Education Post - Interview with Charles-Henri Larreur
Education Post: As someone who teaches MBA courses, what are the key insights and knowledge benefits students are looking for?
Charles-Henri Larreur: The truth is that looking for a job in your area of expertise after a MBA is miles easier than switching careers, especially if you want to work in a different country. MBA candidates should be aware of that. These changes are possible but require a lot of effort and in this case, the job-hunting should start when the MBA begins. Otherwise, the risk is that students will end up in the same industry they wanted to escape from when applying for their MBA.
EP: What has changed over the last five years in the MBA areas you teach and the MBA programme you are involved with in general?
CHL: One noticeable trend is that competition between programmes is fiercer. On top of that, MBAs tend also to be a more accepted norm outside the US. HEC Paris is responding to these two new challenges. The school has been an elite university since its inception in 1881, having for instance the current French president as a member of the alumni, as well as the current CEOs of AXA, L’Oréal, Orange, Michelin, Kering (Gucci, YSL, Puma) and Sodexho.
EP: In a fast-changing and demanding global business environment, have the MBA areas you teach become more relevant?
CHL: My main area of interest is structured finance. This covers a large variety of topics: securitisation, structured credits, asset finance, project finance and leveraged buyouts. Structured finance is just as relevant as it was before 2007, but for other reasons. In the past banks and companies were using structured finance techniques to obtain a higher level of financial leverage whereas today they use structured finance techniques to obtain better securities and adapt to the new regulatory environment.
EP: What are the current hot topics talked about among professionals like yourself who teach MBA programmes?
CHL: What is clear is that education is becoming a global market. Step by step, the market is slowly becoming more mature. We can see mergers of universities that do not have critical size, internationalisation of curriculums and the use of English as the main teaching language everywhere in the world. Of course, MBA programmes lead the way in this evolution but it is a global trend that is affecting lots of other areas: engineering, medicine and social sciences.
EP: How do you see MBA programmes developing in the future? For instance, more use of technology or programmes evolving to meet specific business needs.
CHL: The best European and Asian schools should continue their progress and compete even more with the top US programmes. Look at the FT rankings now and 10 years ago. The changes are impressive and I see no reason for this trend to stop.
That being said, US programmes are still very strong and will adapt to the new environment. The fact that some of these universities now have campuses outside the US is certainly one of the reasons behind this evolution.
EP: Do you have any advice for those considering studying for an MBA?
CHL: MBAs are clearly a gateway to entering the corporate world, but not the only one. Think about it before applying to an MBA. Then think about your programme, and choose the one that is best for you in terms of location – US, Europe or Asia – specialisation and duration.
Interview published in the Education Post on April 21, 2015