Marie-Francine Richard didn't choose to be international, she was born that way.
“I'm a U.S. citizen with a French-Canadian mother,” she explains.
But she could choose to get a cutting-edge international education. And not just any school would do.
“My motivation was to gain additional international experience, and most importantly to study among a group of students who were truly international,” she says. “I had looked at programmes in the United States, but I thought it'd be more [of an] international experience outside of the U.S.”
A friend suggested she look at international schools that offered accredited MBAs and, once she started looking, Richard quickly settled on EU Business School, an internationally-accredited, multicampus business school with a global network of partner institutions. Soon, she had enrolled in a full-time MBA programme on EU's Munich campus.
“The reason I was drawn to EU Business School was because of its small class sizes and all the international students, which is exactly what I was seeking,” she says. “I was the only American there, and it was fascinating. The student body wasn't just from Western Europe. They were from the Middle East, from Asia, from South America...”
Indeed, next year's graduating class will include students of more than 30 different nationalities, but all courses – whether in communication, tourism management, business finance, entrepreneurship, or any other of the school's specialities - are taught in English.
“The international enrichment that students can glean from their time here is unparalleled,” says Veronica Cancio de Grandy, the Munich campus' Managing Director. “By the time they graduate they have close friends from all over the world.”
Veronica Cancio de Grandy. Photo: EU Business School
This kind of training prepares students for the business world as it is today, working for multinational companies, at satellite offices, and with colleagues from around the world.
“In addition, students are exposed to different ideas, cultures, religions, and politics,” she adds.
Today Richard is Technology Consulting Manager at Accenture, where she recently transferred from the Zurich branch to London. And to this day she confirms that the international environment was one of the most important parts of her education.
“I think that having that wide-range of backgrounds is something that I later found extremely helpful when working in an international environment,” she explains. “I studied with people from diverse backgrounds, and that's a relatively non-threatening environment in which to run into cultural differences or management style differences.”
Richard says she appreciated the opportunity to ask questions in an open, international environment – questions you can't always ask in the business world, due to hierarchies or project issues or simply propriety.
“In a university setting, the opportunity to be open is far greater, so I was able to get a bit of a head start or a ‘leg up',” she says. “By the time I was recruited by Accenture I already had that experience and it was really valuable.”
And it's not just about business.
“The most rewarding part of studying at EU Business School is the friends you make, on both personal and business levels,” says Cancio De Grandy.
But of course, having friends around the world helps with business, too.
“Last year I had to manage a project in South Korea,” Richard recalls. “I had studied with someone from South Korea and I was able to write to her and say, ‘Hey, Sung, I've got this meeting,' and she was able to give me the cultural norms and what you're expected to do. And I was able to assimilate right away.”
Students don't just come from different countries, but from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.
“Some of our students come from regular middle class families. Some have travelled the world with families in diplomatic service. Others work in family businesses. Some are undergraduates who just finished school and others are coming back to study a second bachelor's degree,” Cancio De Grandy says.
The one thing they have in common is their passion: business.
“They are all business driven. And we try to push our students to be entrepreneurial, whether they work in a company or want to start their own company,” Cancio De Grandy adds. “Entrepreneurial thinking is a state of mind.”
But while EU Business School is incredibly diverse and pushes all of its students, it's also small, warm, and intimate.
“We demand a lot from our students, sometimes more than they are used to. But we don't let people slip through the cracks,” Cancio De Grandysays. “Because we are such a small school, we always know if a student isn't doing well.”
With just 300-400 students at a time, the atmosphere, she adds, is “homey”.
“The lecturers know all the students by name, and they can follow their progress on a personal, individual level.”
Getting the chance to interact with each student individually is what Cancio De Grandy loves most about her job.
“My job is basically to make sure everybody is doing well,” she says. “I get to interact with the students, the faculty members, the staff, and local people in the business world and make sure everyone has the resources they need to do the best they can.”
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by EU Business School.