European careers: how you can make meaningful things happen

From AI to biotechnology, there’s no doubting what an exciting age this is to be an engineer or a scientist. Some may view working in management as uninspiring by comparison.

European careers: how you can make meaningful things happen
Professor Vanessa Strauss-Kahn of ESCP Business School

Yet in all the breathless excitement of the 21st century, it’s managers who provide the ‘glue’ to keep pioneering projects on track. We don’t all want to be rocket scientists or vaccine researchers (and what a strange world it would be if we did!) but that doesn’t mean you can’t help build a better future. Could a career in management be the best way to have a real impact on the world?

The Local spoke with Professor Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, European Academic Director of the Bachelor in Management (BSc) at the prestigious ESCP Business School, to explore six reasons to choose management. As Europe’s first business school, ESCP has been the training ground for generations of students preparing to enter the world of management.

Find out more about ESCP Business School 

You make meaningful things happen

Being a manager is about getting things done – no matter what chaos unfolds around you. A world without managers would be like an orchestra without a conductor or a football team without a coach, says Professor Strauss-Kahn. “It’s true that we need scientists, engineers and tech developers more than ever,” she says. “But then you also need managers more than ever to help them bring their discoveries to fruition. If you want to do good for society, your goal is to make things happen.”

As well as learning how to make sure new products and services reach the market, management students today are also encouraged to use their own creativity for meaningful ends. One ESCP graduate, for instance, developed an innovative app enabling students to deliver smart feedback on their classes.

You bring the world together

If you live an international life or want to do so in future, managerial skills can open many doors. Whatever industries are dominant in a particular country, they all need managerial talent to make things run smoothly.

A good understanding of multiculturalism is also an essential skill for managers today, says Professor Strauss-Kahn: “Being able to deal and work with people from all over the world is vital, and that’s new compared to 20 years ago.” Could you be the leader to help, for example, a Brazilian programmer and a Japanese web designer combine to create something wonderful?

Students on ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) have a thoroughly international experience, studying in three different European countries in three years (with campuses to choose from in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Turin). 

“When they graduate, they’re very mature,” says Professor Strauss-Kahn. “They’ve left home, changed countries, and experienced new cultures. They have a high level of adaptability, which is a good sign for the future.”

You’re (almost) as cool as a coder

If you want to learn to code, management is the last thing you should study, right? Wrong! It’s not by accident that ESCP’s Bachelor in Management is a BSc, including a high level of focus on science, maths and statistics, while most of its rival courses are BAs. An introduction to coding is compulsory, with students getting to grips with Python.

“Coding is a language but it’s very scary to people who have never done it,” says Professor Strauss-Kahn. “Our students have the opportunity to study this language and learn to understand its mechanisms. This gives them a sense of achievement that will lead them to view many other seemingly inaccessible skills as also within their reach.”

Students who enjoy the course may also choose an elective course on Big Data in their final year.

Two managers discussing business. Photo: Getty Images

You learn about everything

Does the word ‘management’ call to mind endless meetings and even more endless email chains? There’s much more to it than that. As the digital world makes it easier than ever to learn a little about a lot, businesses are moving away from siloed thinking.

“The young generation have a broader view of the world and they want to be involved in understanding everything,” says Professor Strauss-Kahn. “In the past, jobs were more defined within a range of functions and you went for one function. Today, it’s about being able to switch from being a manager to understanding other sides of the project, whether it’s producing goods or what the tech developer does.”

This need for broader perspectives is why ESCP’s BSc balances its scientific teachings with deep learning in other areas, including typical BA elements (liberal arts and languages) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) elements.

You can easily change path

New career possibilities are constantly emerging. People eager to explore their options value flexibility, transferable skills, and the resourcefulness of entrepreneurs. If you think studying management means putting all your eggs in one basket, you’re wrong again. It can give you an enviable number of transferable skills and students on ESCP’s BSc do a minimum of two courses on entrepreneurship. 

Around half the BSc students go on to do a Master’s, says Professor Strauss-Kahn, choosing a “very diverse” range of further studies. “They may go for finance or accounting, which are the usual further studies for managers,” she says. “But they may also do a Master’s in Big Data, in law, in politics or international relations, in economics or development.” 

You’ll have no frontiers

What if you do wish to stick with plan A and find a managerial job? Not only will you be ready to make things happen in an exciting international environment, you could also soon find yourself at one of the world’s biggest companies.

Amazon, Bank of America, Bloomberg, KPMG, McKinsey & Company, Porsche – these are just some of the big names to have recruited recent graduates from ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc).

Graduates are also working in many countries, in Europe, Asia, and North America. “They’re so used to living internationally that when they look for job opportunities they have no frontiers,” says Professor Strauss-Kahn.

Interested in a high-level international career in management? Find out more about ESCP and download the brochure for its Bachelor in Management (BSc) 

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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.