Official EDUNIVERSAL Reporter

First name: Chausseray & Jiang
Last name: Marion & Meiyu Hélène

# 1 LFC Contest | Meet Mr. Lipuma, the director of EM Lyon International MBA programme (by Meiyu Hélène)

19/08/2013 23:18:37

# 1 LFC Contest | Meet Mr. Lipuma, the director of EM Lyon International MBA programme (by Meiyu Hélène)

Have you ever dreamed of interviewing a MBA teacher? Well I have. You know it was part of the “One day, I’ll go to study at Harvard” dream period after spending some days (or weeks?) watching Gilmore Girls. So when Joseph Lipuma, the Director of EMLYON Business School’s International MBA programme, kindly agreed to help us with our contest, I can let you guess how excited we were with Marion. Joseph Lipuma, or Joe Lipuma as they call him at EM Lyon, is an academically-qualified professor and experienced international executive. In this interview, you will learn more about his opinion on Education, the way he teaches and of course more about EM Lyon International MBA programme !


First, Mr. Lipuma I would like to know your opinion on the theme of the contest which is a quote from Malcolm Forbes “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”

Well I think what we hope to do as educators is to expose students to possibilities. It would be presumptuous of us to believe that we as educators have all the answers and we have to instill in people an interest in seeking answers from wherever they can be found. To do that, it requires an open mind, so I think it’s a great quote.

You have an impressive academic background with a DBA in Business Strategy & Policy. What made you choose to first study Finance and Management Science and then Business strategy and Policy?

The first reason to do Finance and Management Science is because I had a good background in Math and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I figured having a good background in Math would let me go in a number of different directions … so I used my math background for my MBA in Finance and Management science. And then why I did my DBA particularly in Strategy and international entrepreneurship, was because after I did my MBA, I worked for almost 20 years and I had helped to take a few small young companies, international, helping them in the opening of their first international offices… This idea of doing my doctorate in this area was related with my professional background.

What impact has your diploma on the students’ education and career?

How did my diploma affect my career?

Yes and also how does it affect students you are teaching?

I have a longer professional experience than people may have in academia. I am able to share anecdotes, to share stories of things I’ve experience but I’m also able to look at the theory aspect and to understand: this is what the theory says and here some of the things you may encounter. But I think I’m just better able to relate the theory and the practical because I have done both. In addition, I have hired, managed and fired a number of MBAs in my career so I have educated managers for a number of years before I became an academic. I just did it in a different context.

Speaking about theory, we hear a lot of students or college graduate promote what they learned during internships or jobs rather than the theoretical courses they took during their studies. As a professor, why is theoretical knowledge important in a student’s education?

Well, if we don’t understand how things work and why they work the way they do … The world is changing faster and faster. We are encountering things that we didn’t think possible twenty years ago. If all we teach people is, how to communicate using one particular tool as those tools become obsolete; if we haven’t taught people the theory of how to communicate, they may not have the ability to communicate. And so having a right balance of theory so that a graduate don’t run out of steam in a career after five years because the rules have changed, is an important thing.

Can you tell us more about your teaching methods?

My teaching is about a combination of many traditional methods. First, some readings I give people work to do before-hand and I expect that people have done that work. That’s the toughest part I think, it’s getting people to do the work before (laugh). Second is, I like using some cases, I like having the participant students teach each other and I think it’s more important for me to take a case, have students present it and after they present it, then talk about the theory and give a little bit of a lecture. But afterwards, not before but do it afterwards, I think it helps the students. I also like doing courses that are experiential, things that involve students with doing consulting or working for companies.



International MBA students at EML have indeed the opportunity to work on a real 9-month consulting project. Do you have in mind one consulting project that was particularly stimulating for the students?

Well, I was just involved with one recently in which a company was looking at identifying where it was going to set up an office in Northern Africa. It involved the students having to take and apply some of the methods and models that they used in class, to analyze different countries and then take the next step from that;  to say ‘ ok beyond this pure analysis, how would we do that? How would we actuate something out? What does it mean in terms human resource, in terms of finance? What does it mean in terms of marketing? ’ . So it is a very clear application of the tools into real practicalities.

At EML, the International MBA program is focused on entrepreneurship. In your opinion, why are people feeling the need to learn more about the entrepreneurial mindset nowadays?

The entrepreneurial mindset is really about opportunities and opportunity recognition. And I think that’s because some aspects of opportunities are based on knowledge and the fact that some people may have certain knowledge that other people may not. Now knowledge flows quite easily. So the idea of opportunity is really often times based on differences of knowledge because the Internet allows knowledge to be passed along. The fact that you know how to identify entry-modes for example can provide you some entrepreneurial opportunities. So the more opportunities exist, the more we are connected and engaged.

What does a student need to succeed in the EML International MBA program?

They need to be culturally open, willing to learn from a lot of different people and be willing to work hard… but I think the big thing is cultural openness.

Students also often care about university and business school rankings. In your opinion, what would be the most relevant criteria for a good business school ranking?

I think it would be what percentage of graduates, achieve success in the way which they term success. For some it might be getting a high-level job in a company, for others it might be starting their own company and for others it might be helping to do something socially-aware. Right now the rankings tend to just look at one or two dimensions but they don’t ask the graduates ‘what are your terms of success and how well does the school prepare you for that’.


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