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Edhec Business School, one of France’s prestigious grandes écoles, has a mission that can be summed up in one word: relevance.
The school’s objective, says Olivier Oger, its dean, is to “return to its roots and be useful to companies”.
This means, he says, providing companies with relevant research and offering its 6,000 degree students an education that will give them the best possible advantage in the competitive jobs market.
The school stresses that relevance underpins all it does, particularly at its research centres, for example the Edhec Risk Institute – a centre for applied finance, which was established in 2001.
The institute has had a spectacular result, says the dean, and has helped promote the Edhec brand worldwide, producing large amounts of “relevant” research, cited globally and attracting numbers of leading international faculty.
The institute offers conferences and seminars, including those it runs on asset allocation in partnership with the CFA Institute – the association that awards the chartered financial analyst qualification and controls access to the upper echelons of fund management.
The school also offers a PhD in finance, which runs on two tracks: one for graduate students with part-time research positions at the risk institute; and an executive track for working professionals.
Of this latter group, René Garcia, professor of finance at the school, says: “It’s not about obtaining a higher level job, its about learning and realising their dream.”
PhD students – who come from all over the world – must write a research paper in the course of their studies and Edhec is keen to see this published in practitioner journals – “the type of journal that they read in their jobs,” says Prof Garcia.
“We want them to advance knowledge; it is another part of the mission to have academic relevance,” he says.
The Edhec Risk Institute has locations in London, Nice and Singapore, where it is involved in developing the financial skills of the city state, with the support of the Singapore government.
The institute opened its London branch this year. “We want to be where the financial sector is based,” explains Prof Oger. Hence, he says, a presence in New York is also on the cards.
Edhec was established in Lille, northern France, in 1906 by French industrialists.
It offers a range of programmes including a masters in management and MBAs, as well as several year-long MSc programmes taught in English and geared towards candidates with backgrounds in maths, science, engineering and, of course, finance.
The MSc in risk and investment management is a part-time programme offered in both Singapore and London and draws on the expertise of the risk institute.
The school works in co-operation with industry, and its programme development aspires to mirror the needs of organisations.
The advisory board for the financial-economics masters programmes includes the global head of finance engineering and equities at Société Générale Corporate and Investment Banking and the vice-president of Barclays Global Investors, for example.
These ties help the school develop its masters-level programmes, and also assist in identifying employment trends.
Anne Zuccarelli, dean for academic programmes and corporate relations, says: “Companies are looking for the best talent. You are in competition with many international people and it is very important to be ready for this.
“The more you integrate the corporate world with academic life, the more your students are attractive to [corporations] ... It is a way for us to leverage our students,” she adds.
But with its research pedigree, Prof Oger is convinced Edhec will go from strength to strength.
His confidence is echoed by Richard Perrin, executive director, international relations and marketing.
He says: “Edhec has all of the competencies to be a globally recognised brand and we have ... to leverage the brand. Research plays a large role in this.”