International study: how to become an ethical leader

The environmental and societal challenges of the 21st century demand big choices – from individuals, governments and businesses. Global uncertainty may be growing during 2020 – but many young people are clear about the future they want to create.

International study: how to become an ethical leader
Photos: Nathalia Rocha/Laurent Högl-Roy

That includes students on ESCP Business School’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) programme. ESCP focuses on educating and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders with the principles of ethics, responsibility and sustainability. 

We spoke with two student ambassadors on the Bachelor in Management (BSc) about what we should expect from their generation: Nathalia Rocha, 21, originally from Brazil, and Laurent Högl-Roy, 23, who is half-French and half-German and grew up in Switzerland. 

Leading in a changing world: are you ready to get a head start with ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc)? Get more information now.

Ethics and responsibility

“Everything I do needs to be in accordance with my moral values,” says Nathalia, who will soon start an internship at a social impact company in Helsinki whose partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Being responsible means you’re accountable – and if I’m going to be held to account for something, it needs to reflect my values.”

Sounds simple. As the international representative for an NGO supporting children in Brazil and having previously worked on social projects in South Africa, Nathalia is very much living by her values.

But in the complex and pressurised business world, consistent value-based decision-making can become less straightforward. ESCP actively challenges its students to deal with business dilemmas and the final year of the Bachelor in Management (BSc) programme includes a ‘CSR & Business Ethics’ course to prepare them for what lies ahead using real case studies.

“In the past, big corporations have not always been honest and have had some negative impacts for years to come,” says Laurent.

Photo: Laurent Högl-Roy (furthest right) with fellow students at ESCP’s London campus

His year group was only the third to start the Bachelor programme and he values its innovative approach. “This Bachelor has a very contemporary point of view, covering these crucial issues to give us the best head start for the future,” he says. “We have classic business classes but we’re also educated, like our slogan says, for ‘Leading in a changing world’.”

Next generation values: find out about the benefits of taking ESCP’s Bachelor in Management – which begins for first year students in 2020/21 on September 14th.

Sustainability becomes second nature

You may think the meaning of sustainability is obvious by now. Think again. For the next generation, the concept goes far beyond just trying to be ‘green’ or thinking about the environment. 

Sustainability also encompasses human, social and economic dimensions. The circular economy and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing are just two of the more visible aspects.

ESCP’s Bachelor promotes sustainable development as fundamental to transforming business – a transformation Laurent says will benefit all parties. “We’ve learned that resources are not endless,” he says. “But it feels like there’s too much questionable ‘greenwashing’. Efficiency will be key to making corporations more sustainable.”

To help its BSc students develop informed views, ESCP invites guest speakers, who have included Kurt Morriesen, Head of Europe, Sustainable Finance & Impact Investing at the United Nations Development Programme.

ESCP’s Madrid campus also launched a Green Scholarship for the BSc; prospective students were invited to apply by setting out in PowerPoint how their school could introduce or improve sustainability initiatives.

“Sustainability is about creating something that will last,” says Nathalia. “Why would I want to be part of something that doesn’t leave a legacy?”

Cross-cultural understanding

Whether the meetings of the future take place face-to-face or via video, the ability to relate to different cultures is becoming crucial. Nor is this only about seeking new clients. Diversity is also a huge topic for organisations looking to enhance their own team dynamics.

Students on ESCP’s BSc programme represent more than 50 nationalities. They have the opportunity to study at three different European campuses and to learn languages in addition to their main courses.

“Through languages you learn how to live with different cultures,” says Laurent, who grew up bilingual in French and German and has studied Spanish and Mandarin at ESCP.

“We work on group projects with people from completely different cultures and this teaches us to understand them better. This flexibility is especially precious. Every situation will look somehow familiar and won’t be intimidating.”

Cross-cultural education: find out how you could start an exciting personal journey on ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) this September

Learning to think local

Familiarity with different cultures does not mean dismissing anything local as parochial. Far from it. The pros and cons of globalisation remain a hot topic. But Laurent and Nathalia believe businesses that look for local solutions have a vital role.

“You can already see it with younger CEOs coming in or start-ups showing they can slow down globalisation a little,” says Laurent, who will do an internship in rail logistics at Deutsche Bahn this summer. “The pandemic shows we might be a bit too interdependent with certain necessary goods, like medication. We need to balance the local and the global.”

Nathalia points to food miles as an example of how more localisation could drive wider progress. “People go to the supermarket and want to buy foods that are not in season,” she says. “I hope people will become more aware of where products come from, as well as the effects on people in supply chains. Unless this changes, businesses will not change – they’ll give people what they want.”

Both students are impressed with how strongly their courses at ESCP focus on sustainability, which encourages open-mindedness about local solutions. “ESCP really focuses on it a lot, which is great,” says Nathalia.

Photos: Nathalia Rocha/Laurent Högl-Roy

Optimism in a long-term outlook 

“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.” It’s just over a decade since Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, made this shock declaration about corporate excess.

