200 YEARS TEACHING

Spain 2019 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Javier Tafur, Managing Director of ESCP Europe – Madrid Campus, on two centuries of education, Spain's higher education environment, and capacity building on campus.

2019 is ESCP Europe's bicentenary. What have been its major transformations in the last 200 years?

ESCP Europe has evolved significantly over these 200 years, whilst keeping the soul of the school intact. ESCP Europe was founded in Paris in 1819 by a group of academics and entrepreneurs, including scholar Jean-Baptiste Say, who coined the word “entrepreneurship." In just three years, 30% of students were international, which was a remarkable rate for the 1820s. More than 10 European languages were taught at the school, and ESCP Europe has maintained this international ambition and connection ever since. At the same time, the school has been evolving and transforming in order to continue to lead in its practices. Mainly because of this combination of academics and entrepreneurs, the school belongs to the Paris Chamber of Commerce—and France is the only country in Europe that allows its higher education system to rely on chambers of commerce and industry as well as universities. Our faculty is not entirely composed of academics but practitioners as well. Providing a practical education has been our focus for 200 years, along with retaining an international ambition and leading in technology and innovation.

ESCP Europe–Madrid Campus also celebrated its 30th year in 2018 and is ranked number two in terms of European business schools in Spain. What have been the campus' most significant achievements?

compete with the other three top Spanish business schools and share the premier positions with them. This makes us extremely proud, because the Madrid campus is fairly small compared to the rest of the school. Our first challenge over the last 30 years was just getting established in Madrid. Then, it was developing the business model, as it was running in other European countries and integrating that business model with the rest of ESCP's structure. Over the last five years, the challenge has been expanding the Madrid campus. We have quadrupled the size of the school in Spain in terms of our activities and number of students, as well as increasing the number of permanent faculty members. This feeds the faculty numbers of the entire school because professors from the Madrid campus also teach in Paris, London, Berlin, Turin, and Warsaw.

How does the Madrid campus differ from the other ESCP campuses outside France?

Our Madrid campus has its own personality, partly because it is in Spain, and we are at the crossroads of different worlds. We are like a bridge connecting South America to Europe and Europe to the rest of the world. We are a part of Europe, and the continent cannot be understood without Spain: Madrid represents Spain as a part of the whole that ESCP is. At the same time, South America cannot be understood without Spain. We seek to link these sides up. While Madrid is fairly small in size compared to our largest campuses in London, Berlin, and Paris, it leads in terms of technology-based innovation. Our first online master's program was launched from the Madrid campus.

Is e-learning a challenge or an opportunity for ESCP Europe?

Online learning is a clear opportunity because we are here to serve companies and our students, and society is evolving so we have to adapt to these changes, and the sooner the better. E-learning is also a great opportunity for limitless classrooms given the Madrid campus' smaller size. We acted quickly and were successful in launching this combination of online programs and custom-blended solutions at the executive education level. The first online program we have launched is unique because it is run in three languages—Spanish, English, and French. It has over 45 nationalities in a group of 150 students. Once again, diversity is part of our DNA.

How does the Spanish higher education system fare in comparison to its European counterparts?

Higher education in Spain is a leading practice. We have an outstanding business school base in Madrid and the rest of Spain. In addition, business leaders from Spain or educated there are recognized worldwide. We perhaps lack some of the practices, though leadership programs and business leaders from Spain are remarkably sought after. The problem is that we have to make this model comprehensive because we are under the umbrella of European higher education, though at the same time we have to tackle the challenges of a local legal framework, which is completely ruled by the public administration in Spain. Sometimes, these are not cohesive, and there are constraints from the local government and national legal frameworks.

Will ESCP Europe's focus on increasing diversity, such as its Women in Leadership scholarships, filter down into the workplace?

We are fully involved in increasing diversity; it is reflected in the motto of the EU. ESCP Europe is similarly diverse and should help others manage diversity. This is not only about cultural diversity, but also background, gender, faith, and language diversity. We are not an Anglo-Saxon business school with a common language, even though today English is generally the lingua franca providing the common vehicle for people to communicate. Our school is also improving our students' ability to communicate in different European languages. All in all, for us, diversity is a must. Amongst other things, we have chosen to focus on women in leadership to increase women's contribution and their gateway to following the career path they want. Society cannot be understood if all these elements are not present.

What are your objectives for ESCP Europe–Madrid Campus in 2019?

We have to continue to grow ESCP in Madrid because the school seeks to make the business grow as a whole, and Madrid is a key element of this structure. ESCP Europe's mission and vision cannot be understood without the Madrid campus. The main constraint in making this growth feasible is the lack of physical space at our Madrid campus. We may have to look for a new campus or expand our campus somehow. Currently, we cannot accommodate all the students we want to accept into ESCP's Madrid campus, which is a problem because our mission is to facilitate and ease the way for those who want to pursue an international career path. Madrid is a dynamic region, with a lifestyle that many people want to be part of, so it is a pity that ESCP Europe–Madrid Campus does not have the capacity to welcome them. This is one issue we have to address in 2019.