EQUIS Success Story: SKEMA Business School

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EQUIS 20th Anniversary - Blog Series

Prof. Alice Guilhon, dean of SKEMA Business School, explains how the EQUIS Accreditation has helped in the merger of two well-established French schools and implement the necessary actions plans.
SKEMA Business School was created in 2009 by a merger between two well-established French schools: ESC Lille whose history dated back almost 121 years, and CERAM the school that for 47 years had been located in Europe’s biggest science park, Sophia-Antipolis.

The merger’s objectives were twofold:

Respond to the globalisation of markets and the economy by training talents able to work on all continents;
Respond to the digitalisation of the economy by putting knowledge and information management at the heart of its research and teaching programmes, emphasising creativity and entrepreneurship, multiculturalism and international management.

This merger thus had nothing to do with a desire to reduce costs, economise resources or rationalise our territorial implantation. It was rather a strategic project aiming to create a new type of school with the following characteristicsthe school should be multisite with its own campuses in several countries and locations, all involved in the local economy; its students were to acquire a global vision of the world with innovation as the leitmotif for learning.

When the new brand was launched in 2009, only the EFMD supported it – mostly, academic killjoys predicted our certain demise. Eight years later, many of us have seen others imitate us, either by pursuing mergers or by adopting a multisite strategy

SKEMA’s first strategic plan from 2010 to 2015 focused on making the merger a success and establishing our international development. Our accreditation by EQUIS was a precious guide to our success in achieving this first plan. Apart from an “instrumental” view of accreditation, we concentrated on the EQUIS guidelines to succeed in our merger and implement the necessary action plans. Amongst these were the SKEMA balance score card – a real tool for tracking our activity that includes key processes each of which refers to the strategic indicators defined by EQUIS, namely, status, quality of students and programmes, international activity, corporate relations and executive education, ethics and corporate social responsibility. An array of 22 strategic indicators and hundreds of operational indicators are tracked each year by SKEMA’s departments and managers. Since 2009, we have been implementing a culture of excellence, quality and continuous improvement that has enabled the school to focus on its strategic objectives.

Often the cultural differences inherent to mergers give rise to serious conflicts and psychosocial problems. Our approach focused our collaborators on developing the school, being client centred and having an efficient organisation. This meant that no time was wasted listening to a discourse lamenting the good old days, or “it was better before” etc. In this way, in November 2009 we announced the name SKEMA and in June 2010 we opened our campus in the United states!

I would like to take this opportunity to address my heartfelt thanks to EQUIS and EFMD, not only for supporting SKEMA, but also for having given us the tools and capabilities to succeed so efficiently in this extraordinary strategic project!

Yours sincerely

Alice GUILHON
Dean