada) to name a few. A total of 70 corporate partners (multinational companies) and seven social partners (NGOs) work together within CEMS to deliver the right mix of practice-oriented exercises to students.
More than 13,000 people from 85 countries have experienced the dual degree programme and have gone on to build global careers around the world. “One of the biggest attractions of CEMS is meeting like-minded people – driven, business oriented, and multinational – but who challenge your thinking,” explains Johan Sciard, a Global Masters in Management and CEMS student at the London School of Economics (UK).
According to Forbes Magazine, CEMS is a prime example of how educational institutions are able to offer degrees jointly as well share tools, resources, teaching methods, and support systems along the way. This practice is otherwise known as a “diploma network”, whereby institutions also share what Tom Vander Ark from Forbes calls “signature experiences”. In the case of the Global Alliance, students work on real-life consulting projects in their second term. “Swiss tech company ABB hosted a mega project with students from 11 countries working together on a single challenge. Together, CEMS students contribute more than 200,000 consulting hours per year,” the Forbes contributor points out.
In total, there are three terms during the CEMS study year. During term 1, students take a CEMS course in the field of Global Strategy and during term 2, one in the field of Global Management Practice. While the first two terms are mostly academic in nature, the third one is reserved for completing an internship which needs to be at least eight weeks long. In addition, class participants have access to electives (a selection of courses chosen from the portfolio of member schools), exclusive courses which are offered to CEMS students only, and open electives (covering topics such as History, Psychology or Political Science).
As a testament to the Alliance’s mission of fostering intercultural communication and global connectedness, all CEMS participants graduate with competence in three languages, “one of which must be English (at an advanced level) and another which must be a CEMS language.” The third language may be any other language as long as it is mastered at least at its elementary level.
One of the central pillars providing CEMS with the stability and reputation it holds today is the community of the Alliance. CEMS alumni come from all around the globe and as graduates, they always take on new and exciting paths. Almost 50% of the alumni network currently work outside their home country, while more than 80% have professional experience from 2-3 different countries. Past participants in the programme reveal that this international exposure has been one of the greatest and most valuable takeaways for them. Giancarlo Bruno, Executive Committee Member of the World Economic Forum, says:
“I learned how other countries’ economic, political, and historical contexts were different from the one I came from; CEMS was my first step in the international world that has led me to my leadership role today at the World Economic Forum. My time as a CEMS student forced me to learn about myself, and the challenges of living abroad made me grow personally and later professionally.”
As the Alliance is so committed to promoting sustainable management practices while adhering to ethical standards in education, it works with both corporate and social partners to further this goal. Among the 70 corporate partners are Bain & Company, Google, Henkel AG & Co., L'Oréal, Tsinghua Unigroup and more. This connection is especially meaningful as students can rely on the experienced guidance and mentorship of these companies throughout their studies, as well as on a multitude of career opportunities following graduation.
At the same time, the CEMS social partners – CARE International, Fairtrade, Global Alliance for Banking on Values, Kiron Open Higher Education, Transparency International, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and the European Space Agency – actively contribute to the curriculum and take pride in influencing the future generation of business leaders.
What will the next decade look like for the CEMS community? Will it continue to nurture global connectedness or will it struggle in the midst of economic and political confusion? Only time will reveal the answers to these questions but 30 years of CEMS history gives us enough optimistic insight into our future.