2019 EFMD Master Programmes conference: Success revisited


What defines a successful Masters Programme? What would your definition be? Stéphanie Villemagne, Associate Dean MiF & MiM and Chair of the 2019 EFMD Master Programmes Conference at IE Madrid shares her key takeaway messages.

Success Revisited

Successful people do not necessarily define success as being rich or powerful; instead, they often talk about relationships, well-being, and societal impact.

Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin founder, equates success with personal fulfillment.

“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”

On that note, the conference kicked off with Martin Boehm, Dean of IE Business School. He helped us think about success and defined it for schools via three main stakeholders: Students, Alumni and Faculty.

Taking us through the IE journey from Business school to University, he led us on its path to success. He concluded with the idea that happiness was probably the most important factor for success.


Success through Portfolio Management

Prashant Kumar from Amazon, Spain, and the Panels that followed, started the discussion on success through Portfolio Management, highlighting the opportunities and challenges that fast-paced technological progress poses to the business world in general and business education in this context.

This helped the audience understand that the needs of individual buyers are changing and so are the ones of learners. Educational institutions need to move from short-term, inward-focused to outward metrics such as listening to the customers and orienting goals towards longer terms.

The importance of the human side of achieving success was the focus of the students’ panel, who defined their success stories with developing networks, personal journeys, and happiness. Lisa Bevill from IE Business School then spent time explaining the generation gaps and the different visions of success for gen Z.

Two main success stories were proposed to the attendees to conclude the day:

– the first one on developing capabilities in online and blended learning in order for schools to succeed in the Ed Tech space;

– the other one took us through Monash’s success journey in upscaling their Master in Business programme.

Data for success

Learning about data from Rebecca Loades from GMAC, the attendees were able to deep dive into the minds of the generation coming to Masters Studies, slicing through expectations, ideas, and information to help make each programme more attractive, relevant and successful.


Later that morning, we conversed with two experts to understand better one of the main measures of success for schools: rankings. As expected with this somewhat controversial subject, questions were raised on their effectiveness and their outreach: Are we sending the right message? Is the data collected right? Laurent Ortmans, Quality Assurance and Ranking Manager at ESMT Berlin and a former statistician behind the FT rankings, posed himself the question of what would rankings look like if the main organisations eliminated or reduced the weight of the salary measure. He delves into the topic in his recent article.

The conference participants were finally able to listen and discuss the ever-evolving expectations of recruiters, with Matt Sigelman from Burning Glass Technologies, who has collected an amazing amount of data on skills set and important trends for successful future employees. In short, students need to be able to understand and investigate data so they can identify key insights, predict market changes and ultimately make strategic decisions for their future employers.

Key messages I am taking away from the conference:

  • Success is linked to your happiness and that of your stakeholders;
  • the path to success is personal and subjective;
  • success is an iterative process and needs to be re-defined along the way.