Digital Workshop Competition: 154 students get to grips with the challenges of the French bank Société Générale

Digital Workshop Competition: 154 students get to grips with the challenges of the French bank Société Générale

ESSEC Business School, in partnership with the French bank Société Générale, organised the first edition of the Digital Workshop Competition on 19th-21st February and in parallel over two campuses. Students from the Master’s in Finance, the MSc in Data Science & Business Analytics and the MSc Marketing Management & Digital, shared among mixed teams on the Cergy and Singapore campuses, worked on a series of challenges set by the famous French bank.

‘Beyond learning new skills in finance, marketing or digital, we especially learnt how to work in teams, to communicate and cooperate,’ states Thibault Duhamel, a student on the ESSEC Master’s in Finance programme, summarising 48 hours of team competition. From ESSEC’s Singapore campus he took part in the first edition of the Digital Workshop Competition, organised simultaneously in Asia and France on the two ESSEC campuses.  

‘We learnt how to work within teams in function of our natural profiles,’ adds Thibault. ‘Some prefer to be leaders, others are more comfortable carrying out tasks. Some people prefer pressure, others freedom. How to manage two strong personalities within the same team? How to be a true leader and not only give orders? How to involve the team to successfully reach a shared objective? How to make ideas become tangible while keeping the personal touch and creativity? All of these questions were tackled during these two days. So it’s all an issue of learning how to reach comprise and come to terms with everybody.’

‘Working on real business stakes is the best preparation for a successful professional career.’

154 students, shared among 28 teams, set to work on 7 tangible challenges set by the competition’s partner, the Société Générale. ‘I learnt more on the company and the internal operations of the bank,’ states Devika Kulkarni, a student on the MSc in Marketing Management & Digital programme. ‘It was interesting to interact with managers, not only on the subject of the banking institution but also on industry in general.’ With this type of tangible case set by a company, students must very rapidly put into practice what they have learnt. ‘Working on real business stakes and challenges is the best preparation for a successful professional career. It’s exactly what will be demanded of students once they graduate,’ explains Rémi Canard, a student on the MSc in Data Science & Business Analytics.

By partnering with these types of events, the Société Générale wishes to work with the new generations to design the bank of tomorrow. ‘It’s an excellent opportunity for the Société Générale to tackle innovative topics with the fresh eye of future managers and executives who are preparing to enter the job market, today largely driven by data and digital solutions,’ explains Thibault Le Masson, Managing Director, VP IT Systems Strategy and Architecture of the Investment Bank division of the Société Générale, and Baptiste Puyou, IT Systems Strategy and Architecture Manager for the Asia-Pacific region. ‘These two factors are fundamental in understanding the current transformations in the field of finance and banking. It’s also a great occasion to strengthen our relations with a business school with internationally recognised Master’s programmes. We were able to spontaneously gather fifteen or so co-workers both from banking and IT for the students to highlight this complementarity that today is essential when speaking of digital transformation. They were also at the disposal of students to discuss about their jobs within the bank.’

This innovative learning and professional experience also had an objective to make students aware of the digital stakes within a large investment bank. It is in order to develop this whole set of skills that Michel Baroni, Academic Director of the Master’s in Finance, Guillaume Chevillon, Academic Director of the MSc in Data Sciences & Business Analytics, and Tuck Chung, Academic Director of the MSc Marketing Management  & Digital, joined up to propose this event created and organised by Valérie Dailly, Head of Pedagogy for the MS Marketing Management & Digital.

‘It’s a true challenge for the students to propose, within a very tight deadline, innovative and useful ideas for the Société Générale,’ explains Michel Baroni. ‘The first challenge is to correctly understand the issue that is set them and then try to think out of the box and without pre-conceived ideas. They therefore require an analytical mindset to correctly dissect the issue, but also a capacity for openness enabling them to go beyond what those who work on these issues within the bank can imagine. To imagine how digital tools can provide a better answer to customers’ expectations, students must also take into account the constraints that also impact the bank’s data, notably in terms of regulation. Making them reflect on such solutions with the help of their Société Générale mandators enables students to place themselves within a tangible framework and demonstrate their talent in terms of innovation and understanding of the stakes at play.’

‘This Digital Workshop Competition in 48-hour Hackathon format is a great trial run and will now form part of ESSEC’s Digital Week Competition bouquet of events proposed to other programmes, such as the DWC for Specialised Master’s programmes – which takes place in January 2018 with 340 students and 25 partner companies for its 6th edition – or the Global MBA DWC which, in March, will gather together 80 students and 8 partner companies,’ says Valérie Dailly.

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