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Business Schools Are Helping MBA Entrepreneurs Go Global

Business Schools Are Helping MBA Entrepreneurs Go Global
EMLYON’s International MBA is made for entrepreneurs. Program Director Joseph LiPuma explains how MBA start-ups can go global, and MBA grads share their SME experiences. Joseph LiPuma is the Director of the International MBA Program at EMLYON Business School. Before Joseph LiPuma became the Director of EMLYON Business School’s International MBA Program, he was a serial entrepreneur in the IT and tech industries.

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He worked for a partner of Lotus Software, later acquired by IBM, and was tasked with launching the Boston-based business in the UK. It was while sitting on the living room floor with his managing director, coming up with a plan from scratch, that Joe had a real taste of entrepreneurship.

“I had to transfer staff from Boston to London, hire engineers, marketers and directors,” he told BusinessBecause. “It was very much starting from nothing. The whole process was taking an existing company from the US and turning it into a new company in the UK. We had to start from scratch.”

Joseph LiPuma

So when Joe took over operations of the International MBA Program at EMLYON in France, he had a clear idea of what MBAs needed to succeed in international entrepreneurship. He is not just an entrepreneur but a scholar, too.

After gaining an MBA in the ‘80s, he was awarded a Doctor in Business Administration from Boston University. His research has been centred on using entrepreneurship in an international environment, and it is a field he has worked in throughout a 20-year business career.

“When I looked for academic positions, EMLYON’s tag-line, ‘educating entrepreneurs for the world’, was a perfect fit, »

Joseph LiPuma

It is that combination of international business and entrepreneurship that we teach. I came on as a faculty member in 2008 and helped design the global entrepreneurship program. In 2009, I assumed responsibility for our full-time international program.

EMLYON is something of a European leader in entrepreneurship. Reflecting a growing trend in MBA career paths, their international program is designed for entrepreneurial leaders. EMYON’s embrace of project-based learning, featuring a nine-month entrepreneurial placement, is attracting start-up hopefuls from around the world. Although based in France, 70 per cent of the program’s MBAs are from overseas.

Study locations also include Shanghai and Dubai. But it is not just reserved for those that want to enter SMEs. Entrepreneurship is a mind-set, not a commitment to launching your own company.

Any MBA can benefit from an entrepreneurial perspective, said Joe.  A lot of our graduates even go into large companies; but they take a new perspective with them.

You will still get a thorough education in traditional business functions, but with the chance to enter a real business venture – through the Entrepreneurial Leadership Project (ELP).
Margarita Bolganova, an EMLYON MBA graduate, said that the ELP was the most exciting experience of the program: Dealing with a real company, solving an urgent business issue, applying theoretical skills to business practice… it was extremely rich in all respects. The findings of this project are fully applicable to my present job, she said.

Students have been immersed in big-name brands such as Pepsico and Novartis, and Joe says that it is a key to developing international entrepreneurial leaders.
MBAs are increasingly turning their attentions to start-up ventures instead of traditional MBA Jobs. They may prove challenging, but the rewards are enticing.

Paul Budny graduated from the International MBA at EMLYON earlier this year. The entrepreneurial-focus inspired him to join and he has since launched his own start-up, Rue Marcellin. The company provides an eCommerce store specializing in authentic vintage posters, prints, lithographs and other printed antique art.

After leaving Canada to join EMLYON in France, Paul never left. He is heading the SME from Paris and says the EMLYON network has been instrumental in getting his business off the ground.
The entrepreneurship-focus is a huge differentiator from other b-schools, he told BusinessBecause.

“I chose EMLYON for the entrepreneurial spirit and to get a sense of European business. »

Joseph LiPuma

Without the MBA I would have made a lot of mistakes. It is a great foundation. I thought of going into a corporate career but the opportunity presented itself during my MBA.

The alumni network has been instrumental and the ELP allowed me to form my supply relationships with local French dealers in my industry.

Although Paul never used it, EMLYON, like many business schools, has an incubator to help MBAs get the ball rolling.
They are currently helping over 40 start-ups and the EMLYON Incubateur [sic]  has an impressive 90 per cent survival rate over a five-year period. Although, it’s competitive, Joe added. There is a panel and jury that oversee companies that are applying. You need to have a good business idea. Joe has run and worked at a raft of entrepreneurial ventures during a long and distinguished career. What MBAs need to succeed in starting-up their own companies, he says, is networking – among other resources.

The big thing is having a network, he said. You also need business partners who have complementary skills and who are open to new ideas. When I look back at graduates over the years, I have seen a lot of MBAs from different cultures who have gathered together. It’s important to have that diversity. There is big value in that. Get as much as you can in your new business; it will allow you to grow.

When Joe relocated his firm to London, he had to start from scratch. The key to successfully expanding your start-up across international waters is understanding the differences in business culture. You have to look at regulations and how the courts enforce property rights, Joe said.

How are patents enforced ? What are the labor laws ? What are the possibilities of accessing finance ? How much red-tape is there ? It may be a great idea to move your business to a new country, but if these issues make it difficult, then it might not be the best place to go.

“If you do make that move, do it after doing analysis and with full awareness of what you’re getting yourself into.”

Joseph LiPuma

EMLYON’s International MBA is designed help make your business a success – and not just in your home country, but across the world.
Business schools are responding to a great entrepreneurial trend and an MBA is no longer just a route into a corporate career.
Many argue an MBA is not essential for start-up success.
But Joe offers a more insightful approach:

“For someone that wants to create a start-up, do they need an MBA? No. Will an MBA help them? Yes. Will an entrepreneurial-focus help them even more? Absolutely.”

Joseph LiPuma

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