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Case study: MBA virtual consultancy projects

Adapting to the virtual experiential learning challenge

Women working at a computer

Out of what seemed like a no-win situation in the middle of the first lock-down in Europe, Nottingham Business School (NBS) partnered with the ESSCA School of Management in France to provide high quality, virtual international consultancy projects for 60 MBA students that met the demanding academic and cultural requirements of the course. This was achieved through hard work, dedication and exemplary communication from the academic and professional services teams.

The challenges of adapting experiential learning to a virtual environment were overcome in this case by the introduction of bold, systemic changes, which, as it turned out, provided a student experience that was just as impactful as before. This was reflected in the feedback we received from the industry partners and the quality of the work achieved by the students.

Switching experiential learning to an online format produced some unexpected outcomes, such as a better engagement from the EMBA students who found the virtual experience more compatible with their lifestyle (where they often have to juggle studying with demanding work commitments and family responsibilities). It also prompted a much wider debate on the carbon footprint of our international activities. Climate neutral international exchanges seem like an impossible equation to solve, but with careful planning and a bit of creative thinking, we proved that it is actually possible to achieve high levels of academic and cultural impact virtually.

Based on this initial success, the experience will be repeated with some improvements for the next cohort of NBS MBA students, and a lot of companies from last year have already confirmed their participation for the 2021 cohort.

As part of the partnership recently signed between NTU (EQUIS and AACSB accredited) and ESSCA School of Management (triple accredited), a short-term program that was initially scheduled to take place in Paris was quickly organized remotely following the announcement of the confinement. In March and June 2020, this program brought together a total of 40 MBA students from the UK and more than 10 of ESSCA's French partner companies (Dekkra, Adecco, Kappa, Montlimart, Lee Hetch Harrison). This event was a real success and revealed how strategic and valuable this partnership is.

Muriel Jacquelin, Director of International Relations, ESSCA School of Management