In 2020, is the trend finally turning away from short-term strategies that seek to maximize profits at all costs? It may be too early to say. But ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) aims to support a more long-term perspective on prosperity.

Nathalia hopes to see changes in the clothing industry. “With fast fashion, they usually don’t give a living wage to people making the clothes,” she says. “The quality is poor, so people buy things and throw them away.”

“Business should be done for the good of society,” adds Laurent. “Without society there are no customers. My generation can see and build on what has been successful until now but we can also focus on what has been going wrong. I think we have a very interesting future and I’m rather optimistic.”

With its emphasis on ethics and sustainable solutions, ESCP’s BSc is giving a new wave of decision-makers the tools to turn their visions today into tomorrow’s reality.

Ready to be a next generation decision-maker? Find out more about ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc), which starts on September 14th for first year students in the 2020/21 intake – with classes on campus and/or online in accordance with national government recommendations. 

For members


EBAU: What you need to know about Spain’s university entrance exams

High school students in Spain who want to go to university need to take the EBAU entrance exam, or ‘la selectividad’ as it’s known. This is what it consists of and the changes authorities are looking to implement.

EBAU: What you need to know about Spain's university entrance exams

Depending where you’re from, the Spanish university entrance process could be a little different from in your home country. In Spain, most students take the EBAU entrance exam, or la selectividad as it’s usually referred to.

The EBAU is pretty different from taking SATs in the U.S, for example, or A-Levels in the UK. The system has also gone through some changes in recent years, and will be altered again for the 2024/25 academic school year.

What is the Selectividad?

The Bachillerato Evaluation for University Entrance (EBAU), is a series of exams taken by bachillerato students (literally meaning ‘baccalaureate’, the final two years of high school in Spain, similar to A-Levels in the UK) to test the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired in their post-compulsory education.

As students can leave school at 16 years old in Spain, most students taking the EBAU are between 16-18 years old and their main objective is to gain access to university.

Is it the same everywhere?

Not exactly. There are some slight differences in terms of how long the EBAU exam period is, but it’s usually just a matter of days and most regions do it over 3 or 4 days.

Equally, for regions where there’s a ‘co-official’ language, such as Galicia, Valencia, Catalonia and the Basque Country, there’re also extra exam sections testing them.

How is it structured?

The EBAU is split into two parts: general and specific, sometimes referred to as obligatoria and voluntaria.

The general phase is made up of four or five different exams, depending on the region, and tests students’ knowledge and understanding of three or four compulsory subjects as well as one specialist subject taken in the second year of bachillerato.

This part includes sections on Spanish language and literature, the history of Spain, a foreign language (usually one of English, French, German, Italian or Portuguese, depending on the languages offered in each region) plus any regional languages in said region, such as Catalan or Basque, if applicable, and then a section based on the student’s module choice from one of arts, humanities and social sciences, mathematics and science.

The specific part of the EBAU allows students to choose any of the subjects they have studied during their bachillerato, up to a maximum of four (except in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Navarre, where a maximum of three subjects are allowed).

The specific section of the exam is an opportunity for students to increase their marks, and they can choose their best subjects regardless of the bachillerato pathway they have chosen.

READ ALSO: Selectividad: The changes to high school exams in Spain

Marking and grades

The EBAU is graded differently depending on the section. In the general part, each of the exams is marked from 0-10 to three decimal places.

The final mark is the average of these scores. In order to pass this phase, the minimum mark must be equal to or higher than 4/10.

For the specific section, each of the subjects is also graded from 0-10, but in this case only two decimal places are added. To pass, you must have a score equal to or higher than five.

In the EBAU, the marks obtained during the bachillerato course (60 percent) and the general phase (40 percent) are added together for a total score of 10. The exams for the specific modules are graded separately, depending on the pathway and chosen degree course. As such, it is possible to reach a maximum score of 14 points overall.

Changes coming up

The Spanish government announced some changes to the EBAU process last year. Though they were initially slated to come into force for the 2023/24 school year, this has since been pushed back by a year.

READ ALSO: Spanish government to create new university entrance exams

The key changes are as follows:

More comprehensive exams

The exam questions will be more comprehensive and students will be forced to think more critically. There will be fewer questions where they’ll simply have to memorise an answer and write it down word-for-word. For this reason, there will be fewer multiple-choice or fill-in-the-gap questions too.

More time for exams

With the new university entrance tests from the 2024-25 school year, students will have more time to take each exam. Until now students had 90 minutes, however, with the new ones an extra 15 minutes will be added, taking it to a total of 105 minutes.

History or philosophy?

When the new changes come into force, students will be able to choose between doing an exam on the history of Spain or the history of philosophy, giving them a greater choice.

Exam reviews

Another of the changes proposed is that students will have the right to a third remarking if they disagree with the result they receive. If the student disagrees with the grade obtained for an exercise, up until now they could only request a second review.